National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

Frequently Asked Questions

The following FAQs contain information for the 2013-14 GRFP competition. The FAQs for the 2014-15 GRFP will be updated in July 2014.

If you have questions about the 2015 GRFP, please contact info@nsfgrfp.org or (866) 673-4737.

 

Eligibility FAQs

  1. How can I determine if I am eligible?
  2. I started graduate school in Fall 2013. Am I still eligible?
  3. I have completed less than 12 months of a PhD program, but I also earned a master’s degree previously. Am I still eligible?
  4. What extenuating circumstances are considered for applicants with more than 12 months of graduate study?
  5. I am changing fields of study. Does my graduate study in a different field still count towards the 12-month limit?
  6. I have completed more than 24 semester hours or 36 quarter hours of graduate study. Does that mean I am ineligible?
  7. I completed a master’s degree within 12 months, and no additional graduate study. Am I still eligible?
  8. I took some graduate-level courses as an undergraduate. Do those count towards the 12-month limit?
  9. I took some graduate-level courses after finishing my undergraduate program, but they were not part of a degree program. Do they count as “graduate study” for the GRFP?
  10. How does eligibility work for students in joint BS/MS or BA/MA programs?
  11. Is there a limit on the number of times I can apply for the GRFP?
  12. I am in a clinical psychology program. Am I eligible?
  13.  How can I find out if my specific research topic is eligible?

Transcript FAQs

  1. Do I need to upload official transcripts on the application?
  2. My school doesn’t provide electronic transcripts. How can I include transcripts in my application?
  3. I just started at my current institution this Fall, and do not have a transcript yet. What can I do?
  4. My school offers official electronic transcripts that require the recipient to login and download the transcript. May I list the GRFP’s contact information, and have the GRFP download the transcript and add it to my application?
  5. My school’s official electronic transcripts are password-protected. Can I still submit them?
  6. I am receiving an error when uploading my transcript file. How can I fix this?

Application FAQs

  1. Are GRE scores required for the GRFP application?
  2. Can I submit supplemental material, such as papers, videos, etc. for reviewers to consider?
  3. Can I obtain copies of past successful applications, or essays from previously awarded applications?
  4. What are the formatting requirements for the essays/statements?
  5. What are the page limits for the essays/statements?
  6. Do I need to put my name, applicant ID or other identifying information on my essay?

Reference Letter FAQs

  1. How can I find out if my reference letters have been submitted?
  2. What happens if I have more than three reference letters submitted?
  3. Can I change the priority rankings for my references?
  4. I am a reference writer, who was asked to provide letters for several applicants, but one is not showing up on my list of applicants. How can I submit the letter?
  5. Can reference letters be submitted by e-mail or physical mail?
  6. My Reference Writer did not receive the email nominating them to serve as a reference writer or the email containing their temporary password.

Notification FAQs

  1. When will applicants be notified of the results?
  2. How are notifications sent?
  3. I did not receive a notification. What should I do?
  4. Can I receive additional feedback beyond the comments I received on my reviews?
  5. Can I appeal the results of my application if I was not awarded a fellowship?
  6. What should I do if I have concerns about my reviews?
  7. Does NSF make any additional awards after the announcements in early April?
  8. Is there a waiting list for GRFP awards, and if so, how can I be placed on the waiting list?

Eligibility FAQs

Q1. How can I determine if I am eligible?

A: The eligibility requirements for the 2015 GRFP are contained in Section IV of the Program Solicitation. Please read that section of the Solicitation for the current eligibility requirements.

Q2: I started graduate school in Fall 2012. Am I still eligible?

A: As long as you did not complete any post-baccalaureate, graduate or professional study between your undergraduate program and the start of your graduate program in Fall 2013, you would be within the allowed amount of completed graduate study. The Program Solicitation states that applicants may have completed no more than 12 months of full-time graduate study, or its equivalent, by August 1, 2014. People who started graduate school after August 1, 2013 would be within this limit.

Q3. I have completed less than 12 months of a PhD program, but I also earned a master’s degree previously. Am I still eligible?

A: GRFP applicants are allowed to have completed no more than 12 months of full-time graduate study, or its equivalent (24 semester hours or 36 quarter hours of part-time study). This limit applies to the entire graduate career, not only the current program, so any prior graduate degree program would count towards the limit.

If you have earned  a master’s degree, you do not meet the eligibility requirements unless the master's degree was earned in a joint baccalureate-master's program, or if you meet the following extenuating circumstance:

Applicants who have completed more than twelve months of graduate study or have earned a previous graduate or professional degree may be considered eligible if they have had an interruption in graduate study of at least two consecutive years prior to November 2014. To be eligible, applicants must have completed no additional graduate study by August 1, 2014. A statement describing the extenuating circumstance is required in the application.

Q4. What extenuating circumstances are considered for applicants with more than 12 months of graduate study?

A. The extenuating circumstance(s) that are considered are contained in the Eligibility Information section of the current Program Solicitation. For the 2014 GRFP, the extenuating circumstance is:

Applicants who have completed more than twelve months of graduate study or have earned a previous graduate or professional degree may be considered eligible if they have had an interruption in graduate study of at least two consecutive years prior to November 2014. To be eligible, applicants must have completed no additional graduate study by August 1, 2014. A statement describing the extenuating circumstance is required in the application.

Other situations, such as changing fields or programs of study, that are not specified in the Program Solicitation are not considered extenuating circumstances for the 2014 GRFP.

Q5.I am changing fields of study. Does my graduate study in a different field still count towards the 12-month limit?

A. Yes: all post-baccalaureate, graduate-level or professional study counts towards the limit, regardless of field. Individuals with more than 12 months of graduate study, or a previous professional or graduate degree in another field, are not eligible unless they meet the criteria for an extenuating circumstance as described in Section IV of the 2015 Program Solicitation.

All post-baccalaureate, graduate-level or professional study counts towards the limit of allowed graduate study. This includes study in non-NSF-supported fields as well as those that are eligible for the GRFP.

Q6. I have completed more than 24 semester hours or 36 quarter hours of graduate study. Does that mean I am ineligible?

A: It would depend on whether you are a part-time or full-time student. The credit hour limit applies only to part-time students, or people who completed both part-time and full-time graduate-level study. If you have only been a full-time graduate student, your eligibility would be based on how much time you spent in the program, rather than how many credits you completed. A full-time student who started their graduate career in Fall 2012 would still be within the limits, even if they completed more than 24 semester credits or 36 quarter credits during the 2013-14 academic year.

Q7. I completed a master’s degree within 12 months, and no additional graduate study. Am I still eligible?

It would depend on when you earned the master's degree.

Individuals with previous graduate or professional degrees are not eligible for the GRFP, unless the graduate degree was earned in a joint baccalaureate-master's program and the applicant completed no additional graduate study, or if the applicant meets the following extenuating circumstance:

Applicants who have completed more than twelve months of graduate study or have earned a previous graduate or professional degree may be considered eligible if they have had an interruption in graduate study of at least two consecutive years prior to November 2014. To be eligible, applicants must have completed no additional graduate study by August 1, 2014. A statement describing the extenuating circumstance is required in the application.

For the 2015 competition, you may be eligible if you earned a one-year master's degree prior to November 2012, and completed no additional graduate study between the time you received the master's degree and August 1, 2014. If you earned a one-year master's degree after November 2012, or completed additional graduate study after the one-year program, you would not meet the eligibility requirements.

Q8. I took some graduate-level courses as an undergraduate. Do those count towards the 12-month limit?

A: Any graduate-level courses taken as an undergraduate do not count towards the limit of allowed graduate study. Only graduate-level courses taken after you completed your undergraduate degree would count (unless you were in a joint baccalaureate-master’s program, which have their own set of eligibility requirements).

Q9. I took some graduate-level courses after finishing my undergraduate program, but they were not part of a degree program. Do they count as “graduate study” for the GRFP?

A: Yes: post-baccalaureate, graduate-level study completed outside a degree program counts towards the limit of allowed graduate study. Individuals who completed both part-time, non-degree graduate-level coursework and full-time graduate study would be expected to have completed no more than 24 semester credits or 36 quarter credits of graduate study.

Q10. How does eligibility work for students in joint BS/MS or BA/MA programs?

A: Joint baccalaureate-master’s programs have their own set of eligibility requirements. Students in four year joint programs can apply in the fourth year of the joint program, or prior to completing additional graduate study as of August 1, 2013. Students in five year joint programs can apply in the fourth or fifth year of the joint program, or prior to completing any additional graduate study as of August 1, 2013.

For example, someone who completed a joint BS/MS in May 2013 and started a PhD program in September 2013 would be within the eligibility requirements. Someone who completed a joint BS/MS in May 2012 and started a PhD program in September 2012 would not be eligible, because they would have completed an additional academic year of graduate study after the joint program.

Q11. Is there a limit on the number of times I can apply for the GRFP?

A: No, there is no limit on the number of times individuals can apply for the GRFP, as long as they meet the eligibility guidelines in the current Program Solicitation.

Q12. I am in a clinical psychology program. Am I eligible?

A: The Program Solicitation addresses eligible fields and programs of study in Section IV. 3. Field of Study. Regarding clinical areas of study, the Solicitation states: “Clinical study that is ineligible includes patient-oriented research, epidemiological and behavioral studies, outcomes research and health services research. For example, clinical study that is ineligible includes investigations to provide evidence leading to a scientific basis for consideration of a change in health policy or standard of care, and includes pharmacologic, non-pharmacologic, and behavioral interventions for disease prevention, prophylaxis, diagnosis, or therapy. Community and other population-based intervention trials are also ineligible.”

If you are in a clinical psychology program, you may be eligible as long as your proposed graduate study does not include any of the areas that are specifically described in the Solicitation as being ineligible.

Q13. How can I find out if my specific research topic is eligible?

A. Section IV of the Program Solicitation contains the eligibility requirements for this year’s competition. Information about fields and programs of study can be found in Section IV. 3. Field of Study, and a list of supported fields is contained in the appendix of the Program Solicitation. The Solicitation contains the official guidance regarding eligible fields and programs of study.

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Transcript FAQs

Q1. Do I need to upload official transcripts on the application?

A. You may upload official or unofficial transcripts, as long as the unofficial transcript meets the requirements described in the GRFP application. Applicants are encouraged to redact personally identifiable information (date of birth, social security number) from the transcripts before uploading.

Q2. My school doesn’t provide electronic transcripts. How can I include transcripts in my application?

A. If your school does not provide electronic transcripts, we recommend uploading a scanned version of the hard copy transcript. Applicants are encouraged to redact personally identifiable information (date of birth, social security number) from the transcripts before uploading.

Q3. I just started at my current institution this Fall, and do not have a transcript yet. What can I do?

A. The FastLane GRFP application requires transcripts to be uploaded for all institutions listed on your application, regardless of the start date. If you started at your current institution in the Fall, you can upload an unofficial transcript, a course schedule or other document from your school showing the courses you registered for, an enrollment verification document, etc. It may be helpful if the document you upload shows what courses you are taking in the Fall, even though there would be no grades, since it gives reviewers some information about your coursework.

Q4. My school offers official electronic transcripts that require the recipient to login and download the transcript. May I list the GRFP’s contact information, and have the GRFP download the transcript and add it to my application?

A. No. Applicants must upload transcripts directly into FastLane. In this case, you would need to obtain a copy of your transcript yourself, and upload it. Applicants are encouraged to redact personally identifiable information (date of birth, social security number) from the transcripts before uploading.

Q5. My school’s official electronic transcripts are password-protected. Can I still submit them?

A. The FastLane module does not accept password-protected or similarly encrypted PDFs. If your school’s electronic transcripts are encrypted, we would suggest either obtaining an unencrypted unofficial electronic transcript, or scanning a hard copy of your transcript and uploading the scan. Applicants are encouraged to redact personally identifiable information (date of birth, social security number) from the transcripts before uploading.

Q: I am receiving an error when uploading my transcript file

A: Many universities will place a layer of encryption on official transcript files which can cause issues when uploading to FastLane. If you receive an error, please print a copy of the transcript and scan to PDF prior to uploading.

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Application FAQs

Q1. Are GRE scores required for the GRFP application?

A. No, GRE scores are not part of the GRFP application, and are not accepted for this year’s competition.

Q2. Can I submit supplemental material, such as papers, videos, etc. for reviewers to consider?

A. The only application content that is considered by reviewers is what is provided via the FastLane GRFP module, and which was submitted by the deadline. Any other information that is submitted would be marked as extraneous, and would not be considered in the review process.

From the 2014 Program Solicitation:
“Applicants should not send extraneous information or materials such as CDs, manuscripts, resumes, medical reports, or news clippings. These items will not be reviewed with an application. No additional information may be provided by links to web pages within the application, except as part of citations in the References Cited section. Images may be included in the page limits. Review of the application and reference letters is based solely on materials received by the application and reference letter deadlines.”

Q3. Can I obtain copies of past successful applications, or essays from previously awarded applications?

A. No. Content from past applications is not available.

Q4. What are the formatting requirements for the statements?

A. The statements must be written using standard 8.5" x 11" page size, 12-point, Times New Roman font or Computer Modem (LaTeX) font, 1" margins on all sides, and must be single spaced or greater. Only references, footnotes, and figure captions may be a smaller font, no less than 10-point Times New Roman. Failure to follow these guidelines will result in an application being returned without review.

Q5. What are the page limits for the statements?

The Personal Statement, Relevant Background and Future Goals statement has a 3-page limit. The Graduate Research Statement has a 2-page limit. The optional Eligibility Statement has a 1-page limit. All references, footnotes, citations, images, etc. are included in these page limits.

Q6. Do I need to put my name, applicant ID or other identifying information on the statements?

It is not required to put your name or any other identifying information on the statements.

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Reference Letter FAQs

Q1. How can I find out if my reference letters have been submitted?

A. You can track the submission status of reference letters using FastLane. Once you log into your FastLane account, click “Check Application Package Status” under the Application Package Optional Task List.

Q2. What happens if I have more than three reference letters submitted?

A. On the GRFP application, you will be asked to assign a priority ranking to each reference you listed. If more than three reference letters are submitted for your application, the letters from the three highest priority references will be included in your application package for review.

Q3. Can I change the priority rankings for my references?

A. Yes, you may change the priority rankings of your references by logging into your FastLane application, and selecting “Manage References” under the Application Package Optional Task List. In the 2014 application, you can change priority rankings even if a reference letter has already been submitted.

Q4. I am a reference writer, who was asked to provide letters for several applicants, but one is not showing up on my list of applicants. How can I submit the letter?

A. Reference letter requests are associated with the reference writer’s e-mail address. If two applicants list different e-mail addresses for the same reference, and the reference logs in to submit a letter using the e-mail address listed by the first applicant, the second applicant will not show up on that reference’s list of applicants. In this case, the reference should create another password and login using the e-mail address listed by the other applicant.

Q5. Can reference letters be submitted by e-mail or physical mail?

A. No, all reference letters must be submitted online. If you need assistance with the reference letter submission process, please contact us at info@nsfgrfp.org or (866) 673-6188.

Q6: My Reference Writer did not receive the email nominating them to serve as a reference writer or the email containing their temporary password.

A: There are a few reasons that your reference writer may not have received the email nominating them as a Reference Writer. Please check the following if this occurs:

1. Ensure you have selected to send the email. When adding your reference writer to your application, you must hit the “Send Email” link on the References Screen to send the email notification to the Reference Writer.

2. Check the Reference Writer’s email address. Check to ensure that the email address you have entered for the Reference Writer is accurate. An exact email address is crucial to matching the reference writer and the applicant in the FastLane GRFP Application Module. If there is a typo or you need to change the email address, you can choose to edit the Reference Writer record (either from your unsubmitted Application or from the Manage References link on your GRFP homepage). After editing the Reference Writer email address, the “Send Email” link will reappear on the references screen, allowing you to re-send the nomination email.

3. Check SPAM folders. Ask your Reference Writer to check their SPAM or Trash folder to ensure that the email did not get sent to one of those folders inadvertently.

4. Use an alternate email address. It is possible that the email domain used by your Reference Writer is rejecting the email and not allowing delivery. In this case, request an alternate email from your Reference Writer to be used for this purpose. You can then edit the email address using the directions in step 2 above.

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Notification FAQs

Q1. When will applicants be notified of the results?

A. Reviewed applicants will be notified via e-mail of the results of the competition around early April.

Q2. How are notifications sent?

A. Notifications are sent via e-mail to the e-mail address registered in FastLane.

Q3. I did not receive a notification. What should I do?

A. If you did not receive a notification, please check your e-mail’s spam folder. If you cannot locate the e-mail there, please e-mail info@nsfgrfp.org from the address associated with your FastLane GRFP application, and include your name, 10-digit applicant ID number, and primary mailing address.

Q4. Can I receive additional feedback beyond the comments I received on my reviews?

A. The reviews in FastLane are the only available feedback for GRFP applications.

Q5. Can I appeal the results of my application if I was not awarded a fellowship?

A. Per NSF policy (Grant Proposal Guide, CH IV, sect D.2), there is no reconsideration for fellowship award decisions.

Q6. What should I do if I have concerns about my reviews?

A. If you believe there is an issue with the content of one of your reviews, please e-mail info@nsfgrfp.org with details of the possible issue.

Q7. Does NSF make any additional awards after the announcements in early April?

A. If awardees decline their offers and funds are available, NSF may offer awards to some honorable mentions. Generally the number of additional award offers has been small.

Q8. Is there a waiting list for GRFP awards, and if so, how can I be placed on the waiting list?

A. There is no waiting list for GRFP awards. However, if awardees decline their offers and funds are available, NSF may offer awards to honorable mentions. Any such decisions are based on the submitted applications, and no further information is required from applicants.

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Girls receive hands-on opportunities to engage in science activities through BUGS--Bringing Up Girls in Science Program.

Fellow Carlos J. Cela, from the Bioelectromagnetics Laboratory at North CarolinaStateUniversity, works on the modeling of electrical interactions between implantable retinal stimulators and neural tissue, which has application to the development of an artificial retina to restore partial vision to the blind. Retinal implants aim to restore vision to the blind suffering from degenerative retinal diseases, including Age-related Macular Degeneration and Retinitis Pigmentosa.

 

 


National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program
Operations Center Administered by: American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)
1818 N Street NW, Suite 600 Washington, DC 20036 | 866-NSF-GRFP, 866-673-4737
(toll-free from the US and Canada) or 202-331-3542 (international) | info@nsfgrfp.org