Dear Colleague Letter: Veterans Research Supplement (VRS) Program

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

September 30, 2014

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recognizes that veterans represent a potential underutilized workforce for the U.S. science and engineering research and industry communities. Many veterans are transitioning from active military service to civilian careers and exploring education options through the post-9/11 GI Bill. Through this Dear Colleague Letter, NSF is exploring alternate pathways to encourage and support veterans' engagement into STEM fields.

Recommendations from the NSF Engineering Education and Centers (EEC) Division Workshop entitled "Veterans' Education for Engineering and Science" in April 2009 stated:

"NSF and other federal science and engineering agencies should create an education/career development program focused on getting veterans into science and technology careers. NSF already has grant programs that fund student's research experiences. The cost to expand and enrich such programs is a small fraction of the cost of the post-9/11 veteran educational benefit. Yet by expanding it, the community could engage a significant number of veterans with the potential to pursue careers in fields of engineering, science and technology."


Subsequent to this report, the NSF Engineering Directorate (ENG) began to explore how its existing programs could be leveraged to embrace veteran participants. For example, the Industrial Innovation and Partnerships Division (IIP) successfully piloted the Research Experiences for Veterans (REV) supplement opportunity with the Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRC) Program in 2011 (NSF 11-054) and 2012 (NSF 12-063). In 2012 IIP and EEC launched the Research Experiences for Veterans and Teachers (REV/T) with the I/UCRCs and Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) via NSF 12-073. In this program veteran teachers and/or veteran/teacher teams were supported to work with the I/UCRC and ERC programs. In addition, the Engineering Directorate endorsed the Engineering Research Experience for Veterans (EREV) for the Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) program in 2012 (NSF 12-074). The EREV program targeted undergraduate veteran scholars to work with GOALI grantees. Finally, in 2013 the ENG Directorate introduced the Veterans Research Supplement (VRS) program to expand its scope of engineering programs eligible for veteran supplements (NSF 13-047). Veteran undergraduate and graduate students, veteran K-12 teachers, and veteran community college faculty were eligible to participate.

This Dear Colleague Letter continues the VRS program to engage veterans in engineering research. The ENG IIP and EEC Divisions are now accepting requests from their active grantees for the Veterans Research Supplement. The proposed VRS will afford veteran students, veteran teachers, or veteran community college faculty an opportunity to participate with active IIP and EEC grantees to conduct basic and/or industrially relevant research in order to gain a deeper understanding of engineering. Veterans receiving a VRS will intern with any of the following active awardees or affiliated member companies supported by IIP and EEC (Points of contact are listed for each program.):

  • Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRC), (Raffaella Montelli)
  • Engineering Research Center (ERC) university leads and partners, (Mary Poats)
  • Research Experiences for Teachers in Engineering and Computer Science (RET), (Mary Poats)
  • Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) sites, (Esther Bolding)
  • Engineering Education Research (EER) grantees, (Donna Riley)
  • Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education (NUE) in Engineering grantees, (Mary Poats)
  • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grantees, (Ben Schrag)
  • Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II grantees, (Ben Schrag)
  • Partnerships for Innovation - Building Innovation Capacity (BIC) grantees, (Sara Nerlove)
  • Partnerships for Innovation - Accelerating Innovation Research (AIR) grantees, (Barbara Kenny)
  • Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) grantees, (Don Senich)

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

PI Eligibility: All active IIP and EEC grantees (I/UCRC, ERC, EER, NUE, PFI, GOALI, SBIR, STTR, RET site and REU site grantees). Note: The IIP or EEC grantee is the VRS applicant, not the VRS candidate.

Amount Description

This supplement program will not exceed $2,000,000 from the current FY 2015 budget, pending the availability of funds. A maximum of 200 supplements is anticipated, with a maximum VRS amount of $10,000 per supplement. An individual veteran is eligible for a maximum of three VRS supplements in three separate years. All costs related to the support of the veteran during the supplement period should be budgeted as participant support on the NSF budget form 1030.

NSF also recommends interested principal investigators apply for one or a maximum of two VRS per year. Active principal investigators should consult their NSF program director for specific guidance as to the number and availability of supplements. Supplemental proposals will be internally evaluated per NSF supplemental support guidelines with particular emphasis on the following components: a clearly defined research project, identification of project deliverables and a project timeline, and an explanation of anticipated benefits to the veteran student.

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences