Funding GRANTS
What Should I Know About ED Grants? - September 1998
Archived Information


Glossary

Administrative regulations. Regulations that implement 1) guidance from OMB contained in circulars that apply to the administration of all federal grants and cooperative agreements, 2) Presidential Executive Orders (where regulation is necessary), and 3) legislation that affects all applicants for or recipients of federal grants and cooperative agreements; see also EDGAR (defined below).

Application Control Center. The administrative unit of the Department of Education [in the Office of the Chief Financial and Chief Information Officer (defined below)] that is officially authorized to receive applications for discretionary grants and cooperative agreements.

Application for Federal Education Assistance or ED 424. The grant application form, sometimes referred to as the application ‘cover page,’ used by the Department of Education, beginning in 1998. This form replaces the SF 424, formerly used by the Department.

Application notice. A notice published in the Federal Register (defined below) that invites applications for one or more discretionary grant or cooperative agreement competitions, gives basic program and fiscal information on each competition, informs potential applicants when and where they can obtain applications, and cites the deadline date (defined below), for a particular competition.

Application package. A package that contains the application notice for one or more programs, and all the information and forms needed to apply for a discretionary grant or cooperative agreement.

Appropriations legislation. A law passed by the Congress to provide a certain level of funding for a grant program in a given year.

Assurances. A listing of a variety of requirements, found in different federal laws, regulations, and executive orders, that applicants agree in writing to observe as a condition of receiving federal assistance.

Audit finding. A conclusion about a monetary or non-monetary matter related to an auditor’s examination of an organization, program, activity, or function, which frequently identifies problems and provides recommendations for corrective action in order to prevent their future recurrence.

Audit resolution process. The process by which the Department determines whether costs in an audit report are actually allowable or unallowable. If costs are identified as being unallowable, the Department initiates action to have grantees return unallowable expenditures.

Audit Resolution Specialist. The Department staff member who reviews audit reports of grantees and develops the proposed recommendations for settling cases of expenditures not allowed under discretionary grants or cooperative agreements. The recommendations become the basis for decisions issued in the Program Determination Letter (defined below).

Authorizing legislation. A law passed by the Congress that establishes or continues a grant program.

Budget period. An interval of time into which a project period is divided for budgetary purposes, usually twelve months.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. Publication and database produced by the General Services Administration that lists the domestic assistance programs of all federal agencies and gives information about a program’s authorization, fiscal details, accomplishments, regulations, guidelines, eligibility requirements, information contacts, and application and award process; also called the CFDA.

Certification. A statement, signed by an applicant or grantee as a prerequisite for receiving federal funds, that it 1) meets or will adhere to certain conditions and/or 2) will undertake or not undertake certain actions.

CFDA number. Identifying number for a federal assistance program, composed of a unique two-digit prefix to identify the federal agency (>84= for the Department of Education), followed by a period and a unique three-digit code for each authorized program.

Clarification contact. Contact with an applicant by a grant team member before the Department makes a funding decision in order to obtain more detailed information about programmatic and/or budgetary items in an application.

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Compilation of all final regulations issued by federal agencies and published annually by the National Archives and Records Administration; divided into numbered ‘Titles’; Title 34 contains the regulations of the Department of Education.

Combined Application Notice (CAN). A notice published by the Department in the Federal Register that identifies programs and competitions under which the Secretary has invited, or plans to invite, applications for new awards for a particular Fiscal Year. The notice provides the actual or estimated information on the following: 1) the date the competition will be announced in the Federal Register; 2) the date application packages will be available; 3) the application deadline date; 4) the deadline for Intergovernmental Review; 5) the range of awards; 6) the average size of awards; and 7) the number of awards. The CAN also provides a contact name and phone number to get further information.

Competitive review process. The process used by the Department of Education to select discretionary grant and cooperative agreement applications for funding, in which applications are scored by subject-area experts and the most highly scored applications are considered for funding.

Continuation grant. Additional funding awarded for budget periods following the initial budget period of a multi-year discretionary grant or cooperative agreement.

Cooperative agreement. A type of federal assistance; essentially, a variation of a discretionary grant (defined below), awarded by the Department when it anticipates having substantial involvement with the grantee during the performance of a funded project.

Deadline date. The date by which an applicant must mail a discretionary grant or cooperative agreement application for it to be considered for funding by the Department. Under some competitions, the Department requires that the application be received by the deadline date.

Discretionary grant. An award of financial assistance in the form of money, or property in lieu of money, by the federal government to an eligible grantee, usually made on the basis of a competitive review process.

Discretionary Grant Team (Grant Team). A group of ED staff members in a program office responsible for all phases of the grants process including the review, award, administration, and closeout of discretionary grants. Grant teams work in partnership with grantees by providing guidance and technical assistance to ensure successful project outcomes.

ED. The acronym for the U.S. Department of Education (i.e., Education Department).

EDGAR (Education Department General Administrative Regulations). Administrative regulations governing the Department’s discretionary grant and cooperative agreement programs found in Parts 74, 75, 76, 77, 79, 80, 81, 82, 85, and 86 of Title 34 of the CFR (defined above); a document issued by the Department that contains a reprint of these regulations.

Federal Register. A daily compilation of federal regulations and legal notices, presidential proclamations and executive orders, federal agency documents having general applicability and legal effect, documents required to be published by act of Congress, and other federal agency documents of public interest; prepared by the National Archives and Records Administration for public distribution by the Government Printing Office; publication of record for ED regulations.

Financial Payments Group. The administrative unit of the Department of Education that makes payments of federal funds to grantees of discretionary grants and cooperative agreements.

Formula Grant. A grant that the Department is directed by Congress to make to grantees, for which the amount is established by a formula based on certain criteria that are written into the legislation and program regulations; directly awarded and administered in the Department’s program offices.

Funding Offer. An instance when the Department proposes to a successful applicant, either, orally or in writing, a level of funding less than the applicant request. Occurs when the Department either 1) does not accept certain items of cost in the applicant’s original budget or 2) does not have a sufficient level of program appropriations to fund all recommended projects at the requested level.

Funding priorities. A means of focusing a competition on the areas in which the Secretary is particularly interested in receiving applications. Priorities take the form of specific kinds of activities that applicants are asked to include in an application. There are Absolute Priorities, which the applicant must address in order to be considered for funding; Competitive Priorities, which the applicant has the option of choosing whether or not to address and for which they may receive additional points, and; Invitational Priorities, which the applicant is encouraged but not required to address. Applications addressing invitational priorities receive no competitive or absolute preference over applications that do not meet the priority.

Grant Administration and Payment System (GAPS). A financial subsystem that is part of the Department’s larger Education Central Automated Processing System (EDCAPS). GAPS provides on-line capabilities for grant recipients to request payments and access their account to obtain their most current payment information.

Grant application reviewer (reviewer). An individual who serves the Department by reviewing new discretionary grant and cooperative agreement applications; also referred to as ‘field reader’ or ‘peer reviewer.’

Grantee. An individual or organization that has been awarded financial assistance under one of the Department’s discretionary grant programs.

Grant Award Notification (GAN). Official document signed by the authorized official stating the amount and the terms and conditions of an award for a discretionary grant or cooperative agreement.

Grant closeout. The final step in the lifecycle of a discretionary grant or cooperative agreement. During this phase, the Department ensures that all applicable administrative actions and required work of a discretionary grant or cooperative agreement have been completed by the grantee. The Department also reconciles and/or makes any final fiscal adjustments to a grantee’s account in GAPS.

Grant programs. For the purposes of this booklet, programs of discretionary grants and/or cooperative agreements administered by the Department of Education.

Grants Policy and Oversight Staff (GPOS). A component within the Office of the Chief Financial and Chief Information Officer responsible for policy development and oversight of the grants process at the Department. GPOS provides technical assistance to the program offices regarding discretionary grant planning, award, administration, and closeout; also responsible for maintaining EDGAR.

Indirect costs. Costs of an organization incurred for common or joint objectives, which cannot be readily and specifically identified with a particular grant project or other institutional activity.

Indirect cost rate. A percentage established by a federal department or agency for a grantee organization, which the grantee uses in computing the dollar amount it charges to the grant to reimburse itself for indirect costs incurred in doing the work of the grant project.

Monitoring. Activities undertaken by ED staff members to review and evaluate specific aspects of a grantee’s activities under a discretionary grant or cooperative agreement; they include 1) measuring a grantee’s performance, 2) assessing a grantee’s adherence to applicable laws, regulations, and the terms and conditions of the award, 3) providing technical assistance to grantees, and 4) assessing whether a grantee has made substantial progress.

Notice of proposed rulemaking. An announcement published in the Federal Register of proposed new regulations or modifications to existing regulations; the first stage in the process of creating or modifying regulations.

Obligation. An entry made by a member of a discretionary grant team in the Department’s automated accounting system that authorizes the Financial Payments Group to make payments of federal grant funds to a grantee.

Office of the Chief Financial and Chief Information Officer. An organizational unit in the Department whose primary responsibility is serving as the principal advisor to the Secretary of Education on all matters related to discretionary grant-making, cooperative agreements, and procurement, as well as financial management, financial control, and accounting.

Office of Management and Budget (OMB). A branch of the Executive Office of the President. OMB helps the President formulate his spending plans, evaluates the effectiveness of agency programs, policies, and procedures, assesses competing funding demands among agencies, and sets funding priorities. OMB ensures that agency reports, rules, testimony, and proposed legislation are consistent with the President’s budget and with Administration policies.

In addition, OMB oversees and coordinates the Administration’s procurement, financial management, information, and regulatory policies. In each of these areas, OMB’s role is to help improve administrative management, to develop better performance measures and coordinating mechanisms, and to reduce any unnecessary burdens on the public.

OMB Circulars. Administrative policy documents issued by OMB that give instruction to federal agencies on a variety of topics, including the administration of federal grants and cooperative agreements.

Performance report. A report of the specific activities the recipient of a discretionary grant or cooperative agreement has performed during the budget or project period.

Post-award performance conference. The first major discussion between the Department and some grantees after a new award has been made. The conference generally focuses on the proposed project outcomes as stated in the grantee’s approved application, and on the ways in which project progress will be assessed.

Principal office. For the purposes of this booklet, one of six organizational units of the Department responsible for administering programs that award discretionary grants and cooperative agreements: Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs (OBEMLA); Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI); Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE); Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE); Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS); and Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE).

Principal Officer. The Department official who is head of one of the six Principal Offices listed above; holds the rank of assistant secretary or its equivalent.

Program Determination Letter (PDL). An official written notice from an authorized Department of Education management official to an audited grantee that sets forth the Department’s decision on findings in an audit report, including all necessary actions and repayment of funds for which the grantee is responsible.

Program Office. A sub-unit of a Principal Office that conducts the daily work of administering the Department’s discretionary grant and cooperative agreement programs, including the review and ranking of applications.

Program regulations. Regulations that implement legislation passed by Congress to authorize a specific grant program; they include applicant and participant eligibility criteria, nature of activities funded, allowability of certain costs, selection criteria under which applications will be selected for funding, and other relevant information.

Project period. The total amount of time (sometimes several years) during which the Department authorizes a grantee to complete the approved work of the project described in the application; project periods of more than one year are divided into budget periods. Sometimes referred to as ‘performance period.’

PR/Award number. The identifying number for a discretionary grant or cooperative agreement award, composed of seven parts (e.g., H029A951234-95C):

  1. Principal Office designator (H)
  2. CFDA numeric suffix of the program (029)
  3. Alphabetic sub-program identifier (A)
  4. Last digit of the fiscal year of the competition (95)
  5. Unique application identifier (1234)
  6. Fiscal year of the funding (95)
  7. Sequential order of the most recent funding action in a fiscal year (C)

The first five parts remain the same throughout the life of the project period while the last two parts change by budget period.

Regulations. For purposes of this booklet, federal rules of general applicability that are authorized by federal laws or other federal authority and contained in the CFR.

Student financial assistance. ED funding in support of undergraduate or graduate students attending colleges, universities, and other postsecondary institutions that meet the Department’s eligibility requirements; provided by Student Financial Assistance Programs in the Department’s Office of Postsecondary Education and administered separately from the Department’s discretionary grant and cooperative agreement programs; sometimes referred to as ‘student aid.’

Substantial progress. A level of achievement that a grantee must make in its project during a specified period of time (e.g., budget period, performance period), which produces measurable and verifiable evidence that the activities undertaken have attained a preponderance of project goals and objectives during the period.
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