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NSF FastLane

FastLane is a website which facilitates business transactions and the exchange of information between the National Science Foundation and its client community including researchers, reviewers, research administrators, and others doing business with NSF.

FastLane's PI/Co-PI functions include proposal preparation, proposal status, project reports, system notifications & requests, and continuation funding status.

Using FastLane requires an Institutionally assigned password. If you are new to FastLane, contact Michael Green for a password (please include your SSN, phone, fax, department, and type and year of your highest
degree.) If you have forgotten your password, you can reset it in FastLane.

NSF has provided the following toll-free number to determine the current availability of the system. Any server downtime will be noted on a recorded message. 1-800-437-7408.

Accessing FastLane

The FastLane home page is available on the Web through the NSF home page ( Access to the FastLane Test Server is also available at ( The Test Server has working prototypes of all FastLane features available for your review.

To use FastLane you must have access to an Internet connection and a qualified Web browser. Currently, Netscape 3.0 supports all of FastLane's basic features, but other vendors may provide a qualified browser in the future.

Access to most of the features on this Website is restricted to officials and Principal Investigators (PIs) of registered FastLane institutions. With the exception of the NSF Award Search, you may not be able to use the features on this Website unless you are associated with one of these institutions and have been given a password. However, the FastLane Development Website (, will allow you to simulate most of the FastLane features. Don't change the information on the login screens. Simply click on the login button to use the option. We encourage you to access the FastLane Development Website and to provide us with your reactions and comments.

Creating PDF Files

NSF has posted an instruction page for creating and submitting PDF files. To create PDF files, you must have Adobe Acrobat (3.X or 4.X) or Ghostscript (6.0 or higher). Adobe Acrobat is currently being offered to Northwestern faculty and staff a discounted rate of $56. Download the license form from Information Technology Services. Ghostscript is a free program and may be downloaded from the Ghostscript homepage. Note: FastLane now accepts materials in a wide variety of popular formats. See the FastLane FAQ for a list of supported formats.

Eleven steps to FastLane proposal submission

Step 1 - For a password, contact Mike Green, OSR Information/ERA Specialist, at (847) 491-2749 or Be ready to provide your full name, SSN, email address, phone, and fax; in addition, PIs and Co-PIs who have not been part of an NSF proposal before should supply department and year and type of highest degree. Also let your OSR research administrator know about the upcoming proposal.

Step 2 - Check the Software Requirements:

Step 3 - Access FastLane's Homepage to prepare a proposal.  Print out NSF's instructions for easy reference.

Step 4 - Scroll down the page FastLane Homepage to PI/Co-PI functions and click the Proposal Preparation link.

Step 5 - Type  Last Name, social security number, and password. Then click the "Proposal Preparation" button. Click the "Prepare Proposal" button that appears on the next screen.  Click the "Create Blank Proposal" button on the screen that follows.  This leads to a screen titled "Form Preparation."

Step 6 - Begin filling out required forms. Each form may now be accessed by clicking the "Go" button next to the name of the form. When preparing the cover sheet, be sure to verify the awardee organization accessed through the button labeled Awardee/Performing/Research Organization Selection. Evanston campus proposals should use the Institution code 0017392000, while Chicago campus proposals should use the Institution code 0017400000.

Step 7 - Use the "Go Back" button to navigate to the Proposal Actions page. Allow sponsored research office SRO access to view, edit and submit the proposal by clicking the "Allow SRO access" button.  This full level of SRO access should be granted even when the proposal is in draft form—it enables OSR to review and eventually submit the proposal.  Note that OSR staff will not submit the proposal to NSF until the PI confirms that the proposal is indeed ready for submission. 

Step 8  - Complete all required forms.  Check the proposal and all forms, ensuring that all information is correct.

Step 9 - Print the proposal.

Step 10 - Save your proposal as a template.

Step 11 - Send a fully signed OSR-1 form and OSR-100 form(s) to OSR at least 48 hours prior to the deadline.

Five Easy Steps for NSF Progress Reporting

The National Science Foundation requires all project reports to be submitted through FastLane beginning October 1, 1999. Prepare yourself with the following instructions.

Step 1. Get there

Go to FastLane and click Project Reports System or go directly to the Project Reports System

Step 2. Identify yourself

If PI or Co-PI

If other authorized user

Enter the Award # for the project you'd like to work on.
Enter the PI's last name and password.
Step through the information screen.

Enter Award # for the project you'd like to work on.
Enter user's SSN
Enter Award PIN (Award PIN must be assigned by PI or Co-PI first)

Step 3. Select the type of report you would like to work on.

  • Annual Project Report
  • Final Project Report
  • Interim Report

Step 4. Select the report section you would like to work on.

Prepare Report

Check and Submit Report

Other Functions

Project Participants
Publications and Products
Special Requirements

Attach/View PDF file
Check Completeness
Unsubmit pending reports

Review facts and Contacts
Review past submissions
Assign or change PIN

Step 5. Edit Report

Selecting subsections displays previously entered text (if any). Edit existing text or enter new information. At any time you may save your work, exit FastLane and resume later.

Once you have completed the subsections, check over your report and submit the form.

Attach file if necesary. Review your report for completeness and errors.

Submit your report.

Entering an award PIN creates a mechanism for other authorized FastLane users to work on your Project Reports.

Need more help?

Try Fastlane's Project Report System Summary for more detailed information about the report subsections.

Throughout this system you will be given or offered (usually by clicking ) detailed explanations about the purposes for which the information FastLane asks of you will be used.

Also supplied throughout the system are buttons which link to related help text pages.

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