Mathematical and Physical Sciences
To promote the progress of the mathematical and physical sciences and thereby strengthen the Nation's scientific enterprise; to increase the store of scientific knowledge and enhance understanding of major problems confronting the Nation. Most of the research supported is basic in character. The program includes support of research project grants in the following disciplines: astronomical sciences, chemistry, materials research, mathematical sciences, physics, as well as support for symposia and conferences. Basic research in multidisciplinary areas related to these disciplines is especially encouraged. Support is also provided for state-of-the-art user facilities in astronomy, physics, and many areas of materials science; science and technology centers; institutes; undergraduate student research; faculty enhancement; curriculum development; instrumentation; laboratory improvement; and for research opportunities for women, minority, and disabled scientists and engineers.
General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
National Science Foundation
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
B - Project Grants
Fiscal Year 2016
In Fiscal Year 2016, approximately 9,200 proposals will be received and about 2,600 awards will be made. In Fiscal Year 2016, approximately 9,200 proposals were received and about 2,400 awards were made.Fiscal Year 2017
In Fiscal Year 2017, 8,849 proposals were received, and 2,335 awards were made.Fiscal Year 2019
In Fiscal Year 2019, approximately 8,800 proposals will be received and about 2,600 awards will be made
National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 1861 et seq.
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
Except where a program solicitation establishes more restrictive eligibility criteria, organizations in the following categories may submit proposals: Institutions of Higher Education; Non-profit, non-academic organizations; For-profit organizations and State and local governments. See the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), Chapter I.E., for a full description of eligibility requirements: https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=pappg
Proposals must be signed electronically by an official authorized to commit the institution or organization in business and financial affairs and who can commit the organization to certain proposal certifications. Applicants for fellowship support must show evidence of ability such as academic records, letters of recommendation, graduate record examination scores, and grade point average.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Preapplication coordination is required. This program is eligible for coverage under E.O. 12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the State has selected the program for review. Preapplication coordination may be required. Environmental impact information may be required for this program.
2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program. By electronic submission via Fastlane, Research.gov, or Grants.gov of a formal proposal, and in some programs, a preliminary proposal, describing the planned project and the proposed amount of the grant. For guidelines, see specific funding opportunities and the NSF PAPPG: https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=pappg
NSF staff members review and evaluate all proposals based on a set of criteria established by the National Science Board and, if applicable, solicitation-specific review criteria. In most cases reviews are undertaken with the advice of scientists, engineers, educators, and other appropriate persons who are specialists in the fields covered by the proposals. NSF makes awards on a competitive basis. Notification of an award is transmitted electronically to the submitting organization by a NSF Grants and Agreements Officer in the Division of Grants and Agreements.
Many NSF programs accept proposals at any time. Other programs, however, establish due dates for submission of proposals. NSF uses target dates, deadline dates, and submission windows. Chapter I.F. of the NSF PAPPG contains additional information about these types of due dates: https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=pappg
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the NSF Program Officer recommends to the cognizant Division Director whether the proposal should be declined or recommended for award. NSF is striving to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. The time interval begins on the deadline or target date, or receipt date, whichever is later. The interval ends when the Division Director accepts the Program Officer's recommendation.
The principal investigator may request, in writing, within 90 days of a declination or return, that NSF reconsider its action in declining or returning any proposal or application.
A renewal proposal competes with all other proposals and must be developed fully as though the proposer is applying for the first time. Renewal proposals must be submitted at least six months before additional funding is required or consistent with an established deadline, target date or submission window. Principal investigators are encouraged to discuss renewal proposals with the NSF Program Officer prior to submission.
How are proposals selected?
Proposals received by NSF are assigned to the appropriate NSF program for acknowledgement and, if they meet NSF requirements, for review. All proposals are carefully reviewed by a scientist, engineer, or educator serving as an NSF Program Officer, and usually by three to ten other persons outside NSF either as ad hoc reviewers, panelists, or both, who are experts in the particular fields represented by the proposal. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with oversight of the review process. Proposers are invited to suggest names of persons they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal and/or persons they would prefer not review the proposal. These suggestions may serve as one source in the reviewer selection process at the Program Officer's discretion. Submission of such names, however, is optional. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts of interest with the proposal. In addition, Program Officers may obtain comments from site visits before recommending final action on proposals. Senior NSF staff further review recommendations for awards. A flowchart that depicts the entire NSF proposal and award process (and associated timeline) is included in PAPPG Exhibit III-1. A comprehensive description of the Foundation's merit review process is available on the NSF website at: https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/merit_review/. Proposers should also be aware of core strategies that are essential to the fulfillment of NSF's mission, as articulated in Building the Future: Investing in Discovery and Innovation - NSF Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years (FY) 2018 - 2022. These strategies are integrated in the program planning and implementation process, of which proposal review is one part. NSF's mission is particularly well-implemented through the integration of research and education and broadening participation in NSF programs, projects, and activities. One of the strategic objectives in support of NSF's mission is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions must recruit, train, and prepare a diverse STEM workforce to advance the frontiers of science and participate in the U.S. technology-based economy. NSF's contribution to the national innovation ecosystem is to provide cutting-edge research under the guidance of the Nation's most creative scientists and engineers. NSF also supports development of a strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce by investing in building the knowledge that informs improvements in STEM teaching and learning. NSF's mission calls for the broadening of opportunities and expanding participation of groups, institutions, and geographic regions that are underrepresented in STEM disciplines, which is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports. The National Science Foundation strives to invest in a robust and diverse portfolio of projects that creates new knowledge and enables breakthroughs in understanding across all areas of science and engineering research and education. To identify which projects to support, NSF relies on a merit review process that incorporates consideration of both the technical aspects of a proposed project and its potential to contribute more broadly to advancing NSF's mission "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes." NSF makes every effort to conduct a fair, competitive, transparent merit review process for the selection of projects. 1. Merit Review Principles These principles are to be given due diligence by PIs and organizations when preparing proposals and managing projects, by reviewers when reading and evaluating proposals, and by NSF program staff when determining whether or not to recommend proposals for funding and while overseeing awards. Given that NSF is the primary federal agency charged with nurturing and supporting excellence in basic research and education, the following three principles apply: o All NSF projects should be of the highest quality and have the potential to advance, if not transform, the frontiers of knowledge. o NSF projects, in the aggregate, should contribute more broadly to achieving societal goals. These "Broader Impacts" may be accomplished through the research itself, through activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. The project activities may be based on previously established and/or innovative methods and approaches, but in either case must be well justified. o Meaningful assessment and evaluation of NSF funded projects should be based on appropriate metrics, keeping in mind the likely correlation between the effect of broader impacts and the resources provided to implement projects. If the size of the activity is limited, evaluation of that activity in isolation is not likely to be meaningful. Thus, assessing the effectiveness of these activities may best be done at a higher, more aggregated, level than the individual project. With respect to the third principle, even if assessment of Broader Impacts outcomes for particular projects is done at an aggregated level, PIs are expected to be accountable for carrying out the activities described in the funded project. Thus, individual projects should include clearly stated goals, specific descriptions of the activities that the PI intends to do, and a plan in place to document the outputs of those activities. These three merit review principles provide the basis for the merit review criteria, as well as a context within which the users of the criteria can better understand their intent. 2. Merit Review Criteria All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board approved merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities. The two merit review criteria are listed below. Both criteria are to be given full consideration during the review and decision-making processes; each criterion is necessary but neither, by itself, is sufficient. Therefore, proposers must fully address both criteria. (PAPPG Chapter II.C.2.d(i). contains additional information for use by proposers in development of the Project Description section of the proposal). Reviewers are strongly encouraged to review the criteria, including PAPPG Chapter II.C.2.d(i), prior to the review of a proposal. When evaluating NSF proposals, reviewers will be asked to consider what the proposers want to do, why they want to do it, how they plan to do it, how they will know if they succeed, and what benefits could accrue if the project is successful. These issues apply both to the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the project may make broader contributions. To that end, reviewers will be asked to evaluate all proposals against two criteria: o Intellectual Merit: The Intellectual Merit criterion encompasses the potential to advance knowledge; and o Broader Impacts: The Broader Impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes. The following elements should be considered in the review for both criteria: 1. What is the potential for the proposed activity to a. Advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (Intellectual Merit); and b. Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (Broader Impacts)? 2. To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts? 3. Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success? 4. How well qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct the proposed activities? 5. Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities? Broader impacts may be accomplished through the research itself, through the activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. NSF values the advancement of scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to achievement of societally relevant outcomes. Such outcomes include, but are not limited to: full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); improved STEM education and educator development at any level; increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology; improved well-being of individuals in society; development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce; increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others; improved national security; increased economic competitiveness of the United States; and enhanced infrastructure for research and education.
How may assistance be used?
Grant funds may be used for paying costs necessary to conduct research or studies, such as salaries and wages, permanent equipment, expendable materials and supplies, travel, participant support; publication costs, and other direct and indirect costs. Primary responsibility for general supervision of all grant activities rests with the grantee institution; the principal investigator is responsible for the scientific work. Funds may not be used for purposes other than those specified in the proposal.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Contact NSF for more information.
Records, supporting documents, statistical records, and other records pertinent to a grant must be retained by the grantee for a period of 3 years from submission of the Final Project Report. Special record keeping requirements may apply to fellowships.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory Formula: Mandatory cost sharing will only be required for NSF programs when explicitly authorized by the NSF Director, the National Science Board, or legislation. In those rare instances, cost sharing requirements will be clearly identified in the program solicitation. Inclusion of voluntary, committed cost sharing is prohibited.
Matching requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.
MOE requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
Award duration of up to 5 years. Method of awarding/releasing assistance: Standard or continuing grant, fellowship, or cooperative agreement.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
2415 Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22314 US
(Project Grants) FY 18$1,503,412,000.00; FY 19 est $1,475,340,000.00; FY 20 est $1,255,820,000.00; FY 17 est $1,356,025,000.00; FY 16$1,348,784,000.00; - 1) FY 2018 Obligations are the FY 2018 NSF Appropriations Actual
2) FY 2019 Obligation estimates are the FY 2019 NSF Current Plan
3) FY 2020 Obligation estimates are the FY 2020 NSF Congressional Request
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
Range Low $2,460 Range High $44,194,356 Average $167,877
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
NSF Website: www.nsf.gov; 48 CFR Chapter 25; 45 CFR Chapter VI; Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub summ.jsp?ods key=pappg).
Examples of Funded Projects
Fiscal Year 2019
Listing of active awards available at: https://www.nsf.gov/awards/award_visualization.jsp?org=MPS