Preparing Your Proposal Budget

Your proposal budget outlines how much money you are requesting from the U.S. National Science Foundation, by category, to complete your proposed project. This information must be provided across each year of support requested.

This page provides an overview of requirements for the proposal budget. See the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) II.D.2.f for full guidance.


Proposals to NSF can typically include the following categories in their budget. For the full guidance on these categories, see PAPPG II.D.2.f, or click on a particular category to learn more in the relevant section of the PAPPG:

  1. Salaries and wages.
  2. Fringe benefits.
  3. Equipment.
  4. Travel.
  5. Participant support.
  6. Other direct costsincluding materials and supplies, publications, consultant services, computer services and subawards.
  7. Indirect costs.

Budget justification

Your proposal must also include a budget justification, up to 5 pages long, that documents and justifies each budget line item. Refer to PAPPG II.D.2.f for the full budget justification requirements.

Additional information

Indirect costs

NSF requires you to submit an indirect cost rate proposal if your organization doesn't have a negotiated indirect cost rate agreement (NICRA) with a federal agency and wants to request indirect costs in excess of the 10% de minimis rate.

Cost sharing

NSF generally does not allow voluntary committed cost sharing in its proposals and has only a small number of programs requiring cost sharing.

Federal cost principles and requirements

Various federal requirements apply to awards made by NSF and serve as the basis for cost analysis, pre-award and resolution and advanced monitoring oversight activities performed by NSF.

Requirements for educational organizations, nonprofit organizations and state, local and tribal governments are contained in the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, issued as 2 CFR §200.

Requirements for for-profit organizations

Note: There are unique requirements for awards made under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Program requirements and other information can be found on the SBIR/STTR Phase II Administrative/Financial Reviews page.