The categories of proposers eligible to submit proposals to the National Science Foundation are identified in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), Chapter I.E. Unaffiliated individuals are not eligible to submit proposals in response to this solicitation.
Categories of Proposers
Except where a program solicitation establishes more restrictive eligibility criteria, organizations in the following categories may submit proposals:
1. Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the U.S., acting on behalf of their faculty members. IHEs located outside the U.S. fall under paragraph 6. below. Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of U.S. IHEs. If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a U.S. institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the U.S. campus. Such information must be included in the project description. The box for "Funding of an International Branch Campus of a U.S. IHE" must be checked on the Cover Sheet if the proposal includes funding for an international branch campus of a U.S. IHE.
2. Non-profit, Non-academic Organizations - Independent museums, observatories, research laboratories, professional societies and similar organizations located in the U.S. that are directly associated with educational or research activities.
3. For-profit Organizations - U.S. commercial organizations, especially small businesses with strong capabilities in scientific or engineering research or education. An unsolicited proposal from a commercial organization may be funded when the project is of special concern from a national point of view, special resources are available for the work, or the proposed project is especially meritorious. NSF is interested in supporting projects that couple industrial research resources and perspectives with those of IHEs; therefore, it especially welcomes proposals for cooperative projects involving both IHEs and the private commercial sector.
4. State and Local Governments - State educational offices or organizations and local school districts may submit proposals intended to broaden the impact, accelerate the pace, and increase the effectiveness of improvements in science, mathematics and engineering education in both K-12 and post-secondary levels.
5. Unaffiliated individuals are not eligible to submit proposals in response to this solicitation.
6. Foreign organizations - NSF rarely provides direct funding support to foreign organizations. NSF will consider proposals for cooperative projects involving U.S. and foreign organizations, provided support is requested only for the U.S. portion of the collaborative effort.
In cases however, where the proposer considers the foreign organization or foreign individual's involvement to be essential to the project and proposes to provide funding through the NSF budget (through a subaward or consultant arrangement), the proposer must explain why support from the foreign counterpart's local sources is not feasible and why the foreign organization or foreign individual can carry out the activity more effectively than a U.S. organization or U.S. individual. In addition, the proposed activity must demonstrate how one or more of the following conditions have been met:
- The foreign organization or foreign individual contributes unique expertise, organizational capability, facilities, data resources, and/or access to a geographic location not generally available to U.S. investigators (or which would require significant effort or time to duplicate); and/or
- The foreign organization or foreign individual offers significant science and engineering education, training, or research opportunities to the U.S.
Such information must be included in any proposal to NSF, including new and renewal proposals. The information must be included in the project description section of the proposal. The box for "Funding of a Foreign Organization or Foreign Individual" must be checked on the Cover Sheet if the proposal includes funding for a foreign organization or foreign individual.
7. Other Federal Agencies - NSF does not normally support research or education activities by scientists, engineers or educators employed by Federal agencies or FFRDCs. Under unusual circumstances, other Federal agencies and FFRDCs may submit proposals directly to NSF. A proposed project is only eligible for support if it meets one or more of the following exceptions, as determined by a cognizant NSF Program Officer:
- Special Projects. Under exceptional circumstances, research, or education projects at other Federal agencies or FFRDCs that can make unique contributions to the needs of researchers elsewhere or to other specific NSF objectives may receive NSF support.
- National and International Programs. The Foundation may fund research and logistical support activities of other Government agencies or FFRDCs directed at meeting the goals of special national and international research programs for which the Foundation bears special responsibility, such as the U.S. Antarctic Research Program.
- International Travel Awards. To help ensure appropriate representation or availability of a particular expertise at an international conference, staff researchers of other Federal agencies may receive NSF international travel awards.
Proposers who think their project may meet one of the exceptions listed above must contact a cognizant NSF Program Officer before preparing a proposal for submission. In addition, a scientist, engineer or educator who has a joint appointment with an IHE and a Federal agency (such as a Veterans Administration Hospital, or with an IHE and a FFRDC) may submit proposals through the IHE and may receive support if he/she is a faculty member (or equivalent) of the IHE, although part of his/her salary may be provided by the Federal agency. Preliminary inquiry must be made to the appropriate program before preparing a proposal for submission.
NOTE: Activities primarily focused on formal educational systems or outcomes are outside the scope of work supported by this program. AISL does not fund formal elementary, middle, or high school, or undergraduate or graduate education, whether in-person or online. Similarly, AISL does not fund formal workforce training (e.g., professional certifications and degree-earning programs) that is not aimed directly at informal STEM learning professionals.