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A Surprise Raise

The National Science Foundation is set to get a bigger budget in 2012, says ScienceInsider's Jeffrey Mervis. Congress expects to give the agency a 2.5 percent boost over this year's budget, translating to a $173 million raise, Mervis adds. "It's an unexpected turn of events for the agency," he adds. "Earlier this fall, the Senate passed a spending bill that would have cut NSF's budget by $161 million, and a House of Representatives spending panel this summer embraced a flat budget." If NSF does indeed receive the extra funds, its research budget would grow to $5.7 billion. And while the agency's education directorate will shrink by about 4 percent, Congress has protected NSF's Noyce scholarship — which helps undergraduates who plan to become science teachers — and the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, which helps "have-not research states," Mervis says.