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Award Types

Award Types
Gift: Transfers funds to the recipient without any valuable consideration or compensation to the donor. There are no restrictions on how the funds are spent and no requirements for anything in return (no final reports to the sponsor).
Grant Agreement: Transfers something of value without substantial involvement by the granting agency.
Cooperative Agreement: Transfers something of value with substantial involvement by the granting agency.
Contract: Establishes a mutually binding legal relationship obligating the seller to furnish supplies or services and the buyer to pay for them.
  • Cost-Reimbursable: Reimburses MSU for costs incurred during the designated project period – this is the preferred type of contract for research projects because research has so many unknown outcomes.
  • Fixed-Price: Pays MSU a pre-determined amount for meeting specific milestones or deliverables, regardless of actual costs – this type of contract involves greater risk to the recipient because the deliverables MUST be delivered on time regardless of cost, meaning even if the PI leaves MSU or required equipment breaks, the department/college is responsible for meeting the obligations of the contract. The department/college also has full responsibility for any project cost overruns. Fixed-Price contracts require a letter signed by the Chair (or Dean if more than $100,000) accepting the risks of the project.
  • Fee-for-Service: Pays a set fee or published rate, routinely charged to all potential customers, for a deliverable using known practical applications of standard procedures using special or unique MSU research capabilities, especially testing. This agreement is usually a type of contract.

 NOTE: Grants and cooperative agreements are not “procurement contracts”, but they do require actions by the recipient, most often reports.  Also, these timelines are guidelines, but award processing time can vary considerably.


Official award notifications are sent to the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), which notifies the project leader, department and coordinate acceptance by the Board of Trustees (BOT). Gifts and grants represent a vast resource for the future of Michigan State University and formal acceptance of all gifts and grants is by Board action. A report of the received gifts and grants is presented by the Office of the Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies to the Board for acceptance at each regular meeting of the Board.

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