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National Science Foundation

Note: Standard NSF Terms and Conditions are the Federal Wide Research Terms and Conditions dated March 14, 2017 and are modified by the NSF Agency Specific Requirements dated January 28, 2019.

NSF will implement the Research Terms and Conditions for all federal assistance awards (new grants) made after January 28, 2019 subject to 2 CFR Part 215. The research terms and conditions are not applied to cooperative agreements or NSF fellowship awards made to individuals.

As with all Federal assistance awards NSF awards are subject to OMB Uniform Guidance 2 CFR 200 , dated December 26, 2014, (UG), except as modified by the sponsor-specific and award-specific terms.

Summary of Standard Terms

Responsible Conduct of Research

  • NSF requires that the PI have a plan in place to provide appropriate training and oversight in responsible and ethical conduct of research (RCR) to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who conduct research and are supported by NSF. Training plans are subject to review.
  • PI must designate a person to oversee compliance with the RCR training plan
  • RCR requirements flow down to all sub-recipients

Period of Performance Extensions

  • May incur pre-award costs up to 90 days prior to the award date without prior NSF approval
  • Initiation of no cost extensions are processed through the Office of Contracts and Grants (OCG) by the Research Administrator (RA). Initial request, not to exceed 12 months, must be submitted no later than 10 days prior to the award end date
  • Subsequent extensions require NSF approval. PI requests must be submitted to the OCG RA no later than 45 days prior to expiration. The PI request must provide:
  • revised end date (cannot exceed past the next 12 month period)
  • estimate of award balance, brief budget justification and remaining scope of work
  • reason an extension is needed

Personnel Changes

  • Change of any key person named in the award requires prior NSF approval
  • Disengagement of the PI for 3 months requires NSF prior approval
  • A 25% reduction in effort by the PI requires prior NSF approval

Restrictions on Allowable costs

  • Faculty salary in excess of institutional base salary requires prior NSF approval
  • Salary compensation for senior personnel cannot exceed two months of their regular salary in one year. This limitation includes salary received from all NSF funded grants.
  • Postage, sundry office items, cost of memberships, subscriptions or other professional activities require a project specific justification sent to the OCG RA for approval and retained for audit
  • Cost of entertainment, amusement diversion and social activities and any charges directly associated with such costs (meals, lodging, rentals, transportation and gratuities) are not allowable costs
  • NSF funds may not be used to pay for coffee breaks for intramural meetings including laboratories, departments and centers
  • UH/OCG has established steps that the PI will need to follow in order to justify refreshments and or working meals on NSF sponsored workshops or conferences. Contact your OCG/RA should you need those details

Cost Sharing

Unless cost sharing is required in the NSF proposal solicitation, inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.

Re-budgeting Authority

  • Funds may be re-budgeted into participant support without prior NSF approval as long as funds are not re-budgeted into ‘participant other’ category
  • Funds may not be transferred out of the participant support category without prior NSF approval
  • Re-budgeting between direct cost categories is allowed without prior NSF approval as long as the scope of work is not altered
  • Carry-forward between the years is allowed without prior NSF approval


Method of Payment is NSF Letter of Credit (LOC) an electronic drawdown system


  • Unbudgeted special purpose equipment costing over $5,000 may be purchased without prior NSF approval under the following conditions:
    • capital equipment should be an approved budget line item
    • a brief justification with a statement confirming the purchase does not change the scope of work must be sent to the OCG RA
    • OCG RA must check PeopleSoft Grants to verify the correct budget nodes are entered and indirect will calculate correctly
    • award terms and conditions may override standard terms and conditions
  • Unbudgeted special purpose equipment costing less than $5,000 may be purchased without prior NSF approval under the following conditions:
    • PI must send their OCG RA a justification to approve and retain for audit purposes
    • award terms and conditions may override standard terms and conditions
  • Title to property generally vests with UH


  • Use of US Carriers required per the Fly America Act; exceptions may be made for certain airlines and routes under “Open Skies” agreements.
  • Foreign and conference travel must be itemized and justified in the approved budget

Program Income

NSF utilizes the additive method to further project objectives. All efforts should be made to avoid having unexpended program income at the end of the grant.



  • Required in all publications, including World Wide Web pages, any material based on or developed under this NSF project support. Acknowledgment, including vocal, for news media interviews, radio and television.
  • Each publication shall be clearly labeled by the award number and other appropriate identifying information.

Copies to Sponsor:

PI must provide the NSF Program Officer (PO) access either electronically or by paper form to every publication of material based on or developed under the award.


Prior approval required for all unbudgeted subcontracting


  • Technical reporting must be completed by PI and should be submitted as follows:
    • Annual reporting is required for both standard and continuing NSF awards
    • Annual reports are due 90 days prior to the end of the current budget period
    • Final report detailing entire project including broader impact criterion is due 120 days after expiration
    • Project Outcomes report is a brief summary specifically prepared for the public. It is due 120 days after expiration
    • Annual, final and project outcome reports are submitted through
  • Financial reports are not submitted to NSF, however the quarterly and final drawdown serve as the SF 425