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Grants & Sponsored Projects

Grants & Sponsored Projects - UIUC Frequently Asked Questions

Browse FAQs by Category: General Award Information - Expenditures and Allowability - Cost Transfers - Financial Reporting, Invoicing and Auditing - Award Modifications

General Award Information

Expenditures and Allowability

Cost Transfers

Financial Reporting, Invoicing and Auditing

Award Modifications

General Award Information

Q. What is an Anticipation Account and how do I request one?

  • 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 it can be determined with a high degree of certainty that an award will be made, 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.
  • Units should use the GC70: Request to Establish an Anticipation Grant/Fund - Request to Use Expired or Overdrafted Grant/Fund system to request an anticipation account. Additional information can be found in the GC70 Request to Establish Anticipation Slides.
  • Please note: New project requests should be initiated by the Institution ID proposal number. Requests for continued use of expired fund or overdraft fund should be initiated by the Grant Code. Requests for continuations, expired funds or overdrafts require the fund(s) to be entered and these requests are routed directly to GCO (post-award). The status is "Under Review by Post-Award."

Q. When is it necessary to assign a new Grant Code and Institution ID proposal number for a new increment of funding?

  • If a sponsor issues a new increment of funding as a new award (e.g. executed documents reference a new agreement number), a new Institution ID proposal number and new Banner Grant Code is assigned to the award.
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) Awards: At the end of each five year project period, NIH assigns a new NIH Document Number to the project. This new document number signifies a new period of funding.  Since this NIH number changes, a new Institution ID proposal number and new Banner Grant Code is assigned to the award to be able to separately track the activities of the new period of funding.

Q. Is this award Cost Reimbursement or Fixed Price?

Sponsored project award language directs the determination between Cost Reimbursement and Fixed Price awards.

  • Fixed Price award is one where the sponsor provides the University a fixed amount of funding to complete a mutually agreed upon scope of work. The amount of the award is based on an estimate of the costs of performing the work, using costing methodology that conforms to federal cost principles and University policy. Once the award is accepted, the Principal Investigator is obligated to perform the work, whether or not the funding provided is adequate, but is not obligated to return any unused funds.
  • Cost Reimbursement award is when the University can bill the sponsor for actual costs incurred up to the amount of the award. Any unused funds are returned to the sponsor at the conclusion of the project.

This determination is entered in Banner FZAGRNT using the Category code.  If award language is unclear, GCO may contact the sponsor for further clarification in writing, such as via email.  Category Codes assignments translate as follows:

Category Code



Cost Reimbursement









Fixed Price







Cost Reimbursement - Letter of Credit


Cost Reimbursement - Letter of Credit

Q. What are the University guidelines for a Fixed Price award?

Q. Where can I find information on how to use Banner to access and research information related to sponsored projects?

  • Please see the Grants and Contracts for Professional and Administrative Personnel (GC101) Participant Guide and related job aids in Training Materials and Courses.

Q. Where can I find information on how to apply to be a University of Illinois Certified Research Administrator through the SPaRC'Ed certification series?

Expenditures and Allowability

Q. Is this an allowable expenditure on my sponsored project?

Q. If a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) is paid 100% on grant A, but has been asked to present a paper on behalf of grant B, can the student's travel be charged to grant B?

  • In most situations where a Graduate Research Assistant has committed 100% effort to one project, their travel cannot be allocated to another project.  The travel needs to follow the documented effort.

Q. What does a PI have to do to be compliant when purchasing equipment on a grant?

  • General purpose equipment is unallowable as a direct charge, except where approved in advance from the awarding agency. Special purpose equipment is allowable as a direct cost, provided that items with a unit cost of $5,000 or more have the prior approval of the awarding sponsor OMB Circular A-21, Section J.18).
  • Refer to specific sponsor's policies and the terms and conditions of the award. If allowed on an award, you need to provide a detailed explanation in such documents as the award's Budget Justification, Scope of Work, Facilities and Resources page or obtain prior Sponsor approval. 

Please see OBFS Policies and Procedures Section 16.1.4 - Equipment, Equipment Leases, and Expendable Supplies for additional information.

Q. My PI has collaborators visiting UIUC.  Can lunch or dinner at a local restaurant be covered by the award?

  • Review the award's terms and conditions and approved budget to see if meals were approved by the sponsor. 
  • If meals are approved by sponsor, consider the following:
    • There must be a direct benefit to the award for the meal (i.e. there is a substantial and bona fide business discussion during, directly preceding or directly following the meal).
    • Typically, meals of University employees are unallowable on a sponsored project fund, unless justification can be provided that the only time the meeting could take place was during the meal time.
    • OBFS Policies and Procedures Manual, 8.1.1 Determine the Allowability of Business Meals and Refreshments for additional requirements. Note: Meals may be deemed allowable on unrestricted funds, but may be unallowable on sponsored project funds (restricted funds).
    • Any meal where alcohol is present, whether or not it is being paid for with sponsored project funds, is considered a social event. As a result, the entire meal is deemed unallowable on sponsored project funds.
  • On awards where recruiting costs are deemed allowable, only meals for the interviewee are allowable on the sponsored project fund.

Cost Transfers

Q. What needs to be included in the FOATEXT of a Journal Voucher (JV) for a non-salary cost transfer to or from a Sponsored Project fund?

  • Refer to the OBFS Policies and Procedures Section 16 - Sponsored Projects Cost Transfers
  • The following information should be included in the Text screen (FOATEXT)::
    • Explanation, including the reason for initial posting to incorrect C-FOAP, and benefit of the cost being transferred to the project
    • Original date of the service or transaction
    • Original transaction document number
    • Preparer's name and telephone number

Q. Do I need to complete and submit a Form GC81: Cost Transfer Justification For Sponsored Projects for my non-salary cost transfer?

  • Current Cost Transfers are those initiated during the accounting period in which the charges were originally recorded in Banner, or within 90 calendar days of the original transaction date in Banner. Transfers initiated after this cutoff date are considered non-current and require the completion and submission of the GC81 form to GCO before the Journal Voucher will be approved. 

Financial Reporting, Invoicing and Auditing

Q. Who should prepare and submit financial reports and invoices?

Financial reports and invoices are typically prepared and submitted to an award sponsor by GCO.  In preparing the financial reports and invoices, GCO may need to contact the PI and/or departmental staff for clarification of certain expense categories.  In addition, a few sponsors require report submission within a system only accessible by the PI or in conjunction with the narrative report.  In this case, the financial report should still be prepared by GCO staff and then, sent to the PI for submission.

Q. What is a Transit Recap form and how do I complete it? (Only applicable for State of Illinois awards)

  • A Transit Recap is a form for documenting allowable transactions that were incurred or encumbered, but didn't post to Banner during the period of performance.
  • Once the award has ended, GCO will send a Transit Recap form for the department to complete. The form is treated as a legal document and needs to include similar information you see on the Operating Ledger (brief description, account code, amount, date incurred, document number).

Once the Transit Recap is received from the department, GCO uses this to complete the final invoice to be submitted to the sponsor. Please see Grants & Sponsored Projects Training Materials Transit Recap tutorial for additional guidance.

Q. A sponsor contacts me and requests to receive additional information regarding financial data on an award (e.g. request for original receipts for a previously submitted invoice, on-site visit to review financial reports). Is this an audit?

Award Modifications

Q. A PI is retiring or transferring to a new institution. What do I need to do?

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) Awards:
    • If a PI is leaving the University, the department head's approval is needed if the award is going to be transferred with the PI. The PI will need to notify the sponsor of this change. Additionally, please notify the GCO NIH Section staff of this change in project personnel.
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Awards: 
    • For a PI who is retiring, a Change in PI/Co-PI request can be submitted through FastLane by the PI.  Additionally, please notify the GCO NSF Section staff of this change in project personnel.
    • For a PI that is transferring institutions, a decision needs to be made if they are willing and able to take their award with them to the new institution.  If they would like to take the award with them, a PI Transfer Request must be submitted in NSF's FastLane system.  If the award will stay at UIUC, a Change in PI/Co-PI request must be submitted in FastLane.  Contact the GCO NSF Section for step-by-step instructions for these requests.  Additionally, please notify the GCO NSF Section staff of this change in project personnel.
  • Other Sponsors (Other Federal, State of Illinois, and Private):
    • For other federal award transfers, the PI should prepare a letter explaining their move and wish to continue the project at the new institution.  Once the sponsor receives this notification, GCO works with the sponsor to provide any documents they request. For a retirements on other federal awards, GCO will typically send a letter to the sponsor, which is signed by the department head and/or the new PI, explaining the retirement of the previous PI and the ability of the University to keep the project going under the new PI's direction.  A curriculum vitae (C.V.) for the new PI must also be sent with the letter.
    • For a PI who is either retiring or transferring institutions, please notify GCO staff, who will review award terms and conditions for any language regarding these types of changes.  Please also copy GCO on communications to the sponsor regarding a request for a change in PI or transfer of the award to the new institution.  In addition, please allow GCO to prepare and/or confirm any award financial detail sent as part of a request.
  • Insert PI Transfer Checklist when finalized

Q. How does a Principal Investigator (PI) request a No Cost Extension (NCE)?

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) Awards:The PI can exercise their one-time authority to extend without funds the final budget period of a project period of a grant. This NCE can be up to 12 months in additional time. The PI would need to send an email to GCO staff to request the NCE. GCO submits the request through NIH's eRA Commons. After the first request, the appropriate Campus department will write a letter requesting the additional NCE and submit it to GCO. In turn, GCO will forward the NCE request letter to NIH.
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Awards:The PI would need to login to NSF's FastLane system and request the appropriate NCE.
  • Other Sponsors (Other Federal, State of Illinois, and Private):  The PI should work with his or her business office to prepare a NCE request, based on the "Sample Request for a Sponsor-Approved No Cost Extension" letter template. Once completed, this letter should then be forwarded to GCO for further action.  If the award language indicates an amendment may be necessary for an NCE, GCO will involve the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP). Otherwise, GCO will review and sign the request letter and forward it to the sponsor.

Q. Who do I contact, GCO or OSP, for my no-cost extension, budget reallocation, initiating a subaward, status of award CFOP/Grant Code?

  • NCE - process begins in GCO, involve OSP as necessary, refer to FAQ above
  • Budget Reallocation - process begins in GCO, involve OSP as necessary
    • If the subawardee is not mentioned in the budget, GCO requests sponsor approval
    • If the subawardee is mentioned in the budget - OSP executes the agreement
    • Subawards webpage for additional information and the Subaward Request Form.
  • Award Grant Code and CFOP - GCO

Last Updated: June 2, 2016

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