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Please review Tufts process for Notice of Award/Award Negotiation, including responsible offices for various types of agreements, and differences between a sponsored award and a gift. Requirements for the Advance Account are described under Award Account. Please review the section on international awards if you are receiving an award from a foreign sponsor or planning sponsored activities abroad, including a subaward to a foreign organization.

Notice of Award & Award Negotiation

When a sponsor has approved an award for a sponsored project, a notice of award or an award letter is sent to the Office of Research Administration (ORA). The notice of award is a legally binding document that notifies Tufts University and the Principal Investigator (PI) that an award has been made, contains or references terms and conditions of the award, and documents the obligation of funds and the period of performance.

If an award notice is received directly by the PI, it must be forwarded to ORA as soon as possible. ORA has a responsibility to negotiate and accept sponsored awards on behalf of the University. In the course of negotiation, ORA works with the Office of Technology Transfer and Industry Collaboration (TTIC), the Office of the General Counsel, and other Tufts offices as appropriate. If an agreement may have tax implications for the University, ORA forwards a copy to the University Tax Services for the consideration of such implications after the agreement has been fully executed.

ORA routes the fully executed award agreement / signed notice of award together with the proposal package and any pertinent information to Sponsored Programs Accounting (SPA). SPA opens an award account and communicates the account number to the PI and his/her Local Research Administrator (LRA) via the Internal Notice of Award (INOA). All allowable award expenses should be charged to the award account.

Please review responsible offices for various types of agreements other than grants, contracts, and other sponsored project agreements here.

International Awards

Minimizing the Effect of Currency Conversion on Sponsored Projects

When Tufts University receives funding from agencies outside the United States, the award budget and payments should be in U.S. dollars. This ensures that fluctuations in currency exchange rate will not reduce funds available for program activities. If the sponsor is not able to fund the award in U.S. dollars, the Office of Research Administration (ORA) will request that the sponsor would bear the cost of currency conversion. If neither scenario is possible, a formal internal approval will be required to continue negotiation of an award. Please contact your ORA Point of Contact for additional details.

Bank transaction fees

Every incoming payment from outside of the United States carries an associated bank transaction fee of up to $25 per payment. Therefore, budgets for proposals from foreign sponsors must include bank transaction fees in the amount of $25 per payment budgeted. The budgeted amount should be calculated based on the expected frequency of payments. If information regarding invoice frequency is not available, quarterly payments should be assumed. Please note that at the time of the award the actual (rather than budgeted) cost of bank transactions will be charged to the account under 5502 – Wire Fees when payments are received.

Outgoing payments from the United States to banks in other countries also bear bank transaction fees. Budgets for subawards with international organizations where Tufts is a prime institution should budget for these fees appropriately.

Hiring Overseas

International projects often require personnel working in foreign countries. Investigators and administrators should consider the country in which the activity will occur, the activities of the project, and Tufts’ status in that country to determine the appropriate hiring mechanism.

International Travel

In accordance with Tufts' Policy for International Travel Safety, all university-related travel has to be registered with the Tufts Travel Registry.

Tufts Global Operations Support

Global Operations Support is a resource to investigators and administrators when international activities are planned. It brings together experts in the areas of tax, purchasing, legal, human resources, and compliance to assess issues, provide advice, and reduce internal infrastructure barriers for University faculty and staff undertaking research, projects, or programs abroad.

Sponsored Award vs. Gift

The distinction between a gift and a sponsored award (grant or contract) can be ambiguous. Determination of whether funds given to an investigator represent a gift of a sponsored award requires consideration of many factors, including but not limited to:

  • the mission of and potential benefit received by the funder
  • the value exchanged
  • the project scope of work
  • whether there are any defined activities and, if so, their nature and the specificity with which they are defined
  • the terms of accountability for use of funds and deliverables
  • the ability of the funder to recoup the disbursed funds or to obtain a refund of unused funds.

The information below is provided to assist in determining if funds given to an investigator represent a gift or a sponsored award. Please note that when it is not readily apparent whether funding constitutes a gift or a sponsored award, Sponsored Programs Accounting (SPA) will review the documentation and make a final determination which classification is most appropriate.

Generally speaking, a gift is a voluntary, non-reciprocal transfer of money or property from a donor. The donor may be an individual, a corporation, or a non-profit organization. The donor does not expect anything of value in return other than recognition, and does not have control over expenditures. A gift may meet the interests of the donor and can be restricted or unrestricted. A restricted gift is a contribution designated for a specific purpose, program, or project. If the donor does not specify any restrictions, the gift is unrestricted and Tufts allocates the funds at its own discretion.

University Advancement and Corporate and Foundation Relations (CFR) are the only offices able to accept gifts on behalf of Tufts University. Gifts accounts are opened by the Budget Center via Advancement and CFR and are assigned DeptID accounts.

A sponsored award (a category including grants and contracts) is the transfer of funds from a sponsor to an institution to carry out specific activities that align with sponsor’s mission or interests. Sponsors typically provide such funding on the basis of a specific project or research plan and budget, for a specified period of time, with funds unused at the expiration of the time period often reverting to the sponsor. Office of Research Administration (ORA) accepts sponsored awards on behalf of Tufts University. Sponsored accounts are then opened by SPA and assigned award account numbers.

Any funding provided by U.S. Government agencies, at the federal, state, or local level, in support of Tufts University activities is treated as a sponsored award and not a gift. Similarly, funding from voluntary health organizations or associations, such as the American Cancer Society or American Heart Association, is usually treated as a sponsored award and not as a gift.

Sponsored Award vs. Gift

 Sponsored AwardGift
DescriptionRepresents an “exchange transaction” in which each party receives commensurate valueRepresents a “contribution,” an unconditional transfer of cash which is voluntary and non-reciprocal
ReportingUsually has reporting requirements or specific restrictions on how the funds can be spentNo reporting
No restrictions
Time PeriodUsually has a specified time period over which the work will be done (a start date and an end date)No specific time period
FundingOften requests that unused funds must be returned to the awarding agency /foundation /corporationUsually all the funds are received upfront. Tufts is given unconditional rights to the funds and unspent funds do not need to be returned to the sponsor


Award Account

Instructions for Receiving a PeopleSoft Award Account

To facilitate creation of the award account please ensure that:

  • documentation routed to SPA is complete
  • the award document is signed by all parties involved
  • a budget that matches the obligated award amount is provided.

Advance Accounts

Advance Accounts provide Principal Investigators (PIs) with the opportunity to initiate a sponsored project and begin incurring associated expenses prior to institutional acceptance of an award. An Advance Account is established upon notice that a formal award is forthcoming, but will be delayed past the start date of the project. Setting up an Advance Account enables the Principal Investigator (PI) to begin spending the anticipated budget on project activities prior to having a fully executed award in place.

Request for Advance Account

An Advance Account is requested via the Request for Advance Account Form. The PIs’ Department / School or Center is the initial approver of the Advance Account form (consult with your Local Research Administrator on who should sign in your unit). The form is then routed to the Office of Research Administration (ORA) for approval, with a final signature required from Sponsored Programs Accounting (SPA). After reviewing and approving the Advance Account request, SPA will assign an internal award number to be used for allocating expenses for the project.

Advance accounts are established for the initial 3-month project period, with the budget adjusted accordingly to the three months’ timeframe. If at the end of three months a fully executed agreement is not yet in place, the end date of the Advance Account may be extended. For extending the end date a second request must be submitted and approved. Please include supporting documentation presenting evidence of the forthcoming award with the Advance Account request.

A PIs’ Department / School or Center accepts financial responsibility for an Advance Account in the event that the sponsored award is not received. If this is the case, all expenses incurred will be applied to the Department’s account noted on the Request for Advance Account Form.

Cost Share Account

For the awards with committed cost share, SPA will request a dedicated cost share account from the Budget Center at the time of the award account set up. Cost Share account will remain open for the duration of the associated award and will close when the sponsored project reaches the end date. Cost sharing from gift accounts or other private sources, as well as cost sharing using unrecovered indirect costs does not require a cost share account.