Frequently Asked Questions
For basic definitions and expansions of acronyms and initialisms, visit the Glossary for Research Administration.
What is a "principal investigator" or "PI"?
The principal investigator, also known as a "PI," is the primary individual responsible for the proposal, the research project, and the award. The PI is the holder of the grant. A co-PI assists the PI; there may be a number of co-PIs on a grant proposal.
What is a "sponsor"?
Agencies that fund research are called "sponsors." Federal agencies, state governments, business and industry, and private non-profits might all sponsor university research that aligns with their interests and goals. The Office of Research has compiled several lists of sponsors that previously funded UNO projects.
What is a "speedkey"?
A speedkey is used in lieu of a project or grant number. It is a five-digit numeric or alphanumeric code used to charge purchasing, travel, payroll, and other expenses. All accounts on an award have a unique speedkey. Charges should be applied to the correct funding source as described in the proposal/award.
What is a "CON" number?
A "CON" number stands for "contract number." It is the default naming mechanism as delivered in PeopleSoft, which will not carry over to Workday. The CON number ties together all speedkeys for a single project, including the sponsor funding speedkey and the cost share funding speedkey. It is an auto-generated number used to run reports in PeopleSoft.
What is the difference between a "fixed price" award and a "cost reimbursable" award?
When a sponsor funds a PI with a fixed price award, UNO receives the full award amount if the specific terms of the award are met. UNO will retain any funds not spent in the course of the project.
When a sponsor funds a PI with a cost reimbursable award, UNO invoices the sponsor based on the actual expenses charged to the award by the PI. UNO will only receive the full award amount if allowable expenses are posted equaling the full award.
Why do I need to know the start and end date of my award?
Charges are only allowable during the lifetime of the award. Some agencies may allow pre-award expenditures, but you will need written approval from the agency.
Some charges may not be allowed at the end of the award. Equipment is often not allowed in the last year of an award, and supplies may be suspect if purchased in the last six months of an award.
How are internal awards different from external awards?
An internal award is funded by a University of New Orleans office or department. An external award is funded by any other funding source or sponsor.
All other rules, regulations, policies, and procedures remain the same. The principal investigator must remain in compliance, follow a budget, and conclude their project by a designated end date, whether the award is internal or external.
What is the UNO routing form?
The UNO Routing Form is used to obtain approval from the principal investigator (PI), co-PIs if applicable, and the appropriate department head(s) and dean/director(s) for the proposed project. The routing form notifies the Office of Research of your intent to submit a proposal to a funding opportunity, and it is available on the Office of Research SharePoint website. It can be completed anywhere the PI has computer access.
What is a 101 Personnel Action Form, and who fills it out?
A 101 Personnel Action Form must be filled out in order to hire a graduate assistant or a full-time employee. New hires will not be added to the UNO systems without a completed 101.
These forms are filled out by the business manager or the administrative entity in the principal investigator's department. In some cases, the department chair or the principal investigator will fill out the 101—but it should be filled out by someone overseeing financials for the college or department.
What is Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training?
Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training is required for National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services awards, including the National Institutes of Health. RCR training is completed by all individuals receiving support or funding, including students.
RCR training must be completed at UNO prior to beginning work on a covered project. The Office of Research will not approve hiring paperwork without completed training.
Training is administered through CITI.
Why do I receive emails from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org?
PeopleSoft automatically sends reminder emails for milestones—this process will change once Workday has been implemented.
Types of PeopleSoft milestones may include progress/technical reports; protocol renewals, such as animal use, human subjects, and biosafety; or expiration notices for cost-reimbursable or fixed price awards. Use the link in the email for more information about that particular milestone. Do not reply to the message—the sender cannot assist you.
Emails are sent to the PI, the co-PI, the business manager, and the research administrator.
Why should I use the UNO budget templates?
The Office of Research highly recommends that you use the UNO budget templates provided through our website or the routing form. These templates will calculate tuition, payroll benefits, and F&A costs on your behalf.
What are payroll benefits?
Payroll benefits, also known as "fringe," are compensations made to employees beyond the regular benefit of being paid for their work. Payroll benefits include sick or paid vacation time, health insurance, retirement, etc.
The payroll benefits rate is a calculated average approved by our cognizant federal agency, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. It is based on actual costs.
The current rate is non-negotiable and must be used even if the current rate is higher than it was at the proposal stage. PIs should use the 2% projected increase in payroll benefits on the Office of Research budget template for future periods.
Payroll benefits are listed as a separate line item on your budget. No action is required by the department; it is calculated and posted by PeopleSoft based on the posted salary amount.
What are facility & administrative (F&A) costs?
Facility & Administrative (F&A) Costs, also known as indirect costs or overhead, are real costs incurred by the University of New Orleans and its departments, schools, centers, and institutions in support of sponsored activities. F&A cannot be directly identified with a specific grant or contract.
F&A costs are incurred by shared services such as libraries; physical plant operation and maintenance; utility costs; administrative expenses for the university, department, unit, school, or sponsored project; and depreciation for buildings and equipment.
To mitigate these real costs, F&A costs are applied to all grants, contracts, and other agreements with federal, state, and private entities. The rate is negotiated at the federal level through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is calculated on all direct expenses except: equipment, fellowships, scholarships, tuition, off-site facility rental costs, and the portion of subgrants or subcontracts in excess of $25,000.
The PI can use a lower sponsoring agency rate if the Vice President for Research & Economic Development approves the rate, or if there is sufficient basis to support the proposed F&A rate.
For more information about F&A costs are used by the university, read further down on this FAQ page.
What is cost sharing?
Cost sharing occurs when a portion of the project funding is not provided by the sponsor—the University of New Orleans shares in the costs. These are real dollars which may be from the UNO general fund or a restricted fund, but must be auditable. Cost share dollars may fund faculty time, supplies, equipment, etc.
Cost share funds can be provided by a third party if the Office of Research is provided with a letter of commitment.
Grants may not be used as cost share funds without prior written approval from both sponsors/granting agencies.
Cost share dollars are listed on a separate budget and speedkey but assigned to the same CON number.
Mandatory vs. Voluntary Cost Share
Mandatory cost share is when a sponsoring agency requires the PI to list cost share on his/her proposal.
Voluntary cost share will generally not be accepted by the Office of Research, as it was not required by the sponsoring agency. The National Science Foundation will reject proposals without review if voluntary cost share is included.
What does the GA waiver cover? How is GA tuition calculated and budgeted?
Graduate assistants on academic (9-month) and fiscal (12-month) appointments are not required to pay tuition from their assistantship stipends. Therefore, the cost of your GAs' tuition must be included in your budget.
The Office of the Registrar publishes tuition amounts for graduate students. Tuition should be listed in the following budget categories:
- 604000—GA salary (commensurate with department standard)
- 668010—Graduate Assistant Tuition
"Nonresident" fees are automatically waived for graduate assistants. If appropriate and necessary, nonresident fees may be declared on budgets as "matching funds."
How are subcontracts to outside entities handled?
The intention to subcontract a portion of the work should be included in the initial proposal. If the decision to subcontract is made after the award has been granted, prior written approval from the sponsor is always required.
Subcontracts are addressed on two budget lines:
- Professional Services (650100)
- Subcontracts > $25,000 (650200)
Separate the portion of each subcontract not assessed F&A costs and include consultant costs.
Spending Your Award
How will I be paid? How will I spend my funds?
If your award is processed through the Office of Research, funds are not deposited into your personal bank account or paid to you through a payroll deposit. You will be assigned a speedkey to which you may charge your expenses. Paperwork must be submitted for all payments or orders.
If salary is part of your award, you must submit a 101 Personnel Action Form, enter the appropriate salary amount, and use the assigned speedkey.
If the budget includes other expenses (such as supplies, student workers, tuition, etc.), follow the proper UNO procedures for processing those payments. Use the assigned speedkey.
When can I start spending the funds from my award?
You may begin spending the funds once the award start date has passed and a signed Notice of Grant Award (NOGA) form has been returned to your Office of Research post-award representative.
When will I get my speedkey?
Speed key processing is completed by your service team in the Office of Research.
- Pre-Award Research Administrator
- Your research administrator will process the award in the financial system.
- Your speed key request will be submitted to your grant administrator.
- Processing generally takes three business days.
- Post-Award Grant Administrator
- Your grant administrator will assign you a speed key.
- Processing generally takes three business days.
- The UNO Notice of Grant Award (NOGA) will be sent to the principal investigator.
- The investigator then reviews, signs, and returns the form if accurate.
- If inaccurate, the investigator must inform the grant administrator of needed corrections.
- The form must be signed before funds are available for spending.
- Pre-Award Research Administrator
UNO may not receive the sponsor's funds for months after my award start date. How can I receive my speedkey now and avoid delays in my project?
Fill out an Advanced Speedkey Request Form, available on SharePoint.
You must have reasonable assurance that the award will be made.
A speedkey will be assigned; it will not change once the award document or executed contract is received. Changes may be made to the award period or amount.
If UNO does not receive the award, the Office of Research will transfer existing expenditures to the appropriate account identified on the Advanced Speedkey Request Form. The PI must cancel pending orders and cease use of the speedkey.
How do I pay participants, student workers, GAs, fellows, or full-time employees?
To pay student workers: Fill out the Student Employment Appointment Form and contact the Office of Financial Aid.
To pay graduate assistants (GAs): GAs are paid through salary. Submit a 101 Personnel Action Form and a tuition exemption form. Contact the Graduate School.
To pay full-time employees: Submit a 101 Personnel Action Form and contact Human Resource Management.
To pay participants, by type:
- UNO Students: Fill out an award request form and contact the Office of Financial Aid.
- Current Louisiana teachers: Enter into a Teacher's Participation Support Agreement with the teacher's school, and contact the Office of Financial Services.
- Other participants (e.g. high school students): Fill out a stipend check request form and contact Accounts Payable.
How are travel expenses processed?
All requests for travel must be submitted in advance to Accounts Payable. International travel also requires prior written authorization from the sponsor.
After returning from travel, complete, print, sign, and submit a Travel Voucher to Accounts Payable.
PIs must follow all state travel guidelines, such as the maximum reimbursement for hotel, food, car rental, airfare, etc.
Will my award be reduced by payroll taxes?
If the award is paid as salary, normal deductions are removed.
The Office of Research will not provide tax advice.
Monitoring Budget Reports
What should I do if there appears to be an error in the report?
If there is a possible mistake, contact your post-award grant administrator for assistance.
Why has an expense not been posted on the reports? Why does a posted expense appear inaccurate?
There are sometimes delays in posting expenditures to the UNO financial system. Payroll may not be posted for a few weeks, and interdepartmental requests are processed in groups. If the award is nearing the end date and the expenses do not appear to be correct, contact your post-award grant administrator for assistance.
Why is the budgeted amount different from the award amount on the reports?
Only funds currently available for spending are budgeted. Budget amounts for future periods will be available at the start of the budget period.
If there is a possible mistake, contact your post-award grant administrator for assistance.
How current is the information on the reports retrieved from the financial system?
Reports retrieved from PeopleSoft include all information as of the "run" date. Please note, "running" a report is the term used to generate the report; the user presses a "run" button. The "run" date will appear in the upper right hand corner of the report.
However, the expense must be posted in order to appear on the report. For example, payroll must have been paid and the payroll journal must have been posted. Supplies must have been ordered and processed on a journal to post to the award.
The report may not include items on recently submitted paperwork.
Why is there a budget end date on the report?
Some projects do not allow budgets to be carried over. The funds must be used in a particular period. Refer to your award document or contact your service team for assistance.
What will happen if I overspend a particular budget category?
You may need approval from the sponsor to alter the initially-proposed budget. Some sponsors allow minor changes without approval, but other sponsors require that all changes to the budget be approved by them. Refer to your award document to learn your sponsor's requirements.
To modify your budget, complete a Budget Adjustment Request and submit it to your post-award grant administrator. Submit this request before completing any paperwork that would cause a particular budget category to be overspent. You must provide justification for the adjustment; the Office of Research will determine whether the sponsor needs to be contacted.
Generally, sponsors need to approve of alterations to the participant costs budget.
If I am looking at a report, how will I know if I am overdrawn?
Check the column labeled "Budget Balance" or "Available Balance." To calculate, the system subtracts the pre-encumbrance, encumbrance, and expense amounts from the budget amount. Overdrawn amounts will be in parenthesis, and in some cases will be listed in red.
Each budget category can be overdrawn, and the overall award can be overdrawn. If a particular budget category is overdrawn, complete a Budget Adjustment Form. If the overall award is overdrawn, contact your post-award grant administrator to determine the appropriate steps to clear the overdrawn amount. The principal investigator is always responsible for overdrawn amounts.
Gifts vs. Sponsored Research
Is this a gift or sponsored research?
The correct classification, processing, and monitoring of external funds (gifts, contracts, and awards) are an essential part of the fiduciary management by the University. To facilitate coordination and ensure consistent treatment of funds, these policies and procedures should be used by all University employees seeking or receiving external funding support.
Gifts and sponsored awards to the University are made in a variety of forms, reflecting the diversity of sponsors as well as their purposes. This can make the proper classification a complex endeavor which requires informed judgment in cases where the nature of an award is not immediately clear. Each award must be considered in its totality since there is no single defining characteristic which can be used for all externally funded awards.
Sponsored Awards are grants or contracts from an external entity such as a foundation, corporation or governmental agency for some activity with a negotiated scope and purpose undertaken by the University in expectation of a benefit to the sponsor or their mission.
Grants and contracts bind the university to a set of terms such as budgetary restrictions, have programmatic objectives to be achieved, define responsible parties, have a period of performance and detail ownership rights of intellectual property and data. Generally, grants are to carry out a public purpose of support and do not provide a direct benefit to the sponsor; they usually allow the recipient a greater degree of flexibility than other award mechanisms. In general, contracts are for the procurement of something for the direct benefit of the sponsor and often have more restrictions. Either type of award can be on a fixed price or cost reimbursable basis.
Facility & Administrative costs are charged according to the University's federally negotiated rates unless the sponsor has a written and publicly-published policy precluding such recovery. This documentation should be attached to the UNO routing form and submitted for approval with the proposal.
Sponsored awards are administered by the Office of Research at the University of New Orleans. Electronic routing forms and the required supporting documentation should be submitted to the Office of Research for University approval prior to submitting a proposal to a sponsor.
A gift is the voluntary transfer of funds or property to the university as a charitable donation with no expectation or receipt of economic benefit or other tangible compensation other than recognition and disposition of the donation according to their expressed wishes. Gifts may be given for specific or general purposes.
- Gifts to the University are processed by Business Affairs. Gifts can also be made to the UNO Foundation.
- There are no contractual requirements, but a gift can restrict the funds' usage to a particular purpose such as scholarship or research in a set area.
- The donation is irrevocable.
- No period of performance is specified.
- Invoices, financial statement, progress reports, and technical reports are not required.
- No use of university property is expected in exchange for the donation.
- Government support (federal, state, local, or foreign) is not typically a gift.
Funds from an individual or corporation given as a charitable donation will typically qualify as a gift; cash, checks, and stock certificates presented to the University with no legal agreement or service requirement would generally be processed as a gift.
How to Distinguish
Grant or contract instruments may include some or all of the requirements and conditions listed below. Gifts may be unrestricted or may include some of the requirements listed below. The language used by a donor or sponsor and the benefit they expect is generally the source for making a distinction between a sponsored award and a gift.
Sponsored Award Gift
Office of Research
(a department under Business Affairs)
Public good or economic benefit to the sponsor
No expectation or receipt of economic benefit
Source of funding
Reporting & Publication
- Progress/technical reports required
- Final progress/technical reports required
- Usually requires acknowledgement in publications
Not required; may request acknowledgement in publications
Accounting & Financial Reports
- Requires separate account
- Requires regular financial reports and final financial reports
- Requires line item budget and prior approval for budget adjustments
- Intellectual property issues
- Payment contingent upon reports/deliverables
- Dictates specific period of performance
General or non-restrictive; irrevocable
Facility & Administrative Costs
What do recovered Facility & Administrative (F&A) costs support?
Facility & Administrative (F&A) costs, also known as indirect costs or overhead, is the portion of a project's cost that is not directly charged to the sponsor. Examples of F&A costs include utilities, telephone, departmental staff, office supplies, accounts payable personnel, etc. F&A costs are not profit for the university, but are the federally-approved method for recovering costs necessary to develop and maintain the infrastructure required to support the research enterprise.
The recovered F&A costs budget and allocation are managed by the Office of Research. Generally, the recovered F&A costs are used to support UNO's mission as it relates to the strategic plan for research. Another core area of support is for projects and services which benefit UNO's students. Graduate tuition waivers and scholarships are an important use of recovered F&A costs. Listed below are some of the recurring services supported by recovered F&A costs.
Graduate assistantships encourage outside funding and increase the number of graduate students that receive financial support to attend UNO.
A portion of the recovered F&A costs are used to fully fund operations in the Office of Research. This office plays an integral role in applying for and managing sponsored funding, which includes ensuring compliance with sponsor and federal regulations. In addition, F&A costs fund the Office of Research's management of the patent applications and technology transfers for UNO. These functions allow UNO to continue performing research and obtaining outside funding. These offices receive no general fund support.
Other offices receiving salary or operating support range from Business Affairs to the Graduate School and the President's office.
Since sponsored research activities increase the use of utilities and therefore increase the cost of doing business, a portion of the F&A costs are used to pay for utilities.
Compliance Committees Support
Some research projects require approval to use human or animal subjects. Their use requires review and approval by the IRB (Institutional Review Board) or IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee), respectively. One member on each committee is from the Office of Research. In addition, the Office of Research provides monetary support to be used for committee expenses such as travel to training workshops to keep current with federal/state compliance guidelines. These committees are a federal requirement that support both research and instructional uses.
Office of Research staff members sit on many of the other compliance committees on campus which oversee such diverse areas of compliance as export controls, financial conflicts of interest, and safety. Many of these committees have nominal recurring costs which may be supported by recovered F&A costs.
A few sponsors require UNO to demonstrate financial commitment to a proposed project, referred to as mandatory cost share; a proposal will not be considered for funding without this cost share included in the proposed budget. Cost share can also occur when specific expenses are not allowed by the sponsor.
Cost share may come from a third party, a departmental or college general fund, or recovered F&A costs. The Office of Research must approve all requests for cost share before they are submitted to a sponsor.
Through the years, recovered F&A costs have been used for tuition, equipment, salary, supplies, etc. Some awards or projects would not be able to be completed without the use of F&A costs for cost share.
Recovered F&A costs may be used to renovate or build a lab for a professor, department, or center in support of research. Lab improvements have the potential to attract both faculty and students to UNO, improve the quality of the student's experience at UNO, and improve the quality and quantity of sponsored funding. This is in keeping with both UNO and the Office of Research's mission statements.
New Faculty Start-Up
Attracting talented and dedicated faculty is important for all universities. In order to attract top research faculty, start-up funds may be provided as part of the hiring packet. Recovered F&A costs have been used for start-up funds, usually to supplement what is provided by the department or college. The amount is based on negotiations with the chair and/or dean recruiting new research faculty.
Recovered F&A Costs Return
The Office of Research has a policy to return a portion of the F&A costs recovered to each college, center/institute, the library, and information technology each fiscal year. Per IMD 85.002, each college can receive up to 7% of their college's recovered F&A costs (excluding any board approved center's or institute's recovered F&A costs); each academic department can receive up to 6%; each Board of Regents approved center or institute can receive up to 25%. The Library and Information Technology may each receive 1% of the total recovered F&A costs. PIs can receive up to 7% for awards not in centers/institutes.
Each dean or director has discretion in the use of these funds.
Because of their dedication and success in their chosen field, selected professors may be honored with an award through a nomination process at UNO. As recognition for their hard work to earn these honors, a monetary award is provided from the pool of recovered F&A costs. The level and length of support varies with each type of award.
Research Strategic Plan
The Office of Research is continually seeking ways to improve research on campus and achieve UNO's Research Strategic Plan, and funds may be used to support these goals.
Internal Grant Program
Since the summer of 2009, the Office of Research has funded internal grants. The purpose of these internal awards is to improve the grant-making skills of inexperienced investigators and to develop new areas of research or scholarly endeavors.
Investigators submit a proposal just like any outside funding opportunity. The Research Council recommends which proposals to approve for funding.