Paying for graduate school can be especially daunting for STEM graduate students.They are often contractually prohibited from seeking outside employment because attaining their degree requires them to spend a substantial amount of time conducting research in a laboratory. Students whose advisors do not have funding to cover their tuition and expenses are often forced to take on time consuming teaching positions that detract from their time in the lab. This series will discuss the many graduate school scholarships and fellowships to help offset costs for graduate students.

In this episode, we will discuss one of the most prestigiousgraduate school scholarships:the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

About: The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is a graduate school scholarship that aims to improvecaliber and diversity of the STEM research workforce in the United States. The program recognizes and supports exceptional graduate students who are pursuing full-time research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in STEM fields. The fellowship provides three years of support for the graduate education and research. Anyone may apply, but the NSF specifically encourages women, underrepresented minorities, people with disabilities, veterans, and exceptional undergraduate seniors to apply.

Award: The NSF grants approximately 1,500 fellowships across the United States, though this number can vary depending on the available federal funding. The monetary value of the fellowship is roughly $138,000 and is meant to support the fellow for three years out of a five-year degree period. Funds cover fees and tuition of the degree-granting institution as well as a $34,000 living stipend. The award also offers a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance that can be used to cover travel expenses for conferences or other education-related expenses.

Requirements: This award is intended for individuals who have demonstrated potential for significant research achievements in STEM fields. Applicants must meet all of the following eligibility requirements by the application deadline:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident
  • Intend to enroll or be enrolled full-time in a research-based graduate degree program in an eligible Field of Study
  • Have never previously accepted a GRFP award
  • Have never previously applied to GRFP while enrolled in a graduate degree program
  • Have never earned a doctoral degree, master’s, professional, or bachelor’s-master’s degree in any field

There are specific guidelines for when applicants may apply for this fellowship.

  • Undergraduate seniors or graduates may apply before enrolling in a degree-granting graduate program.
  • Graduate students enrolled in a graduate program may only apply for the GRMP once, either in their first year of their degree program or in the beginning of their second year.

Applicants may only apply for the GRMP one time. This means that students that apply as an undergraduate may not apply again in graduate school, and that students enrolled in joint bachelor’s-master’s programs may only be awarded either in that program or in a doctoral program, but not in both.

Students who were awarded the GRMP, but then experienced an academic interruption of two years or more may apply a second time to reinstate their award.