When Can I Spend a Research Award?

What do I need before I can begin?

  • A fully executed Funded Research Agreement/Notice of Award
  • The University of Toronto Research Account (UTRAC) for the award which can be viewed on My Research Funds (MRF)
  • The research award sponsor's guidelines


Once you’ve been awarded funding, a staff member working in the Division of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation (VPRI) will establish a University of Toronto Research Account (UTRAC) based on the Notice of Award or fully executed Funding Research Agreement between the University and the Sponsor. VPRI staff are responsible for establishing a UTRAC for your award and you must have completed an application on My Research before a UTRAC can be established.

The UTRAC includes key details governing the award such as the budget, eligibility of expenses, carry-forward rules, and the spending period, defined by the ‘grant period’ on the UTRAC. Faculty members need to review these key details prior to commencing spending.

Other important information on the UTRAC regarding spending include the following.

  • A unique Fund Number tied to your PI Fund Centre (PI CFC) against which a Business Officer can post eligible expenses incurred during the term of the award
  • A fund start and end date (‘Fund Period’), which is primarily used for internal purposes or when a sponsor approves a no-cost extension
  • The name of the VPRI Research Officer (listed on the UTRAC) who created the fund and who you can contact with questions
  • The name of the VPRI Research Accountant (listed on the UTRAC) who will prepare any invoices or financial reports required by the Sponsor

Spending can begin once VPRI staff complete setting up the UTRAC and release the budget for use. The budget can only be released when all required ethical protocols (i.e. human or animal) or certifications (e.g. biohazardous materials) are approved and linked to your fund.

If you need to conduct research and incur costs prior to engaging with human subjects, or using animals or biohazardous materials, you can complete a Partial Funding Release Request. This form allows researchers to use a portion of a funded research grant to engage in activities that do not require an animal use protocol, human ethics protocol, or permit (biosafety, radioisotope, laser or high hazard chemical) prior to obtaining research ethics and/or Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) approval.

Throughout the term of the award, the UTRAC will also be updated to reflect amendments as they occur. Examples include award end date; extensions with or without additional budget; or, budget variances among approved line items, etc.

When you need to request a change to your fund (e.g., an extension or a change to the budget), contact the VPRI Research Officer identified on the UTRAC for assistance.

Take note of all research progress report due dates on the UTRAC.  Some sponsors will not authorize the next budget instalment or may withhold payment to the university until they receive the required progress reports.

Other Spending Considerations

My grant is approved but the agreement is not yet finalized.  I need to start spending.  What can I do?

Contact a VPRI staff member who administers the relevant granting agency’s funding (e.g. Canada Foundation for Innovation) for guidance. In some circumstances, the sponsor will allow expenses to be incurred before the agreement is finalized.  In these cases, VPRI staff will ask you to complete the Research Award Advance Budget Request form. This form requires approval by the relevant Dean, Principal, or Chair.

When the Dean/Principal/Chair approves a research award advance budget request, they are also underwriting the expense; in the event that the funding does not materialize, the amount advanced must be provided by the Division.

My fund is set up but I still cannot post expenses to it. Why?

Either the budget has not been released or there is a ‘No Post’ ((NoPo) status on your fund, generally due to an outstanding condition like an expired ethics protocol. Contact the VPRI Research Officer identified on the UTRAC for assistance.

My fund has expired, but I still have unpaid expenses. What can I do?

Contact the VPRI Research Officer identified on the UTRAC to ask if the end date of the fund can be extended to allow for payment of the additional expenses. They will verify the sponsor guidelines and financial reporting status to determine if, and under what circumstances, a fund may be extended.

Forms & Downloads


  • Negotiate and execute funding agreements
  • Create UTRACs
  • Extend fund end dates
  • Prepare invoices and financial reports

VPRI Contact

Find the appropriate VPRI staff member to assist you by checking our staff directory. You may search by discipline area (e.g. Social Sciences, Health & Life Sciences, Natural Sciences or Engineering, etc.) or funding agency name.