Frequently Asked Questions - NSF FastLane Proposal Preparation

Contact Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) as soon as you can about getting added to the FastLane and NSF PI databases as well as to have a password assigned.

Contact OSP Staff by phone at extension 3-4043 or email Sinh Simmons to obtain a password or to verify the password with the NSF PI database if the assigned password does not work. If you don’t remember your password, contact OSP staff for a new password.

You need a computer with an internet connection and a supported web browser such as Netscape 3.0 or higher because it is the only browser that supports file upload. This can be obtained free of charge at the UW Computing & Communications (C&C). To view and print a proposal exactly like NSF form format, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader software.

If you are using Netscape you will automatically be routed to the FastLane Secure Server ( All your transactions with FastLane will then be encrypted.

Start working on your FastLane proposal as early as possible!

  • Get the forms started and become familiar with FastLane before you are stressed by the deadline.
  • Prepare the cover sheet first, fill in as much as possible, especially program selection, program announcement and Co-PIs. If a program announcement is entered incorrectly the proposal will be routed to the wrong division in NSF and it will take time to track that proposal in NSF FastLane system.
  • Always save your proposal as a template prior to submission. Use this template for any later revision to save on data entry.
  • Inform OSP staff if you intend to revise/update the proposal after allowing SRO (Sponsored Research Office) access because once a proposal is submitted to NSF via FastLane by OSP, none of the data on the proposal can be changed in FastLane. This is similar to placing the proposal in the mail box.
  • Press the button "Allow SRO access" so that OSP can review and submit the proposal electronically.
  • Since an electronic routing system of the GC1 form is not yet available at the UW, PI is requested to print a hard copy of the NSF proposal for the routine routing to Department and College for signature prior to submission to OSP. 


FastLane will send an email to the individual in OSP who has the permission to submit FastLane proposal. The email will indicate that OSP has been granted access to the particular proposal to review that proposal on-line.

Seconds after a proposal is successfully submitted by OSP, FastLane will prompt an electronic message to confirm the receipt of the proposal via FastLane.

  • Fewer phone calls to NSF
  • Complete and valid proposal submission using NSF standard format
  • Timely access to information about NSF actions
  • Common information submitted only once
  • Lower copying/mailing costs
  • Proposal information/forms shared during preparation process.