Undergraduate NSF Grants are awards given from the National Science Foundation, and range in subject fields and eligibility requirements. To apply for an NSF Grant, submit applications online on either NSF FastLane System or Grants.gov.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is a Federal agency founded in 1950 to “promote the progress of science; [and] to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare” by supporting science and engineering through education and research grant funds.
About one-quarter of academic scientific research in the United States is supported by these funds.
An NSF Grant is an award of money given either directly from NSF or from a third party institution, to fund proposed research or educational project.
Grants are given through specific programs, each of which has its own requirements and due dates.
Many NSF grants benefit undergraduate institutions and programs, but very few involve awarding individual undergraduates themselves.
Before preparing a proposal, make sure to review the guidelines in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies Procedures Guide. Grant applications are competitive, with only about 25% of proposals funded.
If you are currently an undergraduate student, ask around at your institution for opportunities within already funded NSF projects, which you may benefit from. There are two options that award undergraduates directly, so if you’re interested, read on!
NSF Grant: Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)
This program supports undergraduate research in science and engineering, REU projects support students working on ongoing NSF research programs or on projects being proposed for REU.
Students can participate either through REU Sites or REU Supplements. REU sites involve independent applications for research projects in which undergraduate students participate. They can participate either within an academic discipline or cross-discipline thematic field.
REU supplements are intended to be a component of an already existing NSF grant or a new proposal detailing the research opportunities for undergraduates within the program.
Students involved in REU projects must be U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents.
Rather than applying directly to NSF, students apply to REU Sites or to organizations with ongoing NSF funding and REU Supplements. To browse active REU Sites, visit this directory: https://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/reu_search.cfm.
NSF Grant: Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program
Undergraduate students can apply to the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. You can do this to support a future career as a K-12 teacher in any STEM subject.
There are four sub-programs:
- The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarships
- Stipends Track
- NSF Teaching Fellowships Track
- NSF Master Teaching Fellowships Track
- Noyce Research Track
Awardees must teach two years in a “high-need” school district for every year they receive financial support. You can learn more about which track may be right for you here.
The application deadline for 2020 is August 25th, and undergraduates can apply through open opportunities at an awarded institution. See recently awarded institutions here.
NSF Grant: Conclusion
If you are interested in more reading on tips on applying for scholarships, click the link.
The National Science Foundation is a crucial source of support for STEM research and education in the United States.
While opportunities for undergraduates to apply directly for funding are limited. Many research and education programs supported by NSF indirectly benefit undergraduate students.
If you’re interested in working under and REU Site or Supplement, or teaching in a STEM field after graduation. You need to begin reviewing the guidelines and putting together a proposal.
NSF exists to help students like you learn and contribute to scientific progress! Good luck!