The University of Iowa

National Science Foundation (NSF)

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NSF’s new PAPPG (Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide), effective for proposals with off-campus or off-site work due on or after January 30, 2023, requires proposers to certify that they have a plan for creating and maintaining Safe and Inclusive Working Environments for Off-Campus and Off-Site Research for that project. See NSF Safe and Inclusive Working Environment Plan for Off-Campus or Off-Site Research.


Beginning in January 2023, all new proposals must be prepared and submitted in or FastLane will no longer be a preparation and submission option.

New biographical sketch format and submission

Use NSF-approved formats for the biographical sketch and current and pending support . The National Science Foundation (NSF) has designated the National Institutes of Health’s SciENcv (Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae) as an NSF-approved format for submission of biographical sketch(es) and is encouraging its use to prepare a biographical sketch for inclusion in proposals to NSF. 

Multiple training resources are available on the SciENcv website.

How to Generate an NSF Biosketch (pdf)

Current and Pending Support FAQs

CONFERENCE SESSIONS AVAILABLE: All recorded conference sessions from the NSF virtual conference held in Spring 2022 are available on NSF’s Policy Office Outreach website: in the Resource Center. Recordings can also be viewed on the NSF YouTube page.

Application Guidelines

While some NSF solicitations may require you to submit your application through the NSF system or through the federal system, most will allow you to choose between the two systems. When given the option, please use NSF; it's an easier system and provides a direct submission path to NSF.

System Registration
  • Registration

Whether using to submit the application, you'll need an NSF account. To establish an account, please go to, Click on Register in the upper right to establish your account. Once you register DSP will validate your registration. After validation you can initiate your proposal, check your proposal status; and complete a number of other critical tasks.

  • Registration

The system requires an institutional, rather than individual, registration. The DSP maintains the UI's registration. You need not, and should not, register as an individual investigator to use the system.

Proposal Preparation

To initiate a proposal in by following the steps outlined below: 

  • Open and click “Sign In” located at the top right of the screen;
  • Enter your NSF ID and password and click “Sign In;”
  • From the "My Desktop" page, click "New! Prepare Proposals (Limited proposal types)" in the "Prepare & Submit Proposals tile" or go to this option from the top navigation bar by selecting the "Prepare & Submit Proposals" tab and clicking on "New! Prepare Proposals (Limited proposal types);"
  • Select the "Prepare Proposal" option in the "Prepare New Proposal" tile on the left side of the Proposal Preparation page; and
  • Follow the five-step proposal wizard to set up the proposal. 

    After completing the initiation steps, you are ready to complete all required and optional sections of your proposal and then submit it to NSF.

    Normally the specific solicitation guidelines supplement, rather than replace, the general NSF guidelines. If, though, the two sources conflict, the solicitation guidelines prevail. 

Common application errors

  • Make sure you use the correct Collaborators & Other Affiliations template. (Table 1, 2, 3. NOT Table A, B, C)
  • Check that your grant title doesn’t need a special prefix.
  • Create an NSF biosketch here so you’re sure of the format. 
  • Include this statement on your budget justification: For NSF purposes The University of Iowa defines a year as January 1 – December 31.
  • Remember font size and margins.
  • Remember page limits where applicable.
  • Remember that the funding announcement overrides the PAPPG but you need to use both to build your application.
  • Be sure to include the grant your applying in your Current & Pending support page.
  • Remember you need to show effort on all listings on your Current & Pending support page.
  • If you have a postdoc you’ll need a Postdoc plan.

UI's Internal Deadline

UI policy requires you to finish and release your application for review and complete the UI Routing Form process at least five business days in advance of the agency's submission deadline. The Division of Sponsored Programs doesn't have the authority to extend the internal deadline. 

Application Review

Award Administration


Special Issues

Voluntary Committed Cost Sharing is Now Prohibited by NSF

Definition of Voluntary Committed Cost Sharing

Funds and/or resources ("in-kind" contributions), guaranteed by the University of Iowa in the proposal for the proposed project, that are not required by NSF.  "Voluntary" means that the funds and/or resources are not required by NSF.  "Committed" means, once the funds and/or resources are guaranteed in the proposal, the University of Iowa is responsible for making sure they are provided.  "Cost Sharing" means that sources of funds and/or resources, other than those from NSF, are being guaranteed by the University of Iowa. 

Note: Do not confuse Voluntary Committed Cost Sharing with Voluntary Uncommitted Cost Sharing. "Uncommitted"  means that the cost sharing is not mentioned in the proposal, but funds and/or resources are provided by the University of Iowa sometime during the project.

Mention of Voluntary Committed Cost Sharing is Prohibited anywhere in the NSF Application

NSF now prohibits Voluntary Committed Cost Sharing in all components (including letters of commitment) of both solicited and unsolicited proposals. To ensure that reviewers, NSF program officers, and grantee officials have sufficient information regarding investigator capabilities and institutional resources, NSF has broadened the intent and usage of the existing Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources (FER) section of proposals. Specifically, the FER section should contain a comprehensive description of all resources necessary for, and available to, a project, without reference to cost, date of acquisition, and whether the resources are currently available or would be provided upon receipt of the grant. The prohibition of Voluntary Committed Cost Sharing will also eliminate tracking and reporting requirements, imposed externally on institutions, previously associated with such resources. In recognition of the culture shift in the research community necessitated by this change, NSF will clearly and regularly communicate this new policy to program officers, external reviewers, and the proposer community.

What does the new NSF Cost Sharing Policy mean for PIs when they prepare an NSF application?

Unless the cost sharing is mandated by NSF (by specific reference in the program announcement), the PI cannot mention, anywhere in the proposal (including letters of support or commitment), that additional funds and/or resources will be committed to the project "if the proposal is funded," or using conditional wording to that effect.  The Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources form will simply list all funds and/or resources committed to the project.  NOTE:  These funds and/or resources are not considered cost sharing (as defined by Uniform Guidance 200.306 - Cost Sharing or Matching  ), so they do not have to meet the traditional OMB cost sharing definition.  For example, you CAN list items purchased using federal funds, and/or used on other federally-funded projects.  However, although these items will not be tracked in financial accounts (since they are not considered Cost Sharing) NSF does expect that the funds and/or resources identified in the Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources section will actually be provided, or made available, should the proposal be funded.

What about Cost Sharing of PI (and/or Senior Personnel) Effort?
Per Recommendation 7 of the NSB Report, there is a continued expectation for grantees to continue the existing practice of sharing in the costs of faculty salaries.  NSF grantees remain subject to the provisions of OMB M-01-06, “Clarification of OMB A-21 Treatment of Voluntary Uncommitted Cost Sharing and Tuition Remission Costs,”  (which is still in effect via the Uniform Guidance 200.306(k)) regarding requirements for committing and tracking “some level” of faculty (or senior researcher) effort as part of the organized research base.  (Voluntary uncommitted cost sharing effort is defined as university faculty (including senior researchers) effort that is over and above that which is committed and budgeted for in a sponsored agreement.)