MyCEE

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Significant Changes to the PAPPG Proposal Formatting Results from Prior NSF Support Lead Organization Proposal Requirements Non Lead Proposal Requirements CAREER Proposal Requirements RAPID Proposal Requirements EAGER Proposal Requirements No cost extensions NSF Templates

In this section you will find selected information regarding policies and procedures for submitting grant applications with NSF. For complete policies and procedures for NSF awards, browse the Proposal and Award Policies Guide (PAPPG).

Significant changes to the PAPPG

This guide is released annually, to stay up to date on all policy changes, review the Significant Changes section of the PAPPG, some are highlighted below.

The Project Description must contain, as a separate section within the narrative, two sections labeled:

  • Broader Impacts
    This section should provide a discussion of the broader impacts of the proposed activities. Broader impacts may be accomplished through the research itself, through the activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to the project. NSF values the advancement of scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to the achievement of societally relevant outcomes. Such outcomes include, but are not limited to: full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); improved STEM education and educator development at any level; increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology; improved well-being of individuals in society; development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce; increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others; improved national security; increased economic competitiveness of the U.S.; and enhanced infrastructure for research and education.
  • Intellectual Merit
    The Project Description should provide a clear statement of the work to be undertaken and must include the objectives for the period of the proposed work and expected significance; the relationship of this work to the present state of knowledge in the field, as well as to work in progress by the PI under other support.

Proposal formatting

  • Arial (not Arial Narrow), Courier New, or Palatino Linotype at a font size of 10 points or larger;
  • Times New Roman at a font size of 11 points or larger; or
  • Computer Modern family of fonts at a font size of 11 points or larger.
  • No more than six lines of text within a vertical space of one inch.
  • Margins, in all directions, must be at least an inch. No proposer-supplied information may appear in the margins.
  • Paper size must be no larger than standard letter paper size (8 ½ by 11”).

Results from prior NSF support (up to 5 pages)

One important component of the project description is “Results from Prior NSF Support.” As this section is highly scrutinized, it is important that these instructions are followed exactly per the instructions, addressing each component. State each PI or co-PI separately by name and list the award for each. If there is not an award to report, state the person’s name and place the words, “no prior NSF award to report.” This section is limited to 5 pages, within the Project Description page limitations (typically 15).

If any PI or co-PI identified on the proposal has received prior NSF support including:

  • Any award with an end date in the past five years; or
  • Any current funding, including any no cost extensions
  • Information on the award is required for each PI and co-PI, regardless of whether the support was directly related to the proposal or not. In cases where the PI or any co-PI has more than one award (excluding amendments to existing awards), they need only report on the one award that is most closely related to the proposal. Support means salary support, as well as any other funding awarded by NSF, including research, Graduate Research Fellowship, Major Research Instrumentation, conference, equipment, travel, and center awards, etc.

The following information must be provided:

  • The NSF award number, amount and period of support
  • The title of the project
  • A summary of the results of the completed work, including accomplishments, supported by the award. The results must be separately described under two distinct headings: Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts
  • A listing of the publications resulting from the NSF award (a complete bibliographic citation for each publication must be provided either in this section or in the References Cited section of the proposal); if none, state “No publications were produced under this award.”
  • Evidence of research products and their availability, including, but not limited to: data, publications, samples, physical collections, software, and models, as described in any Data Management Plan
  • If the proposal is for renewed support, a description of the relation of the completed work to the proposed work

Per the NSF PAPPG “Results from Prior NSF Support”, past award information should be provided with an end date in the past five years. Therefore, a past award over 5 years ago should not be listed.

Lead organization proposal requirements (page limits)

These are the components of a standard NSF proposal when CEE PI is lead. For detailed instructions for each section, refer to the PAPPG. Be sure to very requirement components and page limits in the specific Program Announcement.

  • Cover Page (NSF Generated)
  • Project Summary (1 page)
  • Project Description (15 pages)
  • References Cited (3 pages)
    • Note: No “et al”are allowed. Full citations are required.
  • Biosketch (2 pages)
  • Collaborators and Other Affiliations (COA) table
  • Current & Pending Support
  • Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources
  • Postdoc Mentoring Plan (1 page: if applicable)
  • Data Management Plan (2 pages)
  • Budget
  • Budget Justification (5 pages)
  • Letters of Collaboration (if applicable) should be limited to stating the intent of collaboration and should not contain endorsements or evaluation of the proposed project. Letters of collaboration should follow the single-sentence format:

    “If the proposed submitted by Dr. [insert the full name of the Principal Investigator] entitled [insert the proposal title] is selected for funding by the NSF, it is my intent to collaborate and/or commit resources as detailed in the Project Description or the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal.”

Non lead proposal requirements

These are the components of a standard NSF proposal when the UW is not the lead institution. For detailed instructions for each section, refer to the PAPPG. Be sure to very requirement components and page limits in the specific Program Announcement.

  • Cover Page (title and project dates should match lead institution)
  • Biosketch (2 pages)
  • Collaborators and Other Affiliations (COA) table
  • Current and Pending Support
  • Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources
  • Budget
  • Budget Justification (5 pages)
  • Scope of Work
  • Institutional Letter

CAREER proposal requirements

These are the components of a CAREER NSF proposal. For detailed instructions for each section, refer to the PAPPG and CAREER Program Announcement.

  • Cover Page
    • Title must begin with “CAREER:”
    • No co-PIs are permitted on the Cover Page
  • Project Summary (1 page)
  • Project Description (15 pages)
    • A description of the proposed research project, including preliminary supporting data where appropriate, specific objectives, methods and procedures to be used, and expected significance of the results;
    • A description of the proposed educational activities and their intended impact
    • A description of how the research and educational activities are integrated or synergistic
    • Results of prior NSF support, if applicable
  • References Cited (3 pages)
    • Note: No “et al”are allowed. Full citations are required.
  • Biosketch (2 pages)
  • Collaborators and Other Affiliations (COA) table
  • Current & Pending Support
  • Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources
  • Postdoc Mentoring Plan (1 page: if applicable)
  • Data Management Plan (2 pages)
  • Budget
  • Budget Justification (5 pages)
  • Departmental Letter (2 pages)
    • Department head’s name and title should be below the signature
    • A statement of the effect that the PI is eligible for the CAREER program. For non-tenure-track faculty, the Department Letter must affirm that the investigator’s appointment is at an early-career level equivalent to pre-tenure status, pursuant to the eligibility criteria specified above. Further, for non-tenure-track faculty, the Departmental letter must clearly and convincingly demonstrate how the faculty member satisfies all the requirements of tenure-track equivalency as defined in the eligibility criteria specified in this solicitation.
    • An indication that the PI’s proposed CAREER research and education activities are supported by and advance the educational and research goals of the department and the organization, and that the department is committed to the support and professional development of the PI
    • A description of a) the relationship between the CAREER project, the PI’s career goals and job responsibilities, and the mission of his/her department/organization, and b) the way in which the department head (or equivalent) will ensure the appropriate mentoring of the PI, in the context of the PI’s career development and his/her efforts to integrate research and education throughout the period of the award and beyond.
  • Letters of Collaboration (if applicable) should be limited to stating the intent of collaboration and should not contain endorsements or evaluation of the proposed project. Letters of collaboration should follow the single-sentence format:

    “If the proposed submitted by Dr. [insert the full name of the Principal Investigator] entitled [insert the proposal title] is selected for funding by the NSF, it is my intent to collaborate and/or commit resources as detailed in the Project Description or the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal.”

RAPID proposal requirements

RAPID is a type of proposal used when there is a severe urgency with regard to availability of, or access to, data, facilities or specialized equipment, including quick-response research on natural or anthropogenic disasters and similar unanticipated events. PI(s) must contact the NSF Program Officer(s) whose expertise is most germane to the proposal topic before submitting a RAPID proposal. This will facilitate determining whether the proposed work is appropriate for RAPID funding.

  • Requests may be for up to $200,000 and up to one year in duration. The award size, however, will be consistent with the project scope and of a size comparable to grants in similar areas.
  • RAPID proposals are not eligible for reconsideration, if declined.
  • No-cost extensions and requests for supplemental funding will be processed in accordance with standard NSF policies and procedures.
  • Renewed funding of RAPID awards may be requested only through submission of a proposal that will be subject to full external merit review. Such proposals would be designated as “RAPID renewals.”

Required components

These are the components of a RAPID NSF proposal. For detailed instructions for each section, refer to the PAPPG and RAPID Program Announcement.

  • Cover Page
    • Title must begin with “RAPID:”.
  • Project Summary (1 page)
  • Project Description (5 pages)
    • It must include clear statements as to why the proposed research is of an urgent nature and why RAPID is the most appropriate type of proposal for supporting the proposed work.
  • References Cited (3 pages)
    • Note: No “et al”are allowed. Full citations are required.
  • Biosketch (2 pages)
  • Collaborators and Other Affiliations (COA) table
  • Current & Pending Support
  • Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources
  • Postdoc Mentoring Plan, if applicable (1 page)
  • Data Management Plan (2 pages)
  • Budget
  • Budget Justification (5 pages)
  • Letters of Collaboration (if applicable) should be limited to stating the intent of collaboration and should not contain endorsements or evaluation of the proposed project. Letters of collaboration should follow the single-sentence format:

    “If the proposed submitted by Dr. [insert the full name of the Principal Investigator] entitled [insert the proposal title] is selected for funding by the NSF, it is my intent to collaborate and/or commit resources as detailed in the Project Description or the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal.”

EAGER proposal requirements

EAGER is a type of proposal used to support exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches. This work may be considered especially "high risk-high payoff" in the sense that it, for example, involves radically different approaches, applies new expertise, or engages novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives. These exploratory proposals also may be submitted directly to an NSF program, but the EAGER proposal type should not be used for projects that are appropriate for submission as “regular” (i.e., non-EAGER) NSF proposals. PI(s) must contact the NSF Program Officer(s) whose expertise is most germane to the proposal topic prior to submission of an EAGER proposal. This will aid in determining the appropriateness of the work for consideration under the EAGER proposal type; this suitability must be assessed early in the process.

Please note that an NSF Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) may require submission of a research concept outline, or similar document, prior to submission of an EAGER proposal. Typically, this required document will not exceed two pages. Specific guidance, however, will be provided in the DCL.

  • Requests may be for up to $300K and up to two years in duration. The award size, however, will be consistent with the project scope and of a size comparable to grants in similar areas.
  • EAGER proposals are not eligible for reconsideration, if declinedNo-cost extensions and requests for supplemental funding will be processed in accordance with standard NSF policies and procedures.
  • Renewed funding of EAGER awards may be requested only through submission of a proposal that will be subject to full external merit review. Such proposals would be designated as “EAGER renewals.”

Required components

These are the components of an EAGER NSF proposal. For detailed instructions for each section, refer to the PAPPG and EAGER Program Announcement.

  • Cover Page
    • Title must begin with “EAGER:”
  • Project Summary (1 page)
  • Project Description (8 pages)
    • It must include clear statements as to why this project is appropriate for EAGER funding, including why it does not fit into existing programs and why it is a good fit for EAGER.
  • References Cited (3 pages)
    • Note: No “et al”are allowed. Full citations are required.
  • Biosketch (2 pages)
  • Collaborators and Other Affiliations (COA) table
  • Current & Pending Support
  • Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources
  • Postdoc Mentoring Plan, if applicable (1 page)
  • Data Management Plan (2 pages)
  • Budget
  • Budget Justification (5 pages)
  • Letters of Collaboration (if applicable) should be limited to stating the intent of collaboration and should not contain endorsements or evaluation of the proposed project. Letters of collaboration should follow the single-sentence format:

    “If the proposed submitted by Dr. [insert the full name of the Principal Investigator] entitled [insert the proposal title] is selected for funding by the NSF, it is my intent to collaborate and/or commit resources as detailed in the Project Description or the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal.”

No cost extensions

1st no-cost extension, grantee-approved extension

  • Automatically approved per expanded authority.
  • Extension should not be used merely to spend balance.
  • Should be submitted at least 10 days prior to end date.

Provide grant manager with:

NSF requirement:

  • New end date (typically one year)
  • Justification for extension, 1200 character limit

UW requirement:

  • If the balance is more than 25%, please provide a justification.

2nd no-cost extension request

  • Should be submitted 45 days prior to the end date

Provide Grant Manager with:

NSF requirement:

  • Justification for extension, 1200 character limit
  • Spending plan for unobligated funds, 1200 character limit (plan must comply with previously approved objectives).

UW requirement:

  • If the balance is more than 25%, please provide a justification.

NSF templates