The University of Iowa

National Science Foundation (NSF)

DSP Contacts for NSF

Paul Below
Ph: (319)335-2109 (direct line)
Ph: (319)335-2123 (front desk)
Fx:  (319)335-2130

Linda Meyer
Ph: (319)335-2129 (direct line)
Ph: (319)335-2123 (front desk)
Fx: (319)335-2130

Useful Links



Newly released NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures (PAPP) Guide (NSF 15-1), including the 

Summary of Significant Changes Incorporated into the Latest Grant Proposal Guide (GPG 15-1)


    Application Guidelines

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

    Whether using or FastLane to submit the application, you'll need a FastLane account. To establish an account, please contact DSP. Once you register and log into FastLane, you can rinitiate a FastLane proposalcheck 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

    When preparing an NSF application it is critical to review the specific guidelines within the program soliciation as well as the general guidelines:

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

    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.)