Standard NSF proposal elements

Please read the current version of the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG), which is the official source of proposal requirements. The following material is drawn from PAPPG version October 4, 2021, and mentions only the elements needed for a standard research proposal in Mathematics. 


  • Submit proposals at
  • You might want to start with a LaTeX template file
  • Proposal pages should not be numbered, because numbers will be added by To remove page numbers, in the TeX file insert the command \pagestyle{empty}.
  • See the ACF grants website for links and the ACF resources Box folder for sample proposals, Broader Impacts advice, and more. 

b. Project Summary

Must be formatted with separate headings for Overview, Intellectual Merit, and Broader Impacts, each on their own line. 

d. Project Description (including Results from Prior NSF Support)

15 page limit. Must contain, as separate sections within the narrative, sections labeled “Broader Impacts” and “Results from Prior NSF Support”. 

e. References Cited

f. Biographical Sketch(es)

Use an NSF-approved format. PIs are limited to 5 products, 5 other significant products and 5 synergistic activities.

g. Budget and Budget Justification 

The budget and justification are prepared by the departmental business office, based on your requests. Budget requests often include:

  • summer salary for the PI
  • academic year and summer RAs
  • undergraduate hourlies (e.g. for an IGL group or summer REU students)
  • domestic travel
  • foreign travel
  • collaborator travel

h. Current and Pending Support

Log in to SciENcv, follow the link to the National Science Foundation, click on “Create a new document”, choose “NSF Current and Pending (Other) Support”, and then create your document. 

i. Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources

Use the departmental template supplied by the business office. 

j. Special Information and Supplementary Documentation

Data management plan – use the departmental template supplied by the business office. Modify it as appropriate. 

Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan (if the budget includes funds for a postdoc).

k. Single-copy documents

Collaborators & Other Affiliations – use the COA template. Refer to the frequently asked questions on that webpage.

Letters of collaboration from each substantial collaborator mentioned in the proposal who is not included in the budget. The text for the collaborator to use is: “If the proposal submitted by Dr. NAME entitled 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.”

List of Suggested Reviewers or Reviewers Not to Include (optional).