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Financial Accounting & Reporting

Home >  Determining if an agreement is Sponsored Research, a Gift or Fee-for-Service

Determining the most appropriate funding avenue can be challenging. Below is a list of funding categories to further define what types of projects and where they are most appropriately administered.

Funding Project Types

Sponsored Research Projects

Have a statement of work and budget to be conducted by ISU researchers in exchange for something of value to the sponsor (e.g. a deliverable, a technical report, milestones, or intellectual property).

  • Research may be fundamental/basic or applied and includes specialized projects.
  • Funding sources can include federal, state, local government, non-profit, industry, commodity, or consortia, and also funds that flow through these entities. Each funding source has unique advantages and peculiarities.
  • ISU expects to publish project results, be able to use the results in teaching and research, and to continue to perform additional research.
  • Flexible solutions can be used with industry funding, see Flexible Solutions for more detail.
  • Investigators should route a GoldSheet to obtain institutional approval of a proposed statement of work and budget.
  • OIPTT Industry Contracts Team administers projects with industry and commodity sponsors, while OSPA Awards Team assists with awards from other sponsors.
  • Signature Authority: OIPTT Industry Contracts and OSPA Awards are authorized to sign sponsored research agreements. Faculty, principal investigators, and department administrators are not authorized signatories, but they may be asked to sign in a 'read and understood' capacity.


Provide support for academic activities from donors who expect nothing significant in return.

  • Guidelines for what are considered gifts can be found on the VPR Guidelines for Processing of Gifts and Sponsored Projects Funding.
  • The ISU Foundation Corporate and Foundation Relations team can assist with gifts which may require routing a Cardinal Sheet.
  • Signature Authority: Some donors require only the signature of the principal investigator, while others require additional signatures. ISU Foundation will assist with reviewing the agreement and obtaining necessary signatures.

Fee for Service Project

Are services routinely provided by an approved fee-for-service (FFS) at an established rate approved by the Financial Accounting & Reporting Office and are characterized by:

  • The service will be performed by a FFS established through ISU's Financial Accounting & Reporting Office (FAR).
  • The FFS provides the service to others on a recurring basis using the same or similar methods and techniques.
  • Rates charged by the FFS must be approved by FAR prior to starting the fee-for-service operation.
  • The service does not require project-specific approval from the IRB, IACUC, IBC or RSC; services provided pursuant to an approved, standing protocol that covers a class of services (i.e., an umbrella protocol) may be offered as fee-for-service.
  • No new intellectual property is anticipated.
  • Client owns the data and results except parties may agree that ISU will own rights to educational training materials.
  • Any publishing rights rest with the client.
  • No publications are anticipated by ISU faculty, staff or students.
  • The arrangement does not contain ISU cost sharing, matching funds, subawards or pass-through funding.
  • The FFS must use a fee-for-service agreement on the Office of University Counsel (OUC) webpage or a customized fee-for-service agreement developed by OUC for the FFS. If the client requires use of the client's agreement, the agreement must be reviewed and approved by OUC prior to execution.

Other Activities


Refers to providing professional services to a non-university entity, where the services are not a part of the employee's position responsibilities.

  • Consulting should be conducted without the use of university resources, unless appropriate fees are paid and approvals are obtained.
  • ISU's Conflicts of Interest and Commitment Policy, provides guidance for disclosure and approval of consulting activity.
  • The Office of Research Integrity can assist with questions about consulting.
  • Signature Authority: These agreements are entered into personally; ISU does not review or approve consulting agreements.

Unfunded Research Projects

May be very similar to Funded Sponsored Research Projects, but without external funding, such as informal collaborations and visiting scholar arrangements.

  • Investigators should route a GoldSheet (zero dollar) to obtain institutional approval of the external interaction.
  • Signature Authority: Depending on the nature of the agreement needed, it may be signed by an official from OIPTT, OSPA, or ISU administration.

Contact Information

OIPTT Industry Contracts Team 294-4740
Iowa State University Foundation 294-4607
Office of Research Integrity, Conflicts of Interest 294-7793
Office of Sponsored Programs Administration 294-5225
Office of University Counsel 294-5352
Financial Accounting & Reporting 294-6388
Sponsored Programs Accounting 294-4569