The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently released a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on proposal preparation and award administration related to NSF’s Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 20-1). Most of the information provides more clarification on some of the sections of the PAPPG. The following are some FAQ answers that should be noted and are good reminders:


  • The types of “professional appointments” that need to be included are all current domestic and foreign professional appointments outside of the individuals academic, professional, or institutional appointments at the proposing organization. (See https://researchadmin.asu.edu/international-engagement for reporting and disclosure responsibilities).
  • The use of “et al.” is permitted for the publications when listing out authors
  • Full citation information should be included where applicable and practicable
  • Each synergistic activity must not be followed by a listing of additional sub-activities
    • For example: A PI can summarize that he/she served on multiple review panels, but they must not list the specific panels

Collaborative Proposals

  • Collaborative proposals from multiple organizations do not all have to be submitted on the same day, but they must all be submitted before the sponsor deadline

Collaborators and Other Affiliations (COA)

  • A separate set of COA FAQs has been provided

Conference Proposals

  • Conference speaker fees should not be included in participant support, unless the primary purpose of that individual attending the conference is to learn and receive training
  • The requirement to provide a Code-of-Conduct specifically applies to NSF Conference Proposals, but not for proposals who budget includes a workshop/conference
  • Costs for identifying but not providing dependent care may be included in conference proposals
  • Items such as breakfast, coffee, room rental, supplies, and materials are generally not considered participant support costs

Cost Sharing

  • A reduced or waived indirect cost rate constitutes voluntary cost-sharing, which is prohibited by NSF
  • If a PI is not requesting salary, they can describe the time they will spend on the project in the Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources document

Current and Pending Support


  • If a deadline falls on a weekend it will be extended to the following Monday
  • If a deadline falls on a Federal holiday, the deadline will be extended to the following business day


  • A proposing organization may designate as PI/Co-PI anyone it believes be capable of filling the role, including non-US citizens (exception: NSF fellowships)
  • In regards to limited submission proposals, NSF considers an “organization” to have its own DUNS number and have separate Sponsored Project Offices



  • Postdoctoral Mentoring Plans cannot be updated via a Proposal File Update. The proposal must be withdrawn and resubmitted prior to the deadline if any updates are needed
  • URLs are not the be used within the Project Description
  • The 2-month salary policy applies to all senior personnel, with certain justifiable exceptions
  • Senior personnel should be removed from the budget if no salary is being requested for them