Guidance & Frequent Questions
Research Project Search
- Must I be enrolled in a graduate program at the time I apply?
No. Although you do not need to be enrolled when you apply, proof of acceptance must be provided if you become a finalist. Finalists will be notified in May, 1997.
- May my advisor write a letter of recommendation?
Yes. Your advisor should be one of the three required references. If you do not have an advisor yet, you should acquire references from three professors, instructors, researchers, employers, or others who are familiar with your academic abilities and goals.
- Are there any official forms that I must complete?
If you are selected for a fellowship, EPA will send you two federal forms which must be completed and returned before an award can be made.
- How many copies of my application must I submit?
You must submit the original and six (6) copies of your pre-application. In addition, each person who writes a reference letter should seal the original and six copies of the letter in an envelope which you include in your pre-application package.
- Will I need to submit a transcript?
At the pre-application stage we are requesting that you submit unofficial (or student) copies of your transcripts covering your entire college career. If you are selected as a finalist, you will need to provide sealed official transcripts from all schools you have attended, for validation purposes.
- Do I have to do my research within the United States?
No. However, EPA only allows $5,000 per year for expenses, which includes health insurance, books, supplies, and travel to scientific meetings.
- I am a U.S. citizen enrolled in a graduate program in Canada. Am I eligible to apply for a fellowship?
No you must attend a graduate program in a college or university within the United States or its possessions.
- I am not a U.S. citizen. May I still apply?
U.S. citizens and legally resident aliens are eligible to apply. Before a fellowship is awarded, the resident status of all aliens will be confirmed with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
- I am completing my last year of a masters program and would like to apply to your PhD program. Is that allowed?
If you are reasonably certain that you will be accepted into a PhD program, you may apply for a fellowship. Verification of your accepted status will be required prior to the award of a fellowship.
- Will I be required to work at EPA?
No. There is no internship requirement and no special consideration will be given to applications which include EPA-based research.
- I work three days a week at a federal office. Am I eligible to apply for a fellowship?
Possibly. Full-time or permanent federal employees may not apply. If you are employed as a consultant or contractor to the government or if your part-time employment is not considered to be permanent, then you are eligible to apply for a fellowship. If you are unclear about your status, check with the personnel department where you work.
- I have another fellowship. Must I give that up if I accept the EPA fellowship?
Possibly not. You may not receive any other federal assistance -- scholarships, grants, fellowships, or traineeships -- simultaneous with the EPA fellowship. However, if the funding source of your fellowship is not federal, you may accept both awards.
- I will be starting the last year of my graduate program. Am I eligible to apply for a fellowship?
When completing the application package for a STAR fellowship you will need to describe your educational level at the time of submission. Choose one of the following:
- Entering Master's Student (EM) if you are applying for, enrolled in, a master's program and have completed less than one year* toward this degree.
- Entering Doctoral Student (ED) if you are applying for, or are enrolled in, a doctoral program, have completed less than one year toward this degree, and have no other graduate or professional degree (e.g., MS, DVM, JD).
- Doctoral Student (DS) if you are applying for, or enrolled in, a doctoral program, have completed less than one year toward this degree, but have completed another graduate or professional degree (e.g., MS, DVM, JD).
- Continuing Doctoral Student (CD) if you are enrolled in a doctoral program and have completed more than one year, but less than four years,* toward this degree.
*Note Students who have completed more than one year of their masters or four years of their Ph.D. program are not eligible for the STAR 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 in the amount of $1417. It is possible that we will be able to offer electronic transfers of your monthly stipend by the time the awards are made. You will also receive $5,000 for expenses. This amount will be sent directly to you to establish and manage an expense account, unless you would prefer to make arrangements for the university to manage these funds. At the time of award, you will be sent instructions regarding management of the expense account.
- How will my application be reviewed?
Depending on the number of applications received, the review process may consist of mail reviews, convened panels, or a combination. Regardless of the method, each application will be reviewed by at least three experts in the general field of specialization identified by the applicant. Reviewers are given detailed guidance on reviews, including review criteria for each of the four levels of education. Applications at each of the four levels are reviewed separately, against different criteria. At the conclusion of the review process, applications are sorted into rank categories. EPA then makes award decisions based on programmatic considerations and available funds.
- My specialty does not seem to fit into any of the field of specialization categories. How can I assure that my proposal will be reviewed by the most appropriate people?
The field of specialization codes are deliberately broad. Reviewers will be selected for each proposal based on which broad category the applicant chose. This is a merit review process as opposed to peer review and reviewers are selected based on their understanding of the broad issues in their field rather than their particular specialties. In a large number of cases, the specific area of the student's research may straddle two or more broad categories. Applicants are urged to select the one which they believe most closely relates to their educational focus.
- What notification will I receive about the status of my application?
If you have enclosed a self-addressed, stamped post card with your pre-application, you will be notified when we receive your package. In addition, periodic status reports will be posted on the NCER home page. We expect to make the awards by August 1. After awards have been made, a list of winners will be posted on the home page.