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A Step by Step Guide
for Prospective Principal Investigators

  1. Investigate the funding opportunities at NSF that may be available to you. See current and new opportunities. Also review the generic eligibility categories specified in the Grant Proposal Guide.
  2. Select the funding area (Directorate/ Division/crosscutting program) that best represents your field. Visit the corresponding web site to review current funding opportunities (program announcements/solicitations). It is very important that you check to see whether there are any special programmatic requirements and that you follow the instructions in the program announcement/solicitation carefully.
  3. Review the target dates and deadlines for the Program you have selected.
  4. Contact the relevant Program Officer(s) if you have any questions or need additional information.
  5. Read Chapter 2 in the Grant Proposal Guide for Instructions on how to prepare and submit a proposal to NSF. Then read the Guide to Getting Started on FastLane for additional guidance on preparing your proposal for electronic submission. The NSF FastLane system uses Internet/Web technology to facilitate the way NSF does business with the research, education, and related communities. Use of the NSF FastLane system is required for proposal preparation; submission and status checking; project reporting; and post-award administrative activities.
  6. Most organizations have a Sponsored Research Office (SRO) or equivalent administrative entity that is authorized to submit proposals for their organization. You will need to liaison with your SRO, as they will be submitting the proposal on your behalf. In addition, they can provide useful advice and information. Contact the Program to which you are applying if you do not have an SRO.
  7. Submit your Proposal using FastLane. Use of FastLane is mandatory effective October 1, 2000.


  1. Subscribe to the Custom News Service and create a personal profile to keep you informed of new opportunities.
  2. Sign up for the E-Bulletin as part of your custom news profile.
  3. Search the Award Abstracts Database for projects similar to yours and find out what types of projects were funded.

FastLane FastLane is an interactive real-time system used to conduct NSF business over the Internet.
Custom News Service Create your own CNS profile
E-Bulletin An up-to-the minute electronic funding resource.
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