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News Release 17-078

Federal S&E obligations to universities, colleges fell 2 percent between fiscal years 2014 and 2015

Obligations decreased from $31.1 billion to $30.5 billion

Three federal agencies -- the Department of Health and Human Services, National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense -- provided 85 percent of all federally funded academic science and engineering obligations in Fiscal Year 2015.

Eighty-five percent of federal funding obligations to academic S&E came from three agencies.

August 16, 2017

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, federal agencies obligated $30.5 billion to 1,016 academic institutions for science and engineering (S&E) activities, a 2 percent decrease in current dollars from the $31.1 billion in obligations to 1,003 academic institutions in FY 2014.

These statistics are from the Survey of Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions (Federal S&E Support Survey) from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) within the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Three federal agencies -- the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), NSF and the Department of Defense (DOD) -- provided 85 percent of all federally funded academic S&E obligations in FY 2015.

HHS and DOD decreased obligations between FY 2014 and FY 2015, with HHS reporting the largest decrease among funding agencies ($500 million, or 3 percent). NSF increased obligations in FY 2015 by $200 million (4 percent).

The Johns Hopkins University (including its Applied Physics Laboratory) continued to be the leading academic recipient of federal S&E obligations, with $1.6 billion in FY 2015.

S&E obligations to minority-serving institutions (MSIs) were $783 million, 3 percent of the total S&E obligations to universities and colleges in FY 2015. MSIs include historically black colleges and universities, high-Hispanic-enrollment (HHE) institutions, and tribal colleges and universities.

Between FY 2014 and FY 2015, obligations to MSIs increased by 1 percent ($11.5 million), the third straight yearly increase.

The top 20 MSIs ranked by federal academic S&E support accounted for 56 percent of the academic S&E total for MSIs in FY 2015. New Mexico State University, an HHE, was the leading MSI recipient of federal S&E obligations, receiving $48.8 million in FY 2015, of which 84 percent was for research and development (R&D). New Mexico State University received 62 percent of its S&E total from three agencies: DOD ($11.6 million), NSF ($9.6 million) and NASA ($9.0 million).

During FY 2015, federal agencies obligated $5.8 billion to 1,024 nonprofit institutions, a 5 percent decrease from the $6.1 billion reported in FY 2014. Massachusetts General Hospital received the most federal funding among nonprofits in FY 2015, with HHS providing 97 percent.

For more information, including data tables, read the report.


Media Contacts
Stanley Dambroski, NSF, (703) 292-7728, email:

Program Contacts
Christopher Pece, NSF, (703) 292-7788, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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