UMass Boston


Find answers to common questions so you can get things done. Don't see the question and answer you are looking for? Submit your question here!

What is a sponsored project?

A project (classified as Instruction, Research, or Public Service) funded by an external entity on the basis of a written proposal or scope of work, budget and budget justification. Sponsored Projects are managed by the ORSP.

I am a new faculty member. Who in ORSP will help me?

While anyone in the ORSP can assist you, each academic department and administrative unit, and many centers and institutes, have one ORSP staff member assigned to help you.

Who is eligible at UMass Boston to submit proposals?

Please read the ORSP policies on who can serve as PI on a project to determine whether you can be a principal investigator. Only certain categories of employees can be principal investigators.

I am PI of my first research grant. What is the University going to hold me responsible for?

Although UMass Boston is legally the official recipient of a grant or contract, the Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for its proper fiscal management and conduct. The University is legally and financially responsible and accountable to the sponsor for the performance of the activity funded--but needs the full cooperation of the PI to do so.

What is a RFP? What is a RFA?

These acronyms stand for Request for Proposals and Request for Applications, the announcement mechanisms the Federal government and many other sponsors use to let the University community know that they are seeking proposals relating to a specific topic or broad program. RFPs and RFAs are the guides or roadmaps faculty members need to prepare proposals. RFPs are usually associated with requests for grant proposals and RFAs are usually associated with contract proposals.

Does your proposal require submission from a 501(c)3?

UMass Boston is not a 501(C)3, however the University of Massachusetts Foundation is and a fiscal relationship exists between UMass Boston and the UMass Foundation that allows for submission of grant proposals.
UMass Boston is one of the five campuses of the University of Massachusetts, which is served by the University of Massachusetts Foundation, Inc., a private non-for-profit corporation having a 501 c 3 identification number of 04-6013152.

  • Your preaward contact will work with the UMass Foundation on the review process.
  • If the sponsor requires that institution submitting the proposal be a 501 c 3, the proposal has to be reviewed by both the UMass Boston Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) and the UMass Foundation. All proposals that involve the UMass Foundation are required to be sent for review at least five days before submission. Proposal should be submitted to the ORSP who will handle involving the Foundation for their simultaneous review.

I just want to send a letter of inquiry to a foundation I think will fund my project. Do I have to go through the ORSP for that?

Not necessarily. If you are sending a budget you coordinate with the ORSP before sending anything.

What’s a DUNS number? What’s our EIN number? What congressional district are we in?

Please see our ORSP Fact Sheet of information. You will always need when developing and submitting proposals.

My sponsor requires that I submit my proposal electronically. How do I do that?

Your assigned Pre-Award Contract Administrator in the ORSP will help you with your electronic proposal submissions.

My sponsor of choice will only accept one application annually from UMass Boston. How can I be sure that my proposal will be the one UMass Boston accepts for submission?

Call your ORSP Pre-Award Contract Administrator immediately upon learning that any grant competition has limited submissions. Only by knowing that UMass Boston will have two or more applicants vying for a given number of submission slots can Office of the Vice Provost for Research mount and manage an internal selection process.

What if I submitted a proposal without going through the ORSP? Is that OK?

No. Only the ORSP has the authority to submit proposals.

What if I have received an award without going through the ORSP?

If you have done this and now expect an award you need to call us immediately and let us assist you in gaining the proper review and institutional approvals you will need in order to receive the funding. Only the ORSP has the authority to bind UMass Boston to contract or agreement terms and conditions. PI’s must not sign any award agreements. If the ORSP cannot negotiate terms acceptable to UMass Boston, the award will be refused.

What is the difference between a grant and a contract?

grant is a financial assistance mechanism a sponsor uses to award funds for conducting a specified, approved project. The responsibility for the performance of the project rests primarily with the grant recipient.
contract is an award instrument establishing a legally binding procurement relationship between the sponsor and the recipient. It obligates the recipient to furnish a project outcome or service that is defined in detail in the written contract, and it binds the sponsor to pay for it.

What is “cost sharing” and how does it work?

Cost sharing is any cost associated with a project that is not paid by the sponsor. It can be a contribution of real dollars or it can be “in kind” (i.e., offering employee time or other contributed goods and services). It can be mandatory (required by the sponsor) or voluntary (offered or performed by the University or a 3rd-party entity). Cost sharing must be approved through the ORSP at the proposal stage. When cost sharing is referred to in any way in the proposal or its budget, it becomes a condition of the agreement.

Why should I have to pay Facilities & Administrative (F&A) costs on my grant? That’s just taking away from what the sponsor is giving me. And just what happens to those dollars anyway?

Please see the "Note Concerning the Recovery of Facilities and Administrative Costs of Sponsored Programs"

What F&A rate do I use on my proposal?

Your Grants Officer in the Office for Research and Sponsored Programs can help you determine this.

Do I have to use the federally negotiated F&A Rate on my proposal?

Yes. For Federal proposals the DHHS negotiated rates need to be used. For Private and Foundation sponsored proposals we use our Federally negotiated rate, unless the Sponsor limits overhead costs by written policy.

My sponsor won’t pay indirect or F&A costs. What can I do and who do I have to see to get a waiver?

UMass Boston’s policy regarding this issue is to comply with the sponsor’s requirements or guidelines, so long as it is a written policy.

How do I know what fringe benefit rates to use in my sponsored project proposals?

Fringe benefits change yearly. These rates are estimates, and are for budget development purposes only. Fringe benefit rates in effect for a given employee will be charged to the account based on actual expenditures. Email your ORSP Pre Award contact for the latest fringe rates.

What are 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 meetings, conferences, symposia, or training projects. For some educational projects conducted at local school districts, however, the participants being trained are employees. In such cases, the costs must be classified as participant support if payment is made through a stipend or training allowance method. The school district must have an accounting mechanism in place (i.e., sub-account code) to differentiate between regular salary and stipend payments.
In some cases these costs may not be reduced without Sponsor approval.

I heard from the sponsor that my project will be funded, but it will take a few weeks to get the paperwork in order. What can I do to start spending on a sponsored project before the award actually reaches the University?

In cases where you are virtually 100% certain that your project will be funded, you may request that a Risk Account or Advance Account be established so you can get started right away. You should complete the Advanced Account form and forward it to your Grants Administrator. NOTE: An unrestricted Account Number is required as this form serves as a commitment from the department guaranteeing that, should the award not be received, the department is responsible for all unreimbursed expenditures.

How do I request a no-cost extension?

You need to contact the ORSP as soon as you determine this is necessary. In many cases, the ORSP needs to contact the Sponsor 60-90 days before the expiration of the award.

I have a sponsored project number but my IRB/ IACUC approval is pending. Can I spend my grant money?

You need to contact the ORSP as soon as you determine this is necessary. In many cases, the ORSP needs to contact the Sponsor 60-90 days before the expiration of the award

I have a sponsored project number but my IRB/ IACUC approval is pending. Can I spend my grant money?

Yes, you can start spending but you can not spend money related to human or animal subjects until you have IRB/ IACUC approval

I am submitting a grant application to NIH. When should I start my protocol submission to the IRB?

As soon as you receive the first auto-generated JIT email request and determine that your score is likely to be competitive for an award, you should begin the initial new protocol submission or modification process with the IRB if you have not already done so.

What if my IRB review is pending and I receive a JIT notice?

If your IRB submission’s approval is pending as the JIT submission date approaches, the pending status does not jeopardize your funding opportunity and there is no cause for alarm. The IRB review process will take time to complete; therefore, if your IRB submission is still under review when ORSP has been asked to provide JIT to NIH, inform your ORSP Grant and Contract Administrator, who will then inform the funding agency.

How do I submit a new human research study to the UMass Boston IRB or request to rely on an external IRB for review?

Many of the answers to your questions about the IRB application process can be found in the “Applying to the IRB” section. IRB FAQs are also addressed in the UMass Boston Investigator Manual (HRP-103).