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  • Writer's pictureKristin Cooper

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

New S-STEM Solicitation Published

A new 2021 S-STEM solicitation (NSF 21-550) is available. Proposers are advised to take note of several important changes to prior solicitations.


Full Proposal Deadline Date April 7, 2021

Track 1, 2, 3 and Collaborative Planning grants


The main goal of the S-STEM program is to enable low-income, talented domestic students to pursue successful careers in promising STEM fields. Ultimately, the S-STEM program wants to increase the number of low-income students who graduate 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) to fund scholarships and to adapt, implement, and study effective evidence-based curricular and co-curricular activities that support recruitment, retention, transfer (if appropriate), student success, academic/career pathways, and graduation in STEM.

The program seeks to 1) increase the number of low-income academically talented students with demonstrated financial need obtaining degrees in S-STEM eligible disciplines and entering the US workforce or graduate programs in STEM; 2) improve support mechanisms for future scientists, engineers, and technicians, with a focus on low-income academically talented students with demonstrated financial need; and 3) advance our understanding of how interventions or evidence-based curricular and co-curricular activities affect the success, retention, transfer, academic/career pathways, and graduation of low-income students in STEM.

The S-STEM program encourages collaborations among different types of participating groups, including but not limited to partnerships among different types of institutions; collaborations of STEM faculty and institutional, educational, 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, if appropriate.

Scholars must be domestic low-income, academically talented students 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 population of students they are trying to serve. This analysis must include the predicted number of students who meet all the eligibility requirements at the time of proposal submission as a proxy measure of the pool of students that would qualify in the future if the proposal is awarded. This number may be based on current and/or historical data about students who are currently pursuing degrees in the STEM disciplines targeted by the proposal.

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

  • Biological sciences (except medicine and other clinical fields)

  • Physical sciences (including physics, chemistry, astronomy, and materials science)

  • Mathematical sciences

  • Computer and information sciences

  • Geosciences

  • Engineering

  • Technology fields associated with the disciplines above (e.g., biotechnology, chemical technology, engineering technology, information technology)

Fields of degree with the following leading-two-digit Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes e.g., 01.XXX) are S-STEM eligible with rare exceptions: 01, 02, 03, 11, 14, 15, 26, 27, 30, 40, 51. See:

Note that programs in business schools that lead to Bachelor of Arts or Science in Business Administration degrees (BABA/BSBA) are not eligible for S-STEM funding.

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

The S-STEM program particularly encourages proposals from 2-year institutions, Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), tribal colleges and universities, and urban and rural public institutions.

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