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Guidance & Frequent Questions

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Extramural Research Search

  1. What is the difference between the STAR and GRO fellowships?
  2. I have a student visa (e.g. F1, F2, etc.). Can I still apply?
  3. I am a U.S. citizen enrolled in a graduate program in another country. Am I eligible to apply?
  4. I have applied for a green card but I dont have it yet. Can I still apply?
  5. Should I already be enrolled in a graduate program when I apply?
  6. Do I have to do my research in the United States?
  7. I will be a part-time student. Am I eligible for either a STAR or GRO Fellowship?
  8. Is there a specific GRE or GPA score I need in order to apply?
  9. I will be starting the last year of my graduate program. Am I eligible to apply for a fellowship?
  10. I am completing my last year of a masters program, intend to get a Ph.D., and would like to apply for a fellowship. Is that allowed?
  11. I am starting a masters degree program and I intend to pursue my Ph.D. Can I apply as a Ph.D. student?
  12. Will I need to submit a transcript?
  13. When, where, and how do I submit my pre-application?
  14. Who should write my three letters of recommendation?
  15. One of my professors would like to e-mail her letter of recommendation. Is that O.K.?
  16. Would it help my case if I were to submit more than three letters of recommendation, or other information (e.g. publications)?
  17. Im not sure which sort code to use. Can someone at EPA tell me?
  18. Once I submit a pre-application with a selected field of specialization (sort code) and then I am awarded a fellowship, can I switch to another field?
  19. There is no sort code for my particular study area on the EPA-provided list. What should I do?
  20. How will my application be reviewed?
  21. What notification will I receive about the status of my application?
  22. I have another fellowship. Must I give that up if I am offered an EPA fellowship?
  23. If I receive a fellowship, how will my funds be distributed?
  24. Will I be required to work at EPA once the fellowship ends?
  25. Im having problems figuring out how to complete Item 14 on the SF424. What do I do?
  26. Are indirect expenses allowed?
  27. I cannot find my question on the list. Where do I go to next for an answer?
  1. What is the difference between the STAR and GRO fellowships?

    The STAR fellowship program is open for applications from any U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien who is currently attending or plans to attend graduate school at an accredited U.S. college or university, or in a U.S. territory. The applicant's research must be in an environmentally related field. There are restrictions for GRO fellowship applicants. Only U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens who attend or plan to attend an accredited U.S. college or university that receives less than $35 million in federal research and development funds may apply for this fellowship. The applicant's research must be in an environmentally related field. To determine student eligibility, EPA uses the data found in the National Science Foundation's report "Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions: Fiscal Year 2002," (PDF) Table B-15, column 2 (29 pp, 81 K). These universities and college include, but are not limited to, most Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Native American Tribal Colleges (TCs), Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions (NHSIs), and Alaska Native Serving Institutions (ANSIs). Note that not all such institutions are eligible since some receive more than $35 million in research and development funds.

  2. I have a student visa (e.g. F1, F2, etc.). Can I still apply?

    No. Holders of student visas are temporary residents only and not eligible to apply for STAR or GRO fellowships. Before a fellowship is awarded, the residency status of all aliens will be confirmed with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

  3. I am a U.S. citizen enrolled in a graduate program in another country. Am I eligible to apply?

    No. You must attend a graduate program in a college or university within the United States or its possessions.

  4. I have applied for a green card but I dont have it yet. Can I still apply?

    No. You must have your green card when you submit your application. Before a fellowship is awarded, the residency status of all aliens will be confirmed with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

  5. Should I already be enrolled in a graduate program when I apply?

    No. However, proof of acceptance in an accredited college or university must be provided if you become a finalist.

  6. Do I have to do my research in the United States?

    No. However, EPA only provides $5,000 per year for expenses that could be used for travel expenses in lieu of other education-related expenses (e.g., health insurance, books, supplies or travel to scientific meetings). Also, research conducted outside the U.S. is subject to review and approval by EPA.

  7. I will be a part-time student. Am I eligible for either a STAR or GRO Fellowship?

    No. Full time status is required during the period of receiving funding under the EPA fellowship program.

  8. Is there a specific GRE or GPA score I need in order to apply?

    No. Note, however, that these fellowships are highly competitive.

  9. I will be starting the last year of my graduate program. Am I eligible to apply for a fellowship?

    You should not apply if you have less than two years to complete your degree. These fellowships are not intended to support postdoctoral work and cannot be transferred to other programs or institutions.

  10. I am completing my last year of a masters program, intend to get a Ph.D., and would like to apply for a fellowship. Is that allowed?

    If you are reasonably certain that you will be accepted into a Ph.D. program, you can apply for a fellowship. Verification of your acceptance will be required prior to the award of a fellowship.

  11. I am starting a masters degree program and I intend to pursue my Ph.D. Can I apply as a Ph.D. student?

    If at the time of application you are officially enrolled in a dual degree program where a Ph.D. is the final degree, you can apply as an entering doctoral student. If you are not officially enrolled in such a program, you should apply as a master's student. You can apply again in subsequent years once you have finalized your educational pursuits. See "Education Levels" section of the full announcement for more details.

  12. Will I need to submit a transcript?

    At the pre-application stage, we request that you submit only a list of all your college courses. If you are a doctoral or continuing doctoral student, you only need to list your graduate-level courses. If you are selected as a finalist, you will need to provide sealed official transcripts from all schools you have attended for validation purposes

  13. When, where, and how do I submit my pre-application?

    You may submit either a paper pre-application or an electronic pre-application but not both for an announcement. The necessary forms for submitting a STAR paper pre-application will be found on the NCER web site, http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. To apply electronically, you must use the pre-application package available at https://apply.grants.gov/forms_apps_idx.html. See "Submission Instructions for Electronic Pre-Applications" in the RFA. Pre-applications must arrive at EPA or be submitted through http://www.grants.gov by 4 p.m. on October 18, 2005.

  14. Who should write my three letters of recommendation?

    Your advisor should provide one of the three required letters. The other two letters should be written by professors, instructors, researchers, current or previous employers or others who are familiar with your academic abilities and goals. If you do not yet have an advisor, you should acquire references from three professors, instructors, researchers, current or previous employers or others who are familiar with your academic abilities and goals. All of the letters must be recent. All letters must arrive by 4 p.m. on October 18, 2005, and should have the name of the applicant and the sort code on the outside of the envelope. Please allow sufficient time for delivery.

  15. One of my professors would like to e-mail her letter of recommendation. Is that O.K.?

    No. All letters of recommendation should be signed by the originator, and mailed to EPA at the address specified in the RFA. The letters of recommendation must arrive by 4 p.m. on October 18, 2005.

  16. Would it help my case if I were to submit more than three letters of recommendation, or other information (e.g. publications)?

    No. Only three letters will be considered. Please do not send any information that has not been requested as it will not be considered and will just delay the review of your pre-application.

  17. Im not sure which sort code to use. Can someone at EPA tell me?

    No. The multiple sort codes in the announcement reflect the breadth of environmental research the EPA can support. In some cases a student's research may straddle two or more categories. You should consider the outputs and outcomes you will be reporting on in your research and consult with your advisor or a mentor and select the most appropriate one. Do not submit the same application under multiple sort codes. Outside experts will be reviewing the applications based on their understanding of the broad issues in a field rather than particular specialties. For examples of previously funded research, see http://www.epa.gov/ncer. Click "search" on the sidebar and look at the "preset topics."

  18. Once I submit a pre-application with a selected field of specialization (sort code) and am awarded a fellowship, can I switch to another field?

    No. The research you propose will be the basis for the award. Therefore, if there are major deviations from the proposed research, the award may be withdrawn.

  19. There is no sort code for my particular study area on the EPA-provided list. What should I do?

    Pick the sort code which "best" applies to your field of study. However, remember that you can only choose one sort code.

  20. How will my application be reviewed?

    The pre-application and letters of recommendation will be reviewed by non-EPA experts from the appropriate field of study. Reviewers are recruited based on specialty fields represented by the pre-applications. Pre-applications that receive scores of excellent from the peer reviewers are subjected to further review in EPA. Finalists will be selected based on the availability of funds, reviewers' evaluations and EPA goals, such as distribution of awards across disciplines, institutions and geography, degree level being sought, and other possible indicators of program balance. Final funding decisions are made by the Director of the National Center for Environmental Research. Abstracts of research projects from previously funded fellows can be viewed at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/fellow.

  21. What notification will I receive about the status of my application?

    If you comply with the requirement to include an email address in your pre-application, you will be notified when we receive your package. If selected to receive a fellowship, you will be contacted no later than May 30, 2006, and you should subsequently receive your award by July 21, 2006, for the fall term. Please note that this schedule may be changed without notification due to factors that were not anticipated at the time of announcement.

  22. I have another fellowship. Must I give that up if I am offered an EPA fellowship?

    Possibly not. You may not receive any other federal assistance -- scholarships, grants, fellowships, or traineeships -- at the same time as the EPA fellowship. However, if the funding source of your fellowship is not federal, you can accept both awards.

  23. If I receive a fellowship, how will my funds be distributed?

    Your tuition and academic fees, up to $12,000 per year, will be paid directly to the university. You will receive a monthly stipend check for $1,667 paid directly to you. You will receive an additional $5,000 for your educational expenses as a lump sum at the beginning of the academic year. This educational expense account will be managed by your institution.

  24. Will I be required to work at EPA once the fellowship ends?

    No. There is no internship or postdoctoral requirement or option.

  25. I'm having problems figuring out how to complete Item 14 on the SF424. What do I do?

    If you know the appropriate Congressional District numbers, enter them as numbers. We only need the numbers; the associated state information is provided elsewhere. If you’re unsure of what Congressional District to use for your research, use the one associated with your institution. If you don’t know the number, go to www.house.gov, enter the zip code, and use the Congressional District number provided. Please do your best to provide accurate numbers, but also recognize that providing an incorrect Congressional District number does not invalidate your pre-application.

  26. Are indirect expenses allowed?

    No. However, this question is generally asked by someone in an institutional Extramural Program (or equivalent) Office. Your pre-application is not to be submitted by your institution, it’s to be submitted by you as an individual. Awards are made directly to the student, not the academic institution.

  27. I cannot find my question on the list. Where do I go to next for an answer?

    Many of the questions we get are actually answered in the solicitation. Sometimes the question would not arise if instructions in the solicitation were followed. We are fully aware of how much information is in the solicitation ... even those of us involved in writing it use it as a resource for answering questions. So, please read the solicitation again before calling the toll-free telephone number (1-800-490-9194) or sending web mail (http://www.epa.gov/cgi-bin/ncerqamail.pl). Please allow 24 hours for a response from either the hot line or web mail. Allow 2-3 days for a response to queries made directly to Stephanie Willet. If you have problems with the electronic submissions, call grants.gov for assistance (Phone: 1-800-518-4726, Email: support@grants.gov).

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