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Title IX Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX)

No Person in the United States shall on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.


  1. What is covered under Title IX?

    Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs, services and activities that receive Federal financial assistance (grants) from the federal government (National Science Foundation Grantees). Covered programs and activities includes admissions, recruitment, financial aid, academic programs, student treatment, services, counseling and guidance, discipline, classroom assignment, grading, vocational education, recreation, physical education, housing and employment. Forms of discrimination include sex-based discrimination, gender-based harassment, sexual harassment.

  2. What is gender-based harassment in an educational setting?

    Gender-based harassment is unwelcomed conduct based on a student's actual or perceived sex. This includes slurs, taunts, stereotypes or name-calling, as well as gender motivated physical threats, attacks or other hateful conduct.1

  3. What is sexual harassment?

    Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

  4. Who must adhere to Title IX?

    Entities who receive Federal financial assistance and operate educational programs must adhere to Title IX. This applies to programs, services and activities offered by colleges, universities and other institutions that operate educational programs. Title IX applies not only to students and other program participants but to employees of grant recipients. All public universities and many private universities receive Federal financial assistance.

    The National Science Foundation provides Federal financial assistance in the form of grants and cooperative agreements to entities for research, educational programs and training. Any institution that receives such assistance and operates educational programs must adhere to Title IX. Additionally, all NSF grantees are subject to Title IX compliance activities by NSF, including pre-and post-award compliance reviews.

    You can confirm if an institution is a recipient of Federal financial assistance from NSF by searching NSF's Simple Award Search:

  5. Who is protected under Title IX?

    Anyone who participates in an educational program, service or activity with a Federally funded entity is protected by Title IX. This includes students, parents and guardians, visitors and employees.

  6. What is the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and how does it relate to Title IX compliance with respect to employment?

    Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex for entities that have 15 or more employees. Title VII is enforced by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

    In respect to employment, NSF is can require compliance to Title IX and Title VII from NSF grantees. To ensure this, NSF may conduct a compliance review of a grantee institution to determine whether discrimination exists in the grantee's employment practices.

    However, If NSF receives a single sex discrimination or sexual harassment complaint from an employee of a grantee, NSF may first refer the complaint to the EEOC for evaluation. The US Department of Justice regulations require referral of such complaints to the EEOC. NSF will keep the complaint for investigation if there is a pattern and practice of employment discrimination or harassment. A pattern or practice of discrimination involves several employees and applicants for employment as opposed to an individual action against one employee or applicant.


  1. Who can I contact if I believe I have experienced sex-based discrimination?


    Every university or institution who receives Federal financial assistance must have a Title IX Coordinator on staff. The coordinator is a resource who can answer questions, address concerns or be a contact to file a complaint.


    Comments and concerns about Title IX or file Title IX may be addressed to the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. Department of Education. This is recommended for issues and concerns with educational programs and services that are not funded or operated by NSF or the institution is not an NSF grantee institution.

    U.S. Department of Justice

    U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division
    950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
    Educational Opportunities Section, PHB
    Washington, D.C. 20530
    (202) 514-4092 or 1-877-292-3804 (toll-free)
    (202) 514-8337 (fax)

    U.S. Department of Education

    U.S. Department of Education
    Office for Civil Rights
    Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Bldg.
    400 Maryland Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC 20202-1100
    Telephone: (800) 421-3481
    FAX: (202) 453-6012; TDD: (800) 877-8339

    You may also use the link below to find the office that serves the state where recipient institution is locater:

    National Science Foundation

    The National Science Foundation's Office of Equity and Civil Rights (OECR) is charged with enforcing Title IX among NSF grantees. To file a complaint, or for more information on Title IX, contact (703) 292-8020 or e-mail

  2. When is it appropriate to contact NSF?

    It is appropriate to contact NSF if you have a complaint or concern that involves an NSF operated program or a NSF grant recipient institution. You may also contact NSF if you have questions about your rights or NSF policies.

    Individuals who feel they have been discriminated against in programs, services, activities or persons that are funded by NSF on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age may file a complaint with NSF. Individuals may also file a complaint with NSF if there is retaliation for filing a complaint or participating in a complaint investigation.

  3. What can I expect if I chose to contact NSF?

    Anyone who contacts NSF's Office of Equity and Civil Rights (OECR) can expect that their questions, complaints and concerns will be addressed thoroughly and promptly. Individuals may contact OECR and remain anonymous. However, if a complaint is filed with OECR, OECR may need written consent to provide names of complainants in order to investigate and resolve complaints. Personally Identifiable Information is generally protected from disclosure to outside parties under the Privacy Act. Additionally, OECR will provide appropriate assistance to complainants who are persons with disabilities, individuals of limited English proficiency and persons whose communication skills are otherwise limited.

    Upon contacting OECR, an OECR staff member will inform you of your rights and responsibilities and outline what the next steps are in the process. If you choose to file a harassment complaint, OECR will begin an investigation.

    OECR will request that you complete and sign a Consent Form, permitting NSF to release your identity to the NSF grantee whom the complaint is filed against in order to gather information during the investigation. If the Consent Form is not received within 14 days of the request and OECR determines that disclosure of your identity is crucial for the investigation, OECR may administratively close your complaint and take no further action.

    * Please note that while OECR may not investigate or intervene in any situation where a harassment complaint is not filed or consent is not provided to release Personally Identifiable Information, OECR could use provided information such as anonymous complaint to assist in selection of NSF grantees for future Title IX compliance reviews. In this instance, OECR will not disclose personally identifiable information to the grantee institution.

  4. Is there a timeframe for filing a complaint?

    NSF's Title IX regulations require that complaints be filed no later than 90 days of the last date of alleged harassment.

    However, you may file a waiver if justification for the delay is shown to be good cause (i.e., illness, incapacitation). OECR will consider the request and make a determination to issue the waiver if good cause is provided, or deny the wavier if there is no good cause provided. For example, lack of knowledge of Title IX and complaint filing requirements is generally not a sufficient reason for waiving the timelines requirement. OECR may also waive the timeliness requirement if it is determined that the information you provide in the complaint demonstrates a critical need to address potential non-compliance with Title IX that affects past, current and/or future grantee program participants.

  5. If my complaint is outside of 90 days and I do not believe I have good cause, should I still contact NSF with a complaint?

    Yes, even if your complaint is not found to have good cause for a delayed filing, OECR will keep this information on file. OECR may also use the information to assist in selection for future Title IX compliance reviews.

  6. What is a harassment complaint?

    A formal harassment complaint is a written account of harassment and requests NSF to investigate the complaint. The complaint maybe submitted by email, mail, fax or in person.

    The following are not discrimination complaints:

    • Oral complaints that are not put in writing.
    • Anonymous correspondence.
    • Courtesy copies of a complaint submitted to another person or other entity.
    • Inquiries that seek advice or information, but do not seek action or intervention from NSF.


  1. What actions are NSF taking to promote anti-discrimination practices?

    NSF is taking many steps to help prevent sexual harassment.

    NSF has funded a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study on the prevalence and impact of sexual harassment in science, engineering and medical departments and programs in order to better understand and therefore, address the issue.

    NSF is working more closely with other federal STEM agencies and universities to share strategies on how to address sexual harassment in the sciences – including exchanging best practices, future planning and ensuring compliance.

    The Office of Equity and Civil Rights is working closely with other divisions and offices within NSF to enhance Promising Practices on Code of Conduct.

    NSF actively conducts compliance reviews of its grantees to ensure all universities and institutions are in compliance with Title IX laws and regulation.

  2. What is a compliance review?

    A compliance review takes place when NSF reviews a grantee's policies, procedures and other data related to ensure compliance with Title IX. There are two types of compliance reviews that NSF facilitates.

    The first is a desk audit. A desk audit consists of the reviewing an institution's Title IX policies, procedures, demographic data, program participant data, and similar information.

    The second is an onsite review. An onsite review includes a to visit the grantee's facilities to interview program participants and staff, review documentation and/or inspect facilities. Prior to arriving onsite, NSF will request that the grantee provide documentation similar to a desk audit.


  1. What happens if a NSF grantee institution is found to violate Title IX?

    NSF's Title IX regulations require that NSF first attempt to achieve voluntary compliance on the part of the grantee to remedy violations that are found. NSF will first inform the grantee of the violation(s) and request that the grantee remedy the situation. NSF may do this in an informal request with verification by the that corrective actions are taken or a written resolution agreement between NSF and the grantee to take specific actions.