NFS Policy Update

Published February 27, 2014

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has updated the NSF Grant Proposal Guide, 14-1.  We have prepared a summary of the significant changes and their impact on our PI's. Click here for a fuller version of these changes.



  •  Format of the Proposal, has been revised to add instructions that, upon entering the proposal preparation module in FastLane, the PI will be prompted to select whether or not the proposal is a collaborative proposal and the type of proposal being developed (e.g., RAPID, EAGER, Equipment etc.).


  • Sections of the Proposal has been augmented to include a list of required sections for a full proposal submitted via FastLane.  If the submission instructions do not require a section to be provided, the proposer should insert text or upload a document in that section of the proposal stating “Not Applicable.”


  • an addition to the Certification Regarding Conflict of Interest. The language states that if research proceeds without the imposition of conditions or restrictions when a conflict of interest exists, this must be disclosed to NSF via use of the Notifications and Requests Module in FastLane.


  • Results from Prior NSF Support, has been amended to make clear that in the summary of results of the completed work, the accomplishments related to Intellectual Merit and Broader Impact activities must be separately described under two distinct headings. 
  • Also has been amended to clarify that in cases where the PI or co-PI has received more than one award (excluding amendments) they need only report on the one award most closely related to the proposal.
  • Unfunded Collaborations, has been revised to explain that any substantial collaboration with individuals not included in the budget should be described in the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal and documented in a letter of commitment from each collaborator.


  • has been updated to state that inclusion of information beyond that specified may result in the proposal being returned without review
  • has been modified to add that, if a biographical sketch(es) is not required, the proposer should insert text or upload a document in this section of the proposal that states, “Not Applicable.”
  • Products, has been supplemented with language stating that, if only publications are included, the heading “Publications” may be used for this section of the Biographical Sketch.


  • has been amended to clarify that, if a program solicitation does not require a budget, and there is no budgetary information to justify, the proposer should insert text or upload a document in the budget justification section that states, “Not Applicable.”
  • Participant Support, has been revised to emphasize that indirect costs are not allowed on participant support costs.
  • Other, has been updated to include guidance on the allowability of visa costs on an NSF proposal.
  • Cost Sharing, has been amended to state that, for purposes of budget preparation, the cumulative cost sharing amount must be entered on Line M of the first year’s budget.

AAG Changes Relevant to Pre-Award at Budget time:

  • Basic Considerations has been updated to clarify the awardee’s responsibilities for ensuring that all costs charged to NSF awards meet the requirements of the applicable cost principles, grant general terms and conditions, any other specific requirements of both the award notice and the applicable program solicitation, and their own internal policies and procedures.  This part also has been updated to add language on establishing an advance agreement or understanding about charging an item of direct cost that might otherwise subsequently be disputed.
  • Consultant Services has been augmented  to  clarify  that  all consultant costs should be fully disclosed and explained in the accompanying budget justification.


  • has been modified to add that, if Current and Pending Support information is not required, the proposer should insert text or upload a document in this section of the proposal that states, “Not Applicable.”


  • Moves guidance for Letters of Support from the end of this section where it could be overlooked and provides specific definitions of Letters of Support, clearly differentiating them from the requested Letters of Commitment.
  • Impact: Strengthens guidance that letters of general support/enthusiasm should not be submitted.
  • Modified to clarify that, in order for NSF to comply with federal environmental statutes (including, but not limited to, the National Environmental Policy Act [42 U.S.C. §§ 4321, et seq.], the National Historic Preservation Act [16 U.S.C. § 470, et seq.], and the Endangered Species Act [16 U.S.C. §§ 1531, et seq.]), the proposer may be requested to submit supplemental post-proposal submission information to NSF in order that a reasonable and accurate assessment of environmental impacts by NSF may be made.


  • Proposals for Equipment has been modified to add specific instructions for which documents are required and the particular information they should contain, along with a useful checklist. Impact: Provides a formal framework for the proposal that is identical to that for a standard research proposal.
  • Proposals for Conferences, Symposia and Workshops, has been augmented to explain that such proposals should include a description of plans to identify resources for child care and other types of family care at the conference site to allow individuals with family care responsibilities to attend.