FAQs: NSF

Can you provide examples of in-kind mentoring?

NSF response:  Please see question #5 in this NSF document: Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Current and Pending Support June 28, 2021

This will address your questions. The text of the answer to question 5 is included below.

"Is mentoring of a trainee an example of a time commitment that must be reported in current and pending support? There is a difference between a time commitment and an activity that takes time. Should the latter be reported in current and pending support?

An individual need not identify any mentoring activities in their current and pending support submission that take place as part of their regular appointment at the proposing organization. If an individual, however, receives in-kind support either directly or through their organization from an external source to support mentoring of undergraduate or graduate students, that in-kind support, including the time associated with such mentoring, should be identified in the individual’s current and pending support submission."

Why can’t I see the attachments/formatting is strange or missing for documents I have uploaded to FastLane?

More than likely you are experiencing a browser issue. Depending on one’s browser settings, it may be trying to open a PDF with the browser’s Adobe add-on. When a live form (one with fillable fields) is clicked on, the browser’s Adobe cannot process and present the ‘sophisticated’ format.  To alleviate this, be sure to first save the attachment to your computer, and then open it with Adobe. You should then be able to view the document as it was originally uploaded to FastLane.

What is the difference between the “Due” and “Overdue” statuses for NSF project reports in Research.gov?

Research.gov will show two key dates for every Research Project Progress Report (RPPR), which are required annually and at the end of the project: the date the RPPR is “due” and the date it is “overdue”. These dates represent the start and end dates of the window during which a report can be submitted. Ideally, reports should be submitted to the NSF early in the reporting window, in order to allow time for revisions if the Program Officer requests any. If the Program Officer does not approve the report by the “Overdue” date, the report is considered delinquent. NSF will not make any new awards or allow any extensions to a PI or Co-PIs other awards while any report is due or under review. For more information, see the NSF Reporting page.

What are Participant Support Costs?

This cost category is primarily used by the NSF, although the Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200.75) defined it for all federal sponsors. Participants Support Costs can only be used for direct costs paid to or on behalf of participants in a sponsored conference or training activity. Participant support costs are exempt from overhead, but funds awarded for this purpose cannot be rebudgeted without sponsor approval. Not all conference expenses qualify as participant support costs; room rental fees, catering, and supplies are not eligible for this category. To qualify as a “participant”, a person must be the beneficiary of the educational component of a workshop, conference, or training. Participants may not be MIT employees, and should not be speakers or organizer in the sponsored activity.

Can I use the Fund Fee (non-research indirect cost rate) on a NSF proposal or award?

No. As of 2013, the NSF has specified that only federally negotiated indirect cost rates are allowable on NSF awards. MIT does not have a federally negotiated F&A rate for non-research activities. However, federal regulations allow us to charge a de minimis F&A rate of 10% MTDC on non-research activity funded by Federal awards, provided we do so consistently. This is the rate that should be proposed and will be charged. DLCIs are not required to fund under-recoveries of fund overhead associated with awards that receive the de minimis rate. 

How do I know when an award requires MIT execution?

Some proposals result in unilateral awards; based on the proposal and through budget revisions, the sponsor issues an award document. In these cases, a formal acceptance of the award signature by MIT is not required because our expenditure of funds demonstrates our acceptance of the award terms and conditions. These are known as unilateral awards. NSF and NIH grant awards are examples of such unilateral awards.

When a sponsor requires that an MIT-authorized official sign to accept the award terms and conditions, the award is called a bilateral award. Typically, federal contracts and most foundation and industry awards are bilateral.