Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions


1. What is a speed key?

a. Used in lieu of Project/Grant number

b. Five digit code which may be numeric or alphanumeric that is used in purchasing, travel

c. Used on payroll forms and other internal documents to charge

d. Unique speed key for all accounts on an award (projects and cost share)

i. Charges should be applied to the correct funding source as described in the proposal/award

2. When will I get my speed key?

a. Processing done by two offices

b. The Office of Research

i. Research Administrator processes the award in the financial system

ii. Executive Director or a designee submits speed key request to Sponsored Programs Accounting

iii. Processing time – generally within three business days

c. Sponsored Programs Accounting (SPA)

i. Assigns a speed key

ii. SPA processing time – generally within three business days

iii. Sends the UNO Notice of Grant Award (NOGA) to the Principal Investigator 

1. Investigator reviews

2. If okay, the investigator signs and returns the form

3. If not okay, inform SPA of needed corrections

4. Must be signed before funds are available for spending

3. What is a "con" number?

a. Default naming mechanism as delivered in PeopleSoft

i. Ties together all speed keys for 1 project (prime speed key and cost share under 1 "con")

b. Auto-generated number

c. Used in PeopleSoft to run reports

4. Why do I need to know the start and end date of my award?

a. Charges are only allowable during the life of the award (some agencies may allow pre-award expenditures - need written approval from the agency)

b. Purchases prior to the start of the award or after the end of the award are not allowable

c. Some charges may not be allowed at the end of an award

i. Equipment is often not allowed in the last year of an award

ii. Supplies may be suspect if purchased in the last 6 months of an award

5. How are internal awards different from external awards?

a. Only the sponsor is different (internal awards are funded by an office/department on campus)

b. Budget must be followed

c. Awards close on end date, etc.

6. What is the routing form? What is the budget template?

a. Used to obtain approval from the Principal Investigator, Co-Principal Investigator(s), if applicable, and the appropriate department head and dean/director for the proposed project

b. Available on ORSP SharePoint site and can be completed anywhere/time individuals have computer access

c. Highly recommended to use the budget template available in the routing form

i. Tuition, fringe and indirect are included

ii. Cells will calculate some budget items for you

7. What is RCR (Responsible Conduct of Research) training? When is it required? Can I get paid without taking it?

a. Required for National Science Foundation and for U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) awards

b. National Institutes of Health (NIH) is part of DHHS

c. Completed by all individuals receiving support (funding) – including students

d. Training must be completed at UNO prior to beginning work on a covered project

e. Sponsored Programs Accounting will not approve hiring paperwork without completed training

f. Accessed on the ORSP SharePoint site

i. Can be completed anywhere/time the individual has computer access

ii. For student access to SharePoint, send email to Development Coordinator in ORSP

8. When can I start spending the funds?

a. Signed NOGA must be returned to Sponsored Programs Accounting

b. Must wait until after the award start date

9. Why do I receive emails from or

a. PeopleSoft automatically sends reminder emails for milestones

i. Based on milestones entered by the ORSP Research Administrator

ii. Type of milestones:

1. Progress/technical report

2. Protocol renewals – Animal use, human subject, and biosafety

3. Expiration notice – cost reimbursable and fixed price

iii. Sent to Principal Investigator, Co-Principal Investigator, business manager and Research Administrator

b. Use link in email for more information on the particular milestone

i. Includes information on who to contact if there are questions

c. Do not reply to the message – sender cannot assist with the milestone

10. My contact at the sponsor has informed me that I will be receiving the award, but the official award may not be received by UNO until months after the start date. Is there something that I can do receive my speed key now so as not to delay the start of my project?

a. Utilize the Advanced Number Request form

i. Located on SharePoint

ii. Must have reasonable assurance the award will be made

b. Speed key will be assigned (see question #1 above)

c. Speed key will not change when award document or executed contract is received

i. Changes may be made to award period or amount

ii. Sponsored Programs Accounting makes changes to the financial system

iii. Principal Investigator will be contacted

d. What happens if UNO does not receive the award?

i. Transfer existing expenditures to appropriate account identified on the Advanced Number Request form (Coordinate with Sponsored Programs Accounting)

ii. Cancel pending orders

iii. Stop using the speed key

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Parts of the Budget


1. What are fringe benefits?

a. Compensations made to an employee beyond the regular benefit of being paid for their work

i. Sick or paid vacation time

ii. Health insurance benefits

iii. Retirement

iv. Etc.

b. Calculated average rate approved by our cognizant federal agency, DHHS

i. Based on actual cost

c. Non-negotiable

d. Current rate must be used even if the current rate is higher than it was at the proposal stage

e. Use the projected 1% increase in fringe on the ORSP budget template for future periods

f. Separate line item on your budget

g. No action is required by the department

i. Calculated and posted by PeopleSoft based on posted salary amount

h. Current rate information:

2. What are indirect costs?

a. Real costs incurred by the Schools/Centers and institution in support of sponsored activities

b. Cannot be directly identified with a specific grant or contract

c. Shared services such as libraries, physical plant operation and maintenance, utility costs, general, departmental, unit/school and sponsored projects' administrative expenses, and depreciation for buildings and equipment

d. Applied to all grants, contracts and other agreements with federal, state and private entities

e. Negotiated Federal Indirect Cost Rate Agreement

f. Calculated on all direct expenses except: equipment, fellowships, scholarships, tuition, off-site facility rental costs and the portion of subgrants or subcontracts in excess of $25,000

g. Can use a lower sponsoring agency rate, if:

i. The Director for Research approves the rate

ii. Sufficient basis to support the proposed indirect rate

3. What is cost share?

a. Cost share is real dollars and must be auditable

i. Can be UNO general fund or restricted dollars

1.Faculty time, supplies, equipment, etc.

ii. Can be 3 rd party if they provide a letter of commitment which is approved by ORSP

iii. Grants may not be used as cost share without prior written approval from both granting agencies

b. Mandatory vs. Voluntary cost share

i. Mandatory - required by the sponsoring agency to submit a proposal

ii. Voluntary - not required by the sponsoring agency and will generally not be accepted by ORSP

iii. NSF will reject proposals without review for voluntary cost share

c. Separate budget and speed key but same con#

Spending Your Award


1. How do I get paid?

a. If the award is processed by the Office of Research:

i. Funds are not directly deposited into your personal bank account or automatically paid to you through a payroll deposit

ii. Paperwork must be submitted for payments or orders

b. If your salary is part of your award:

i. Submit a 101 (Personnel Action Form)

ii. Enter the appropriate salary amount

iii. Use the assigned speed key

c. If the budget includes other expenses (such as supplies, student workers, tuition, etc.):

i. Follow the proper UNO procedures for processing those payments

ii. Use the assigned speed key

2. How do I pay participants, student workers, GA's, or full time employees? Which departments oversee that paperwork?

a. Student workers

i. Student Employment Appointment Form

ii. Managed by Financial Aid

b. Graduate assistants (GA's)

i. Salary - 101 (Personnel Action form)

ii. Tuition - Tuition Exemption Form

iii. Managed by Graduate School

c. Full time employees

i. 101 (Personnel Action form)

ii. Managed by Human Resources

d. Participants payments by type of participant

i. UNO students

1. Award Request Form

2. Managed by Financial Aid

ii. Louisiana current teachers

1. Teacher's Participation Support Agreement with their school

2. Managed by Financial Services

iii. Other participants (i.e. high school students)

1. Stipend Request Form

2. Managed by Accounts Payable

3. Graduate assistants, both Fiscal (12 months) and Academic (9 months), are not required to pay tuition from their assistantship stipends. How is GA tuition calculated and budgeted? What does the GA waiver cover?

a. Registrar's Office publishes tuition amount

b. Budget category:

i. 604000 - GA salary (commensurate with department standard)

ii. 668010 - Graduate Assistant Tuition

c. "Nonresident" fees are automatically waived for graduate assistants

i. May be declared on budgets as "matching funds" if appropriate and necessary

4. How are travel expenses listed in a budget and processed?

a. Separate domestic and international travel

i. International travel requires prior written authorization from the sponsor

b. Submit Request for Travel in advance

i. Available Accounts Payable SharePoint site

c. After travel, complete and submit Travel Voucher

i. Available Accounts Payable SharePoint site

ii. Must print and sign form

d. Follow state travel guidelines (maximum reimbursement for hotel, food, car rental, airfare, etc.)

5. Will my award be reduced for payroll taxes?

a. If paid as salary, normal deductions are removed

b. ORSP/SPA will not provide tax advice

6. How are subcontracts to an outside entity handled?

a. Include in the proposal

b. Prior written approval from sponsor is always required

c. Two budget lines

i. Professional Services (650100) and Subcontracts > $25,000 (650200)

ii. Separate the portion of each subcontract not assessed indirect cost

iii. Includes consultant costs

Monitoring Budget Reports


1. Why does it appear that an expense is not posted/appear on the reports?
  (For example, the salary amount is too low)

a. Delay in posting expenditures to UNO financial system

i. Payroll make take a few weeks

ii. Interdepartmental requests processed in groups

b. If the award is nearing the end date and the expenses do not appear to be correct (either too low or too high), contact an accountant in Sponsored Programs Accounting for assistance or email if the specific accountant is not known

2. Why is the budget amount different from the award amount on the reports?

a. Only currently available funds for spending are budgeted

b. Future period budget amounts available at start of the budget period

c. If there is a possible mistake, contact an accountant in Sponsored Programs Accounting for assistance or email if the specific accountant is not known

3. How current is the information on the reports retrieved from the financial system?

a. Includes all information as of the "run" date ("Running" a report is the term used to generate the report; the user presses a "run" button.)

b. Expense must be posted (completely processed in the system), for example:

i. Payroll has been paid and the payroll journal posted,

ii. Supplies were ordered and processed on a journal to post to the award

c. May not include items on recently submitted paperwork

d. "Run" date in the upper right hand corner of the report.

4. What should I do if there appears to be an error on the report?

a. Contact an accountant in Sponsored Programs Accounting or send an email to

5. Why is there a budget end date on the report?

a. Some projects do not allow budgets to be carried over – must be used in a particular period

b. Refer to award document or contact Sponsored Programs Accounting or the Office of Research

6. What happens if I overspend a particular budget category?

a. May need sponsor approval to alter approved budget

i. Some sponsors allow minor changes without approval

ii. Some sponsors require approval for all changes

iii. Refer to your award document for the requirements

b. Complete a Budget Adjustment Request and send it to Sponsored Programs Accounting

i. Done before submit paperwork that would cause a particular budget category to be overspent

ii. Must provide justification for the adjustment

iii. Sponsored Programs Accounting will determine if the sponsor needs to be contacted

c. Participant costs budget

i. Generally needs sponsor approval before altering

7. If I am looking at a report, how do I know if I am overdrawn?

a. Check the column labeled "Budget Balance" or "Available Balance"

b. Each budget category and the overall award can be overdrawn

c. Balance calculation - subtract the pre-encumbrance, encumbrance, and expense amounts from the budget amount

d. Overdrawn amounts will be in parenthesis and in some cases listed in red

e. If a particular budget category is overdrawn, complete a Budget Adjustment form (see question #6 in this category)

f. If the overall award is overdrawn, contact Sponsored Programs Accounting to determine appropriate steps to clear the overdrawn amount

i. The Principal Investigator is responsible for overdrawn amounts.