What are Sponsored Grants

Sponsored Programs are defined as those activities, sponsored whole or in part, by sources external to Fairmont State University or Pierpont Community & Technical College for which there is an expectation (implied or specifically stated) on the part of the sponsor for performance or outcome. Sponsored programs are generally conducted by faculty, but may be conducted by staff or members of the institution's administration. Sponsored programs are awarded through various mechanisms - grants, contracts, fee-for-service or % deliverable contracts, cooperative agreements, and/or other legally binding means of transfer.

Sponsored Programs may support instruction, research and/or public service activities and may be housed within any academic or non-academic unit of the institution. They are identifiable by the following characteristics. A program does not need to include all elements to be considered to be "sponsored."

  • Inclusion/allowance of Facilities and Administrative Costs (Indirect Costs)
  • Percentage of faculty time on project, (may or may not be compensated by the sponsor)
  • Expectation of performance or outcome by the sponsor
  • Statement or expectation of a “quid pro quo” relationship between the Fairmont/Pierpont and the sponsor
  • Specific description of the activity/work to be conducted (proposal or contract) sometimes known as a Scope of Work
  • A Line Item budget is involved
  • A financial report is required, and the budget/performance is subject to audit
  • All government funds, exclusive of financial aid
  • All corporate research contracts, subcontracts and/or agreements
  • Defined time period for the work to be conducted
  • Definition of how the funds may be spent and what conditions may apply to residual funds
  • Use of institutional resources – equipment, space, students, mandate processing to determine classification, i.e., does the activity qualify as a sponsored program and who must approve the use of these resources.

The following further clarifies definitions relating to sponsored activities:


A type of financial assistance awarded to an organization for the conduct of research or other program as specified in an approved proposal. The proposal typically defines a scope of work or performance. The sponsor makes an award, which may be based upon a competitive review, and establishes terms and conditions for performance. These terms may be generally stated, as in many federal awards, or may specifically describe allowable and unallowable activities and/or costs. Unless prohibited by sponsor regulations, performance under grant awards may be modified to adjust to project conditions. Such modifications may be approved internally by the institution or may require sponsor authorization. Grants may be awarded through simple contractual agreements, letters of authorization, payments of fees, or other similar mechanism. Their defining feature is that they are governed by specific rules and/or regulations pre-established by the sponsor, and that they provide for some flexibility in the conduct of the activity.


A legally binding arrangement or performance agreement for carrying out a specific service or procuring a product that entails specific obligations for both sponsor and recipient. Contracts are a more restrictive mechanism for securing services than grants, and may specify penalties for non-performance. A Fixed Cost or Fee for Service Agreement is one in which one party pays the other party a predetermined price, regardless of actual costs, for services rendered. ACost-Reimbursement Agreement is one in which the sponsor pays for the full costs incurred in the conduct of the work up to an agreed-upon amount, and for which invoices containing back-up information of costs incurred are generally required. A Percent (%) Completion contract is one in which the sponsor contracts for completion of specific tasks, and partial payments are made upon receipt and approval of a report or other deliverable. For Percent Deliverable contracts, payment is based upon the deliverable, not on actual charges.

Contracts may be awarded for research, assessment, specific work performance, instruction, training, and/or similar activities. Generally, contracts will define specific details of the legal relationship between the participating entities and will incorporate the description and cost of the work to be performed either as a legally binding attachment or embedded in the contract document. A purchase order may be a form of contract.

Matching Grants 

Some sponsors require the applicant to demonstrate commitment to the proposed activity by providing funds in support of the overall project costs. Matching funds may be derived from institutional resources, either in-kind (donated time, space, equipment use, etc.) or cash, or may be generated from other entities (third party). Sometimes the principle investigator (faculty submitting the proposal who will do the work if funded) will include matching or cost sharing to enhance chances of being funded, even if the sponsor does not require matching.

Cost-sharing has become a major issue in federal awards. Recently the federal government issued specific guidance on matching funds and the responsibilities of recipients in accounting for these funds. Failure to comply may result in loss of revenue associated with the specifically funded project, or in general sanctions against the institution. The following are the three types of cost-sharing:

Mandatory – Required by the sponsor and specifically referenced in the proposal, budget or other submitted document.Must be accounted for in the institution's accounting system.

Voluntary Committed – Committed by the institution in the proposal, budget or other submitted document to enhance possibility of funding, but NOT required by the sponsor. Must be accounted for in the institution's accounting system. (Note: if a proposal is submitted with voluntary cost-sharing, and is subsequently awarded, the status of the cost-sharing converts to Mandatory.)

Voluntary Uncommitted - after the award is received, the institution/PI provides more cost sharing than is promised or required. Example, a PI spends more time on the project than originally projected. Must be tracked and verified, but IS NOT entered into the institution's cost-sharing system. 

Funds promised and or provided by third parties to a sponsored program must meet the same reporting requirements imposed on the institution. The recipient institution is responsible for acquiring and maintaining third party matching documentation.

Challenge Grants

A grant that provides monies in response to monies from other sources, usually according to a formula. A challenge grant may, for example, offer two dollars for every one that is obtained from a fund drive. The grant usually has a fixed upper limit, and may have a challenge minimum below which no grant will be made. This form of grant is fairly common in the arts, humanities, and some other fields, but is less common in the sciences. A challenge grant differs from a matching grant in at least one important respect: The amount of money that the recipient organization realizes from a challenge grant may vary widely, depending upon how successful that organization is in meeting the challenge. Matching grants usually award a clearly defined amount and require that a specified sum be obtained before any award is made.

Cooperative Agreements 

An award similar to a grant, but in which the sponsor's staff may be actively involved in proposal preparation, and anticipates having substantial involvement in research activities once the award has been made.

Non-teaching Consulting Services 

Consulting as an agent of the University/CTC is defined as additional activity beyond duties assigned by the institution, professional in nature and based in the appropriate discipline for which the individual receives additional compensation during the contract year. Consultancy services include addressing the technical and professional needs of communities, groups, agencies, businesses and other entities outside the institution.

Consulting services are NOT sponsored programs unless: Fairmont State University or Pierpont Community and Technical College is the direct recipient of funds; institutional resources are used in the conduct of the project; the institution’s name/expertise is used to leverage funding; and/or, the institution is liable for the conduct of the activity performed by the institutional employee. In these instances it is essential that these contracts are managed as sponsored programs, in that they involve coordination of faculty time/effort reporting, and determination of appropriate overload policy interpretation.

Training/Workshops/Non-Credit Teaching 

Proposals for conducting training/workshops/non-credit teaching functions are considered to be “sponsored programs” if they meet any of the above stated criteria. At the discretion of the OSGA, in accordance with institutional policies, proposals which contain workshops and/or training embedded in their overall scope may be reviewed by the Assistant Provost, PC&TC, Workforce Development & Off-Campus Programs. Funds for such activities are subject to the institution's continuing education service fees. Schedules for final distribution of funds shall be determined by procedures established by the office Workforce Development & Off-Campus Programs. These activities are considered “sponsored programs” if:

  • The sponsor provides a single payment in support of a collective activity (as opposed to fees charged to individuals to participate in such events)
  • The sponsor is a federal or state entity
  • The sponsor awards indirect/administrative costs as a part of the budget
  • The activities are specifically academic in nature, as opposed to provision of auxiliary services (sports camps, etc.)…Some sponsored programs will include training or workshops as part of the overall project activity. In these instances, the principal investigator is the responsible party on behalf of the institution, and coordinates with the Assistant Provost, Workforce Development & Off-Campus Programs in delivery.
  • Matching funds are either required or promised
  • Faculty time is devoted to the activity

Note: Activities meeting the above criteria may be proposed by the Assistant Provost, Workforce Development & Off-Campus Programs in the same manner as other sponsored programs. The OR will review, process and submit proposals on behalf of that unit as with other colleges and schools. F&A monies generated from these sponsored activities are subject to the same distribution as other units.


A flexible, irrevocable award of money, equipment, or other property provided by a donor with few or no conditions specified. Gifts may be provided to establish an endowment or to provide direct support for existing programs. Frequently, gifts are used to support developing programs for which other funding is not available. Gifts meet the determination of having no “quid pro quo” relationship with the institution, and as such are handled by the Vice President for Institutional Advancement.

A gift to an organization implies no responsibility to provide the donor a product, service, technical or scientific report(s) or intellectual property tights. The donor may specify the use of the funds (as to a specific scholarship fund) or the gift may be unrestricted for use in meeting the needs identified by the recipient organization.

Research gifts – A gift for research generally must meet the following conditions:

  • Funds are awarded irrevocably
  • The donor does not impose restrictive contractual obligations
  • There is no commitment of direct project personnel effort to accomplish the research
  • The funds are designated for scholarly endeavors

A research gift may be considered a sponsored project pending discussions with Institutional Advancement.

Notes: The OSGA serves as the first point of contact for faculty seeking external funds. The office will review project/program concepts with faculty and seek possible sources of support on their behalf. From time to time, concepts may be forwarded to the Vice President for Institutional Advancement for consideration as a fundraising possibility.

In addition to the OSGA, grant proposals intended for private foundations or corporations by Fairmont State faculty and staff need to be coordinated through the Office of Institutional Advancement.


A fund usually in the form of an income-generating investment, established to provide long-term support for faculty/research positions (e.g., Endowed Chair). Endowments are not considered to be “sponsored activity.”


Internships are defined as an externally supported opportunity for an individual (student or faculty member) to engage in an extended learning activity. If the institution is the recipient of internship funds, and the funding mechanism contains specific details concerning the obligation of the institution and/or the intern, the activity is treated as a sponsored program and must be internally approved and submitted as such.

Congressional/Legislative Allocations 

In certain circumstances, federal and/or state governing bodies may directly appropriate funds to the institution for specific purposes. It is important that the purpose of these funds represents the intent of the funding entity. In the case of most federal and state appropriations, the most common conveyance mechanism is to attach these funds to an existing agency program, and to request a proposal describing how the institution will utilize these in keeping with the general intent of that specific program's mandate. For example, congressionally allocated funds for rural education may be attached to a grant program in the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). A proposal must be submitted to the USDE under the program guidelines in order to access the allocated funds. An award is then made to the institution by the agency. In this circumstance, the federal and/or state regulations and restrictions applied to all recipients of funds under that agency program apply to the use of funds awarded to the institution. In short, they are managed under the same rules and regulations that govern the grant program. For this reason, proposals requesting support under direct appropriations become sponsored programs so they may be appropriately managed and reported.