Types of Awards

There are three basic relationships that may exist between a sponsor and the recipient of sponsored research funds. These three types of awards are reflected in how the funds are allocated and controlled. Each award type carries with it a set of regulations as articulated in the Uniform Guidance, and reflected locally in the policies and procedures of the Office of Sponsored Projects.

Clinical Trial Contract
Cooperative Agreement
Grants vs. Gifts

Clinical Trial Contract

Research studies that typically involve testing an experimental drug or device using human subjects.

  • Principal Investigator's need prior approval from the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS) before submitting a proposal involving human subjects.
  • All clinical trials (federal and non-federal) are charged a $1,500 IRB Fee, if review is expedited, IRB Fee is $500.
  • Payments from sponsors on Clinical Trials, is based on the number of patients enrolled.
  • Only budget into OGA what we have actually received in payment from sponsor.
  • Clinical Trials tend to be open ended, there are no specific end dates, it ends once the study has been completed or has been terminated.


A contract is "an agreement between two or more people to do something, especially one formally set forth in writing and enforceable by law." Awards made by contractual agreements are usually more complicated than awards made as grants. They commit the College to a specific and usually narrowly focused set of tasks. The sponsor is usually in partnership with the College and therefore takes a much more active role in the management of the project. The OSP is responsible for preparing and negotiating contracts with industry, agencies of state and federal government, local municipalities and non-profit organizations. Cooperative efforts are encouraged with private and public partners to support research and creative activities that are consonant with the College's research, teaching, and public service mission. Generally, contracts have the following characteristics:

  • The terms of a contract tend to be spelled out in greater detail.
  • The activities supported by the contract are frequently dictated by the sponsor rather than being generated by the applicant.
  • The applicant is generally given less latitude to modify the scope of the agreed upon activities and/or the expenditure of funds provided by the sponsor.
  • A greater number of terms or conditions are included in a contract.
  • There is a greater likelihood that the sponsor, through its technical representatives, will be directly involved in the day-to-day conduct of the sponsored research award.

Cooperative Agreement

Cooperative agreements create a partnership between the institution and the sponsor. The principal differences between a grant, contract or a cooperative agreement are in the ways the statement of work is defined. A grant or contact's statement of work has been articulated in the proposal. Alternatively, the statement of work may be defined with some degree of specificity in the contract instrument itself. A cooperative agreement, however, tends to describe a more open-ended statement of work; details are filled in during the term of the funded project by mutual agreement between the sponsor and the recipient. A cooperative agreement is necessary in instances where it is difficult, if not impossible, at the outset of a project to anticipate most contingencies and define the full parameters of the project.


A grant is an award of funds included in a written instrument executed by the head of the awarding agency or his/her duly authorized representative. Grant funded project activities support the aims and objectives of the sponsoring agency. Except in monitoring project progress and financial transactions, the sponsor is not involved in the management of the project. Generally, grants have the following characteristics:

  • They are made for a stated purpose.
  • The purposes are specified in writing.
  • They are usually made for a stated period of time during which funds may be spent.
  • The grant instrument names the Principal Investigator or Project Director under whose direction the project will be carried out.
  • The grant carries a minimum number of limiting conditions, which are stated in the award document.

Grants vs. Gifts

The term "grant" or "gift" in a sponsor document does not necessarily determine the classification of an award as a sponsored project or gift. The final determination will be made by representatives of either the Office of Sponsored Projects or the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations. Questions may be addressed to the contacts listed at the bottom of this document.

A sponsored project is a grant that involves an exchange of tangible or intangible property of value to the sponsor. An agreement/contract may include any of the following terms:

  • Sponsor Rights to Licensing and/or Intellectual Property: The Principal Investigator on a grant may be obligated to convey rights to tangible or intangible properties resulting from the project. Tangible properties include equipment, records, technical reports, theses, or dissertations. Intangible properties may include rights in data, copyrights, or inventions.
  • Funder's Mission and Intent: Funder seeks implementation of a specific research or educational plan. Request for proposals or proposal includes well-defined objectives, strategies, work plans and/or deliverables.
  • Legal Accountability: Indemnification, insurance, warranty or other legal accountability terms are included.
  • Government funding source: Funds originate from federal, state, local, foreign, or other government entity.

A gift is a grant that usually will not involve an exchange of tangible or intangible property or licensing of intellectual property. The funder receives no value or benefit from the gift and imposes few requirements, if any.

Other considerations may vary for either a sponsored projects or a gift.

  • Budgets for sponsored projects are specific, and variances from proposed budgets (within designated parameters) require funder pre-approval. Detailed budgets are often not required for gifts, although occasionally, such are required.
  • Detailed terms and conditions, and financial and narrative reports are usually required for sponsored projects while such detail is seldom the case for gifts, although brief, or even extensive reports may be required.
  • Binding agreements between the College and the funder are usually signed to obtain sponsored projects. Signatures are seldom required on gift documents.
  • Key personnel (or the equivalent of a project leadership team) are named in the proposal for a sponsored project and any changes must be pre-approved by the funder. Personnel are often left to the discretion of the College, school, department, or named individual in the case of gifts.


Last Updated