Guidance on the Inclusion of Undergrads in NSF projects Three Options to consider when preparing a proposal with undergraduate students: 1. Participant Support 2. REU Supplement 3. Foreign Undergrads or Undergrads with a UMN employment appointment
Option #1 Participant Support. If the role of the undergraduate students meets the NSF definition of participant support costs in the current GPG, they may be included in the budget as participants.
NSF Definition of Participant Support This budget category refers to costs of transportation, per diem, stipends and other related costs for participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with NSF-sponsored conferences, meetings, symposia, training activities and workshops. For some educational projects conducted at local school districts, however, the participants being trained are employees. In such cases, the costs must be classified as participant support if payment is made through a stipend or training allowance method. The school district must have an accounting mechanism in place (i.e., sub-account code) to differentiate between regular salary and stipend payments. The number of participants to be supported must be entered in the parentheses on the proposal budget. These costs also must be justified in the budget justification section of the proposal. Some program solicitations may have special instructions for treatment of participant support.
Participant Support Considerations: –The undergraduate students would not be considered participants if they are performing research. –NSF imposes a restriction on UMN employees in this category and the undergraduate students may not be paid a stipend as a participant if they hold a University appointment.
Participant Support Considerations (cont’d) –If a student is employed by the UMN in an area that is clearly separate from their area of study, they may be approved on a case by case basis. –The student’s employment may not provide a benefit to their degree program
Option #2 REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) Supplement If the role of the undergraduate students meets the NSF definition of an REU supplement in the current GPG, they may be included in the budget as participant costs.
NSF REU Guidance The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects specifically designed for the REU program. (1) REU Sites are based on independent proposals to initiate and conduct projects that engage a number of students in research. REU Sites may be based in a single discipline or academic department or may offer interdisciplinary or multi-department research opportunities with a coherent intellectual theme. (2) REU Supplements may be included as a component of proposals for new or renewal NSF grants or cooperative agreements or may be requested for ongoing NSF-funded research projects. Undergraduate student participants in either REU Sites or REU Supplements must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or permanent residents of the United States.
NSF REU Guidance The stipend that is paid to REU student participants is not a salary or wage for work performed. It is a traineeship, a form of student aid (like a scholarship or fellowship) provided to support a student's education/training in a STEM field. In this case, the student's training consists of closely mentored independent research.
REU Supplements Considerations –An REU Supplement typically provides support for one or two undergraduate students to participate in research as part of a new or ongoing NSF-funded research project. –The budget justification should include language stating that the participant support is for an REU supplement
REU Supplements Considerations (cont’d) NSF imposes a restriction on undergraduate student participants in either REU Sites or REU Supplements. They must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or permanent residents of the United States. If they are performing research and are restricted because of citizenship status, option 3 should be used
Option #3 Undergraduate Students with a UMN employment appointment and Foreign Undergraduates –If the undergraduate student does not meet the participant support criteria because they hold a UMN employment appointment, they should be included in the personnel section of the budget with salary and fringe requested. –If a foreign undergraduate student does not meet the REU qualifications, they may be given a UMN employment appointment and the department should request funding in the personnel section of the budget with salary and fringe requested.
F&A The REU solicitation (13-542)has been revised to clarify the treatment of indirect costs in proposals for REU Sites and requests for REU Supplements. –“Indirect costs (F&A) are not allowed on Participant Support Costs in REU Site or REU Supplement budgets. Note that the REU solicitation's longstanding "administrative allowance" of 25% of the participant support stipend amount in lieu of indirect costs has been discontinued.”
Guidance Notes The guidelines of the GPG at the time of proposal should be followed and the options may be subject to change as the NSF updates to the GPG are implemented. A separate REU supplement request is also an option when a need to incorporate undergraduates is identified after the award is established.
Isolate Participant Costs Set up funds in a child project
Documentation REU grant file should include 1)Nature of student’s involvement with the project 2)Nature of the mentoring the student will receive 3)Selection Criteria 4)Expectations of participant 5)Confirmation of participants completion
Marry Programmatic & Financial Document what successful participation in the REU includes and issue payments on meeting participation bench marks.
Summary The intention of an REU is to “train” not “pay” REU projects are to involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research specifically designed for the REU program Supplements are not intended to provide additional salary support for meeting the objectives of the awarded project Supplements should explicitly state training objective