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National Science Foundation (NSF)

What's New 

See other updates in the Archives section located at the bottom of this page.

See NSF Policy Office Link for Most Recent Policy News:

Posted 2-8-2024: NSF PAPPG 24-1 Released

The National Science Foundation (NSF) released version 24-1 of their Proposal & Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG).

This guide provides instructions for preparing and submitting proposals. The new PAPPG will be effective for proposals submitted or due, and awards made, on or after May 20, 2024. For more details, go to the general OSP summary of the new PAPPG. NSF will present information about these changes in a webinar on March 12th at 2 PM EST. Sign up on the Policy Office outreach website to be notified once registration opens

  • Top PAPPG 24-1 Proposal Topics List: Guidance for budgeting a foreign organization (subaward) or foreign individual (consultant); guidance provided for excluding individuals who are a party to a Malign Foreign Talent Recruitment Program; Biographical Sketch – form page limit has been removed; Synergistic Activities disclosure now submitted as part of the Senior/Key personnel documents; Senior/key personnel must prepare, save, certify, and submit Current and Pending (Other) SciENcv Support form as part of their proposal via; Updates to allow proposal documents in landscape format; Proposals are reviewed for both their scientific and computational/data needs, as well as readiness to utilize Advanced Computing, Data, and Analysis Capabilities resources when applicable; Program Suitability and Proposal Concept Tool (ProSPCT) guidelines updated for when use of the NSF tool is required for proposal submissions; IRB, Non-Discrimination and Other Statutes & Regulations – guidance for implementing E.O. orders for “Environmental Justice for All" and “Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency”; NSF's “Sexual Harassment, Other Forms of Harassment, or Sexual Assault" policies; and defining Scientific Integrity.

Posted 8-22-2023: Fastlane Decommissioning and Other System-Related Deadlines

Please see the NSF notice below; importantly, the download recommendation* before 9/29/23 for any submissions that were done in Fastlane. These proposals/letter-of-intent/supplemental funding requests will not be available in the future once has been turned off. This also applies to in-progress items.


  • Friday, October 20, 2023 (5:00 PM submitter’s local time) is the last day the NSF fillable PDF format may be used for the biographical sketch and current and pending support documents. 
  • After Friday, October 20, 2023 proposers must use SciENcv to complete the biographical sketch and current and pending support documents.
  • Please see the NSF Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending (Other) Support websites for more information.

Questions? If you have NSF system-related questions, please contact the NSF Help Desk at 1-800-381-1532 (7:00 AM – 9:00 PM ET; Monday – Friday except federal holidays) or via Policy-related questions can be directed to or your OSP Proposal Team.

Posted 11-17-2022: NSF PAPPG 23-1 Released

The National Science Foundation (NSF) released version 23-1 of their Proposal & Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG).

This guide provides instructions for preparing and submitting proposals. The new PAPPG will be effective for proposals submitted or due, and awards made, on or after January 30, 2023. For more details, go to the general OSP summary of the new PAPPG.

  • Top PAPPG 23-1 Topics List:  1/27/23 is the last day to submit new proposals in FastLane; NSF has developed a Broad Agency Announcement & Management system (BAA & BAAM); New ProSPCT Concept Tool; Required use of SciENcv for the preparation of these documents begins in October 2023;  New Off-Campus/Off-Site Research Checkbox; Safe & Inclusive Off-Campus/Site Research plan by PI; Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RECR) training requirements.

Posted 10-13-2021:

Here are links to a recent video explaining how to use Research.Gov, a Research.Gov summary and use guide, and the Research.Gov demo website. 

Just a reminder that NSF is targeting to have all proposal preparation and submission functionality converted from FastLane to by December 31, 2022.

Research.Gov Recent Proposal Introduction & Creation Demonstration (Streamed live on Oct 8, 2021)

Research.GovSummary and Guide

Welcome to the Proposal Preparation Demo Site

  • The demo site is available to explore preparing proposals in! All proposal types available on the Proposal Submission System are available on the demo site. View the Proposal Submission Capabilities for details.

REMINDER: Required use of Research.Gov for some Program Proposals - NSF has a 2022 target date to incrementally switch submission of all proposals to the system. Applicable funding opportunities will clearly specify if the use of is mandatory.  Many of the items listed below are automatically checked in the Research.Gov application development processes.

Posted 9-1-2021: NSF PAPPG 22-1 Released

The National Science Foundation (NSF) released version 22-1 of their Proposal & Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG).

This guide provides instructions for preparing and submitting proposals. The new PAPPG will be effective for proposals submitted or due, and awards made, on or after October 4, 2021. For more details, go to the general OSP summary of the new PAPPG.

  • Top PAPPG 22-1 Topics List:  NEW SECTION - Requests for Reasonable and Accessibility Systems Usability Accommodations; Biographical Sketches; Current and Pending Support Updates; Home Office Workspace Not Reimbursable; Prohibition on Certain Telecommunications and Video Surveillance Services or Equipment; Career-Life Balance (CLB) Supplemental Funding Request; Travel Proposal Written Code of Conduct Policy Addressing Harassment; Program Income Reporting Requirements; Grant Closeout Reporting Requirements

Posted 3-25-2021: NSF Update

Try out the NSF Demo Site

Three additional proposal types can now be submitted in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Proposal Submission System

  • Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED)
  • Equipment
  • Travel proposal types
  • Web link for

Why is this important to the user?

New NSF FAQ training resources:

New NSF Video training resource:

  • A new 16-minute proposal demo video has been added.
  • The video highlights key proposal preparation steps including:

Proposal Guidance

Guidance on the requirements of your NSF proposal will be in the solicitation and further details on proposal guidelines can be found in the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG, on the NSF website.

Automated Compliance Checking of NSF Proposals (webpage includes a helpful FAQ document).

Proposal Tips

Please see OSP’s NSF Proposal Checklist for additional detailed proposal requirements.

Following is a list of some NSF proposal requirements (note, this is not a comprehensive list):

  • Fastlane submissions - page numbers must be added prior to uploading files ( automatically paginates)
  • Proposal font, spacing and margin requirements – use of small font sizes may be grounds for NSF to return the proposal without review
  • Project Summary – no more than 1 page in length
  • Collaborators and Other Affiliations – use the COA template provided by NSF
  • Project Description must include sections labeled “Broader Impacts” and “Results from Prior NSF Support”
  • Biographical Sketch is limited to three pages
  • Budget Justification – limited to five (5) pages; include MSU’s definition of the term “year”, sample language can be found here; specify total indirect cost amount
  • Current and Pending Support forms are required for all Senior Personnel included in the proposal.  For additional information on completing Current and Pending Support forms, see the Current and Pending/Other Support Requirements by Sponsor webpage.

Submission System

NSF proposals are prepared and submitted using the Fastlane submission system.  

Obtaining an NSF ID (access to NSF Fastlane and

  1. To obtain a new NSF Fastlane and account or add a new role, users now register themselves by following the steps outlined in the detailed registration process
    • Department Administrators should only request the Other Authorized User (OAU) role
    • Faculty should request an Investigator role
  2. To affiliate an existing Fastlane account with MSU, users can add roles at a new organization to their existing NSF account. See Working at Multiple Organizations or Moving to Another Organization in the registration process.

NOTE: Organizational or Financial roles will not be authorized for most users.

Preparing the Proposal in Fastlane

Once logged into Fastlane or the preparer will choose “Proposals, Awards & Status”, then “Proposal Functions” and then “Proposal Preparation”.  

Proposers may upload files in Word, Excel, or PDF into the various sections of the proposal or use the FastLane templates. Some sections require the use of web templates within Fastlane. For example, the budget template calculates and formats your information to the standard NSF budget page (Form 1030), and the Current and Pending template formats your data to the standard NSF Current and Pending page.

For detailed information about how to build your proposal in Fastlane, please follow this link to the Fastlane Help document.

Budget Guidelines

The budget justification must be no more than five pages (each subaward would also have their own five page limitation). Please review the NSF program solicitation for any additional budgeting requirements.  See the PAPPG for NSF specific budget guidelines.



Salaries requested must be consistent with the organization’s regular practices

The names of the PI(s), faculty, and other senior personnel and the estimated number of full-time-equivalent person-months for which NSF funding is requested, and the total amount of salaries requested per year must be listed.

Senior Personnel

NSF generally limits salary compensation requested in the proposal budget for senior personnel to no more than two months of their regular salary in any one year. Any compensation for such personnel in excess of two months annually from all NSF projects must be disclosed in the proposal budget, justified in the budget justification, and must be specifically approved by NSF in the award notice budget.  NSF regards research as one of the normal functions of faculty members at institutions of higher education. NSF believes that faculty’s regular departmental salary support includes research and other sponsored-supported activities.

  • In the budget
    • A corresponding salary amount must be entered on the budget if person months will be requested for senior personnel.
    • Senior personnel (except for the lead PI) should be removed from Section A of the budget if salary and person months are not being requested.
  • In the budget justification
    • Spell out the term “year” in the budget justification using the annual project periods
    • Example justification language: “A. Senior Personnel - PI: CJ Bunt, University Distinguished Professor, Michigan State University salary support is requested for 1 summer month of effort and 1 academic months in each year of the grant.”
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 requested per year.
Graduate and Undergraduate Students, Technical, etc.
Provide only the total number of persons and total amount of salaries requested per year in each category.

Provide the total number of persons and total amount of salaries requested per year.

In the budget justification address why administrative or clerical services are integral to the project or activity.  These services are usually considered part of the recovered F&A (see link for more information) when incurred for common or joint objectives that cannot be readily identified to a particular sponsored project. 


Special purpose or scientific use computers or associated hardware and software may be requested as items of equipment when necessary to accomplish the project objectives and not otherwise reasonably available.  Such items must be clearly disclosed in the proposal budget and justified in the budget justification.  General purpose equipment are usually not an allowable expense.

Participant Support Costs

Participant Support Costs are for the primary purpose of attendance at a conference or training event for learning and receiving training as a participant.  Participant support costs must be specified, itemized and justified in the budget justification.  Includes stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees).  Any additional categories (such as incentives, gifts, souvenirs, t-shirts and memorabilia), must be justified in the budget justification, and such costs will be closely scrutinized by NSF.

The number of participants to be supported must be entered in the parentheses on the proposal budget.

Budget the participants based on the type and duration of the activity, for a reasonable amount, in conformance with the policy of the proposing organization and limited to the days of attendance at the conference plus the actual travel time required to reach the conference location. 

Where meals or lodgings are furnished without charge or at a nominal cost (e.g., as part of the registration fee), the per diem or subsistence allowance should be correspondingly reduced. Although local participants may participate in conference meals and coffee breaks, funds may not be proposed to pay per diem or similar expenses.

Costs other than PSC - If the primary purpose of an individual attending the conference or training event is to speak or assist with management of the conference, then such costs should be budgeted in appropriate categories other than participant support. Funds may not be used to cover room rental fees, catering costs, supplies, etc. Incentive payments to human research subjects are not considered PSC.


Travel and its relation to the proposed activities must be specified, itemized and justified by destination and cost. 

Allowance for air travel normally will not exceed the cost of round-trip, economy airfares.

Travel costs including meal and hotel expenses of grantee employees who are not on travel status are unallowable.

For international travel, provide the names of countries and dates of visit in the budget justification. Domestic travel includes U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, and U.S. Possessions.

Funds may be requested for field work, attendance at meetings and conferences, and other travel associated with the proposed work, including subsistence. However, attendance at meetings or conferences must be necessary to accomplish proposal objectives or disseminate research results. 

Other Direct Costs

Conference Proposal
See the PAPPG for specific guidance.
Consultant Services

(Also referred to as Professional Service Costs)

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, may be included.

The proposer must be able to justify that the proposed rate of pay is reasonable.
Materials & Supplies
Budget justification must detail the types of expendable materials and supplies required.
Costs must be itemized and detailed in the budget justification.
Includes 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.
If known at the time of proposal submission, the intent to enter into such arrangements must be disclosed in the proposal. Each subawardee must provide a separate budget, budget justification of no more than five pages, description of the work to be performed and a signed MSU Commitment form.

F&A (Indirect Costs)

The calculation and amount should be specified in the budget justification. Except where specifically identified in an NSF program solicitation, the applicable US Federally negotiated indirect cost rate(s) must be used in computing indirect costs (F&A) for a proposal. Use of an indirect cost rate lower than the organization’s current negotiated indirect cost rate is considered a violation of NSF’s cost sharing policy.

Cost Share

Cost sharing is rarely required by NSF and must be specified in the solicitation otherwise the proposal can be rejected. Do not include voluntary cost share in the budget, budget justification, or project description. If the PI wants to include voluntary uncommitted cost share, it must be in the Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources section of the proposal without quantifying effort or dollars. 

NSF Programs with Mandatory Cost Sharing include:

  • Enabling Access to Cloud Computing Resources for CISE Research and Education (Cloud Access)
  • Innovation Corps Program (I-Corps)
  • Major Research Instrumentation Program
  • Robert Noyce Scholarship Program
  • Engineering Research Centers

Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research


Conflicts of Interest (COI)

Project based and annual Conflict of Interest disclosures must be completed by all key personnel before a proposal can be submitted to NSF.  Also, annual COI disclosures must be kept up to date throughout the award project period. For more OSP-NSF specific COI guidance see the following link and for NSF Field-by-Field Current & Pending Form Completion Information visit this link

Human Subjects / IRB

If the project includes human subject’s research, IRB approval will be required prior to account set-up.

Animal Subjects / (IACUC)

If the project includes animal subjects, IACUC approval will be required prior to account set-up.

NSF Policies on Harassment

NSF requires institutions to report findings of sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, or sexual assault by principal and co-principal investigators (PI/Co-PI) to the foundation. For additional information, visit the NSF section on the Resources Related to Harassment Notification Requirements webpage.

Responsible Conduct of Research NSF Training / RCR

Who needs RCR training for NSF Awards?
All undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who are supported from NSF sponsored programs.
When should RCR training take place?
The institution's plan for training should specify when individuals are to receive the training. NSF allows an institution to determine the frequency of RCR training.
What subjects must be included?
No minimum content requirements are specified; NSF allows the institution to determine the content of RCR training, acknowledging that training needs may vary depending on the circumstances.
How much training is required?
No minimum requirements: NSF allows institutions to determine the duration of RCR training.
How should RCR training be delivered?
NSF does not specify any required RCR training methods. Training can be delivered in a face-to-face setting or through online resources.
Additional Information
For more information related to RCR training requirements, please refer to our Responsible Conduct of Research - Training Requirements by Agency webpage.

Award Guidance

NSF typically issues grants with standard research terms and conditions.


Typically, the CGA Awards Group issues and amends subawards on an NSF award. At the proposal stage, please provide a budget, budget justification, scope of work and commitment form for all subawards.

Prior Approvals

NSF requires prior approval for the following:

  • Change in scope or objective of the project
  • Disengagement from the project for more than three months, or a 25 percent reduction in effort
  • Transfer of funds budgeted for participant support costs to other categories of expense
  • Subawards not budgeted
  • Incur project costs more than 90 calendar days pre-award
  • Second no-cost extension – after first 12 months
  • Salaries of administrative and clerical staff
  • Faculty salary in excess of Institutional Base Salary

Requests for prior approval are submitted via Fastlane or  Please see for additional information.

For a full list of prior approvals, please see the Prior Approval Matrix:

Research Terms and Conditions and NSF Agency Specific Requirements can be located at:


The guidelines listed here are generally applicable to this sponsor. Please refer to the award notice and solicitation for any deviation to standard guidelines or specific requirements for a program.

Progress Reports

To be submitted by PI and/or Co-PI on

Annual Project Report

Annual Project Reports should address progress in all activities of the project, including any activities intended to address the Broader Impacts criterion that are not intrinsic to the research. These reports are not cumulative, and should be written specifically for the most recently completed budget period. Unless otherwise specified in the award, annual project reports should be submitted electronically no later than 90 days prior to the end of the current budget period to allow adequate time for the cognizant Program Officer to review and approve the report.  Failure to submit timely reports will delay processing of additional funding and administrative actions, including, but not limited to, no cost extensions.  For further information and help, see Help.
Final Project Report
The Final Project Report should address progress in all activities of the project, including any activities intended to address the Broader Impacts criterion that are not intrinsic to the research. This report is not cumulative; it is the last annual report of the project and should be written specifically for the most recently completed budget period. By submitting the report, the PI is indicating that the scope of work for the project has been completed and that he/she does not anticipate any further action on the grant, including no cost extension requests, supplemental funding, or transfer of grant. Unless otherwise specified in the award, the final project report should be submitted electronically no later than 120 days following the end date of the grant.For further information and help, see Help.
Project Outcomes Report
No later than 120 days following expiration of the grant, a project outcomes report for the general public must be submitted electronically. This report serves as a brief summary, prepared specifically for the public, of the nature and outcomes of the project.  For further information and help, see Help.

Financial Reports

To be prepared and submitted by CGA. CGA will contact PI and/or department if additional information is needed.

Other Reports

To be prepared and submitted by CGA. CGA will contact PI and/or department if additional information is needed.

Cost Share Reports
The amount of mandatory cost sharing must be documented (on an annual and final basis), certified by the AOR, and reported to the cognizant NSF Program Officer via Such notifications must be submitted no later than 90 days prior to the end of the current budget period to meet the annual notification requirement, and no later than 120 days following the end date of the of the grant to meet the final notification requirement.
Program Income
The Proposal & Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) requires that all awardee organizations submit a Program Income Reporting Sheet. Starting October 1st all awardee organizations must report the amount of program income earned and expended as of September 30th each year. Awardee organizations will be required to submit the Program Income Reporting Sheet by November 14 in order to report the amount of program income earned and expended as of the end of the previous Federal fiscal year.

Effort Reporting / Cost Share

Effort Reporting

Senior Project Personnel Salaries & Wages Policy - As a general policy, NSF limits salary compensation for senior project personnel to no more than two months of their regular salary in any one year. This limit includes salary compensation received from all NSF-funded grants. This effort must be documented in accordance with the applicable cost principles. If anticipated, any compensation for such personnel in excess of two months must be disclosed in the proposal budget, justified in the budget justification, and must be specifically approved by NSF in the award.

After an award is funded, increases in person months are allowable without prior approval as long as there is no change in scope.

MSU effort reporting overview and FAQ’s can be found on the Sponsored Program Administration website at the following link:

Effort reporting instructions can also be located on the Sponsored Program Administration website:

For additional questions and information, please contact the CGA Effort Reporting inbox at

Cost Share

The National Science Board issued a report entitled “Investing in the Future: NSF Cost Sharing Policies for a Robust Federal Research Enterprise” (NSB 09-20), which contained eight recommendations for NSF regarding cost sharing. In implementation of the Board’s recommendations, NSF’s revised guidance 52 (see Chapter II.C.2.g(xii)) is as follows:

  • inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited. It should be noted that foregoing full indirect cost rate (F&A) recovery is considered voluntary committed cost sharing; and
  • when mandatory cost sharing is included on Budget Line M and accepted by NSF, the commitment of funds becomes legally binding and is subject to audit. Failure to provide the level of cost sharing required by the NSF solicitation and reflected in the NSF award budget may result in termination of the NSF award, disallowance of award costs and/or refund of award funds to NSF by the grantee.

Additional information on cost share can be found on the Sponsored Program Administration website at the following link:

In cases where salaried cost share has been committed, MSU uses the effort reporting system for tracking and documentation. Non-salary cost share is documented through PI certified operating statements.

Record Retention

Financial records, supporting documents, statistical records, and all other records pertinent to the NSF grant must be retained by the grantee for a period of three years from award financial closeout described in Chapter VIII.E.3, except as noted in 2 CFR § 200.333.

Sponsor Resources

Forms and Templates


Expired items from the Current Events section:

News Archive - 2023

News Archive - 2022

News Archive - 2021

News Archive - 2020

News Archive - 2019

News Archive - 2018

News Archive - 2017

News Archive - 2016

News Archive - 2015

News Archive - 2014

News Archive - 2012

News Archive - 2011

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…" With an annual budget of about $6.9 billion (FY 2010), we are the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America's colleges and universities.

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