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Policy

National Science Foundation: Education programs get attention

by Andrea Widener
February 3, 2014 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 92, ISSUE 5

Funding for the National Science Foundation is up under the omnibus appropriations law to $7.2 billion in fiscal 2014, an increase of 4.2% from its 2013 postsequester budget. The new funds will allow the agency, which annually awards about 11,000 research grants, to support about 780 additional grants.

However, that funding level is below the Administration’s $7.6 billion request and barely keeps up with inflation. This level of funding has left some observers surprised, because the agency has received strong support from Congress in recent years.

Education funding at the agency is up to $847 million in 2014 from $830 million in 2012—postsequester funding levels are not available. Congress called attention to programs aimed at broadening participation in science by underrepresented minorities. The law directs the agency to consider establishing a program to support Hispanic-serving institutions.

The omnibus law does not include limits that had been proposed by the Senate on the OneNSF program, which supports interdisciplinary initiatives at the agency. But language in the law offers some guidance: “Future growth in interdisciplinary research should not come at the expense of adequate support for infrastructure and core research programs in each of NSF’s individual scientific disciplines.”

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