See NSF Policy Office Link for Most Recent Policy News: https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/index.jsp.
Changes to NSF Research Terms and Conditions
NSF Notice of Significant Changes regarding the NSF Agency Specific Requirements effective and dated March 1, 2018 - grants made to institutions of higher education and non-profit organizations will incorporate by reference the Research Terms & Conditions dated March 14, 2017 and the March 1, 2018 updates for new or amended awards (excluding cooperative agreements and individual-awarded fellowships). Highlights of the March 1, 2018 changes include:
- Article 2 related to Prior Approval Requirements has been updated to reflect that Research.gov has been modified to include an “Other” category, which must be used to submit prior approval requirements that do not already have a specific request type in NSF’s electronic systems.
- Article 35 has been added as a new section labeled Breach of Personally Identifiable Information, requiring Grantees to have procedures in place to respond to a breach of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and notify NSF that a breach of PII within the scope of an NSF award has occurred. This applies to Grantees that use or operate a Federal information system or create, collect, use, process, store, maintain, disseminate, disclose, or dispose of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) within the scope of an NSF award, must have procedures in place to respond to a breach of PII. These procedures should promote cooperation and the free exchange of information with NSF, as needed to properly escalate, refer and respond to a breach within the scope of an NSF award. More information is coming concerning MSU’s implementation of this requirement.
MSU Research.gov Pilot Program
National Science Foundation (NSF) is deploying Research.gov to replace the legacy system FastLane and beginning on April 30, 2018, the system will allow the preparation and submission of non-collaborative research proposals in Research.gov. Please continue to use the Fastlane system for your proposal submissions. OSP will be working with select departments to test and evaluate the submission of proposals through Research.gov. After the testing and evaluation period, we will share the results and MSU’s implementation plan with the MSU Research Community.
In the meantime, when you log into Fastlane you will be directed to Research.gov. The NSF Fastlane Services are available from the homepage of Research.gov. Click the Proposals, Awards & Status link (see screenshot at right) to access the normal proposal and award functions available in Fastlane.
Updated User Login Information
As part of the process of switching from Fastlane to Research.gov, NSF has introduced a new centralized and streamlined account registration process in Research.gov that will provide each new user with a single profile and unique identifier (i.e., NSF ID) for signing in to FastLane and Research.gov for proposal and award activities. The user will self-manage their account and will request a role based on their responsibilities. The new system requires that users have only one NSF ID in the system. For those users with only one NSF ID, the process will be a simple, one-time operation when you login. However, an existing NSF user may have multiple IDs (e.g. if the user transferred from one institution to another and requested a new ID upon transfer). Those users with multiple IDs will receive instructions from NSF on how to move forward.
Sample email: “Your account email address(es) are associated with more than one NSF ID. NSF users should only have one NSF ID account per the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG). You may continue work on proposals and awards, however, NSF has logged this discrepancy and will contact you to help reconcile your multiple accounts. Please be aware that these accounts must be reconciled, however there will be a grace period before your system access will cease. If you have questions, please contact the NSF IT Help Desk at 1-800-381-1532 or firstname.lastname@example.org.”
FastLane was launched in 1994 and is built on technology now considered out-of-date and with inflexible architecture. This hindered NSF’s ability to quickly and cost-effectively meet NSF’s ongoing and emerging needs. Research.gov is using current technology that is integrated and flexible, enabling NSF greater automation and business process improvement. The initial release of this new capability will run in parallel with existing FastLane proposal preparation and submission capabilities. Beginning on April 30, 2018, proposers will be able to prepare and submit full, research non-collaborative proposals in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Research.gov system.
11/20/2017: In October, NSF issued a Dear Colleague letter indicating that the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) will no longer require the submission of pre-proposals or have a fixed annual deadline for proposal submissions. This change is specific to BIO and NSF has no plans to have all NSF funding opportunities move to a no-deadline policy. Once the new solicitations are issued, the NSF Available Funding website page https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?ord=date_asc&org=NSF&sel_org=NSF&status=1&showItems=All will be updated to reflect which proposals will be accepted at any time (https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2018/nsf18011/nsf18011.jsp “All four [BIO] divisions will release new solicitations to replace these in the middle of calendar year 2018, inviting proposals to be funded with FY 2019 funds. There will be no deadlines for submissions to any of the new solicitations.”) For more information regarding the history of the BIO’s decision to make this change, see Jeffery Mervis’s article published on the ScienceMag.org website http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/10/nsf-drops-preproposals-deadlines-biologists-seeking-funding.
- Notice reminder - NSF proposals using the Collaborators and Other Affiliations template for more than 10 senior project personnel will encounter proposal print preview issues. If there are more than 10 individuals designated as senior project personnel on the proposal, or if there are print preview issues when using the COA template, each completed template must be saved as a .txt file [select the Text (Tab Delimited) option] rather than as an .xlsx or .xls file. This format will still enable preservation of searchable text and avoid delays in processing and review of the proposal. For Fastlane system-related questions, please contact FastLane User Support at 1-800-673-6188 or email@example.com. Policy-related questions regarding the content of the COA template should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released a revised version 18-1 of their Grant Proposal Guide (PAPPG). This guide provides instructions for preparing and submitting proposals. A general summary can be found on our website at https://cga.msu.edu/PL/Portal/DocumentViewer.aspx?cga=aQBkAD0ANwA0ADkA.
5/24/17: The National Science Foundation (NSF) is moving its headquarters to Alexandria, Virginia (link to notice). The email addresses and phone numbers for NSF employees and NSF offices will not change. NSF plans to minimize the move’s impact on the research community as much as possible. There are a few important impacts listed below:
- Due to the move of NSF's Data Center, NSF.gov, FastLane and Research.gov will be unavailable from Friday, June 30 at 8:00 PM until Tuesday, July 4 at 6:00 PM EDT. This move has been scheduled around a holiday weekend to minimize downtime and reduce the impact on the research community and NSF staff. During this outage period, proposals cannot be submitted in FastLane, and project reports and cash requests cannot be submitted in Research.gov. However, previously saved information and uploaded documents in FastLane and Research.gov, including in-process proposals and reports, will be accessible after the Data Center moves.
- The physical move to NSF's new headquarters will be phased over a six-week period, beginning Thursday, August 24 through Sunday, October 1. During this time, you may experience delayed response times when trying to communicate with NSF employees who will be in the midst of this move.
- NSF Cost Share FAQS - http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/csfaqs_jan13.pdf
NSF will have a new mailing address effective Monday, October 2, 2017, as follows:
National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22314
If you have any questions related to NSF’s move please contact Craig O’Neill, email@example.com.
4/17/2017: Effective April 24th 2017 NSF proposals will require the use of the spreadsheet for disclosing Collaborators and Other Affiliations (COA) (see https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/coa.jsp for more information). The spreadsheet is directly uploaded into FastLane as a “Collaborators and Other Affiliations Single Copy Document”. The spreadsheet must be saved in .xlsx or .xls format.
11/8/2016: The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released a revised version 17-1 of their Grant Proposal Guide (PAPPG). This guide provides instructions for preparing and submitting proposals. A general summary can be found on our website at https://www.cga.msu.edu/PL/Portal/DocumentViewer.aspx?cga=aQBkAD0ANAAzADcA.
8-24-2016: A draft version of the PAPPG can be located at the following link: https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/papp/pappg17_1/draftpappg_may2016.pdf It is anticipated to be effective in January 2017. More details will be provided in the near future regarding the changes.
10/21/2015: The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released a revised version 16-1 of their Grant Proposal Guide (PAPPG). This guide provides instructions for preparing and submitting proposals. A general summary can be found on our website at
4/20/15: Beginning April, 24, 2015, proposals submitted in response to Program Solicitations in FastLane will undergo a series of automated proposal compliance validation checks to ensure they comply with requirements outlined in the Proposal & Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (Chapter II.C.2. of the Grants Proposal Guide (GPG)). These checks will automatically validate a proposal for compliance against proposal sections per type of funding mechanism. For example, an error message will appear if a project description or budget are not provided in proposals submitted in response to a Program Solicitation.
Checks will be triggered when proposers select the “Check Proposal,” “Forward to SPO,” or “Submit Proposal” functions. Depending on the rule being checked, a warning or error message will display when a proposal is found to be non-compliant. If an error message appears, the proposal cannot be submitted until it is compliant.
Please note that these automated compliance checks will not be conducted on proposals submitted to NSF via Grants.gov.
To view a detailed list of all compliance checks, click here
4/7/15: NSF has provided a frequently asked questions (FAQs) document on their implementation of 2 CFR §200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance). Two clarifications related to pre-award are budgeting travel and the implementation of the 10% de minimus indirect cost (F&A) rate if not previously negotiated.
- Travel and its relationship to the proposed activities must be specified, itemized and justified by destination and cost. Budgets should provide as much information that is available, however, NSF recognizes that all details may not be available at the time of proposal submission and, thus, the justification might not provide such information.
- NSF will accept budgets that include indirect costs (F&A) at the institution's applicable U.S. federally negotiated indirect cost rate or the 10% de minimus MTDC rate if not negotiated.
- Budgets with 0% is not acceptable as this would represent a form of voluntary committed cost sharing which is prohibited under NSF's Cost Sharing Policy.
- NSF Cost Share FAQS - http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/csfaqs_jan13.pdf
- NSF-OSP Cost Share Summary -
1/19/2015: On January 26, 2015, the National Science Foundation (NSF) implemented changes in FastLane to run additional automated compliance checks on proposals.
Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 15-1) - Automated Compliance Checks: FastLane will begin to run an additional 24 automated compliance checks on proposals to ensure they comply with requirements outlined in the PAPPG, Chapter II.C.2 of the Grants Proposal Guide (GPG). These checks will validate a proposal for compliance with page count, proposal sections per type of funding mechanism and budget related rules for proposals submitted in response to the GPG, Program Announcements and Program Descriptions. At this time, these checks will not be enforced for proposals submitted in response to Program Solicitations.
- Page Count: Page count rules will be enforced on the following proposal sections:
- Project Description: 15-page limit [exceptions: 8-page limit for Early-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER), and 5-page limit for Rapid Response Research (RAPID)]
- Budget Justification: 3-page limit for the proposing institution and a separate, 3-page limit for each sub-recipient organization
- Mentoring Plan: 1-page limit
- Data Management Plan: 2-page limit
- Budget: Budget-related checks will focus primarily on proposal duration and requested amount. For example, the system will enforce a maximum requested amount of $200,000 for a RAPID proposal and $300,000 for an EAGER proposal.
- Proposal Section: Proposal sections will be enforced by their funding mechanism for Program Announcement, Program Description and other GPG-type funding opportunities. For example, an error message will appear if a Project Description was not provided for an EAGER proposal.
- Budget Justification Upload: Budget justification can no longer be entered as text. Awardees will be required to upload a budget justification for each organization added to the budget via an upload screen. Already, 95% of proposers take advantage of the upload option.
The checks detailed above will be triggered when the “Check Proposal,” “Forward to SPO,” or “Submit Proposal” functions are selected by a proposer or proposing organization. Depending on the rule being checked, a warning or error message will display when a proposal is found to be non-compliant. If an error message appears, the organization will not be able to submit the proposal until it is compliant. To view a detailed list of all compliance checks, click here.
11/20/2014: The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released version 15-1 of their Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). This guide provides instructions for preparing and submitting proposals. A general summary can be found on our website at
10/6/14: The Fall 2014 NSF Grants Conference Update Presentations - can be found at the following link: https://www.cga.msu.edu/PL/Portal/DocumentViewer.aspx?cga=aQBkAD0AMwAwADYA
02/01/2014: The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released version 14-1 of their Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). This guide provides instructions for preparing and submitting proposals. A general summary can be found on our website at https://www.cga.msu.edu/PL/SiteFiles/GetFile.aspx?id=286
01/23/2014: Reminder - For all NSF proposals budgeting postdoctoral researchers, a supplemental document describing the PI’s overall mentoring plan must be included. The one-page plan must address those individuals supported directly by MSU as well as any collaborating organizations (e.g. a subawardee or collaborative project proposal). This plan will be evaluated by NSF as part of the “Broader Impacts” review criterion. NSF has stated that any proposals lacking this document will not be reviewed. More information concerning MSU's Individual Development Plans (IDP) for Postdocs and Graduate Assistants can be found that the following link: https://www.osp.msu.edu/PL/Portal/DocumentViewer.aspx?cga=aQBkAD0AMgA5ADMA
07/16/12: Reminder - NSF Data Management Plan required for all proposals and OSP information can be found at the following link: https://www.cga.msu.edu/PL/Portal/DocumentViewer.aspx?cga=aQBkAD0AMgAxADkA
05/23/11: Reminder- NSF's cost sharing policy has been revised to implement the National Science Board's recommendations regarding cost sharing. The following changes have been implemented with the newest version of the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (NSF 11-1), and went into effect for proposals submitted on or after January 18, 2011. More information can be found at the following link: https://www.cga.msu.edu/PL/Portal/DocumentViewer.aspx?cga=aQBkAD0AMgAyADAA
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.
Steps for Accessing and Using FastLane
Step 1. If you do not already have one, obtain an NSF password by emailing your respective proposal group contact: https://cga.msu.edu/PL/Portal/DocumentViewer.aspx?cga=aQBkAD0AMQA3ADAA. In the email include your name, contact info, your highest degree achieved and the year you achieved it and we will send you a temporary password.
Step 2. Preparer MUST have Adobe Acrobat Reader and Distiller in order to create and print PDF documents in FastLane. See NSF's PDF instructions(see below) for assistance.
Step 3. Open a web browser and go to the FastLane home page https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/fastlane.htm
Step 4. Log in using the Proposals, Awards, Status link in the Navy menu bar in the upper left hand corner of the page. There is a PI/Co-PI Log In on the right hand side.
Step 5. For "Proposal Preparation", refer to NSF's on line instructions https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/a0/about/10steps.htm as a tool, or contact your "Office of Sponsored Programs" (SRO) representative for assistance.
Principal Investigator (PI) Responsibilities:
- Begin early!! It still makes a difference because of possible system delays and departmental review and approvals.
- PI can initiate the proposal process or can contact their proposal administrator to have him/her begin the process.
- Initiate the cover sheet, and then "Allow SRO Access" to "view/edit" so that the SRO may assist you with questions or problems that may arise as you work on your proposal. Remember that when you are completely done with the proposal you need to go back and "Allow SRO Access" to "view/edit/submit" so that the SRO can now submit your proposal to NSF. Allow SRO Instructions (attach Allow SRO.pdf).
- Route the etransmittal, budget/justification, and project summary (abstract) for proper approvals. (Check with your Chair and/or Dean's Office to see what other documents will be required to obtain necessary signature approval). Please follow the OSP Proposal Preparation Guide.
- Review and approve budget, budget justification, current & pending, and the cover sheet.
- Once all administration signatures (including their signature) have been obtained, the SRO will submit the electronic proposal prepared by the PI/Co-PI(s) via FastLane.
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.
NSF Cost Sharing Policy - Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited in solicited and unsolicited proposals (unless required in the solicitation). See link for more information.
Other Useful NSF FastLane Tips & Links - When preparing other FastLane documents such as Letter of Intents, Project Reports, Revised Budgets, Supplemental Requests, Notifications and Requests, and many more, make sure that all of the necessary institutional approvals and processes have been met before submitting to NSF. Again, contact your SRO for questions or assistance.
FAQ: FastLane Proposal Submission https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/NSFHelp/flashhelp/fastlane/FastLane_Help/fastlane_help.htm#proposal_preparation_faqs.htm
Grant Proposal Guide http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg
Limited Submission http://vprgs.msu.edu/ILP
NSF's Revised Cost Sharing Policy https://www.cga.msu.edu/PL/Portal/DocumentViewer.aspx?cga=aQBkAD0AMgAyADAA
NSF's Data Management Plan Update https://www.cga.msu.edu/PL/Portal/DocumentViewer.aspx?cga=aQBkAD0AMgAxADkA