Sponsored Research Topics and Guidance

Learn More About Common Sponsored Research Topics

Searching for guidance related to a common research administration issue? Select one of the topics below for in-depth information, including policies, procedures, job aids, and useful links relevant to administrators across the entire sponsored research lifecycle.

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Topic Summary
Anticipation Funds & the GC70 System

It is often beneficial to make staff appointments and incur other expenses (e.g., pre-award expenses) prior to the formal notification of an award by the sponsor. When the success of a pending award is apparent, campus units, at their own risk, may incur costs in anticipation of the award. This may reduce the number of cost transfers needed once an award is fully executed.

Award Negotiation and Execution

The Negotiation team at Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA) negotiates a variety of agreements related to externally sponsored activities taking place at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  Go here for a list of the most common agreements executed at SPA.

Award Setup

Sponsored Programs Administration is responsible for setting up an award after a successful proposal. Learn about the respective responsibilities related to this process.

Billing, Invoicing, and Financial Reporting

SPA supports university principal investigators and departments in the billing, invoicing, and financial reporting for sponsored projects by helping to manage the financial interactions with sponsors and assuring compliance with all university and sponsor policies. 

Budget Justification

A budget justification (narrative) should be prepared to explain how the budgeted costs relate to the project. The narrative should provide sufficient detail to allow the sponsor to determine whether the proposed costs are reasonable and appropriate.

Closeout Award

The university has an obligation to sponsors and funding agencies to bring funded projects to closure in a timely manner. The award closeout process is a collaborative effort of all parties involved in ensuring completion of all project work, filing required reports, and resolving financial matters.


Sponsored Programs Administration helps ensure university compliance with research-related federal, state, and local regulations. SPA also promotes the ethical and responsible conduct of research and provide assistance to faculty, staff, and students engaged in research to facilitate regulatory compliance.

Cost Principles

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a responsibility to ensure that costs incurred on sponsored projects are in compliance with federal regulations, sponsor policy, award terms and conditions, and university policy.  Learn more about policies and procedures.

Cost Sharing

Cost sharing is the portion of the total project costs not borne by the sponsor.

Cost Sharing and Activity Reporting System (ARS)

The Activity Report System (ARS) verifies the employee’s time available to support their contributed effort cost sharing entered into the SPA cost share system.  ARS collects payroll activity and cost sharing information to satisfy federal and state reporting requirements. Learn more about the nuances of how cost share is managed in this system.

Cost Transfer

A cost transfer is a reallocation or redistribution of a previously charged expenditure transferred from one university fund to another fund after the charge has posted in Banner.


Equipment purchased or built with sponsored project funds may be subject to a number of Federal and State of Illinois regulations, along with any related terms the sponsor includes in the award. Below are definitions for types of equipment.  Please keep in mind an item may fit multiple definitions due to the source of funds used to purchase the item.

Equipment Compliance

Tips on how to stay compliant with proper equipment cost allocation, justifications, approvals, and more.

Equipment Purchasing

In accordance with UG, Procurement by states, the State of Illinois procurement code governs the procurement policy of the University. When making an equipment purchase through any mechanism, please refer to the Office of Procurement website for policy and procedures. In addition, equipment and lease purchases through i-buy or other purchasing mechanisms will require SPA approval before posting to the sponsored fund. 

Equipment Transfers and Loans

Equipment purchased from sponsored project funds may, with the approval of the unit head, college dean, and SPA, be transferred or loaned to another University when certain policy requirements are met.  

Export Control

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is committed to advancing knowledge through open research in which all methodologies, data, and research results are freely shared with the public. Balanced against this commitment is a responsibility to protect the national security and economic interests of the United States, which can be achieved in part by establishing mechanisms for complying with export controls

External Audit Responsibilities and Record Access and Retention

Federal, State and Other sponsors reserve the right to conduct audits as outlined in the award terms and conditions.  Upon reasonable notice, the University shall make records available to sponsoring agency or authorized auditor for inspection and evaluation of award activities. Below is an overview of topics related to compliance with these responsibilities.

Federal Financial Regulations

Frame work by which sponsored projects are guided

Fixed Price Awards

An award in which the sponsor agrees to pay the University a set amount to complete a mutually agreed upon scope of work.  The award amount is an estimate of costs necessary to perform the work, using costing methods that conform to federal cost principles and University policy.

Gift vs. Grant

Gifts and Grants/Contracts are administered by different Offices at the university and they carry their own distinct sets of policies and procedures, therefore, it is essential that the determination of external funds be undertaken with care and with a sound understanding of the various considerations that guide the determination of funding type.

Human Subject Payments

Payment or non-monetary reward to human subjects as remuneration for time and inconvenience of participation in research studies, as well as an incentive to participate, has special requirements and policies that must be followed.

Indirect Cost (F&A) Recovery and Distribution

Facilities and administration (F&A) charges on sponsored projects are a reimbursement from the sponsor to the campus for the cost of doing research. Because colleges and units incur costs in supporting sponsored research, a portion of the reimbursement is distributed back to them. 

Industry and Private Funding

This matrix identifies typical attributes associated with a variety of industry and private funding contracts. The matrix also seeks to clarify the nature of gifts, grants and contracts from industry for our campus units, and to provide guidance for prospective industry partners. Contact SPA with any questions.

Intellectual Credit

A frequent means of measuring sponsored activity is showcasing dollars expended.  However, expenditures alone do not accurately reflect the contributions of investigators or participating units, because expenditures do not necessarily reflect where intellectual participation occurred. 

Material Transfer Agreement

A Material Transfer Agreement or “MTA” is an agreement that governs the transfer of materials between a provider and a recipient.

National Institutes of Health

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), is the nation’s medical research agency—making important discoveries that improve health and save lives. 

National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “To promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense.” NSF is the University of Illinois’ leading funder, and we have received more NSF funding than any other university in the nation for six consecutive years.

Participant Support Costs

Participant support costs are direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with conferences, or training projects (2 CFR 200, Subpart A, §200.75).

Personal Services Charged to Sponsored Projects

Compensation for personal services covers all amounts paid or accrued by the University for the services of employees which are provided under sponsored projects. Personal services costs are allowable to the extent that the total compensation to the individual employee conforms to the established policies of the University, is consistently applied, and conforms to the sponsor's cost principles. The direct charges for work performed are supported by after-the-fact reviews and confirmations. It is recognized that teaching, research, and public service are intricately intermingled, and specific activities cannot be measured with a high degree of precision. Reliance, therefore, is placed on reasonably accurate approximation.


Pre-Proposals (white papers, letter of intent, etc.) must go through SPA if the submission requires either the signature of an authorized representation or submission by an authorized representative. All pre-proposals should be submitted to SPA through myProposals at least four (4) business days prior to the sponsor deadline date.

Program Income

Program is gross income earned by the non-federal entity that is directly generated by a supported activity or earned as a result of the award during the period of performance. Program income includes, but is not limited to, income from fees for services performed, the use or rental of real or personal property acquired under federally-funded non-research projects, the sale of commodities or items fabricated under an award, license fees, and interest on loans made with award funds.  

Proposal Budgeting

The budget is the financial plan for the project or program. It includes both the sponsor and non-sponsor share of the total project cost. Proposed project costs are comprised of allowable direct costs, facilities and administrative (F&A) costs, and cost sharing (when mandatory).

Proposal Guidance

SPA Pre-Award is responsible for reviewing and approving requests for external funding prepared and submitted by the campus community to federal, state, and private sponsors. Each campus unit has an assigned proposal coordinator as the primary SPA point of contact for that unit's proposal reviews.

Proposal Submission to SPA

Guidance on the process for submitting a proposal to Sponsored Programs Administration for review.


Rates (F&A, Fringe, Tuition Remission)

Find resources related to rates for research awards below, including F&A, fringe, and tuition remission rates and historical rates.

Recording Equipment in Banner Fixed Asset

All controlled and capitalized equipment must be recorded in Banner Fixed Asset. In most cases, title of the equipment will vest to the University (State of Illinois). However, Federal sponsors may require retaining ownership.

Semi-Annual Confirmation

Semi-annual confirmations provide the basis of University reports to the federal government about the allowability, allocability, and reasonableness of charges applied to federal funds.  All direct charges to sponsored projects must have after-the-fact confirmation they were properly incurred.

Service Centers

Sometimes products or services for researchers are not readily available from external sources, or cannot be obtained conveniently and efficiently. Therefore, the institution may need to establish service centers to provide these products and services

Small Business Subcontracting Plan (SBSP)

The federal government has detailed regulations requiring contractors to treat small businesses fairly and provide maximum opportunity for their participation in federal contract work (FAR 19.7 – The Small Business Subcontracting Program).

Subaward Invoicing

The PI is responsible for reviewing, certifying, and approving all invoices, in consultation with the business manager as required, with regard to the subrecipient’s performance. In some cases, the PI may delegate this authority to a designee who can attest to the performance of the subrecipient. When this occurs, written documentation must be kept on file, with a copy provided to SPA for their files.

Subaward Monitoring

Responsibility for monitoring subrecipients is a joint effort between the principal investigator, the departmental/unit administrator, and SPA. If the PI has concerns about either the performance or amount invoiced by the subrecipient, they should be shared timely with SPA, so the concerns can be addressed, which may include withholding payment.

Subaward Processing

SPA is responsible for processing subaward agreements and amendments that are issued by the University to collaborating entities (subrecipients). SPA negotiators work with the principal  investigator(PI) and/or the unit to process subawards to other organizations who are to perform a distinct scope of work for a project.


The University of Illinois System may issue a subaward to a subrecipient for the purpose of performing a portion of the scope of work under an award for a sponsored project.

Technical Reports and Other Deliverables
Technical Testing Services Agreements (TTAs) and Facility Use Agreements (FUAs)

Technical testing is a specific service by which the University uses unique University equipment or facilities to test provided materials/items and deliver results without interpretation or analysis. Facility Use Agreements set forth the terms under which the University will provide permission for a third party to use specific University facilities, equipment and resources for a research and development purposes.

Types of Agreements

Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA) negotiates a variety of agreements related to externally sponsored activities taking place at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides economic opportunity through innovation that helps rural America thrive and promotes agriculture production that better nourishes Americans while also helping feed others throughout the world. Additionally, the USDA preserves the nation's natural resources through conservation, restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands.

Using myProposals

All proposals should be submitted to SPA through myProposals at least four (4) business days prior to the sponsor deadline date. The SPA Proposal Field Guide (linked) provides definitions and explanations for each field in myProposals.