Meaning – The term national science foundation, refers to a United States government agency that is a sponsor of the National Science Foundation Network (NFSNET).
With an annual budget of about US$8.3 billion (the fiscal year 2020), the NSF funds approximately 25% of all federally supported basic research conducted by the United States’ colleges and universities. In some fields, such as mathematics, computer science, economics, and the social sciences, the NSF is the major source of federal backing.
The NSF seeks to fulfill its mission chiefly by issuing competitive, limited-term grants in response to specific proposals from the research community and establishing cooperative agreements with research organizations.
Example of usage – “Most NSF grants go to individuals or small groups of investigators, who carry out research at their home campuses. Other grants provide funding for mid-scale research centers, instruments, and facilities that serve researchers from many institutions. Still, others fund national-scale facilities that are shared by the research community as a whole.”