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 high school students.

Dear Colleagues:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is committed to the inclusion of all people and institutions in the research enterprise because all are vital to the nation’s health, security, and global leadership in STEM. Strategies to successfully broaden participation in research projects through efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion of individuals and institutions traditionally underrepresented in STEM during pre-college years will help 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 individuals from those groups underrepresented in STEM to encourage participation of the full spectrum of diverse talent that society has to offer.


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 stipend, 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 costs must be explained in the budget justification.


Supplemental funding requests to an active BIO award must be prepared and submitted through according to the instructions for submitting supplemental funding requests in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) Chapter VI.E.5.

Reminder: The supplemental funds must be expended by the end date of the original award.

The request must include the following components:

  • A specific statement in the Description of Proposed Work section that this is a request for an RAHSS supplement.
  • In the Justification for Supplemental Funding section include a description of the proposed RAHSS (not to exceed 3 pages, single spaced) 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 costs associated with RAHSS should be entered in "Participant Support Costs" in the budget. Other associated non-student costs, such as materials and supplies and related indirect costs, should be included in the appropriate budget categories on the NSF Proposal Budget. Indirect costs are not allowed on participant support costs. All costs should be explained in the budget justification.
  • Desired start date and duration of 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 contact the program director for the existing NSF award, or the cognizant program director for the program solicitation to which a proposal will be submitted.


Susan Marqusee
Assistant Director
Directorate for Biological Sciences