1. When can I start spending? 
  2. How do we get our money?
  3. How do I purchase goods and services? 
  4. What are my responsibilities as the Project Director? 
  5. How do I monitor the fiscal status of my funds? 
  6. What do I need to know about international travel? 
  7. How are Facilities & Administrative (F&A) costs charged to my award? 


1.  When can I start spending? 

Once the Division of Sponsored Programs (DSP) accepts an award on the UI's behalf, they will initiate the Award Authorization and Account Notice (AAAN) and send it along with corresponding award materials to the Grant Accounting Office (GAO).  GAO will establish a project-specific account, add this information to the AAAN and then email to you and your corresponding departmental contact

Once you receive the AAAN notification, your account is officially open.  This account should be used solely for the purposes of the funding award for which the account was established. 

Expenses prior to the start date of the agreement cannot be charged against sponsored agreement unless specifically authorized in writing by the sponsor.  Many federal agencies allow pre-award spending 90 days in advance of the award's formal start. When it is certain pre-award spending is allowed, and known that an award will be made effective on a specified date, you may request an Advance MFK -- an early account, opened before the award paperwork has been officially processed.  

2.  How do we get our money? 

The acceptance of an award does not automatically transfer the funding to the University.  The Grant Accounting Office is responsible for submitting invoices or funding requests to sponsors.  

Award budgets are established to help you plan and spend funds within the approved sponsor amounts.  

3.  How do I purchase goods and services? 

Purchasing what you need to conduct your research occurs by either ordering from external vendors or University service centers.  You should work with your departmental or research administrator for all procurement activities and to determine the best method and resource to use. 

  • External Vendors
    The UI Purchasing Department works to obtain quality goods and services at the lowest reasonable cost.  Methods for purchasing vary based on the type of good/services and dollar thresholds.
  • University Services
    • The University Core Facilities are a collection of centralized laboratories and stores dedicated to developing and providing state-of-the-art research resources to facilitate biomedical research.  They are available on a fee-for-service basis.  
    • Information Technology Services (ITS) – Research Services assists and collaborates with UI investigators, faculty and research support groups in a variety of fields and activities.  ITS provides operational services for UI researchers, as well as staff to consult with on a number of application areas.  
    • Other university service centers are available to provide goods and service.  Any internal sales of goods or services must be consistent with the University Service Center Policy.  

4.  What are my responsibilities as the Project Director? 

  • Account for how you spend your funds, 
  • Manage your funds in accordance with the four key financial principles outlined in the Fiscal Responsibility section in this Handbook, 
  • Comply with all funding regulations and terms of conditions of each award, 
  • Adhere to any Department requirements for fund management, 
  • Keep within your project’s approved budget, 
  • Meet your funding obligations to submit your reports in a timely manner, 
  • Give special attention to monitoring the following: 
    • Cost Sharing: Some awards require mandatory cost sharing whereby they require your institution to share in the costs of the project.  Before you apply for this type of award, you must obtain departmental approval for cost share commitments.  Even if an award doesn’t require mandatory cost sharing, any commitments included in the proposal or proposal budget are considered cost sharing commitments. Review the UI Cost Share Policy and Procedure Statement for more information.
    • Effort Comittments: Effort as defined by the federal government and the campus as an individual’s time devoted to professional activities, regardless of the total hours worked.  By definition, an individual cannot exceed 100%.  When you are preparing a request for funding, you must assure that effort is available to cover not only the activities described in your award but also your faculty activities, such as teaching, patient care, and public service, and commitments to other awards. 
    • Program Income: Any revenue that is related to an active federally funded award is considered program income.  Refer to the award notice for correct handling. 
    • UI Charging Practices Related to Administrative Type Costs: UI has developed guidelines to consider when charging these types of costs to sponsored projects: Costing Considerations for Charging Federal Awards.

5.  How do I monitor the fiscal status of my funds? 

General practices for financial management that will help you effectively manage your funds include: 

  • Read the award guidelines and understand the terms and conditions
  • Communicate with your department - don’t assume answers. 
  • Identify and control who has spending authority on your award. 
  • Spend only as allowed by the funding sponsor. 
  • Review University provided financial reports on a regular basis to verify award expenditures. This responsibility can be delegated to another individual who has knowledge of the award requirements.  The UI Monthly Review of Transactions Policy
  • Submit required agency reports on time so funds can be released (quarterly, annual, etc). 
  • Know when unobligated fund balances can be carried forward, and request approval through Sponsored Programs. 
  • Do not overspend your accounts.  Funding overspending is the responsibility of your department.
  • Follow the University’s charging practices
  • Meet all deadlines in submitting final closeout reports. 
  • There are procedures for close out (ending) or transferring the study outside UI.  Don’t just assume the project is done because the money has been spent. 

6.  What do I need to know about international travel? 

The Fly America Act mandates the use of U.S. flag air carriers for federally funded international travel.  While international flights should be on U.S. flag air carriers whenever possible, the Federal Travel Regulations permit flights on foreign air carriers when code sharing is present.  In order for a flight to be in compliance with the Fly America Act, the code of a U.S. flag air carrier must be noted as part of the flight number on the airline ticket, flight coupon (boarding pass), passenger receipt or e-ticket.  Because it is difficult to know which tickets reflect the actual cost and which ones are reduced, this verification is required on all foreign tickets purchased through non-local travel agencies, and on tickets purchased indirectly from a consolidator through a local agency. 

The UI preferred travel agencies are familiar with Fly America requirements; you are strongly encouraged to use a UI preferred travel agent when traveling internationally.   

All University Travel Policies

7.  How are Facilities & Administrative (F&A) costs charged to my award? 

Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs are based on rates that are determined through extensive calculation and negotiation with the federal government.  These are costs that the institution bears, but cannot be directly identified and charged to a sponsored project.  UI policy requires that the maximum F&A rate allowed by a sponsor and type of activity is charged to the sponsored project.  This should have been considered and included in the budget at the time of proposal.

University of Iowa F&A Rate Agreement