Office of Sponsored Programs

Procedure  |  Contract Approvals, Project Activation and Modification

The contract approval and grant activation process is the mechanism whereby principal investigators and appropriate administrators review and agree to the University's obligations to a project.

Contracts are reviewed in Research & Economic Development to ensure that they are in compliance with University and federal and state policies and regulations prior to being accepted by the University.

Note: grant agreements, contracts, and cooperative agreements are all legal instruments used to enter into a relationship with the entity granting funds. While there are slight differences in definition, for the purposes of this procedure, the word “contract” will be used.


When a contract is received from an agency, it should immediately be sent to Research & Economic Development for review and determination of its acceptability. The President of the University has been designated to approve and sign all contracts between the University and outside agencies. The President has delegated responsibility to the Associate Vice President for Research for reviewing and signing all contracts processed through Research & Economic Development. 

After a contract has been fully executed (i.e. approved by the University, as indicated by the signature of the President or Associate Vice President for Research and the funding agency), the project must be "activated" through an internal review process, the Award Activation Form (AAF), to obtain an index number prior to payment for expenses and invoicing to the agency. An index number is established by the Grant Accounting office and all expenditures are charged to the index. Relevant information should be attached to the activation form. Unless the contract states otherwise, all expenses chargeable to the contract must occur during the contract period.

Requests for any modification to a contract, including an extension to the time limits, etc., must be made at least one month (45 days for NSF-approved extensions) prior to the ending date of the contract. If the principal investigator wishes to have a contract modified, a Request for Budget or Project Revision form should be completed. The Associate Vice President for Research, with assistance from the Contract Compliance Specialist, will be responsible for negotiating any changes in the contract with the agency including extensions and modifications and for notifying all concerned if the changes are approved.

In special cases where approval of a contract by the funding agency and the University has been assured, it is possible to pre-activate the project (to activate prior to receiving the fully executed contract) with the agency’s approval. If this is done, the unit initiating the pre-activation request is responsible for covering all expenditures if the contract, for some unforeseen reason, is not approved. It is the principal investigator’s responsibility to ensure that a fully executed contract is received within the ninety (90) day pre-activation period.


Updated 8/10/2020

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