Office of Research, UC Riverside
Sponsored Programs Administration

Steps for Submitting NSF Proposals via FastLane

Step 1 - Review Sponsor Guidelines

  • Review NSF's guidelines.  This may include the requirements of a specific call for proposals (e.g., solicitation, Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), or RFP).  Contact your Contract and Grant Officer in Sponsored Programs for assistance.
    • If the solicitation indicates that it is a limited submission program, please refer to the Research Development website (see limited submissions) to complete UCR's internal pre-proposal application prior to the posted internal deadline.  In the event the limited submission is not posted on the Research Development website, then please contact limitedsubmissions@ucr.edu, so that an internal deadline can be established.  The applicants will be notified via email whether their pre-proposal has been selected to move forward.
  • If you are a first time user of FastLane and do not have a NSF ID, please contact either Cynthia Wells at cwells@ucr.edu or Caron Miller at caron.miller@ucr.edu in Sponsored Programs, who will create a FastLane account for you.  You will receive an NSF ID and a temporary password.

Step 2 - Prepare electronic Campus Approval Form

  • UCR's electronic Campus Approval Form (eCAF) is used for the routing, approval and submission of proposals to Sponsored Programs when seeking extramural funding.  The eCAF contains critical information needed by several UCR constituents, such as PIs, Co-PIs, Chairs, Deans, and Research and Economic Development staff. It also documents certain mandatory PI certifications and assurances.

Note:  An eCAF can be initiated by either a PI or a Contract & Grant Analyst.  Whichever the case, preparing an eCAF is a joint endeavor by a PI and a Contract & Grant Analyst, both of whom have an important role in the process (see eCAF Approval Process). You may create an eCAF by selecting it from your Authorized Applications section in R'Space.  For further assistance and information, see eCAF.

Step 3 - Prepare proposal

  • To create a proposal, on the FastLane Home Page screen, log in to Proposals, Awards, and Status as a PI (see PI/Co-PI Login).  Click Proposal Functions, then click Proposal Preparation, then click Create Blank Proposal.
  • See Prepare Proposal Forms in FastLane for instructions on how to work on all the proposal forms on the Form Preparation screen.  A typical proposal will include the following components:
    • Cover sheet
    • Table of Contents (auto generated by FastLane)
    • Project Summary
    • Budget (including Budget Justification)
    • Biosketches
    • References Cited
    • Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources
    • Current and Pending Support

Your proposal may have additional components (e.g., Mentoring Plan).

  • To let others assist in preparing the proposal (e.g., an administrative assistant to upload biosketches or budgets), you need to assign a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to the proposal.  An Other Authorized User (OAU), who is not a PI or Co-PI, uses the proposal's PIN to log in to Proposals, Awards, and Status and work on the proposal (see OAU Login).  To create a PIN:
    • Access the Proposal Actions screen.  In the Temporary Proposals in Progress list, highlight the proposal that you want to assign a PIN, then click the Proposal PIN button. The Proposal PIN Control screen displays for that proposal. Type the PIN in the boxes provided and click the OK button. The PIN Changed for Proposal screen displays.  Click the OK button. The Proposal Actions screen displays.
  • You can check a proposal for missing forms through the Check function.  This is especially helpful if a number of people (e.g., Co-PIs and Other Authorized Users) are working on the proposal.  From the Proposal Actions screen, highlight the proposal that you want to check from the Temporary Proposals in Progress list.  Click the Check button.  The Proposal Errors/Warnings screen will be displayed with a list of proposal items that have not been completed (if any).

Step 4 - Submit

  • Submit your eCAF (including the solicitation or FOA) to Sponsored Programs (if you haven't already done so).
  • When you are ready for Sponsored Programs to submit the proposal via FastLane, highlight the proposal you want to give Sponsored Programs access to in the Temporary Proposals in Progress list.  Click the Allow SPO Access button. The Proposal Errors/Warnings Screen will be displayed.  If there are no errors, click the Proceed button (otherwise, return to Step 3).  The Sponsored Project Office (SPO) Access Control screen displays with these control options:

Although you can select the first two options to get feedback from the Contract and Grant Officer, you must eventually select the last option to allow the university to submit the proposal. Click the GO button next to the Allow SPO to view, edit, and submit proposal option.  A screen will display a message that the SPO now has full access to the proposal (and will include a list of the individuals who will receive emails from FastLane on the proposal's new access status).  Click the OK button.  The Proposal Actions screen displays.

  • Sponsored Programs reviews the full proposal and may provide comments and/or request corrections. It is recommended that you give SPO the ability to view the proposal at least three (3) full business days prior to NSF's deadline (or seven (7) full business days in the event this is a non-standard proposal involving subcontracts or mandatory cost sharing), and work with the office on clarifying issues during this time.
  • Sponsored Programs submits final proposal via NSF FastLane.
    • Notwithstanding the recommended lead times to review the proposal as noted above, you must provide SPO submit access no less than eight (8) business hours before the deadline to submit the final proposal.  Note:  If the deadline is on a weekend or holiday, you should give SPO submit access no later than 8:00 a.m. on the next business day.
    • If you have not provided SPO with submit access and/or your proposal has not been submitted by SPO to NSF one hour prior to the established deadline, please contact your Contract and Grant Officer immediately to determine if there are any problems impeding SPO's submission of your proposal via FastLane.

Step 5 - View Submitted Proposal

  • A few seconds after the SPO successfully submits a proposal, a message pops up in FastLane confirming the submission to Sponsored Programs.  Sponsored Programs e-mails the confirmation to the Principal Investigator.  The Principal Investigator may also confirm submission of the proposal by viewing the list of Submitted Proposals.  See View/Print a Submitted Proposal as a PI.