Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.

Dear Colleague Letter

Research Assistantships for High School Students (RAHSS): Funding to Broaden Participation in the Biological Sciences

Encourages proposals or supplemental funding requests from current NSF awardees for projects that foster interest in the biological sciences and broaden participation of underrepresented high school students.

Dear Colleagues:

NSF celebrates the progress that U.S. institutions of higher education have made in bringing diversity to the science and engineering enterprise. Strategies to successfully broaden participation during pre-college years will help to ensure a diverse pool of future students, faculty and researchers. As a part of a new or renewal NSF proposal or as a supplemental funding request to an existing NSF Award, the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) will consider requests that:

  • Foster interest in the pursuit of studies in the Biological Sciences; and
  • Broaden participation of high school students, particularly those who are underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and women in sub-disciplines where they are underrepresented.


See BIO Organizations websites at for deadlines dates.


For new or renewal proposals that include a RAHSS component, the Project Description should include relevant information about the broader impacts of the activity (e.g. the meaningful and challenging activities in which the student(s) will be involved and how the student(s) will be mentored). Budgets for RAHSS activities are generally under $6,000 per student. All student costs such as stipends, travel, and lodging, should be entered as "Participant Support Costs". Any proposed non-student costs, such as materials and supplies, should be appropriate for proposed activities and included in other sections of the budget. All expenses must be explained in the budget justification.


Supplemental funding requests to an active BIO award must be prepared and submitted through FastLane in accordance with the instructions in Chapter VI.E.4 of the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG).

Reminder: Any supplemental funding awarded by NSF must be expended by the end date of the original award.

The request must include the following components:

  • A specific statement in the summary of proposed work that this is a request for an RAHSS supplement.
  • In the Justification for Supplement include a description (not to exceed 3 pages, single spaced) of the proposed RAHSS that includes:
    • A clear description of the meaningful and challenging activities in which the student(s) will be involved and how the student(s) will be mentored;
    • A brief biographical sketch of candidate student(s);
    • A plan for encouraging the advancement of the RAHSS student(s) beyond participation in the research program; and
    • A brief description of the PI's experience with involving high school students in research, including results from previous RAHSS supplement support, if applicable.
  • Year-1 and summary budget pages. Budgets for RAHSS activities are generally under $6,000 per student. Student expenses associated with RAHSS should be entered in "Participant Support Costs" in the budget, and non-student expenses, such as materials and supplies, should be in other sections of the budget. All expenses should be explained in the budget justification.
  • Desired start date and duration of the supplement (normally a summer experience).

The decision to award a supplement will be based on internal review by the program director and availability of funds in a particular program.


If you have questions about this Dear Colleague Letter we strongly encourage the principal investigator to initiate a conversation via email or phone with the program director of his/her particular NSF award, or the cognizant program director for the program to which s/he is submitting a proposal.

Joanne Tornow, Ph.D.
Acting Assistant Director
Directorate for Biological Sciences