NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Program (S-STEM)

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Important Information for Proposers

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 22-1), is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after October 4, 2021. Please be advised that, depending on the specified due date, the guidelines contained in NSF 22-1 may apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.


In 1998 Congress enacted the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act which provided funds to the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create a mechanism whereby the hiring of foreign workers in technology-intensive sectors on H-1B visas would help address the long-term workforce needs of the United States. Initially, scholarships were only provided for students in math, engineering, and computer science. Later legislation authorized NSF to expand the eligible disciplines at the discretion of the NSF director. This revised solicitation expands the eligibility of degrees to most disciplinary fields in which NSF provides research funding (with some exclusions described elsewhere in this document) as long as there is a national or regional demand for professionals with those degrees to address the long-term workforce needs of the United States.

The main goal of the S-STEM program is to enable low-income students with academic ability, talent or potential to pursue successful careers in promising STEM fields. Ultimately, the S-STEM program seeks to increase the number of low-income students who graduate with a S-STEM eligible degree and contribute to the American innovation economy with their STEM knowledge. Recognizing that financial aid alone cannot increase retention and graduation in STEM, the program provides awards to institutions of higher education (IHEs) not only to fund scholarships, but also to adapt, implement, and study evidence-based curricular and co-curricular[1] activities that have been shown to be effective supporting recruitment, retention, transfer (if appropriate), student success, academic/career pathways, and graduation in STEM.

Social mobility for low-income students with academic potential is even more crucial than for students that enjoy other economic support structures. Hence, social mobility cannot be guaranteed unless the scholarship funds the pursuit of degrees in areas where rewarding jobs are available after graduation with an undergraduate or graduate degree.

The S-STEM program encourages collaborations, including but not limited to partnerships among different types of institutions; collaborations of S-STEM eligible faculty, researchers, and academic administrators focused on investigating the factors that affect low-income student success (e.g., institutional, educational, behavioral and social science researchers); and partnerships among institutions of higher education and business, industry, local community organizations, national labs, or other federal or state government organizations, as appropriate.

Scholars must be domestic low-income students, with academic ability, talent or potential and with demonstrated unmet financial need who are enrolled in an associate, baccalaureate, or graduate degree program in an S-STEM eligible discipline. Proposers must provide an analysis that articulates the characteristics and academic needs of the population of students they are trying to serve. NSF is particularly interested in supporting the attainment of degrees in fields identified as critical needs for the Nation. Many of these fields have high demand for training professionals that can operate at the convergence of disciplines and include but are not limited to quantum computing and quantum science, robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, computer science, data science and computational science applied to other frontier STEM areas and other STEM or technology fields in urgent need of domestic professionals. It is up to the proposer to make a compelling case that a field is a critical need field in the United States.

S-STEM Eligible Degree Programs

  • Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, Associate of Engineering, and Associate of Applied Science
  • Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Engineering
  • Doctoral

S-STEM Eligible Disciplines

  1. Disciplinary fields in which research is funded by NSF, with the following exceptions:
    1. Clinical degree programs, including medical degrees, nursing, veterinary medicine, physical therapy, and others not funded by NSF, are ineligible degrees.
    2. Business school programs that lead to Bachelor of Arts or Science in Business Administration degrees (BABA/BSBA/BBA) are not eligible for S-STEM funding.
    3. Masters and Doctoral degrees in Business Administration are also excluded.
  2. Technology fields associated with the S-STEM-eligible disciplines (e.g., biotechnology, chemical technology, engineering technology, information technology).

Proposers are strongly encouraged to contact Program Officers before submitting a proposal if they have questions concerning degree or disciplinary eligibility.

The S-STEM program particularly encourages proposals from 2-year institutions, Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), and urban, suburban and rural public institutions.

[1] an activity at a school or college pursued in addition to the normal course of study.

Updates and Announcements

Program Contacts

Alexandra Medina-Borja
amedinab@nsf.gov (703) 292-7557
Michael J. Ferrara
mferrara@nsf.gov (703) 292-2635
Thomas D. Kim
tkim@nsf.gov (703) 292-4458
Susan Carson
scarson@nsf.gov (703) 292-5111
Mindy Capaldi
mcapaldi@nsf.gov (703) 292-2994
Mary Crowe
mcrowe@nsf.gov (703) 292-5111
Michael J. Davis
mdavis@nsf.gov (703) 292-5111
Connie K. Della-Piana
cdellapi@nsf.gov (703) 292-5309
Jennifer T. Ellis
jtellis@nsf.gov (703) 292-2125
Bonnie Green
bongreen@nsf.gov (703) 292-5111
Abiodun Ilumoka
ailumoka@nsf.gov (703) 292-2703
John Jackman
jjackman@nsf.gov (703) 292-4816
Elise N. Lockwood
elockwoo@nsf.gov (703) 292-2410
Jill K. Nelson
jnelson@nsf.gov (703) 292-5111
Kalyn Owens
kowens@nsf.gov (703) 292-4615
Eric J. Sheppard
esheppar@nsf.gov (703) 292-5111
Keith A. Sverdrup
ksverdru@nsf.gov (703) 292-4671
Kimberly Tanner
ktanner@nsf.gov (703) 292-2262
Paul Tymann
ptymann@nsf.gov (703) 292-2832
Huihui H. Wang
hhwang@nsf.gov (703) 292-4894

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