University of Vermont

Sponsored Project Administration - SPA

SPA A-to-Z topics | 217 Waterman Building . 85 South Prospect Street . Burlington, Vermont 05405 . (802) 656-3360

Proposal Frequently Asked Questions (4/1/14)

Q: How do I know who my SPA Research Administrator is?

Refer to the SPA Staff Directory for a complete listing of departmental assignments.

Q: What are SPA hours and where you located?

Monday through Friday, 8 to 4:30 in Waterman Building, Room 217.

Q: How do I know where to apply for a grant?

SPA provides several excellent resources for locating funding opportunities. SPIN (Sponsored Programs Information Network) and COS (Community of Science) are subscription databases of funding information that have become standard tools for grantseekers and are available to any UVM community member. We also subscribe campus-wide to a monthly electronic newsletter called GrantAdvisor Plus which posts upcoming deadlines (current plus the next 3 months) for opportunities in broad subject areas. Another good resource for smaller, Vermont focused projects is the Vermont Directory of Foundations which is a searchable database that includes foundations in Vermont as well as those outside of Vermont that give to Vermont causes. All of these resources are accessible from the SPA homepage under the "Find Funding" tab. Contact Hilda.Alajajian@uvm.edu, the Grant Resources Specialist for assistance at (802) 656-1322 or by email.

Q: How do I receive funding information in my e-mail?

In order to receive timely, automated notices of potential funding sources in your area of interest, grantseekers may sign up for a variety of alert services which are available and accessible from our "Find Funding" web site. Contact Hilda.Alajajian@uvm.edu, the Grant Resources Specialist for assistance at (802) 656-1322 or by email.

Q: I've forgotten my password for InfoEd. What do I do?

Use your UVM Net ID and password to login to InfoEd. Click the "InfoEd How to Login" link for more information and for troubleshooting suggestions.

Q: Who may serve as a Principal Investigator at UVM?

Faculty members or professionally qualified staff members with an appointment greater than or equal to 50% Full Time Equivalency (FTE) are eligible to be named as Principal Investigators on applications submitted by the University for outside funds. Emeriti faculty members are also eligible, with department and dean approval, to serve as Principal Investigators. Click here for more information about Principal Investigator eligibility.

Q: What is the difference between a gift and a grant?

In general, grants carry obligations for reporting of either technical or financial activity to the sponsor and require separate, auditable accounting.

Usually, a grant:

  1. Is intended to support a project with a specific set of objectives.
  2. Requires a formal written proposal that indicates total project costs.
  3. Requires periodic written reports of a descriptive, technical and/or financial nature.
  4. Must be budgeted and accounted for separately from other awards.
  5. Must be applied for and awarded through SPA, Pre-Award Services to assure compliance with University and agency policies.

And a gift:

  1. Normally requires no formal proposal and no reporting of a descriptive, technical, or financial nature.
  2. Is made and accepted without consideration of project costs, but rather as project or institutional support.
  3. Can be combined with gifts of a similar nature for similar purposes and does not need separate accounts or budgets.
  4. May be for a specific project or unrestricted institutional purposes.

Click here for more information about Gift vs Grant.

Q: What part of my application does SPA prepare?

Your SPA Research Administrator will assist with the administrative requirements involved in submitting electronic proposals, as well as, standard paper proposals. Specifically, SPA will assist in preparing your proposal budget and will help complete required agency forms and certifications. SPA Research Administrators also prepare the documents for routing your proposal to Department Chairs and Deans, and are available to explain and interpret agency and University policy and administrative requirements, and clarify necessary prior approvals. Some sponsor application forms can be prepared by SPA when preparing the other routing forms (agency budget forms, application cover pages, required certifications, etc.). The Principal Investigator is responsible for preparing any other application material required by the sponsor and for making any copies required by the sponsor. Click here for more information about SPA Contacts and Services.

Q: Does SPA need my complete application before signing?

Yes. SPA needs to receive the original, COMPLETE proposal / application plus 1 full copy. By signing the application or proposal, SPA is certifying that the proposal has been reviewed by the relevant academic and administrative offices to ensure all agency and university requirements have been met and all administrative information and assurances have been provided. SPA needs the complete proposal to accurately make this endorsement. For electronic submissions, only one copy of the proposal is required.

Q: When does SPA need my completed application and routing form?

For electronic submissions, a draft is due to SPA two weeks in advance and the final is due one week in advance. For all other proposals, three days are required. Remember, the more time SPA staff members have to review your proposal, the more thorough and helpful they can be. A signature is not always immediately available and SPA requests that you allow at least three business days for review and to obtain an institutional signature. More time will be required if the application does not meet all submission requirements. Click here for more information about Internal Submission Deadlines.

Q: Which proposals need to be submitted through SPA?

It is the University’s policy that all proposals must go through University channels for administrative and academic approvals regardless of the amount of the request. Also, all proposals must carry an institutional endorsement whether the sponsor requires it or not.

Q: Can my SPA Research Administrator e-mail me my routing packet?

The Sponsored Project Routing Packet consists of the Sponsored Project Routing Form, Budget Worksheet and Cost Share Chartstrings form. It will be sent to you via email in excel format for completion. Once you have completed the form, email it back to your SPA Research Administrator. He / she will convert the excel workbook to pdf format and will upload it to InfoEd so that it is available to Chairs and Deans in the electronic routing system.

Q: Why does my chair/dean need to sign off on my grant proposal?

Your chair and dean are responsible for reviewing your proposal as it relates to the overall department and college academic program, activities and mission. They are responsible for ensuring that the individuals involved in the project have the time available to conduct the project, that required facilities and space are available, and that they have the funds available for any required cost-sharing. Click here for more information about proposal approval and submission to sponsor.

Q: What do I do if my department chair isn’t available for signature?

The department chair determines how to handle signatures in his/her absence (usually via appointment of a delegate to sign in his/her absence).

Q: A business wants to fund a project. What do I do ?

If a company who is interested in funding your work or working collaboratively has contacted you, you should contact your SPA Research Administrator, who will work with you to develop a budget for the work to be undertaken. The budget and scope of work for the company’s consideration should be routed in the same manner as a standard grant proposal to your department chairperson and dean, and returned to SPA for institutional endorsement before transmittal to the company for consideration. Your SPA Research Administrator can provide a model agreement that includes the appropriate terms and conditions for funding such work and SPA will negotiate appropriate terms and conditions with the company.

Q: What is cost-sharing?

Cost-sharing is the commitment of University resources to support part of the costs of a sponsored project. Cost-sharing may take the form of release time (faculty salary and fringe benefits) to engage in the project, the purchase of supplies and equipment, or the acceptance of a lower reimbursement for facilities and administration (indirect) costs. The amount required and types of costs that are eligible for cost-sharing vary among sponsors and grant programs.

Cost-sharing is either mandatory (i.e. a condition imposed by the project sponsor) or voluntary. When a department volunteers to cost-share any of the direct costs for a research project, the facilities and administration (indirect) costs associated with that direct cost-shared amount are charged to the department.

When SPA signs off on a proposal, the nature and sources of cost-sharing, if any, must be clearly indicated on the Sponsored Project Routing Form and the unit making the commitment must sign indicating its approval.

Q: How do I know how much effort (salary and fringe benefits) to include in my grant?

The amount of effort charged to a grant should reflect the amount of effort devoted to the project. If some effort is used as a matching contribution, then the total effort devoted to the project should be split between the funding sources. More information about budget development can be found here.

Q: Can my total effort go over 100%? Do I have to include my salary in a proposal budget?

No. Your total effort cannot exceed 100%. Regardless of the number of hours you work, your total effort is 100%. It is the University’s policy that a Principal Investigator’s effort is required to be listed on all applications. Please review the "Effort Management and Reporting on Sponsored Awards" here. Your measurable effort and associated salary and fringe benefits can be requested from the sponsor or cost shared by your department. Your department pays for your professional effort (salary and fringe benefits). Typically a department seeks to be reimbursed when your professional effort is devoted to a sponsored project, rather than contributing to the project. More information about budget development can be found here.

Q: Can I donate my summer salary as part of a cost-sharing contribution?

A UVM employee’s contribution of effort must be documented in UVM’s payroll accounting system to be eligible as a cost-sharing contribution. Summer salary may be used as match only if the University or an eligible, non-federal source is paying it. More information about budget development can be found here.

Q: I am planning on taking a sabbatical. What should I do to prepare in advance?

The approval to take a sabbatical needs to be obtained in advance by the Department Chair and Dean. While on sabbatical, a faculty member receives 77.3% of their 100% FTE as salary and can receive up to 22.7% of salary support from a grant or grants to make up the difference of the remaining effort, if available. Approvals of any absences from the project related to the sabbatical greater than 90 days or reductions of effort of key personnel need to be requested at least 30 days in advance from the sponsor. SPA now receives a list each year of faculty approved to take sabbatical and will follow up with each Principal Investigator to confirm any prior approvals are coordinated in advance.

Q: What are fringe benefits?

Fringe benefits include the costs of FICA, Workmen’s Compensation, Health, Dental, Disability Insurances, Pensions, etc. These are actual costs to the University and are allowable cost requests on most grant proposal budgets. Fringe benefits are calculated as a percentage of salary or wages. For current fringe benefit rates, click the UVM Fact Sheet, and scroll down the page until you reach the Fringe Benefit section.

Q: I have a postdoctoral associate on my grant. What do I charge for fringe benefits?

A postdoctoral associate who works on a research project is considered an employee of the University. As such, his or her salary is subject to the full fringe benefits rate. Click here for more detailed information.

Q: What is the difference between a postdoctoral associate and a postdoctoral fellow?

A postdoctoral fellow is in training status and receives a stipend, but not salary or fringe benefits, as with a postdoctoral associate. This appointment is used when a postdoc receives a fellowship award providing stipend, rather than salary. A postdoctoral associate is an employee and receives salary and fringe benefits. Click here for more detailed information.

Q: I am an employee with an academic year appointment. Do I need to include fringe benefits for my requested summer salary support in my budget?

Yes. The costs associated with providing benefits to University employees identified as sponsored-project staff are charged to sponsored projects as a percentage of all salary and wages. Fringe benefits are budgeted as a composite, fixed rate applied to all personnel regardless of period of appointment in proportion to salary budgeted for personnel. Click here for more detailed information.

Q: What do I do if I need funds for cost-sharing for my project?

For the most part, cost-sharing comes from the reallocation of funds controlled by individual departments and deans’ offices. There are also limited cost-sharing funds available from the Provost’s Office. If you believe that cost-sharing is necessary for your sponsored project, the first step is to work with your SPA Research Administrator to determine the magnitude of the commitment that is required and the types of costs that are eligible. The second step is to obtain the commitments required from your department or dean’s office.

If additional resources are needed, a written request should be made to the Associate Vice President for Research Administration for cost-sharing from central University funds. The request should describe the necessity for the cost-sharing, the amount requested, the importance of the project to your academic unit and future funding, any funds available from other sources, and the commitments made by your department and dean’s office. Your chair and dean should endorse the request. Requests for cost-sharing from central University funds are considered on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies and available funding is limited.

Q: What is a Consultant and can I pay a Consultant on my grant?

An independent contractor (consultant) is an individual over whom the employer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not the means and methods of accomplishing the results. This distinguishes a contractor from an employee who performs services that are subject to the will and control of an employer -- both what must be done and how it must be done. If you can’t determine if someone is a consultant contact the Controller's Office (802) 656-2903. They have developed guidelines and forms to help with this determination. Click here for more information.

A consultant can be paid on a grant if the sponsor allows it.

Q: Who should be considered key personnel?

Key personnel are individuals who contribute in a substantive way to the scientific development or execution of the project, whether or not salaries are requested.

Q: How do I include a subaward in my application?

This depends on the requirements and application instructions of your funding sponsor. Review the application guidelines carefully and consult with your Research Administrator. Generally, you need to include a statement of work, budget justification, resources information, and a commitment form with audit certification from the subcontracting institution. Please refer to Subaward/Subcontract Requirements for additional information.

Q: How does SPA know which Facilities and Administration (indirect) rate to use?

The University has separate rates for on and off-campus research, experiment station research, public service, extension, V-CHIP, and instructional activities. The rate used depends on the nature of the sponsored project and sponsor limits. Your SPA Research Administrator will ask you to describe the purpose of the project you are proposing to determine which rate applies and use sponsor guidelines to see if that rate is allowable. Current rates are located on the UVM Fact Sheet.

Q: My proposal is only for a small amount of funding. Do I still need to include Facilities and Administration (indirect) costs in the budget request?

Yes. The University’s policy is that sponsors should pay the full costs of a project, regardless of the size of the project. Full facilities and administration (indirect) costs at the appropriate rate must be included in sponsored project budget requests unless the sponsor has a policy that explicitly limits the amount it will reimburse for Facilities and Administration (indirect) costs.

Q: What are National Institutes of Health (NIH) salary caps?

Annual NIH appropriation bills have included a cap, or ceiling, on the annual salary rate at which NIH will compensate employees funded on NIH grants. Because this cap is set annually in the NIH appropriation bill and, typically, is tied to compensation levels for certain classes of federal employees, it can change as often as two times in a given year. When submitting salary information to NIH as part of a budget request, the current NIH cap should be used in the first year and increased annually thereafter. NIH will reduce the amount awarded, if necessary, to the cap in effect when the award is activated. When estimating budgets for a modular grant application, the best estimate of the NIH cap that will be in effect when the grant is awarded should be used. Click here for NIH Salary Cap link.

Q: Can I apply to more than one sponsor for the same project?

Usually a Principal Investigator may apply to more than one sponsor for funding of the same project. These applications must be identified as pending support and accommodations that will be made to eliminate overlap must be explained in the application. Some agencies don’t allow you to accept funding from more than one source for the same project even if there is no budgetary overlap.

Q: What should I do if I get two grants for the same project?

Get in touch with your SPA Research Administrator to help you determine sponsor requirements with regard to overlap funding.

Q: Can I get an extension on my deadline?

Generally not. Deadlines are set by the sponsor or funding agency and are not subject to extensions but sponsors may allow extensions under extenuating circumstances.

Q: How do I know if the sponsor has received my application?

Many sponsors provide notification of receipt of your proposal. The method is generally described in the application guidelines. SPA will contact a sponsor at the request of a Principal Investigator to determine the status of an application.

Q: I submitted an application without going to SPA, Pre-Award Services and have an award; what do I do?

Contact your SPA Research Administrator as soon as possible so that the required paperwork can be processed and approvals obtained in order for UVM to accept the funds.

Q: I just received a check for my grant, what do I do?

If the grant has not been processed through the SPA, contact your SPA Research Administrator to determine what paperwork needs to be processed. Any other grant payment should be directed to SPA for deposit into the appropriate grant/contract account.

Q: How do I get a chartstring for my award?

The first step of for SPA to receive a notice of grant award or other grant award document from the sponsor. After the award is fully executed, SPA can issue a new set of chartstrings for the project. Once the Project chartstring is set up, SPA will notify the Principal Investigator and Department Administrator via email.

Q: My grant has been awarded, but I want to change my budget. What should I do?

Contact your SPA Post-Award Administrator for assistance in determining funding agency rules regarding budget changes. If allowed, request a budget adjustment via email to your SPA Post-Award Administrator. He or she will make the change in PeopleSoft. If prior approval from the sponsor is required, contact SPA Pre-Award Research Administrator for assistance in making the request.

Q: Who prepares the financial reports required by my grant?

Your SPA Post-Award Administrator will prepare any invoices and/or financial reports that a sponsor requires. If you are contacted by a sponsor for an invoice and/or financial report, forward the request to your Post-Award Services administrator.

Q: My grant is going to end but I'm not finished the work, what can I do?

If a grant period is scheduled to expire and the Principal Investigator has not finished the proposed objectives, a no-cost extension may be an option. Many sponsors allow a first time 12-month extension without sponsor approval. Other sponsors require a formal written request to review. Additionally, an internal no-cost time extension request must be completed. Go to the SPA Forms Library for the form. Contact your SPA Research Administrator for the procedure required for a particular grant.

Q: I will be leaving the University of Vermont. Can I transfer my grant?

Depending on your funding agency’s rules, your options may be, transfer your grant to your new institution, keep the grant at UVM with someone else appointed as Principal Investigator, or terminate the grant. You should contact your Research Administrator to clarify sponsor and University requirements, and prepare any necessary documents. Note: a grant or contract is awarded to the University; any change to the award requires sponsor and UVM approval.

Q: How do I get a password for National Science Foundation NSF (FastLane)?

If you have never been a FastLane user, contact SPA at (802) 656-3360 to request that you be added to the NSF database as a FastLane user and Principal Investigator. If you have used FastLane in the past but have forgotten your password, you can request a reset of password by going to the FastLane login screen and entering your last name and NSF ID and then clicking on Forgot Password. A new password will be e-mailed directly to you. If you have forgotten your NSF ID, contact your Research Administrator to look it up on FastLane for you. SPA, does NOT maintain a list of FastLane user passwords though.

Q: How do I get a password for National Institute of Health NIH (eRA Commons)?

Please contact your SPA Research Administrator to request that you be added to the eRA Commons. If you have used the eRA Commons in the past but have forgotten your password, you can request a reset of password by clicking on the Forgot Password/Unlock Account link on the eRA Commons home page. A new password will be e-mailed directly to you. SPA does NOT maintain a list of eRA user passwords.

Q: How do I register for Grants.gov?

You don't. Principal Investigators do NOT need to register with grants.gov as the institutional officials of the University are the only individuals required to have accounts with grants.gov.

Q: Where do I find information regarding Responsible Conduct of Research?

The National Institutes of Health requires all NIH trainees receive training in research ethics and the National Science Foundation has a responsible conduct of research requirement for students and postdoctoral researchers working on NSF awards. The SPA web site has more information about the Responsible Conduct of Research.

Q: I have some material I want to share with a colleague from another institution. What do I do?

The University has developed standard material transfer agreements to facilitate the sharing of research resources while protecting your intellectual property and the University’s interests. You can find these agreements in the SPA Forms Library. One agreement is designed for use when sharing material with private industry and one is designed for use when sharing material with other universities and non-profit research institutions. If you are planning to share material, fill out, print and sign the appropriate form and bring it to your Research Administrator for completion. These agreements are not valid until signed by the authorized institutional officials of each party. More information on the University’s policies on access to research data, including material developed under sponsored projects, is located here.

Q: I have a material transfer agreement, not a grant; who signs for UVM?

SPA reviews any Material Transfer Agreements, negotiates terms and conditions, and the Associate Vice President for Research Administration signs the agreement as Authorized University Official.

Q: What do I do if I invent something while working on a sponsored project?

Inventions should be promptly reported to the Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) using the UVM Invention Disclosure form. If required, OTC will report the invention to the sponsor and will begin the technology commercialization assessment process. For more information, please see the Office of Technology Commercialization website and the UVM Intellectual Property Policy or contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at (802) 656-8780 or ott@uvm.edu.

Q: I may have a conflict of interest what should I do?

Conflicts of Interest must be disclosed using the SPA Conflict of Interest Tracking System.

Q: Who is responsible for my Clinical Trial Agreement, UVM or FAHC?

When College of Medicine faculty members who also hold clinical appointments at Fletcher Allen Health Care engage in clinical trials that are (1) supported by industrial sponsors and (2) use Fletcher Allen Health Care facilities only, the contractual arrangements for such work are typically between Fletcher Allen Health Care and the trial sponsor. A faculty member engaged in such work should contact his/her department business manager to arrange for review and signature of the contracts for these trials. All other research work in which such faculty members engage is considered part of their duties as University faculty and proposals, awards, and contracts for such work are managed through the University’s SPA office.

Last updated 10-04-11.

Last modified April 01 2014 01:44 PM

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