Preparing Your Proposal – NSF

National Science Foundation

The information below is the most common general information for submitting to NSF but the Directorate and/or announcement to which you are applying may have some additional specific requirements. Be sure to read the announcement throughly and follow the current guidelines. If you have questions, please contact us.

NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide

NSF FastLane and

FastLane and are the portals for submitting NSF applications. NSF is in the process of migrating from FastLane to Both systems use the same login credentials. If you do not have an account with NSF, you can self-register on the web site. Once you have an NSF account (or to create an affiliation with WSU if you are transferring from another institution), log in and select Add a New Role. Select Add Investigator Role and enter the WSU DUNS number (04-1485301) then search to find WSU. Complete the rest of the profile information and submit. An automated message will be sent to ORSO to review and approve your WSU account.

Once you initialize your application in FastLane or, please select the option Allow SPO to view and edit, we can help you complete the forms and required documents. When the proposal is ready for submission, you can change the selection to Allow AOR to view/edit/submit.

  • Collaborative Proposals: FastLane allows two or more collaborating institutions to submit their own information and then link them together before submission. If you are planning a collaborative proposal and need assistance to link them together, please contact us.

General Formatting of Documents

  • Margins: 1 inch on all sides
  • FastLane requires you to paginate your documents. FastLane does not automatically paginate.
  • will automatically paginate, so please do not include them if you are submitting via this new portal.
  • Fonts:
    • Arial, Courier New, or Palatino Linotype at a font size of 10 points or larger (Mac users may also use Helvetica and Palatino)
    • Times New Roman 11 points or larger
    • Computer Modern Family 11 points or larger
    • Font size of less than 10 points can be used for formulas, equations, figures, table or diagram captions, but must be readable.

Collaborators and Other Affiliations Information

  • This is no longer included in the biosketch and is a single copy document that must be separately provided for each individual identified as senior project personnel.
  • NSF now requires a spreadsheet for identifying COA information. A link to the spreadsheet, FAQs and Instructions can be found here.

Intellectual Merit – the potential to advance knowledge

Broader Impacts – the potential to benefit society


  • We recommend using My Bibliography and SciENcv. The system will format your biosketch according to current NIH submission requirements. More information on My Bibliography and SciENcv.
  • NSF Biosketch Format & Instructions
    • Limit 2 pages
    • Each senior personnel ‘s biosketch must be uploaded as a single PDF (they can no longer grouped together and uploaded as a single document)
    • Contact the Proposal Development Coordinator for an annotated template

 Current and Pending Support

  • Required for all senior personnel even if they are receiving no salary support for the project
  • Include the project being proposed
  • Documents uploaded for each senior person individually (can no longer be grouped together and uploaded as a single file)

Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan

Data Management Plan

Documentation of Collaborative Arrangements

  • Letters of collaboration should be limited to stating the intent to collaborate and should not contain endorsements or evaluation of the proposed project. The recommended format for letters of collaboration is as follows:

“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 internet to collaborate and/or commit resources as detailed in the Project Description or the Facilities, Equipment or Other Resources section of the proposal.”

  • Letters of support should not be submitted unless specifically required as noted in the program solicitation.

Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI)

  • WSU Vancouver is considered an RUI eligible institution
  • Facilitating Research at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (NSF 14-579)
  • RUI Impact Statement is required. Contact the Proposal Development Coordinator for  information specific to WSU Vancouver.
  • We will provide the required RUI Certification letter for your proposal at the time of submission.

Merit Review

General NSF Resources and Writing Tips