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NSF 04-23 September 2004

Chapter V - The Award and Continued Support


NSF awards two types of grants:

Standard Grants, in which NSF agrees to provide a specific level of support for a specified period of time with no statement of NSF intent to provide additional future support without submission of another proposal, and

Continuing Grants, in which NSF agrees to provide a specific level of support for an initial specified period of time, usually a year, with a statement of intent to provide additional support of the project for additional periods, provided funds are available and the results achieved warrant further support.

NSF grants are electronically signed by an NSF Grants Officer, and transmitted to the organization via e-mail. An NSF grant consists of:

  1. the award, which includes any special provisions applicable to the grant and any numbered amendments thereto;

  2. the budget that indicates the amounts, by categories of expense, on which NSF has based its support (or otherwise communicates any specific approvals or disapprovals of proposed expenditures);

  3. the proposal referenced in the award;

  4. the applicable grant conditions 39 , such as Grant General Conditions (NSF GC-1) or Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) Terms and Conditions; and

  5. any NSF issuance that may be incorporated by reference in the award.

In addition to the e-mail notification, grantees can access their NSF awards via FastLane. Sponsored projects offices are able to view, print and/or download NSF awards for their organizations.

Effective/Expiration Dates and Preaward Costs. The grant period begins on the effective date specified in the award or, in its absence, the date of the award, and runs until the expiration date indicated. Expenditures within the 90-day period preceding the effective date of the grant may be authorized by the grantee organization. Such expenditures, however, are made at the grantee's risk. Expenditures after the scheduled expiration date of the grant only may be made to honor documented commitments made on or before the expiration date. PIs should consult their business offices for details.


1. Incremental Funding

Incremental funding for continuing grants within the total duration of the project is based on NSF review of annual project reports and does not require submission of a new proposal. NSF must receive an annual project report for each increment of funding at least three months prior to the end of the current funding period. See Chapter VI, Section H.1, for information on NSF's electronic reporting system available via the FastLane system. Continuing grant increments will be approved by the cognizant Program Officer. The sponsored projects office and PI will be notified by the cognizant NSF Program Officer of NSF's approval via an electronic notification. The grantee community can access award notifications immediately after NSF's approval via the FastLane system.

2. Renewal Proposals

Renewal proposals are requests for additional funding for a support period subsequent to that provided by a standard or continuing grant. Renewal proposals compete with all other pending proposals and must be submitted at least six months before additional funding is required or consistent with an established deadline, target date or submission window. In preparing a renewal proposal, proposers should assume that reviewers will not have access to previous proposals.

All proposals for renewed support of research projects, from academic institutions only, must include information on human-resources development at the postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate levels as part of Results from Prior NSF Support. 40 This may involve, but is not limited to, the role of research in student training, course preparation and seminars (particularly for undergraduates). Special accomplishments in the development of professional scientists and engineers from underrepresented groups should be described. Graduate students who participated in the research should be identified by name. This requirement does not apply to non-academic organizations.

PIs are encouraged to discuss renewal proposals with the program prior to submission of a proposal. Unless precluded by individual program requirements, PIs can choose either of the following two formats for preparation of a renewal proposal. Both types of renewal proposals must be submitted electronically via the NSF FastLane system.

  • Traditional Renewal. The "traditional" renewal proposal is developed as fully as though the proposer were applying for the first time. It covers all the information required in a proposal for a new project, including results from the prior work. The 15-page limitation on the project description applies.
  • Accomplishment-Based Renewal. In an "Accomplishment-Based Renewal" (ABR) proposal, the Project Description (including the Results from Prior NSF Support) is replaced with the following items:

  • copies of no more than six reprints 41 of publications resulting from the research supported by NSF (including research supported by other sources that is closely related to the NSF-supported research) during the preceding three to five year period. Of the six publications, two preprints (accepted for publication) may be included;

  • information on human resources development at the postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate levels; and

  • a brief summary (not to exceed four pages) of plans for the proposed support period.

All other information required for NSF proposal submission remains the same.

It must be clearly indicated in the proposal that it is an ABR submission and the box for "Accomplishment-Based Renewal" must be checked on the proposal Cover Sheet. ABR proposals may not be submitted for consecutive renewals.

3. Two-Year Extensions for Special Creativity

A program officer may recommend the extension of funding for certain research grants beyond the initial period for which the grant was awarded for a period of up to two years. The objective of such extensions is to offer the most creative investigators an extended opportunity to attack adventurous, "high-risk" opportunities in the same general research area, but not necessarily covered by the original/current proposal. Awards eligible for such an extension are generally three-year continuing grants. Special Creativity Extensions are initiated by the NSF program officer based on progress during the first two years of a three-year grant; PIs will be informed of such action a year in advance of the expiration of the grant. Documentation necessary for processing of special creativity extensions should be submitted electronically via the "Supplemental Funding Request" function in FastLane.

4. Supplemental Funding

In unusual circumstances, small amounts of supplemental funding and up to six months of additional support may be requested to assure adequate completion of the original scope of work. The grantee must submit a request for supplemental funding at least two months before funds are needed. Requests for supplemental funding may be initiated in the FastLane system by using the "Supplemental Funding Request" function. 42 Such requests must include a summary of the proposed work, a brief justification, and a budget for the requested funds.

Program officers may make decisions regarding whether or not to recommend a small supplement without merit review of the supplemental funding request. Requests for larger supplements, or for more than six months, may require additional merit review. Supplemental funding requests will not be approved for such purposes as defraying costs associated with increases in salaries or additional indirect cost reimbursement. Grantees should contact the cognizant NSF Program Officer prior to submitting a request for supplemental funding.


1. Grantee-Authorized Extension

Grantees may authorize a one-time extension of the expiration date of the grant of up to 12 months if additional time beyond the established expiration date is required to assure adequate completion of the original scope of work within the funds already made available. This one-time extension may not be exercised merely for the purpose of using the unliquidated balances. The grantee shall notify NSF, providing supporting reasons for the extension and the revised expiration date, at least ten days prior to the expiration date specified in the grant to ensure accuracy of NSF's grant data. All grantee-authorized extension notifications must be submitted electronically via the FastLane system. For grantee-authorized extensions, no amendment will be issued.

2. NSF-Approved Extension

If additional time beyond the extension provided by the grantee is required, and exceptional circumstances warrant, a formal request must be submitted electronically via the NSF Fastlane system. The request must be submitted to NSF at least 45 days prior to the expiration date of the grant. The request must explain the need for the extension and include an estimate of the unobligated funds remaining and a plan for their use. As indicated above, the fact that unobligated funds may remain at the expiration of the grant is not in itself sufficient justification for an extension. The plan must adhere to the previously approved objectives of the project. The first no-cost extension request will be subject to the approval of the cognizant Program Officer. The sponsored projects office and PI will be electronically notified of the disposition of this request by the cognizant NSF Program Officer. The second no-cost extension will continue to be subject to the approval of an NSF Grants Officer, and, if approved, will be in the form of an amendment to the grant specifying a new expiration date. Grantees are cautioned not to make new commitments or incur new expenditures after the expiration date in anticipation of a no-cost extension.

If no funds remain on the project, neither a grantee-authorized no-cost extension notification nor a no-cost extension request for NSF approval may be submitted. The status of all post-award requests submitted to NSF can be tracked on FastLane by the Sponsored Projects Office as well as by the PIs.

39 Additional coverage on the NSF grant conditions (e.g., GC-1 and FDP) is contained in GPM Section 240. Back to Text
40 This requirement applies to both types of renewal proposals: Traditional Renewal and Accomplishment-Based Renewal.Back to Text
41 Reprints should be provided as supplementary documentation and should be submitted electronically via the Proposal Preparation module in the FastLane system. Back to Text
42 Detailed instructions for preparation and submission of supplemental funding requests are available on the FastLane Website at Back to Text