The following provides essential information for applying to NASA. The following does not replace detailed information that NASA provides in the Guidebook for Proposers and, if applicable, Research Opportunities in Earth and Space Science (ROSES)

Visit OCG’s Fellowships and Student Research Grants page for information and instructions specific to Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST), NASA Space Technology Graduate Research Opportunities (NSTGRO) and NASA Fellowship Activity.

On this page:

Starting a NASA Proposal

  1. Contact OCG Proposal Analyst. At least 5 business days before a deadline, provide your Proposal Analyst with a Proposal Submission Request (PSR) form and budget information.
  2. Disclosure of External Professional Activities (DEPA). Your DEPA must be up to date and reviewed prior to your proposal being submitted. For information, see CU Boulder’s Conflicts of Interest & Commitment website.
  3. China Assurance Form. All submissions to NASA must assure that the proposed work does not include any involvement with collaborators in China or with Chinese organizations, nor does the proposed work include activities in China. On page 4 of the PSR Form you must certify that you have read the Assurance of Compliance - China Funding Restriction and attest to complying with the requirement. If completing a Supplemental PSR Form for a supplement, continuation, or resubmission proposal that originally included a PSR form without this Assurance (PSRs from prior to 07/2020), you must provide your Proposal Analyst with the separately completed and signed China Assurance Form to certify this requirement.
  4. NSPIRES Registration. Each CU Boulder PI must be registered in NSPIRES and affiliated with CU Boulder. Registration requires that the PI list their CU email address as the Primary on the account. If you do not have a CU email, contact Lyn Milliken before registering. To register in NSPIRES, go to the Registration Information page and click “Begin User Registration.” For organizational affiliation, select: REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO, dba: THE  UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO  DUNS: 007431505  Cage Code: 4B475. One of our OCG registration point of contacts will then confirm your affiliation with CU Boulder. If you already have an established NSPIRES account, but it is not affiliated with CU, you must change your affiliation prior to releasing the application (called Lock).  To affiliate with CU, log in to your NSPIRES account and click on Account Management > Affiliations > Add Affiliation.  Add CU per the information given above.  
  5. NSPIRES. CU Boulder submits NASA proposals through NSPIRES, which is a portal to prepare and submit proposals to NASA. The PI is responsible for initiating the application within the system.
  6. Proposal Package Preparation. Once an application has been initiated, notify your Proposal Analyst. They will be able to view and edit all the application fields. Your Proposal Analyst will complete the online budget form and upload a detailed budget in NSPIRES as well as provide a redacted budget for ROSES proposals. The PI is expected to complete and upload all other required information and proposal document to NSPIRES.
  7. NASA Deadlines. Most NASA deadlines are 11:59 p.m. EST. However, Proposal Analysts do not submit after 5:00 p.m. MST. NASA proposals are expected to be complete, reviewed and ready for submission no later than 5:00 p.m. MST the day of the deadline, or earlier as the program requires.

NASA Two-Step Proposal Process

Some NASA programs have a required two-step proposal process. For these programs, a Step-1 and Step-2 proposal are required.

Step-1 Proposal

  • Replaces notice of intent (NOI) and provides an abbreviated presentation of the intended research.
  • Typically includes 4000-character limited Proposal Summary, names of investigation team members.
  • No budget information required.
  • Must be submitted by OCG Proposal Analyst by the Step-1 proposal due date; however, OCG required proposal documents will not be collected until a Step-2 proposal is submitted.

Step-2 Proposal

  • May or may not require invitation to submit following Step-1 proposal. This requirement varies by program as described in the program solicitation.
  • Full Proposal, therefore must be submitted by OCG Proposal Analyst.
  • All OCG required proposal documents are required. See “Proposal Preparation Process” below.

Proposal Preparation Process

  1. Proposal Budget. Correspond with your Proposal Analyst to prepare the proposal budget. Review the FOA/solicitation for specific funding requirements.
  2. Prepare Proposal Documents. Following the NASA Proposers Guide, Research Opportunities in Earth and Space Science and specific program solicitation and/or topic, prepare proposal documents. See the section below, Required NASA Documents, for details.
  3. Proposal Cover Page. Complete the Proposal Cover Page within the NPSIRES system.The Cover Page includes Proposal Summary, Business Data, Budget, Program Specific Data, and Proposal Team.
    - The PI is responsible for completing all the information required in each of the sections, with the exception of the Budget; your Proposal Analyst will complete these details once the budget has been finalized.
    - Program Specific Data includes questions that are applicable to the funding opportunity. All questions should be answered as applicable to the application.
    - Data Management Plan is a common question that requires a response; some solicitations may require this response as part of the proposal document.
  4. Investigation Team Members.
    - All team members must have an NSPIRES account and confirm their participation on a proposed project, prior to the proposal being submitted.
    - Multiple PIs are not permitted for most programs.
    - Categories of proposal personnel are described in the NASA Guidebook for Proposers (page 33-35).
    - The NSPIRES section for team members will indicate what category of co-investigators are permitted. These may include Co-PI, Co-I, Science PI, and/or Institutional PI. Not all categories are available for all programs.
  5. Upload Documents to NSPIRES. With the exception of the budget and detailed budget document (which your Proposal Analyst will prepare and upload), upload required information and the proposal document to NSPIRES.
    - Most NASA proposals require all proposal elements to be compiled in one single PDF proposal file.
    - For ROSES proposals, you must include a redacted budget (salary, fringe benefit and indirect costs removed) in the proposal file. Your Proposal Analyst can provide this for you.
    - Proposal Analysts will prepare and upload the required detailed total budget document.
  6. Review Proposal. Your Proposal Analyst will review your proposal document for compliance with NASA proposal requirements. Your Proposal Analyst may also email you a PDF of the compiled proposal. This is your opportunity to review the proposal and make changes prior to submission. Do not Lock your application until all required information has been uploaded and entered. Once an application is Locked, the PI is not able to make any additional changes. 
  7. Submission! When your proposal is ready for submission, notify your Proposal Analyst via email. Note, by Locking an application, an email is sent to several individuals and thus is not an effective way to notify your Proposal Analyst that a proposal is ready for submission. The Proposal Analyst is able to Lock the application once it is determined compliant; they can also Unlock if additional edits are needed. Your Proposal Analyst will submit your proposal to NASA and an NPSIRES auto-
  8. generated confirmation email will be sent to the Proposal Analyst and PI.
  9. Check Proposal in NSPIRES. A successfully submitted proposal will be available to view in NSPIRES.
    - You can make changes to a NASA proposal up until the deadline date and time.
    - Notify your Proposal Analyst if any changes need to be made to the proposal. The application will need to be withdrawn, which will allow the PI to access the completed application and make the necessary edits. We recommend only making changes to items of major concern to avoid errors in the submission process.

Unsolicited Proposals

  • If a NASA Program Officer has requested a proposal, but not in response to an open solicitation, they may direct the PI to submit through NSPIRES Unsolicited funding opportunity.
  • The proposal should be prepared in accordance with the instructions provided by the Program Officer. If no instructions were provided, then the Guidance for the Preparation and Submission of Unsolicited Proposals should be followed.
  • Standard NSPIRES fields must be completed.

Formatting NASA Documents

  • Acceptable fonts: Easily read 12 point
  • 1 inch margins
  • Single spaced
  • Only non-proposal material, e.g., page numbers, section titles, disclaimers, etc., is permitted in headers and footers.

Required NASA Documents

  • Any time you do not follow NASA guidelines, you put your proposal at risk of being returned without review.
  • Proposal Analysts will assist in reviewing your proposal for compliance, but the PI is ultimately responsible for ensuring proposals are compliant with sponsor and program guidelines.
  • Everything from font size to number of pages to excluding unallowable documents is vital to ensure that your proposal will be reviewed for scientific merit.
  • All applications should follow the NASA Guidebook for Proposers for required proposal elements and order of information.
  • If submitting to a topic under Research Opportunities in Earth and Space Science (ROSES), then the ROSES solicitation deviations supersede the Guidebook.

For a quick list of required documents and page limits, see:

Details on document requirements are provided in:

Templates and Samples

Other NASA Resources

For researchers, NASA provides the following resources for applications and using the NASA NSPIRES system: