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Funding Information

On behalf of NASA, the Spitzer Science Center will offer data analysis support to approved and eligible Spitzer investigators subject to the availability of NASA funds. This funding is intended to assist investigators in the analysis and publication of their Spitzer science results.

Table of Contents

Investigators affiliated with U.S.-based institutions, regardless of nationality, are eligible for funding support. Investigators may be affiliated with universities, industry, NASA Centers, federally funded research and development centers, national laboratories, other non-profit institutes, or military facilities.

The SSC cannot award NASA research funds to investigators affiliated with non-U.S. institutions.

The SSC Director's Office is responsible for the programmatic management of Spitzer research funds. The SSC has contracted with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology for the actual disbursement of Spitzer research funds.

Please also see this memo: Bilateral United States/People's Republic of China Proposals Prohibited. While the memo only mentions Cycle-9, it applies Cycle 10 and up as well.

No-cost contract extensions are only approved in exceptional circumstances, so spend your money before the end date of the contract!

For General Observer, Legacy, and Director's Discretionary Time Programs

  • U.S.-based Principal Investigators and Co-Investigators are eligible for funding to support data analysis.
  • For most investigators NO BUDGET IS NEEDED (see funding mechanisms below for possible exceptions). Funding is determined through formulaic means.
  • For Joint HST or CXO programs, funding of HST or CXO observations will be provided by STScI or the Chandra X-Ray Center. The formula for determining Spitzer data analysis funds will only be applied to the awarded Spitzer observing time.
  • The sum of effort by U.S.-based co-investigators on a proposal led by a foreign PI cannot exceed 50%.
  • Support for obtaining ground-based observations (i.e. cost to travel on an observing run) necessary for the interpretation of Spitzer data is a reasonable component of an observing program.
  • Legacy Programs are eligible for additional funding to support the creation and delivery of enhanced data products to the astronomical community. Funding is determined using a separate formula from that used to calculate the data analysis funding and issued in a separate contract from the data analysis funding.
  • The SSC does not have all the funding for the Cycle available when it starts, therefore the issuance of the funding awards are spread out over about a 6-month period, in the first and second quarters of the Cycle. Funds for ToO observation data analysis will be issued AFTER the ToOs have been activated/observed.
  • Direct funding of less than $5,000 must be done with a sub-award from the PI's home institution (JPL will not issue awards of less than $5,000).
  • Awards of less than $25,000 can be split between no more than two institutions.
  • Starting with Cycle-3, a U.S.-based investigator will receive ONE award/contract for ALL the approved proposals in the Cycle in which they receive funds.

Archival Research Program

Theoretical Research Programs

    Starting with Cycle 6, Theoretical Research funding is not available.

Switching institutions

    For U.S.-based investigators who move to another U.S.-based institution
    Please NOTIFY US IMMEDIATELY if you are moving, or even planning on moving. You will get the funds at our new institution much more quickly if we do not have to get them back first from your old institution. Please send an email to the Helpdesk and include your proposal number and contract number (if you have it) as soon as you anticipate a move. We cannot issue a contract to your new institution until the old one is closed out. This can take months.

    For investigators who leave a U.S.-based institution (a.k.a. leave the country)
    NASA research funds cannot follow an investigator to a non-U.S.-based institution. Generally the funds should be returned to the pool of Spitzer community funds at JPL when an investigator moves to a non-U.S.-based institution. However, there are cases where one or more U.S.-based co-investigators of such programs (as indicated in the original proposal) have taken on the additional work, either at the same institution or another U.S.-based institution, or the fund primarily support a post-doc or graduate student remaining at the U.S.-based institution, and we have been able to support the re-directed data analysis effort.

    For investigators who move from a foreign institution to a U.S.-based institution
    If an investigator submits a proposal when they were at a foreign institution but then moves to a U.S.-based institution within one year, they may be eligible for funding. Contact the Spitzer Helpdesk as soon as possible if you believe you may be moving to a U.S.-based institution.

Summary of Funding Mechanisms (see Call for Proposals for details)
    No-cost contract extensions are only approved in exceptional circumstances so spend your money before the end date of the contract!

    RSA - Research Support Agreement

    The Research Support Agreement (RSA) is a simple Fixed Price, Advance Paid, subcontract provided through JPL that is used for science funding and can be awarded to educational and non-profit institutions. RSAs can only be issued for the formulaically determined science funding. No budget submission to the SSC or JPL is required, though your institution may require you to create a budget for internally handling the funds. Your institution is sent the RSA paperwork, returns the completed forms, and JPL then mails your institution a check for the entire award amount. The administrative overhead for executing RSAs is about half that of standard contracts, so using these instruments allows us to send out more money for research and pay less for the administrative costs. No-cost extensions are generally NOT available for RSAs. Investigators normally have three years from the start of the Cycle to spend the funds, regardless of exactly when the RSA is issued.

    The RSAs are the fastest contracts to execute and are therefore generally funded first in the cycle.

    Institutions that are eligible to receive RSAs but elect not to accept them will generally be issued cost-reimbursable contracts. The additional cost in issuing these contracts, rather than RSAs, will be deducted from the science funding for those investigators eligible for RSA funding but whose institutions request a different funding instrument. The majority of RSAs are issued in the first quarter of the Cycle.

    CREI - Cost Reimbursement with an Educational Institution

    CREIs are a standard JPL contract that we used to fund Archival and Theoretical research programs in previous cycles for investigators at educational institutions. Starting in Cycle-5 AR/TR investigators will usually be issued RSAs. CREIs require institutionally endorsed budgets.

    Other JPL Contracts

    If you are at an institution that cannot accept RSAs or CREIs (e.g. for-profit institutions) then you will be funded by JPL with the appropriate contract.

    Direct NASA Funding

    Investigators affiliated with NASA Centers will receive their award of formulaically determined funds directly from NASA, following guidance provided by the SSC. The SSC and JPL provide NASA Headquarters with the investigators, institutions, and formulaically determined funding amounts, and Headquarters sends these funds directly to the appropriate NASA centers. This applies for GO, Legacy, AR and TR programs.

    Submitting Final Reports for Funding Contracts

    Final reports for all funding contracts issued to support General Observer, Archive, and Theory awards are due within 30 days of the contract end date. There is no required format. We accept PDF, Word, or plain text files. The report should be brief (1-2 pages) and describe what was done and list the publications produced from the work.

    To submit your report you will need your contract number, your email address and the final report file.

    Submit your final report using the short Final Report web form.

Allowable Costs

    Detailed budgets are not required with warm mission proposals. If you are at an institution that requires a detailed budget prior to the issuance of your funding contract then the guidelines provided below for allowable costs will apply.

    Salaries and Wages

    Direct labor costs for eligible project investigators should be included and itemized. Spitzer Space Telescope funds may not be used to pay more than a person's full-time salary or to pay more than an individual's hourly wage rate. An investigator may not normally be reimbursed for consulting or other work in addition to a regular full-time institutional salary covering the same period of employment. For faculty members in academic institutions, Spitzer funding will normally be limited to summer salary or sabbatical support. Exceptions for released time during the academic year (e.g., "buying back" teaching time) may be permitted and the compensation requested must be reasonable and consistent with each employee's regular full-time salary or rate of compensation. Released time for project investigators working in non-academic institutions may be proposed, provided the compensation requested is reasonable and consistent with each employee's regular full-time salary or rate of compensation.

    It is assumed that most scientists will be affiliated with institutions that will make substantial support available for project activities (e.g., computer facilities, collaboration with other scientists, students, or research assistants).

    Research Assistance

    Direct labor costs for graduate students, post-doctoral associates, data aides, and secretarial and technical support should be included and itemized. For post-doctoral associates and other professionals, each position should be listed with the number of months, percentage of time that will be spent on the project, and rate of pay (hourly, monthly, or annual). For graduate students and secretarial, clerical and technical staff, only the total number of persons and the total amount of salaries per year in each category are required. All such salaries must be in accordance with the standard policies of the institution assuming responsibility for the project.

    Fringe Benefits

    If an institution's usual accounting practices provide that its contributions to employee "benefits" (Social Security, retirement, etc.) be treated as direct costs, funds may be requested for all applicable fringe benefits. In this case, investigators must break out the associated costs and list them as a separate cost component within the direct labor element.

    Publication Costs

    Reasonable costs for publication of research results obtained from a Spitzer research investigation should be included as a component of "Other Direct Costs."


    Itemized transportation and subsistence costs for project personnel to plan, obtain, analyze, and disseminate direct results of a Spitzer research investigation should be included. Investigators must include origin/destination, number of travelers, number of trips, and costs associated with each, and include this information as a component of "Other Direct Costs."

    Computer Services

    The itemized costs of computer time and software for the analysis of Spitzer data should be included. Details of the services and software that will be used must be fully described and justified, and included as a component of "Other Direct Costs."


    Itemized equipment costs, including computers or related hardware, should be included and accompanied by a detailed justification in the budget narrative. For Research Support Agreements, equipment vests with the Contractor (i.e., the investigator's institution). For cost-reimbursable contracts, the title to approved equipment purchased for $5,000 or less will generally be vested with the Contractor. The title to equipment costing in excess of $5,000 will be vested with the U.S. Government, unless JPL and/or NASA indicate otherwise in writing. In either case, if the investigator seeks title to the equipment, it must be noted in the budget narrative.

    Materials and Supplies

    The itemized costs of materials and supplies directly related to the Spitzer research investigation may be included, provided such costs are not already reimbursed through indirect costs or some other means. These costs should be included as a component of "Other Direct Costs."

    Indirect Costs (IDCs)

    Indirect costs may be proposed, provided that the IDC rate used in the budget is based on a Negotiation Agreement with the Federal Government, or its designated agent.

Don't forget to see the Proposal Kit for detailed information about the current Cycle.