Chapter II - Proposal Preparation Instructions
Each proposing organization that has not received an NSF grant within the previous two years
should be prepared to submit basic organization and management information and certifications,
when requested, to the Division of Grants and Agreements. The information required is
contained in the NSF Prospective
New Awardee Guide12,
available electronically on the NSF
Website. The information contained in this Guide will assist the organization in preparing
documents that the National Science Foundation requires to conduct administrative and financial
reviews of the organization. This Guide also serves as a means of highlighting the
accountability requirements associated with Federal awards.
To facilitate proposal preparation, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding proposal
preparation and submission are available electronically on the NSF
A. CONFORMANCE WITH INSTRUCTIONS FOR PROPOSAL PREPARATION
It is important that all proposals conform to the instructions provided in the GPG.
Conformance is required and will be strictly enforced unless a deviation has been approved.
NSF may return proposals that are not consistent with these instructions without review. See
Chapter IV.B, Return Without Review, for additional information. NSF
must authorize any deviations from these instructions in advance. Deviations may be
authorized in one of two ways:
- through specification of different requirements in an NSF solicitation; or
- by the written approval of the cognizant NSF Assistant Director/Office Head or designee.
These deviations may be in the form of a "blanket deviation" for a particular program or
programs or, in rare instances, an "individual" deviation for a particular proposal.
Proposers may deviate from these instructions only to the extent authorized. Proposals
must identify the deviation in one of the following ways as appropriate: (a) by identifying
the solicitation number that authorized the deviation in the appropriate block on the proposal
Cover Sheet; or, (b) for individual deviations, by identifying the name, date and title of the
NSF official authorizing the deviation.
14 Further instructions are available on the FastLane
B. FORMAT OF THE PROPOSAL
1. Proposal Pagination Instructions
Proposers are advised that FastLane does not automatically paginate a proposal. Each
section of the proposal that is uploaded as a file must be individually paginated before
upload to FastLane.
2. Proposal Margin and Spacing Requirements
Proposals must have 2.5 cm margins at the top, bottom and on each side. The type size must
be clear and readily legible, and conform to the following three requirements: 1) the height
of the letters must not be smaller than 10 point; 2) type density must be no more than 15
characters per 2.5 cm; (for proportional spacing, the average for any representative section
of text must not exceed 15 characters per 2.5 cm); and, 3) no more than 6 lines must be within
a vertical space of 2.5 cm. The type size used throughout the proposal must conform to all
three requirements. While line spacing (single-spaced, double-spaced, etc.) is at the
discretion of the proposer, established page limits must be followed. (Individual program
solicitations may eliminate this proposer option.)
While the guidelines specified above establish the minimum type size requirements,
PIs are advised that readability is of paramount importance and should take precedence in
selection of an appropriate font for use in the proposal.
C. PROPOSAL CONTENTS
1. Single-Copy Documents
Certain categories of information that are submitted in conjunction with a proposal are
for "NSF Use Only." As such, the information is not provided to reviewers for use in the
review of the proposal. With the exception of proposal certifications (which are submitted
via the Authorized Organizational Representative function
15 ), these documents should be
submitted electronically via the Proposal Preparation module in the FastLane system. A
summary of each of these categories follows:
a. Information About Principal Investigators/Project Directors and co-Principal
NSF is committed to providing equal opportunities for participation in its programs and
promoting the full use of the Nation's research and engineering resources. To aid in meeting
these objectives, NSF requests information on the gender, race, ethnicity and disability
status of individuals named as PIs/co-PIs on proposals and awards. Except for the required
information about current or previous Federal research support and the name(s) of the
PI/co-PI, submission of the information is voluntary, and individuals who do not wish to
provide the personal information should check the box provided for that purpose.
b. Deviation Authorization (if applicable)
Instructions for obtaining a deviation from NSF proposal preparation instructions are
provided in Chapter II, Section A, Conformance with Instructions for
The box for "Proprietary or Privileged Information" must be checked on the proposal Cover
Sheet when the proposal contains such information. While NSF will make every effort to prevent
unauthorized access to such material, the Foundation is not responsible or in any way liable
for the release of such material. (See also Chapter VI, Section J,
"Release of Grantee Proposal Information.")
c. List of Suggested Reviewers or Reviewers Not to Include (optional)
Proposers may include a list of suggested reviewers who they believe are especially well
qualified to review the proposal. Proposers also may designate persons they would prefer not
review the proposal, indicating why. These suggestions are optional. GPG
Appendix D, Potentially Disqualifying Conflicts of Interest, contains information on
conflicts of interest that may be useful in preparation of this list.
The cognizant Program Officer handling the proposal considers the suggestions and may
contact the proposer for further information. However, the decision whether or not to use the
suggestions remains with the Program Officer.
d. Proprietary or Privileged Information (if applicable)
Instructions for submission of proprietary or privileged information are provided in
Chapter I, Section B, The Proposal.
e. Proposal Certifications
With the exception of the Disclosure of Lobbying Activities (SF LLL) identified below, the
procedures for submission of the proposal certifications differ from those used with other
single-copy documents. The AOR must use the "Authorized Organizational Representative
function" in the FastLane system to electronically sign and submit the proposal
certifications. It is the proposing organization's responsibility to assure that only properly
authorized individuals sign in this capacity.
The required proposal certifications are as follows:
- Certification for Authorized Organizational Representative or
Individual Applicant: The AOR is required to complete certifications regarding the accuracy
and completeness of statements contained in the proposal, as well as to certify that the
organization (or individual) agrees to accept the obligation to comply with award terms and
- Certification Regarding Conflict of Interest: The AOR is required to complete certifications
stating that the institution
17 has implemented and is enforcing a written policy on conflicts
of interest, consistent with the provisions of
GPM Section 510; that, to the best of his/her
knowledge, all financial disclosures required by the conflict of interest policy were made;
and that conflicts of interest, if any, were, or prior to the institution's expenditure of any
funds under the award, will be, satisfactorily managed, reduced or eliminated in accordance
with the institution's conflict of interest policy. Conflicts that cannot be satisfactorily
managed, reduced or eliminated must be disclosed to NSF.
- Drug-Free Workplace: The AOR is required to complete a certification regarding the
Drug-Free Workplace Act. See Appendix A for the full text of the
Drug-Free Workplace Certification.
- Debarment and Suspension: The AOR is required to complete a certification regarding
Debarment and Suspension. See Appendix B for the full text of the
Debarment and Suspension Certification.
- Certification Regarding Lobbying: The AOR is required to complete a certification
regarding lobbying restrictions. The Certification for Contracts, Grants, Loans and
Cooperative Agreements is included in full text on the FastLane submission screen. This
certification is applicable when the proposal exceeds $100,000. The box for "Disclosure of
Lobbying Activities" must be checked on the proposal Cover Sheet, only if, pursuant to
paragraph 2 of the certification, submission of the SF LLL is required."
2. Sections of the Proposal
The sections described below represent the body of a proposal submitted to NSF. With the
exception of "Special Information and Supplementary Documentation" and "Appendices," all
sections are required parts of the proposal. These documents must be submitted electronically
via the Proposal Preparation module in the FastLane system.
a. Cover Sheet
Proposers are required to select the applicable program announcement, solicitation or
program description. If the proposal is not submitted in response to a specific program
announcement, solicitation, or program description, proposers should select "Grant Proposal
Guide." Compliance with this requirement is critical to determining the relevant proposal
processing guidelines. Proposers must then follow instructions for selection of an applicable
NSF Division and Program(s) to which the proposal should be directed.
A block is included for the proposer to enter its organization's Data Universal Numbering
System (DUNS) number. The DUNS number is a nine-digit number assigned by Dun and Bradstreet
Information Services. If the proposer does not have a DUNS number, it must contact Dun and
Bradstreet by telephone directly at (800) 333-0505 to obtain one. A DUNS number will be
provided immediately by telephone at no charge.
Should the project be performed at a place other than where the award is to be made, that
should be identified in the block entitled, "Name of Performing Organization."
Examples are as follows:
Northern Virginia University
Northern Virginia University Health Center
Southern Virginia University
Southern Virginia University
The title of the project must be brief, scientifically or technically valid, intelligible
to a scientifically or technically literate reader, and suitable for use in the public press.
NSF may edit the title of a project prior to making an award.
The proposed duration for which support is requested must be consistent with the nature and
complexity of the proposed activity. Grants are normally awarded for up to three years but may
be awarded for periods of up to five years. The Foundation encourages PIs to request awards
for durations of three to five years when such durations are necessary for completion of the
proposed work and when such durations are technically and managerially advantageous.
Specification of a desired starting date for the project is important and helpful to NSF
staff; however, requests for specific effective dates may not be met. Except in special
situations, requested effective dates must allow at least six months for NSF review,
processing and decision. Should unusual situations (e.g., a long lead time for procurement)
create problems regarding the proposed effective date, the PI should consult his/her
organization's sponsored projects office.
The proposed duration for which support is requested must be consistent with the nature and
complexity of the proposed activity. Grants are normally awarded for up to three years but
may be awarded for periods of up to five years. The Foundation encourages PIs to request
awards for durations of three to five years when such durations are necessary for completion
of the proposed work and when such durations are technically and managerially advantageous.
Specification of a desired starting date for the project is important and helpful to NSF
staff; however, requests for specific effective dates may not be met. Except in special
situations, requested effective dates must allow at least six months for NSF review,
processing and decision. Should unusual situations (e.g., a long lead time for procurement)
create problems regarding the proposed effective date, the PI should consult his/her
organization's sponsored projects office.
Some NSF program solicitations require submission of both a preliminary and full proposal
as part of the proposal process. In such cases, the following instructions apply:
- During the preliminary proposal stage, the proposing organization should
identify the submission as a preliminary proposal by checking the block entitled, "Preliminary
Proposal" on the proposal Cover Sheet;
- During the full proposal submission stage, the proposing organization should identify in
the block entitled, "Show Related Preliminary Proposal Number", the related preliminary
proposal number assigned by NSF.
Should any of the listed items on the proposal Cover Sheet apply to a proposal, the
appropriate box(es) must be checked.
Profit-making organizations must identify their status by completing each of the appropriate
submitting organization boxes on the Cover Sheet, using the following guidelines:
a. A small business must be organized for profit, independently owned and operated (not a
subsidiary of or controlled by another firm), have no more than 500 employees, and not be
dominant in its field. The appropriate box also must be checked when the proposal involves a
cooperative effort between an academic institution and a small business.
b. A minority business must be: (i) at least 51 percent owned by one or more minority or
disadvantaged individuals or, in the case of a publicly owned business, have at least 51
percent of the voting stock owned by one or more minority or disadvantaged individuals; and
(ii) one whose management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more such
c. A woman-owned business must be at least 51 percent owned by a woman or women, who also
control and operate it. "Control" in this context means exercising the power to make policy
decisions. "Operate" in this context means being actively involved in the day-to-day
b. Project Summary
The proposal must contain a summary of the proposed activity suitable for publication, not
more than one page in length. It should not be an abstract of the proposal, but rather a
self-contained description of the activity that would result if the proposal were funded. The
summary should be written in the third person and include a statement of objectives and
methods to be employed. It must clearly address in separate statements (within the one-page
summary): (1) the intellectual merit of the proposed activity; and (2) the broader impacts
resulting from the proposed activity. (See Chapter III for further descriptive information on
the NSF merit review criteria.) It should be informative to other persons working in the same
or related fields and, insofar as possible, understandable to a scientifically or technically
literate lay reader.
c. Table of Contents
A Table of Contents is automatically generated for the proposal by the FastLane system. The
proposer cannot edit this form.
d. Project Description (including Results from Prior NSF Support)
All proposals to NSF will be reviewed utilizing the two merit review criteria described in
greater length in Chapter III.
The Project Description should provide a clear statement of the work to be undertaken and
must include: objectives for the period of the proposed work and expected significance;
relation to longer-term goals of the PI's project; and relation to the present state of
knowledge in the field, to work in progress by the PI under other support and to work in
The Project Description should outline the general plan of work, including the broad design
of activities to be undertaken, and, where appropriate, provide a clear description of
experimental methods and procedures and plans for preservation, documentation, and sharing of
data, samples, physical collections, curriculum materials and other related research and
education products. It must describe as an integral part of the narrative, the broader
impacts resulting from the proposed activities, addressing one or more of the following as
appropriate for the project: how the project will integrate research and education by
advancing discovery and understanding while at the same time promoting teaching, training,
and learning; ways in which the proposed activity will broaden the participation of
underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.); how the
project will enhance the infrastructure for research and/or education, such as facilities,
instrumentation, networks, and partnerships; how the results of the project will be
disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding; and potential
benefits of the proposed activity to society at large. Examples illustrating activities
likely to demonstrate broader impacts are available electronically on the NSF Website.
(ii) Page Limitations and Inclusion of Universal Resource Locators (URLs) within the
Brevity will assist reviewers and Foundation staff in dealing effectively with proposals.
Therefore, the Project Description (including Results from Prior NSF Support, which is limited
to five pages) may not exceed 15 pages. Visual materials, including charts, graphs, maps,
photographs and other pictorial presentations are included in the 15-page limitation. PIs are
advised that the project description must be self-contained and are cautioned that URLs
(Internet addresses) that provide information necessary to the review of the proposal should
not be used because reviewers are under no obligation to view such sites.
Conformance to the 15-page limitation will be strictly enforced and may not be exceeded
unless a deviation has been specifically authorized. (Chapter II,
Section A, Conformance with Instructions for Proposal Preparation, contains information on
(iii) Results from Prior NSF Support
If any PI or co-PI identified on the project has received NSF funding in the past five
years, information on the award(s) is required. Each PI and co-PI who has received more than
one award (excluding amendments) must report on the award most closely related to the
proposal. The following information must be provided:
(a) the NSF award number, amount and period of support;
(b) the title of the project;
(c) a summary of the results of the completed work, including, for a research project, any
contribution to the development of human resources in science and engineering;
(d) publications resulting from the NSF award;
(e) a brief description of available data, samples, physical collections and other related
research products not described elsewhere; and
(f) if the proposal is for renewed support, a description of the relation of the completed
work to the proposed work.
Reviewers will be asked to comment on the quality of the prior work described in this
section of the proposal. Please note that the proposal may contain up to five pages to
describe the results. Results may be summarized in fewer than five pages, which would give
the balance of the 15 pages for the Project Description.
Any substantial collaboration with individuals not included in the budget should be
described and documented with a letter from each collaborator, which should be provided in the
supplementary documentation section of the FastLane Proposal Preparation module.
(v) Group Proposals
A group proposal is one submitted by 3 or more investigators whose activities are combined
into one administrative unit.
21 In general, group proposals that contain up to ten pages of
overall project description (including overall progress under the appropriate prior award)
plus up to five pages (per person) of individual project descriptions will be acceptable. In
addition, PIs who intend to submit a group proposal that uses the page limitations identified
above are strongly encouraged to contact the cognizant Program Officer prior to submission.
(vi) Proposals for Renewed Support
A proposal for renewed support may be either a "traditional" proposal in which the proposed
work is documented and described as fully as though the proposer were applying for the first
time; or, an "Accomplishment-Based Renewal" (ABR) proposal, in which the project description
is replaced by copies of no more than six reprints of publications resulting from the research
supported by NSF during the preceding three to five year period, plus a brief summary of plans
for the proposed support period. (See Chapter V, Section B.2 for
additional information on preparation of Renewal Proposals.)
e. References Cited
Reference information is required. Each reference must include the names of all authors (in
the same sequence in which they appear in the publication), the article and journal title,
book title, volume number, page numbers, and year of publication. If the document is available
electronically, the Website address also should be identified.
22 Proposers must be especially
careful to follow accepted scholarly practices in providing citations for source materials
relied upon when preparing any section of the proposal.
While there is no established page limitation for the references, this section must include
bibliographic citations only and must not be used to provide parenthetical information outside
of the 15-page project description.
f. Biographical Sketch(es)
A biographical sketch (limited to two pages) is required for each individual identified as
senior project personnel. (See Appendix C for the definition of
Senior Personnel.) The following information must be provided in the order and format
(i) Professional Preparation
A list of the individual's undergraduate and graduate education and postdoctoral training
as indicated below:
Degree & Year
Degree & Year
Inclusive Dates (years)
A list, in reverse chronological order, of all the individual's academic/professional
appointments beginning with the current appointment.
A list of: (i) up to 5 publications most closely related to the proposed project; and (ii)
up to 5 other significant publications, whether or not related to the proposed project. Each
publication identified must include the names of all authors (in the same sequence in which
they appear in the publication), the article and journal title, book title, volume number,
page numbers, and year of publication. If the document is available electronically, the
Website address also should be identified.
For unpublished manuscripts, list only those submitted or accepted for publication (along
with most likely date of publication). Patents, copyrights and software systems developed may
be substituted for publications. Additional lists of publications, invited lectures, etc.,
must not be included. Only the list of 10 will be used in the review of the proposal.
(iv) Synergistic Activities
A list of up to five examples that demonstrate the broader impact of the individual's
professional and scholarly activities that focus on the integration and transfer of knowledge
as well as its creation. Examples could include, among others: innovations in teaching and
training (e.g., development of curricular materials and pedagogical methods); contributions to
the science of learning; development and/or refinement of research tools; computation
methodologies, and algorithms for problem-solving; development of databases to support
research and education; broadening the participation of groups underrepresented in science,
mathematics, engineering and technology; and service to the scientific and engineering
community outside of the individual's immediate organization.
(v) Collaborators & Other Affiliations
(a) Collaborators and Co-Editors. A list of all persons in alphabetical
order (including their current organizational affiliations) who are currently, or who have
been collaborators or co-authors with the individual on a project, book, article, report,
abstract or paper during the 48 months preceding the submission of this proposal. Also
include those individuals who are currently or have been co-editors of a journal, compendium,
or conference proceedings during the 24 months preceding the submission of the proposal. If
there are no collaborators or co-editors to report, this should be so indicated.
(b) Graduate and Postdoctoral Advisors. A list of the names of the
individual's own graduate advisor(s) and principal postdoctoral sponsor(s), and their current
(c) Thesis Advisor and Postgraduate-Scholar Sponsor. A list of all
persons (including their organizational affiliations), with whom the individual has had an
association as thesis advisor, or with whom the individual has had an association within the
last five years as a postgraduate-scholar sponsor. The total number of graduate students
advised and postdoctoral scholars sponsored also must be identified.
The information in section 5 of the biographical sketch is used to help identify potential
conflicts or bias in the selection of reviewers. See GPG Appendix D,
Potentially Disqualifying Conflicts of Interest for additional information on reviewer
For the personnel categories listed below, the proposal also may include information on
exceptional qualifications that merit consideration in the evaluation of the proposal.
(i) Postdoctoral associates
(ii) Other professionals
(iii) Students (research assistants)
For equipment proposals, the following must be provided for each auxiliary user:
(i) Short biographical sketch; and
(ii) List of up to five publications most closely related to the proposed acquisition.
Each proposal must contain a budget for each year of support requested and a cumulative
budget for the full term of requested NSF support, unless a particular program solicitation
stipulates otherwise. Completion of the budget does not eliminate the need to document and
justify the amounts requested in each category. A budget justification of up to three pages
is authorized to provide the necessary justification and documentation.
The proposal may request funds under any of the categories listed so long as the item and
amount are considered necessary to perform the proposed work and are not precluded by specific
program guidelines or applicable cost principles.
A full discussion of the budget and the allowability of selected items of cost is contained
in the following sections, the GPM, as well as other NSF program solicitations. Allowability
of costs is determined in accordance with OMB Circulars regarding Cost Principles available at
(i) Salaries and Wages (Lines A and B on the Proposal Budget)
As a general policy, NSF recognizes that salaries of faculty members and other personnel
associated directly with the project constitute appropriate direct costs and may be requested
in proportion to the effort devoted to the project.
NSF regards research as one of the normal functions of faculty members at institutions of
higher education. Compensation for time normally spent on research within the term of
appointment is deemed to be included within the faculty member's regular organizational
salary. Grant funds may not be used to augment the total salary or rate of salary of faculty
members during the period covered by the term of faculty appointment or to reimburse faculty
members for consulting or other time in addition to a regular full-time organizational salary
covering the same general period of employment. Exceptions may be considered under certain
NSF science and engineering education program solicitations for weekend and evening classes or
for administrative work done as overload. (See
GPM Section 611.)
Summer salary for faculty members on academic-year appointments is limited to no more than
two-ninths of their regular academic-year salary. This limit includes summer salary received
from all NSF-funded grants.
These same principles apply to other types of non-academic organizations, such as research
institutes. Since their employment periods are usually annual, salary must be shown under
"calendar months." For such persons, "summer salary" is normally inappropriate under an NSF
Sometimes an independent institute or laboratory proposes to employ college or university
faculty members on a part-time basis. In such cases, the general intent of the policies above
apply, so that an individual's total income will not be augmented in ways that would not be
possible under a grant to an academic institution.
In most circumstances, particularly for institutions of higher education, salaries of
administrative or clerical staff are included as part of indirect costs (also known as
Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A) for Colleges and Universities). Salaries of
administrative or clerical staff may be requested as direct costs, however, for a project
requiring an extensive amount of administrative or clerical support and where these costs can
be readily and specifically identified with the project with a high degree of accuracy. The
circumstances for requiring direct charging of these services must be clearly described in the
budget justification. Such costs, if not clearly justified, may be deleted by NSF.
The names of the PI(s), faculty, and other senior personnel and the estimated number of
full-time-equivalent academic-year, summer, or calendar-year person-months for which NSF
funding is requested and the total amount of salaries per year must be listed. For
postdoctoral associates and other professionals, the total number of persons for each position
must be listed, with the number of full-time-equivalent person-months and total amount of
salaries per year. For graduate and undergraduate students, secretarial, clerical, technical,
etc., whose time will be charged directly to the project, only the total number of persons and
total amount of salaries per year in each category is required. Salaries requested must be
consistent with the organization's regular practices. The budget justification should detail
the rates of pay by individual for senior personnel, postdoctoral associates, and other
The budget may request funds for support of graduate or undergraduate research assistants
to help carry out the proposed research. Compensation classified as salary payments must be
requested in the salaries and wages category. Any direct costs requested for tuition
remission must be listed in the "Other" category under "Other Direct Costs."
(c) Confidential Budgetary Information
The proposing organization may request that salary data on senior personnel not be released
to persons outside the Government during the review process. In such cases, the item for senior
personnel salaries in the proposal may appear as a single figure and the person-months
represented by that amount omitted. If this option is exercised, senior personnel salaries
and person-months must be itemized in a separate statement, and forwarded to NSF in accordance
with the instructions specified in Chapter I, Section B, Proprietary or Privileged
Information. This statement must include all of the information requested on the proposal
budget for each person involved. NSF will not forward the detailed information to reviewers
and will hold it privileged to the extent permitted by law. The information on senior
personnel salaries will be used as the basis for determining the salary amounts shown in the
grant budget. The box for "Proprietary or Privileged Information" must be checked on the
proposal Cover Sheet when the proposal contains confidential budgetary information.
(ii) Fringe Benefits (Line C on the Proposal Budget)
If the grantee's usual accounting practices provide that its contributions to employee
benefits (social security, retirement, etc.) be treated as direct costs, NSF grant funds may
be requested to fund fringe benefits as a direct cost.
(iii) Equipment (Line D on the Proposal Budget)
Equipment is defined as an item of property that has an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more
(unless the organization has established lower levels) and an expected service life of more
than one year. Items of needed equipment must be listed individually by description and
estimated cost, including tax, and adequately justified. Allowable items ordinarily will be
limited to research equipment and apparatus not already available for the conduct of the work.
General-purpose equipment, such as a personal computer, is not eligible for support unless
primarily or exclusively used in the actual conduct of scientific research. (See also GPG
Chapter VI, Section D, Equipment, for further information on title
(iv) Travel (Line E on the Proposal Budget)
Travel and its relation to the proposed activities must be specified and itemized by
destination and cost. Funds may be requested for field work, attendance at meetings and
conferences, and other travel associated with the proposed work, including subsistence. In
order to qualify for support, however, attendance at meetings or conferences must enhance the
PI's ability to perform the work, plan extensions of it, or disseminate its results.
Allowance for air travel normally will not exceed the cost of round-trip, economy
airfares. (See also GPM Section
614.) Persons traveling under NSF grants must travel by
US-flag carriers, if available.
(b) Domestic Travel
For budget purposes, domestic travel includes travel in the US, its possessions, Puerto
Rico, and travel to Canada and Mexico.
(c) Foreign Travel
For budget purposes, travel outside the areas specified above is considered foreign. The
proposal must include relevant information, including countries to be visited (also enter
names of countries on the proposal budget), dates of visit, if known, and justification for
any foreign travel planned in connection with the project.
Travel support for dependents of key project personnel may be requested only when all of
the following conditions apply:
(i) the individual is a key person who is essential to the research on a full-time basis;
(ii) the individual's residence away from home and in a foreign country is for a continuous
period of six months or more and is essential to the effective performance of the project;
(iii) the dependent's travel allowance is consistent with the policies of the
organization administering the grant.
(v) Participant Support (Line F on the Proposal Budget)
This budget category refers to costs of transportation, per diem, stipends and other
related costs for participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with NSF-sponsored
conferences, meetings, symposia, training activities and workshops.
Chapter II, Section D.7) Generally, indirect costs (F&A) are not
allowed on participant support costs. The number of participants to be supported must be
entered in the parentheses on the proposal budget. These costs also must be justified in the
budget justification section of the proposal. Some programs, such as Research Experiences for
Undergraduates have special instructions for treatment of participant support.
(vi) Other Direct Costs (Lines G1 through G6 on the Proposal Budget)
Any costs charged to an NSF grant must be reasonable and directly allocable to the
supported activity. The budget must identify and itemize other anticipated direct costs not
included under the headings above, including materials and supplies, publication costs,
computer services and consultant services. Examples include aircraft rental, space rental at
research establishments away from the grantee organization, minor building alterations,
payments to human subjects, service charges, tuition remission, and construction of equipment
or systems not available off the shelf. Reference books and periodicals may be charged to the
grant only if they are specifically required for the project.
(a) Materials and Supplies (Line G1 on the Proposal Budget)
The proposal budget must indicate the general types of expendable materials and supplies
required, with their estimated costs. The breakdown should be more detailed when the cost is
(b) Publication/Documentation/Dissemination (Line G2 on the
The proposal budget may request funds for the costs of documenting, preparing, publishing
or otherwise making available to others the findings and products of the work conducted under
the grant. This generally includes the following types of activities: reports, reprints, page
charges or other journal costs (except costs for prior or early publication); necessary
illustrations; cleanup, documentation, storage and indexing of data and databases;
development, documentation and debugging of software; and storage, preservation,
documentation, indexing, etc., of physical specimens, collections or fabricated items.
(c) Consultant Services (Line G3 on the Proposal Budget)
Anticipated consultant services must be justified and information furnished on each
individual's expertise, primary organizational affiliation, normal daily compensation rate,
and number of days of expected service. Consultants' travel costs, including subsistence,
also may be included. Payment for a consultant's services, exclusive of expenses, may not
exceed the consultant's normal rate or the daily maximum rate established annually by NSF,
whichever is less.
(d) Computer Services (Line G4 on the Proposal Budget)
The cost of computer services, including computer-based retrieval of scientific, technical
and educational information, may be requested. A justification based on the established
computer service rates at the proposing organization must be included. The proposal budget
also may request costs, which must be shown to be reasonable, for leasing of computer
equipment. Special purpose computers or associated hardware and software, other than general
purpose PCs, may be requested as items of equipment and justified in terms of their necessity
for the activity proposed.
27 (Line G5 on the Proposal Budget)
Except for the procurement of such items as commercially available supplies, materials,
equipment or general support services allowable under the grant, no significant part of the
research or substantive effort under an NSF grant may be contracted or otherwise transferred
to another organization without prior NSF authorization. The intent to enter into such
arrangements must be disclosed in the proposal. At a minimum, the disclosure must include a
clear description of the work to be performed, and the basis for selection of the subawardee
(except for collaborative/joint arrangements) and a separate budget for each subaward.
(f) Other (Line G6 on the Proposal Budget)
Any other direct costs not specified in Lines G1 through G5 must be identified on Line G6.
Such costs must be itemized and justified in the budget justification.
(vii) Total Direct Costs (Line H on the Proposal Budget)
The total amount of direct costs requested by the proposer, to include Lines A through G,
must be entered on Line H.
(viii) Indirect Costs (also known as Facilities and Administrative
Costs (F&A) for Colleges and Universities) (Line I on the Proposal Budget)
The applicable indirect cost rate(s) negotiated by the organization with the cognizant
Federal negotiating agency must be used in computing indirect costs (F&A) for a proposal. If
an organization has no established indirect cost rate, it should contact the Cost
Analysis/Audit Resolution Branch of NSF's Division of Acquisition and Cost Support. An
organization may obtain guidelines for submitting rate proposals from that Branch, telephone
(703) 292-8244. Within Government guidelines, unless otherwise indicated in a specific
program solicitation, it is NSF policy that grantees are entitled to reimbursement from grant
funds for indirect costs (F&A) allocable to the NSF share of allowable direct costs of a
project, except grants:
- solely for the support of travel, equipment, construction of facilities,
or doctoral dissertations;
- for participant support costs;
- to foreign grantees; and
- to individuals (i.e., Fellowship awards).
(ix) Total Direct and Indirect Costs (F&A) (Line J on the Proposal
The total amount of direct and indirect costs (F&A) (sum of Lines H and I) must be entered
on Line J.
(x) Residual Funds (Line K on the Proposal Budget)
This line is used only for budgets for incremental funding requests on continuing grants.
Grantees must provide a rationale for residual funds in excess of 20% as part of the annual
(xi) Amount of This Request (Line L on the Proposal Budget)
The total amount of funds requested by the proposer will be the same as the amount entered
on Line J unless the Foundation disapproves the carry-over of residual funds. If disapproved,
Line L will be equal to Line J minus Line K.
(xii) Cost Sharing (Line M on the Proposal Budget)
In accordance with Congressional requirements (see GPM 330), NSF requires that each grantee
share in the cost of research projects resulting from unsolicited proposals. The grantee may
meet the statutory cost sharing requirement by choosing either of two alternatives:
(a) by cost sharing a minimum of one percent on the project; or
(b) by cost sharing a minimum of one percent on the aggregate costs of all NSF-supported
projects requiring cost sharing.
The statutory cost sharing referenced above is not required for grants that provide funds
solely for the following purposes
28 (not considered to be support of "research"), although such
awards may be subject to other cost sharing requirements identified in a specific
- international travel;
- construction, improvement or operation of facilities;
- acquisition of research equipment;
- ship operations;
- education and training;
- publication, distribution and translation of scientific data and information;
- symposia, conferences and workshops; and
- special studies authorized or required by Subsections 3a(5) through 3a(7) of the NSF Act,
For research proposals submitted solely in response to the Grant Proposal Guide,
only the statutory cost sharing amount (1%) is required. Such amounts should not be entered
on Line M of the proposal budget. If organizational or other commitments in excess of NSF's
statutory requirement are voluntarily included in the proposal, the amount of these
contributions must be included on Line M. The sources and amounts must be included in the
budget justification. Any amount listed on Line M shall be included as a condition of the
award, should an award ultimately be made.
Proposals submitted in response to NSF solicitations may be subject to special cost sharing
requirements. NSF-required cost sharing is considered an eligibility rather than a review
criterion. Any cost sharing proposed in excess of an NSF required level/amount will not be
considered in the merit review process. Proposers are advised that all cost sharing
commitments, if incorporated into the award, are subject to audit.
The estimated value of any in-kind contributions should be included on Line M. An
explanation of the source, nature, amount and availability of any proposed cost sharing also
must be provided in the budget justification.
29 It should be noted that contributions derived
from other Federal funds or counted as cost sharing toward projects of another Federal agency
may not be counted towards meeting the specific cost sharing requirements of the NSF grant.
Failure to provide the level of cost sharing reflected in the approved grant budget may result
in termination of the NSF grant, disallowance of grant costs and/or refund of grant funds to
(xiii) Unallowable Costs
Proposers should be familiar with the complete list of unallowable costs that is contained
in the applicable cost principles. Because of their sensitivity, the following categories of
unallowable costs are highlighted:
Costs of entertainment, amusement, diversion and social activities and any costs directly
associated with such activities (such as tickets to shows or sporting events, meals, lodging,
rentals, transportation and gratuities) are unallowable. Expenses of grantee employees who
are not on travel status are unallowable. This includes cases where they serve as hosts or
otherwise participate at meals that are primarily social occasions involving speakers or
consultants. Costs of employees on travel status are limited to those allowed under the
governing cost principles for travel expenses. (See
GPM Section 614.)
(b) Meals and Coffee Breaks
No NSF funds may be spent on meals or coffee breaks for intramural meetings of an
organization or any of its components, including, but not limited to, laboratories,
departments and centers.
(c) Alcoholic Beverages
No NSF funds may be spent on alcoholic beverages.
h. Current and Pending Support
This section of the proposal calls for required information on all current and pending
support for ongoing projects and proposals, including subsequent funding in the case of
continuing grants. All current project support from whatever source (e.g., Federal, State,
local or foreign government agencies, public or private foundations, industrial or other
commercial organizations) must be listed. The proposed project and all other projects or
activities requiring a portion of time of the PI and other senior personnel must be included,
even if they receive no salary support from the project(s). The total award amount for the
entire award period covered (including indirect costs) must be shown as well as the number of
person-months per year to be devoted to the project, regardless of source of support. Similar
information must be provided for all proposals already submitted or submitted concurrently to
other possible sponsors, including NSF. Concurrent submission of a proposal to other
organizations will not prejudice its review by NSF. Note the Biological Sciences Directorate
exception to this policy, however, delineated in Chapter I, Section A,
If the project now being submitted has been funded previously by a source other than NSF,
the information requested in the paragraph above must be furnished for the last period of
i. Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources
This section of the proposal is used to assess the adequacy of the organizational resources
available to perform the effort proposed. Proposers must describe only those resources that
are directly applicable.
j. Special Information and Supplementary Documentation
Except as specified below, special information and supplementary documentation must be
included as part of the project description (or part of the budget justification), if it is
relevant to determining the quality of the proposed work. Information submitted in the
following areas is not considered part of the 15-page project description limitation. This
Special Information and Supplementary Documentation section also is not considered an
appendix. Specific guidance on the need for additional documentation may be obtained from the
organization's sponsored projects office or in the references cited below.
- Rationale for performance of all or part of the project off-campus or away
from organizational headquarters.
(GPM Section 633)
- Documentation of collaborative arrangements of significance to the proposal through
letters of commitment. (GPG Chapter II, Section D.3)
- Environmental impact statement for activities that have an actual or potential impact on
the environment. (
GPM Section 830)
- Work in foreign countries. Some governments require nonresidents to obtain official
approval to carry out investigations within their borders and coastal waters under their
jurisdiction. PIs are responsible for obtaining the required authorizations and for advising
NSF that they have been obtained or requested. Advance coordination should minimize
disruption of the research. (
GPM Section 763 and
- Research in the Antarctic and Greenland. (
GPM Section 763)
- Research in a location designated, or eligible to be designated, a registered historic
place. (GPM Section 840)
Where applicable, the box for "Historic Places" must be checked on the proposal Cover
- Research involving field experiments with genetically engineered organisms.
(GPM Section 712)
- Documentation regarding research involving the use of human subjects, hazardous materials,
vertebrate animals, or endangered species.
(GPM Section 710,
GPG Chapter II, Sections D.5 and D.6)
Where applicable the box for "Human Subjects" and "Vertebrate Animals" must be checked on the
proposal Cover Sheet.
- Projects that involve technology utilization/transfer activities, that require a management
plan, or that involve special reports or final products.
- Special components in new proposals or in requests for supplements, such as Facilitation
Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED), Research Opportunity Awards or
Research Experiences for Undergraduates. (See GPG Chapter II, Section
D.2 for information on FASED, and for the other programs identified, consult the relevant
- Research in Undergraduate Institutions. (See program solicitation for information.)
- Research Experiences for Undergraduates. (See program solicitation for REU site proposals
for further information.)
In addition, the supplementary documentation section should alert NSF officials to unusual
circumstances that require special handling, including, for example, proprietary or other
privileged information in the proposal, matters affecting individual privacy, required
intergovernmental review under E.O. 12372 (Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs) for
activities that directly affect State or local governments, or possible national security
All information necessary for the review of a proposal must be contained in Sections A
through I of the proposal. Appendices may not be included unless a deviation has been
authorized. Chapter II, Section A. Conformance with Instructions for
Proposal Preparation, contains further information.
D. SPECIAL GUIDELINES
1. Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER) Proposals
Proposals for small-scale, exploratory, high-risk research in the fields of science,
engineering and education normally supported by NSF may be submitted to individual programs.
Such research is characterized as:
- preliminary work on untested and novel ideas;
- ventures into emerging research ideas;
- application of new expertise or new approaches to "established" research topics;
- having a severe urgency with regard to availability of, or access to data, facilities or
specialized equipment, including quick-response research on natural disasters and similar
unanticipated events; or
- efforts of similar character likely to catalyze rapid and innovative advances.
Investigators are strongly encouraged to contact the NSF program(s) most germane to the
proposal topic before submitting an SGER proposal. This will facilitate determining whether
the proposed work meets the guidelines described above and availability and appropriateness
for SGER funding, or whether the work is more appropriate for submission as a fully reviewed
proposal. The project description must be brief (two to five pages) and include clear
statements as to why the proposed research should be considered particularly exploratory and
high risk, the nature and significance of its potential impact on the field, and why an SGER
grant would be a suitable means of supporting the work.
Brief biographical information is required for the PI and co-PI(s) only, and must list no
more than five significant publications or other research products. The box for "Small Grant
for Exploratory Research" must be checked on the proposal Cover Sheet.
These proposals will be subject to internal NSF merit review only. Renewed funding of SGER
awards may be requested only through submission of a non-SGER proposal that will be subject to
full merit review. The maximum SGER award amount will not exceed $100,000. Although the
maximum award amount is $100,000, the award amount usually will be substantially less than a
given program's average award amount. The project's duration will normally be one year, but
may be up to two years.
At the discretion of the Program Officer, and with the concurrence of the Division Director,
a small fraction of especially promising SGER awards may be extended for a period of six
additional months and supplemented with up to $50,000 in additional funding. The SGER award
extensions will be possible for awards of two-year initial duration as well as for those of
shorter initial duration. Requests for extensions must be submitted one to two months before
the expiration date of the initial award. A project report and outline of proposed research,
not to exceed five pages, must be included.
2. Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities
As part of its effort to promote full utilization of highly qualified scientists,
mathematicians, and engineers, and to develop scientific and technical talent, the Foundation
has the following goals:
- to reduce or remove barriers to participation in research and training by
physically disabled individuals by providing special equipment and assistance under awards
made by NSF; and
- to encourage disabled individuals to pursue careers in science and engineering by
stimulating the development and demonstration of special equipment that facilitates their work
Individuals with disabilities eligible for facilitation awards include principal
investigators, other senior project personnel, and graduate and undergraduate students. The
cognizant NSF Program Officer will make decisions regarding what constitutes appropriate
support on a case-by-case basis. The specific nature, purpose, and need for equipment or
assistance should be described in sufficient detail in the proposal to permit evaluation by
There is no separate program for funding of special equipment or assistance. Requests are
made in conjunction with regular competitive proposals, or as a supplemental funding request
to an existing NSF award. Specific instructions for each type of request are provided below.
a. Requests as part of a competitive proposal submission
Funds may be requested to purchase special equipment, modify equipment or provide services
required specifically for the work to be undertaken. Requests for funds for equipment or
assistance that compensate in a general way for the disabling condition are not permitted.
For example, funds may be requested to provide: prosthetic devices to manipulate a particular
apparatus; equipment to convert sound to visual signals, or vice versa, for a particular
experiment; access to a special site or to a mode of transportation (except as defined below);
a reader or interpreter with special technical competence related to the project; or other
special-purpose equipment or assistance needed to conduct a particular project. Items,
however, such as standard wheel chairs, prosthetics, hearing aids, TDD/text-phones, or general
readers for the blind would not be supported because the need for them is not specific to the
proposed project. Similarly, ramps, elevators, or other structural modifications of research
facilities are not eligible for direct support under this program.
There is no maximum funding amount that has been established for such requests. It is
expected, however, that the cost (including equipment adaptation and installation) will not be
a major component of the total proposed budget for the project. Requests for funds for
special equipment or assistance to facilitate the participation of individuals with
disabilities should be included in the proposed budget for the project and documented in the
budget justification. The specific nature, purpose and need for such equipment or assistance
should be described in sufficient detail in the Project Description to permit evaluation of
the request by knowledgeable reviewers.
b. Supplemental Funding Requests to existing NSF grants
Supplemental funds for special equipment or assistance to facilitate participation in
NSF-supported projects by persons with disabilities may be provided under existing NSF grants.
Normally, title is vested in the grantee organization for equipment purchased in conjunction
with NSF-supported activities. In accordance with the Grant Conditions, the grantee
organization guarantees use of the equipment for the specific project during the period of
work funded by the Foundation, and assures its use in an appropriate manner after project
completion. In instances involving special equipment for persons with disabilities, the need
for such may be unique to the individual. In such cases, the grantee organization may elect
to transfer title to the individual to assure appropriate use after project completion.
Supplemental requests should be submitted electronically by using the "Supplemental Funding
Request" function in FastLane and should include a brief description of the request, and a
budget and budget justification. Requests must be submitted at least two months before funds
are needed. Funding decisions will be made on the basis of the justification and availability
of program funds with any resultant funding provided through a formal amendment of the
existing NSF grant.
3. Collaborative Proposals
A collaborative proposal is one in which investigators from two or more organizations wish
to collaborate on a unified research project. Collaborative proposals may be submitted to NSF
in one of two methods: as a single proposal, in which a single award is being requested (with
subawards administered by the lead organization); or by simultaneous submission of proposals
from different organizations, with each organization requesting a separate award. In either
case, the lead organization's proposal must contain all of the requisite sections as a single
package to be provided to reviewers (that will happen automatically when procedures below are
followed.) All collaborative proposals must clearly describe the roles to be played by the
other organizations, specify the managerial arrangements, and explain the advantages of the
multi-organizational effort within the project description. PIs are strongly encouraged to
contact the cognizant NSF Program Officer prior to submission of a collaborative proposal.
a. Submission of a single proposal
The single proposal method allows investigators from two or more organizations who have
developed an integrated research project to submit a single, focused proposal. A single
investigator bears primary responsibility for the administration of the grant and discussions
with NSF, and, at the discretion of the organizations involved, investigators from any of the
participating organizations may be designated as co-PIs.
By submission of the proposal, the organization has determined that the proposed activity
is administratively manageable. NSF may request a revised proposal, however, if it considers
that the project is so complex that it will be too difficult to review or administer as
presented. (See Chapter II, Section C.2.g.(vi)(e) for
additional instructions on preparation of this type of proposal.)
b. Simultaneous submission of proposals from different organizations
In many instances, simultaneous submission of proposals that contain the same project
description from each organization might be appropriate. For these proposals, the project
title must begin with the words "Collaborative Research:" The lead organization's submission
will include a proposal Cover Sheet, project summary, project description, references cited,
biographical sketches, budgets and budget justification, current and pending support, and
facilities, equipment and other resources for their organization. Non-lead organization
submissions will include all of the above for their organization except the project summary,
project description, and references cited which are the same for all collaborating
organizations. FastLane will combine the proposal submission for printing or electronic
To submit the collaborative proposal, the following process must be completed:
(i) Each non-lead organization must assign their proposal a proposal PIN. This proposal
PIN and the temporary proposal ID generated by FastLane when the non-lead proposal is created
must be provided to the lead organization before the lead organization submits its proposal to
(ii) The lead organization must then enter each non-lead organization(s) proposal PIN and
temporary proposal ID into the FastLane lead proposal by using the "Link Collaborative
Proposals" option found on the FastLane "Form Preparation" screen.
Given that such separately submitted collaborative proposals constitute a "single" proposal
submission to NSF, it is imperative that the proposals be submitted within a reasonable
timeframe to one another. Failure to submit all components of the collaborative proposal on a
timely basis may impact the review of the proposal.
4. Proposals for Equipment
Proposals for specialized equipment may be submitted by an organization for: (1) individual
investigators; (2) groups of investigators within the same department; (3) several
departments; (4) organization(s) participating in a collaborative or joint arrangement; (5)
any components of an organization; or (6) a region. One individual must be designated as PI.
Investigators may be working in closely related areas or their research may be
Note: Many organizations within NSF have formal instrumentation programs that may
include special guidelines such as cost sharing or other requirements. It is important to use
the applicable guidelines in these competitions. The appropriate program should be
Instrumentation and equipment proposals must follow the format of research proposals. Each
potential major user must describe the project(s) for which the equipment will be used. These
descriptions must be succinct, not necessarily as detailed as in an individual research
proposal, and must emphasize the intrinsic merit of the activity and the importance of the
equipment to it. A brief summary will suffice for auxiliary users.
Equipment to be purchased, modified or constructed must be described in sufficient detail to
allow comparison of its capabilities with the needs of the proposed activities. Equipment
proposals also must describe comparable equipment already at the proposing organization(s) and
explain why it cannot be used. This includes comparable government-owned equipment that is
Equipment proposals must discuss arrangements for acquisition, maintenance and operation,
- overall acquisition plan;
- biographical sketch of the person(s) who will have overall responsibility for maintenance
and operation and a brief statement of qualifications, if not obvious;
- description of the physical facility, including floor plans or other appropriate
information, where the equipment will be located;
- statement of why the equipment is severable or non-severable from the physical facility;
- annual budget for operation and maintenance of the proposed equipment, indicating source of
funds, and particularly related equipment; and
- brief description of other support services available and the annual budget for their
operation, maintenance and administration.
The terms of a grant require that special-purpose equipment purchased or leased with grant
funds be subject to reasonable inventory controls, maintenance procedures and organizational
policies that enhance its multiple or shared use on other projects, if such use does not
interfere with the work for which the equipment was acquired.
If the government retains title, those items must be included in the annual inventory
submitted to the NSF Property Administrator.
31 Equipment proposals must include the
information described above within the 15-page project description. These proposals normally
compete with proposals for research or education projects.
5. Proposals Involving Vertebrate Animals
For proposals involving the use of vertebrate animals
32 , sufficient information must be
provided within the 15-page project description to enable reviewers to evaluate the choice of
species, number of animals to be used, and any necessary exposure of animals to discomfort,
pain, or injury.
Consistent with the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act [7 U.S.C. 2131 et seq] and the
regulations promulgated thereunder by the Secretary of Agriculture [9 CFR, 1.1-4.11], NSF
requires that proposed projects involving use of any vertebrate animal for research or
education be approved by the submitting organization's Institutional Animal Care and Use
Committee (IACUC) before an award can be made. For this approval to be accepted by NSF, the
organization must have a current Institutional Animal Welfare Assurance established with the
Public Health Service (PHS).
If the organization does not have such an Assurance in place, then approval of the project
by the IACUC of an organization with a current PHS Assurance will be acceptable, if the IACUC
agrees to provide the required oversight of facilities and activities during the award.
Alternatively, the submitting organization may create its own IACUC by establishing a
single-project Institutional Animal Welfare Assurance with NSF. In any case, IACUC approval
must be received prior to an award. Proposers with questions regarding this requirement
should contact the cognizant NSF Program Officer.
The box for "Vertebrate Animals" must be checked on the proposal Cover Sheet with the IACUC
approval date (if available) identified in the space provided. If IACUC approval has not been
obtained prior to submission, the proposer should indicate "Planned" in the space provided for
the approval date.
These same rules apply to awards to individuals (fellowships) for activities that involve
use of vertebrate animals. The "Vertebrate Animals" box should be checked on the proposal
Cover Sheet. Evidence of IACUC approval can be provided in a letter giving the date of IACUC
approval with the appropriate organizational signature.
6. Proposals Involving Human Subjects
Projects involving research with human subjects must ensure that subjects are protected
from research risks in conformance with the relevant Federal policy known as the Common Rule
(Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, 45 CFR 690). All projects involving
human subjects either must have approval from the organization's Institutional Review Board
(IRB) before issuance of an NSF award, or affirm that the IRB has declared the research exempt
from continued oversight, in accordance with the applicable subsection of section 101(b) of
the Common Rule. The box for "Human Subjects" must be checked on the proposal Cover Sheet
with the IRB approval date (if available) or exemption subsection from the Common Rule
identified in the space provided. Additional information, including Frequently Asked
Questions and Vignettes, for use in interpreting the Common Rule for Behavioral and Social
Science Research, is available on the NSF Website at:
7. Proposals for Conferences, Symposia and Workshops
NSF supports conferences, symposia and workshops in special areas of science and
engineering that bring experts together to discuss recent research or education findings or to
expose other researchers or students to new research and education techniques. NSF
encourages the convening in the US of major international conferences, symposia and workshops.
Conferences will be supported only if equivalent results cannot be obtained at regular
meetings of professional societies. Although requests for support of conferences, symposia
and workshops ordinarily originate with educational institutions or scientific and engineering
societies, they also may come from other groups. Shared support by several Federal agencies,
States or private organizations is encouraged. Because proceedings of such conferences
normally should be published in professional journals, requests for support may include
publication costs. Requests should generally be made at least a year in advance of the
scheduled date. Conferences or meetings, including the facilities in which they are held,
funded in whole or in part with NSF funds, must be accessible to participants with
A conference, symposium or workshop proposal (that complies with the page and font size
instructions in Chapter II, Section B, Format of the Proposal)
must contain the following elements:
- Cover Sheet;
- Summary of one page or less indicating the objectives of the project;
- Statement of the need for such a gathering and a list of topics;
- Recent meetings on the same subject, including dates and locations;
- Names of the chairperson and members of organizing committees and their organizational
- Information on the location and probable date(s) of the meeting and the method of
announcement or invitation;
- Statement of how the meeting will be organized and conducted, how the results of the
meeting will be disseminated and how the meeting will contribute to the enhancement and
improvement of scientific, engineering and/or educational activities;
- A plan for recruitment of and support for speakers and other attendees, that includes
participation of groups underrepresented in science and engineering (e.g., underrepresented
minorities, women, and persons with disabilities);
- Estimated total budget for the conference, together with an itemized statement of the
amount of support requested from NSF (the NSF budget may include participant support for
transportation (when appropriate), per diem costs, stipends, publication and other
conference-related costs. (Note: participant support costs must be excluded from the
indirect cost base.) See Chapter II, Section C.2.g.(v); and
- Support requested or available from other Federal agencies and other sources.
(Chapter II, Section C.2.h should be consulted to prepare this
portion of the proposal.)
For additional coverage on allowability of costs associated with meetings and conferences,
proposers should consult
GPM Section 625.
8. Proposals to Support International Travel
Proposals for travel support for US participation in international scientific and
engineering meetings held abroad are handled by the NSF organizational unit with program
responsibility for the area of interest.
Group travel awards are encouraged as the primary means of support for international
travel. A university, professional society or other non-profit organization may apply for
funds to enable it to coordinate and support US participation in one or more international
scientific meeting(s) abroad. Proposals submitted for this purpose should address the same
items as those indicated for conferences, symposia, and workshops (see
Section 7 above), with
particular attention to plans for composition and recruitment of the travel group.
Information on planned speakers should be provided where available from the conference
Group travel proposals may request support only for the international travel costs of the
proposed activity. However, in addition, group travel proposals also may include as
compensation for the grantee, a flat rate of $50 per traveler for general administrative costs
of preparing announcements, evaluating proposals and handling travel arrangements customarily
associated with this type of project. (See
GPM Section 765.)
Group travel grantees are required to retain supporting documentation that funds were spent
in accordance with the original intent of the proposal. Such documentation may be required in
final reports and is subject to audit.
9. Proposals for Doctoral Dissertation Research
NSF awards grants in support of doctoral dissertation research in some disciplines,
primarily field research in the environmental, behavioral and social sciences. Support may be
sought through those disciplinary programs and, in cases involving research abroad, through
the Office of International Programs. The thesis advisor or concerned faculty member submits
proposals on behalf of the graduate student. Further information can be obtained from the
cognizant program office.
The NSF Prospective New Awardee Guide is available electronically on the NSF Website at
https://www.nsf.gov/pubsys/ods/getpub.cfm?nsf02044. Back to Text
FAQs regarding FastLane proposal preparation and submission also are available
electronically on the FastLane Website. Back to Text
Requests for approval of a deviation from NSF's electronic submission requirement must be
forwarded to the cognizant NSF program for review and approval prior to submission of the
paper proposal.Back to Text
Further instructions for this process are available electronically on the FastLane
Website. Back to Text
Detailed instructions for completion of this process are available electronically on
the FastLane Website. Back to Text
For consistency with the Department of Health and Human Services conflict of interest
policy, in lieu of "organization," NSF is using the term "institution" which includes
all categories of proposers. Back to Text
Detailed instructions for submission of the SF LLL are available on the FastLane
Website. Back to Text
Requests for approval of a deviation from NSF's electronic submission requirement must
be forwarded to the cognizant NSF program for review and approval prior to submission
of the paper proposal. Back to Text
Examples illustrating activities likely to demonstrate broader impacts are available
electronically on the NSF Website at
Back to Text
Please note that if the investigators are from two or more organizations, then the instructions
for submission of a collaborative proposal also apply. See Chapter
II, Section D.3 for instructions on the preparation and submission of a collaborative
proposal. Back to Text
If the proposer has a Website address readily available, that information should be
included in the citation, as stated above. It is not NSF's intent, however, to place
an undue burden on proposers to search for the URL of every referenced publication.
Therefore, inclusion of a Website address is optional. A proposal that includes
reference citation(s) that do not specify a URL address is not considered to be in
violation of NSF proposal-preparation guidelines and the proposal will still be
Back to Text
Detailed instructions for submission of confidential budgetary information are
available on the FastLane website.
Back to Text
See also the NSF Grant General Conditions for additional information on use of US Flag
Back to Text
Proposers are advised that the NSF Grant General Conditions require the grantee to obtain
written authorization from the cognizant NSF program officer prior to the reallocation of
funds budgeted for participant support.Back to Text
The current maximum consultant daily rate is available electronically on the NSF website at
https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dga/policy/start.htm.Back to Text
The term "subaward" also includes contracts, subcontracts and other arrangements.
Back to Text
In addition to proposals submitted solely in response to the Grant Proposal Guide,
proposals submitted in response to NSF program announcements are considered unsolicited and
are subject to the statutory cost sharing requirement. Proposals submitted in response to
program solicitations are considered "solicited." This means that the resulting awards are
not subject to statutory cost sharing. Cost sharing is not required unless explicitly
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Section .23 of OMB Circular A-110 describes criteria and procedures for the allowability of
cash and in-kind contributions in satisfying cost sharing and matching requirements.
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Detailed instructions for the electronic preparation and submission of collaborative proposals
are available on the FastLane Website at
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See GPM 542 for additional information on vesting of title to equipment.
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In addition to vertebrate animals covered by the Animal Welfare Act, the requirements
specified in this GPG coverage also are extended to rats, birds and mice.
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Such letters should be provided as supplementary documentation and should be submitted
electronically via the Proposal Preparation module in the FastLane system.
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