Proposal Related

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The solicitation can be found on the NSF site and this link: Solicitation # 13-542

 A request for an REU Supplement to an existing NSF award should be submitted if the need for the undergraduate student support was not foreseen at the time of the original proposal submission.  After logging into FastLane, choose "Award and Reporting Functions," and then "Supplemental Funding Request." Next, choose the award to be supplemented.

Normally, funds may be requested for up to two students, but exceptions will be considered for training additional qualified students who are members of underrepresented groups (women, minorities, and persons with disabilities). Centers or large research efforts may request support for a number of students commensurate with the size and nature of the project.

Student stipends for summer projects are expected to be comparable to those of REU Site participants, approximately $500 per student per week. Other student costs include housing, meals, travel, and laboratory use fees and usually vary depending on location. Amounts for academic-year projects should be comparable on a pro rata basis.

Total costs for a summer--including all direct costs and indirect costs--are generally expected not to exceed $1,200 per student per week. However, projects that involve international activities, field work in remote locations, or other exceptional circumstances may exceed this limit.

Results from any REU Supplement activities must be included in the annual project report for the associated award. The term of an REU Supplement may not exceed that of the associated award

 The following is a summary as to how the REU supplement proposals vary from standard NSF applications as detailed in NSF’s Grant Proposal Guides (GPG). Applicants are expected to be familiar with the GPG.

  1. Budget:
  • All student costs should be entered on Line F (Participant Support Costs) of the proposal budget.
  • Indirect Costs:

The REU solicitation has been revised to clarify the treatment of indirect costs in proposals for REU Sites and requests for REU Supplements. The treatment of indirect costs should follow the policies specified in NSF's Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG). Indirect costs (F&A) are not allowed on Participant Support Costs in REU Site or REU Supplement budgets. Note that the REU solicitation's longstanding "administrative allowance" of 25% of the participant support stipend amount in lieu of indirect costs has been discontinued.

  1.  In the form entitled "Summary of Proposed Work," state that this is a request for an REU Supplement.
  2.  In the form entitled "Justification for Supplement," which is limited to 3 pages, include the following information:
  • the form and nature of each prospective student's involvement in the research project
  • the experience of the PI (or other prospective research mentors) in involving undergraduates in research, including any previous REU Supplement support and the outcomes for that support
  • the nature of the mentoring the student will receive; and
  • the process and criteria for selecting the student(s).  If the student has been pre-selected (as might be true in the case of a supplement for and ongoing award), then the grounds for selection and a brief biographical sketch of the student should be included.
  1. If an REU student has been pre-selected, you may place a brief biographical sketch in Supplementary Documents.
  2. The only proposal sections that need to be submitted for an REU supplement are:
  • The Summary of Proposed Work
  • The Justification for Supplement
  • The budget
  • The budget justification
  • Supplementary documents (if applicable)

Common Mistakes in NSF REU supplement proposals:

  1. Student costs are not listed in Category F
  2. Fonts that do not adhere to NSF format. Acceptable NSF fonts are:
  • Arial 11, Courier New, or Palatino Linotype at a font size of 10 points or larger
  • Times New Roman at a font size of 11 points or larger
  • Computer Modern family of fonts at a font size of 11 points or larger
  1. Pagination is omitted in the "Justification for Supplement”.
  2. If there was a co-PI on the main award, the co-PI also needs to sign off for the REU supplement

OPAS Contact Information for NSF

College of Natural Sciences: Mary Santos,  (413) 545-0698

All other Colleges: Kim Lowney,  (413) 545-0698


Guidelines for complete submissions are found on the website in the Five Day Proposal Submission Procedure. Please read the document carefully.  In short, proposals to be considered submitted "on-time" contain a reasonable draft technical and a draft version of the references cited section.  All other sections of the proposal must be complete and in Fastlane with submit access granted and routed through Kuali to OPAS at least 5 days in advance of the deadline.   The technical and references cited must be clearly marked "draft," and no further changes that will affect personnel, budget, cost share, or F&A can be made after the 5-day deadline unless requested upon the review of the OPAS Administrator.  The final version of the technical section and references cited must be uploaded to Fastlane by 9 a.m. 2 business days in advance of the sponsor deadline.  Proposals not submitted by the Five day deadline will be required to submit a request for a late proposal exception.  The procedure for requesting a late exception along with an explanation of the requirements of such an exceptions are fully explained in the Five Day Proposal Submission procedure referenced above.

The solicitation can be found on the NSF site and this link: Solicitation # 17-537

The Official Due Dates to NSF:

July 19, 2017; July 18, 2018, July 17, 2019
Directorate for Biological Sciences
Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering
Directorate for Education & Human Resources

July 20, 2017; July 19, 2018, July 18, 2019
Directorate for Engineering

July 21, 2017; July 20, 2018, July 19, 2019
Directorate for Geosciences
Directorate for Mathematical & Physical Sciences
Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

The following is a summary as to how the CAREER Program varies from standard NSF applications as detailed in Grant Proposal Guide, NSF 17-1, effective January 30, 2017. Applicants are expected to be familiar with the GPG.

  1. Budget. The minimum CAREER award size is $400,000 for a five-year period for all directorates except BIO. For proposals submitted to the BIO directorate, the minimum award size is $500,000 over five years. These proposals must include the current federally negotiated F&A rate under Indirect Cost Rates.
  2. Project Title. The project title must begin with "CAREER:" and follow with an informative title.
  3. Co-PIs. No co-PIs are permitted.
  4. Project Summary. Summarize the research and education objectives, and plans for the integration of education and research activities. The Project Summary must clearly address in separate statements how the proposal meets both the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impact review criteria.
  5. Project Description should be developed in consultation with the department head or equivalent organizational official and should include:
  • a description of the proposed research project, including preliminary supporting data where appropriate, specific objectives, methods and procedures to be used, and expected significance of the results;
  • a description of the proposed educational activities, including plans to evaluate their impact on students and other participants;
  • a description of how the research and educational activities are integrated with one another; and
  • results of prior NSF support, if applicable.
  1.  Departmental Letter must be included in the proposal.

The Departmental Letter should be no more than 2 pages in length, and include the department head's name and title, below the signature. The letter should contain the following elements:

  • An indication that the PI's proposed CAREER research and education activities are supported by and integrated into the educational and research goals of the department and the organization, and that the department is committed to the support and professional development of the PI;
  • A description of a) the relationship between the CAREER project, the PI's career goals and job responsibilities, and the goals of his/her department/organization, and b) the ways in which the department head (or equivalent) will ensure the appropriate mentoring of the PI, in the context of the PI's career development and his/her efforts to integrate research and education throughout the period of the award and beyond; and
  • Verification that the PI is eligible for the CAREER program.

Specified in the Solicitation for Automatic Turndown

Proposals that are non-compliant for the following reasons will be returned without review:

  1. Co-Principal Investigators listed on the cover page
  2. Departmental Letter missing (be careful to put this in the Supplementary Documents section, not the Single Copy Documents section)
  3. Submitted after the relevant deadline has passed
  4. No description of mentoring activities for post doctoral researchers in proposals that request funds for post doctoral researchers
  5. The proposed work duplicates or is substantially similar to a proposal under consideration by NSF from the same submitter
  6. The proposal was previously declines and was not revised to take into account the major comments from the prior NSF reviewers
  7. Letters of collaborative arrangements deviate from the format detailed in NSF’s grant proposal guidelines. The format is:

"If the proposal submitted by Dr. [insert the full name of the Principal Investigator] entitled [insert the proposal title] is selected for funding by NSF, it is my intent to collaborate and/or commit resources as detailed in the Project Description or the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal."

Common Mistakes in NSF Proposals

  1. Biosketches do not adhere to NSF format: Biosketches should include both research and education activities and accomplishments. The list of publications should include no more than ten publications, including up to five publications most closely related to the proposed research and educational activities and up to five other significant publications, whether or not they are related to the proposed project. The Biographical Sketch may not exceed two pages in length.
  2. Fonts do not adhere to NSF format. Acceptable NSF fonts are:
  • Computer Modern family of fonts at a font size of 11 points or larger
  • Times New Roman at a font size of 11 points or larger
  • Arial 11, Courier New, or Palatino Linotype at a font size of 10 points or larger
  1. This proposal is not listed as “Pending” in the current & pending form
  2. The dollar figures on the current & pending form and budget pages do not match.
  3. Proposal title does not begin with “CAREER” on the cover sheet
  4. Project summary is missing “Broader impact” and “Intellectual Merit” sections and headers
  5. Special sections as required by the solicitation are missing. Please see Section A. above
  6. Cost share commitments are stated in the departmental letter which results in voluntary cost share that is not allowable by NSF policy.

*Due to the high volume of CAREER proposals, it is highly recommended that you prepare and submit your proposal earlier than 5 days prior to the deadline to help relieve the last minute frenzy especially if you are new to the process.

OPAS Contact Information for NSF:

College of Natural Sciences: Mary Santos,  (413) 545-0698

All other Colleges: Kim Lowney,  (413) 545-0698


Find out what NSF requires for components and formatting in your proposal - the GPG distilled.

2019 NSF Proposal Checklist and Outline - Effective February 25, 2019 (also in Download File at right - pdf)

2018 NSF Proposal Checklist and Outline (pdf)


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Sponsored Research means all research and development activities that are sponsored by federal and non-federal agencies and organizations. This term includes activities involving the training of individuals in research techniques where such activities utilize the same facilities as other research and development activities and where such activities are not included in the instruction function.

Research seeks fuller knowledge of a subject and involves investigation aimed at the discovery of new facts or revision of accepted theories. Research projects may include laboratory work, testing and evaluation, questionnaires, pre- and post-tests, and statistical analysis.


Sponsored Instruction means the teaching and training activities of an institution established by grant, contract, or cooperative agreement. These activities may be offered for credits toward a degree or certificate or on a non-credit basis, and may be offered through regular academic departments or through separate divisions, such as summer school or extension. (Research training is not included; it is included under Research above.)

Instruction is used when the primary purpose of the project involves training, curriculum development, instruction, demonstration, or efforts to improve pedagogical methods.  Instructional projects may include some elements of research, particularly if new techniques of instruction or curriculum content are being developed.


  • Any project for which the purpose is to instruct any student at any location; recipients of this instruction may be UMass students or staff, teachers or students in elementary or secondary schools, or the general public
  • Curriculum development projects at any level, including projects which involve evaluation of curriculum or teaching methods; such evaluation may be considered “research” only when the preponderance of activity is data collection, evaluation and reporting
  • Projects which involved UMass students in community service activities for which they are receiving academic credit.
  • Activities funded by awards to departments or schools for the support of students
  • Dissertation work funded by grants, including grants for travel in relation to a dissertation
  • Programs bringing local students on campus for classes
  • General support for the writing of textbooks or reference books, video or software to be used as instructional materials.


Other Sponsored Activities

Other Sponsored Activities are programs and projects sponsored by federal and non-federal agencies which involve the performance of work other than instruction and organized research.

Examples include health service projects, community service programs, non-credit community education, and conferences.

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