Note: A new version of this document applies to all proposals submitted or due on or after May 20, 2024. Learn more about the PAPPG.

Table of Contents


  1. About the National Science Foundation
  2. Foreword
  3. Acronym List
  4. Definitions & NSF-Recipient Relationships
  5. NSF Organizations

Part I: Proposal Preparation and Submission Guidelines

Part I (the first five chapters) sets forth NSF's proposal preparation and submission guidelines. The coverage provides guidance for the preparation and submission of proposals to NSF. Some NSF programs have program solicitations that modify the general provisions of the PAPPG, and, in such cases, the guidelines provided in the solicitation must be followed.

Chapter I: Pre-Submission Information

  1. NSF Proposal Preparation and Submission
  2. NSF Programs and Funding Opportunities
  3. Categories of Funding Opportunities
    1. Program Descriptions
    2. Program Announcements
    3. Program Solicitations
    4. Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs)
    5. Dear Colleague Letters (DCLs)
  4. Types of Submissions
    1. Concept Outlines
    2. Letters of Intent (LOIs)
    3. Preliminary Proposals
      1. Invite/Not Invite Decisions
      2. Encourage/Discourage Decisions
    4. Full Proposals
  5. Who May Submit Proposals
  6. When to Submit Proposals
    1. Target Dates
    2. Deadline Dates
    3. Submission Windows

    Special Exceptions to NSF's Deadline Date Policy
    Natural or Anthropogenic Events
    Closure of NSF

  7. How to Submit Proposals
    1. Submission Instructions
    2. Requirements Relating to Unique Entity Identifier (UEI)and Registration in the System for Award Management (SAM)
    3. NSF ID
    4. Proposal Receipt
  8. Proposal Processing

Chapter II: Proposal Preparation Instructions

  1. Conformance with Instructions for Proposal Preparation
    1. Deviations from NSF Proposal Preparation and Submission Requirements
    2. Requests for Reasonable and Accessibility Accommodations
  2. NSF Disclosure Requirements
  3. Format of the Proposal
    1. Proposal Pagination Instructions
    2. Proposal Font, Spacing and Margin Requirements
    3. Page Formatting
  4. Proposal Contents
    1. Single-Copy Documents
      1. Authorization to Deviate from NSF Proposal Preparation Requirements
      2. List of Suggested Reviewers or Reviewers Not to Include
      3. Proprietary or Privileged Information
      4. Proposal Certifications Provided by the Organization
      5. Certification Provided by Senior Personnel
      6. Submission of Proposals by Former NSF Staff
    2. Sections of the Proposal
      1. Cover Sheet
      2. Project Summary
      3. Table of Contents
      4. Project Description
      5. References Cited
      6. Budget and Budget Justification
      7. Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources
      8. Senior Personnel Documents
      9. Special Information and Supplementary Documentation
  5. Special Processing Instructions
    1. Proprietary or Privileged Information
    2. Beginning Investigators (applies to proposals submitted to the Biological Sciences Directorate only)
    3. Collaborative Proposals
    4. Proposals Involving Live Vertebrate Animals
    5. Proposals Involving Human Subjects
    6. Potential Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC)
    7. Projects Requiring High-Performance Computing Resources, Data Infrastructure or Advanced Visualization Resources
    8. International Activities
    9. Safe and Inclusive Working Environments for Off-Campus or Off-Site Research
  6. Other Types of Proposals
    1. Planning Proposal
    2. Rapid Response Research (RAPID)
    3. EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER)
    4. Research Advanced by Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering (RAISE)
    5. Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI)
    6. Ideas Lab Proposal
    7. Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED)
    8. Career Life Balance (CLB) Supplemental Funding Requests
    9. Conference Proposal
    10. Equipment Proposal
    11. Travel Proposal
    12. Center Proposal
    13. Research Infrastructure Proposal

Exhibit II-1: Proposal Preparation Checklist

Exhibit II-2: Potentially Disqualifying Conflicts of Interest

Exhibit II-3: Definitions of Categories of Personnel

Chapter III: NSF Proposal Processing and Review

  1. Merit Review Principles and Criteria
  2. Selection of Reviewers
  3. Proposal File Updates
  4. Revisions to Proposals Made During the Review Process
  5. Funding Recommendation
  6. NSF's Decision to Award or Decline Proposals
  7. Review Information Provided to PI
  8. Release of Recipient Proposal Information

Exhibit III-1: NSF Proposal & Award Process & Timeline

Chapter IV: Non-Award Decisions and Transactions

  1. Proposal Withdrawal
  2. Proposal Not Accepted or Returned Without Review
  3. Declinations
  4. Reconsideration
  5. Resubmission

Chapter V: Renewal Proposals

  1. Traditional Renewal
  2. Accomplishment-Based Renewal

Part II: Award, Administration and Monitoring of NSF Assistance Awards

Chapter VI: NSF Awards

  1. Acceptance of Assistance Agreements
  2. Award Instrument
  3. NSF Award Conditions
  4. NSF Award Periods
    1. Definitions
    2. Significance of Award Period
    3. Changes in an Award Period
      1. Start Date
      2. End Date
      3. No-Cost Extension
      4. Two-Year Extensions for Special Creativity
  5. Additional Funding Support
    1. Types of Additional Funding Support
    2. Renewed Support
    3. Support under Continuing Grants
    4. Cooperative Agreement Increments
    5. Supplemental Support

Chapter VII: Award Administration

  1. Monitoring Project Performance
    1. Recipient Responsibilities
    2. Recipient Notifications to NSF
  2. Changes in Project Direction or Management
    1. Changes in Objectives, Scope, or Methods/Procedures
      1. Changes in Objectives or Scope
      2. Significant Changes in Methods or Procedures
      3. Significant Changes, Delays, or Events of Unusual Interest
    2. Changes in PI, co-PI or Person-Months Devoted to the Project at the Initiation of the Recipient Organization
      1. Long-Term Disengagement of PI or co-PI
      2. Changes in Person-Months Devoted to the Project
      3. Addition of co-PI
      4. Withdrawal of PI or co-PI
      5. Substitute (Change) PI or co-PI
      6. Disposition of an Award When a PI Transfers from One Organization to Another Organization
    3. Changes in PI, co-PI, or Person-Months Devoted to the Project at the Initiation of NSF
    4. Subawarding or Transferring Part of an NSF Award (Subaward)
    5. Postaward Additions of Postdoctoral Scholars.
  3. Cost Sharing
  4. Technical Reporting Requirements
    1. Annual Project Reports
    2. Final Annual Project Report
    3. Project Outcomes Report for the General Public
    4. Compliance with Technical Reporting Requirements
    5. Award Closeout
  5. Record Retention and Audit

Chapter VIII: Financial Requirements and Payments

  1. Standards for Financial Management
  2. Definitions
  3. Payment Requirements
    1. Requesting Payments
    2. Payment Policies
    3. Request for Payment
    4. Special Payment Recipients
    5. Working Capital Advance
    6. Recipient Banking Information for Payments
  4. Cash Refunds and Credits to NSF
    1. Final Unobligated Balance
    2. Erroneous Payments
    3. Interest Earned on Advance Payments
    4. Program Income
    5. Other Cost Credits
  5. Award Financial Reporting Requirements and Final Disbursements

Chapter IX: Recipient Standards

  1. Conflict of Interest Policies
  2. Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RECR)
    1. Background
    2. Institutional Responsibilities
    3. NSF's Responsibilities
  3. Research Security
  4. Financial Management Systems Standards
  5. Property Management Standards
    1. Title to Equipment
    2. Conditions for Acquisition and Use of Property and Equipment
    3. Property Management Requirements for Federally-owned Property
    4. Principles Relating to Use of NSF-Supported Research Instrumentation & Facilities
    5. Excess Government Personal Property
  6. Procurement Standards

Chapter X: Allowability of Costs

  1. Basic Considerations
    1. Conflicting Guidelines
    2. Other Considerations
      1. Maximum Obligation
      2. Pre-Award Costs
      3. Post-End Date Costs
    3. Prior Written Approvals
  2. Direct Costs
    1. Compensation - Personal Services
      1. Salaries and Wages
      2. Fringe Benefits
    2. Intra-University (IHE) Consulting
    3. Federal Employees
  3. Other Direct Costs
    1. Build America, Buy America, and Made in America Statutes
    2. News Release Costs
    3. Travel and Temporary Dependent Care Costs
  4. Indirect Costs
    1. NSF Policy
    2. NSF Cognizant Organizations
  5. Fee Payments under NSF Awards
  6. Prohibition on Certain Telecommunications and Video Surveillance Services or Equipment

Chapter XI:Other Post Award Requirements and Considerations

  1. Non-Discrimination Statutes and Regulations
    1. General
    2. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
    3. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
    4. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
    5. Age Discrimination Act of 1975
    6. Equal Employment Opportunity under E.O. 11246
    7. Limited English Proficiency under E.O. 13166
  2. Protection of Living Organisms
    1. Human Subjects
    2. Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules
    3. Live Vertebrate Animals
    4. Government Permits and Activities Abroad
    5. Potential Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC)
  3. Construction, Rearrangements and Reconversions
    1. Davis-Bacon Act
    2. Bonding and Insurance
    3. Seismic Safety of Buildings
  4. Intellectual Property
    1. Patents and Inventions
    2. Copyright
    3. Special Patent and Copyright Situations
    4. Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results
    5. Tangible Property
  5. Publication/Distribution of Award Materials
    1. NSF Policy
    2. Costs
    3. Responsibilities
    4. Recipient Obligations
  6. International Considerations
    1. Travel to Foreign Countries
      1. Policy
      2. Use of U.S.-Flag Air Carriers
      3. Use of Foreign-Flag Air Carriers
    2. Charter Flights
    3. Projects in a Foreign Country
    4. Passports and Visas
  7. Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs
  8. Handling of Information
    1. Questionnaires: Data Collection Under NSF Awards
    2. Release of Information by NSF
  9. Tax Status
  10. Historic Properties
  11. Environmental Considerations
  12. National Security
  13. Scientific Integrity
  14. Miscellaneous
    1. Liabilities and Losses
    2. Pre-College Students and Experimental Curriculum Development Projects
    3. Use of Metric Measurements

Chapter XII: Award Administration Disputes and Misconduct

  1. Suspension and Termination Procedures
    1. Definitions
    2. Suspension and Termination
    3. Termination by Mutual Agreement
    4. Procedures for Suspension or Termination by NSF
  2. Informal Resolution of Award Administration Disputes
  3. Research Misconduct
    1. NSF Policies and Responsibilities
    2. Role of Recipients
    3. Reporting Possible Misconduct

Privacy Act and Public Burden Statements