Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

I would like to review the application materials prior to opening an application file. Is there a copy I can look at?

You can register and preview the application without submitting the application by going to the Apply Online page. Also, the Application Instructions contain all the questions you will be asked and, in many cases, even includes the exact wording and length of restrictions for your responses.

If I applied last year, can I have my application reactivated?

No, you will have to complete this year’s application and resubmit all required documentation.

Is there a paper application form I can use?

No, all applications must be submitted online.

What if I don't finish my degree on time?

SMART Scholarships are awarded for a particular period of time based upon the degree conferral and completion dates set forth on the award. Participants are responsible for the timely completion of their degree in accordance with that time line. The delay or acceleration of a Participant's time line has serious consequences to Sponsoring Facilities. A request to extend or accelerate a Participant's degree completion and/or conferral dates is considered on a case-by-case basis and at the discretion of the SMART Program Office.

Requests for award extensions required prior written approval and will only be considered where extenuation circumstances prevent a Participant from completing his or her degree on time. Extensions requested before the first educational work plan is due require (1) calendar year (12 months) of post-graduation service for each academic year (generally 9 months) of the award, or six (6) months of post-graduation service for each academic term (quarter, semester) or partial academic term of that award if the award is extended in whole or in part by less than a full academic year.

Extensions requested after the first educational work plan is due require an increased ratio of post-graduation service to the length of the award: completion of one (1) year of post-graduation service for each academic term or partial term the award is extended, or twice the length of the extension period, whichever is greater. SMART funding may not exceed five (5) academic years.

If a Participant fails to obtain his/her degree within five (5) academic years, the Participant may be granted an unfunded extension or dismissed from the Program.

Extensions that cross a summer period in whole or in part require completion of a summer internship unless this requirement is waived in writing in advance by the SMART Program Office. Determinations of requests for extensions are considered on a case-by-case basis and at the discretion of the SMART Program Office.

Requests to accelerate degree completion and conferral require prior written approval. Participants who obtain their degree earlier than originally anticipated will not receive reduction in the original length or post-graduation service. Additionally, the Participant's Sponsoring Facility may be unable to hire the Participant earlier than the date set forth on the award documents due to hiring procedures, budgetary constraints, or other issues. Generally, Participants cease receiving cash award payments within 30 days of completion. Depending on how early a Participant completes degree requirements and receives conferral of the funded degree, he/she may cease receiving cash award payments for a significant period of time before being hired by the Sponsoring Facility.

Can I extend my award to pursue a future degree?

SMART scholarships are awarded for one degree program at a time. There are three types of follow-on awards which correspond to the SMART Scholarship Program Participant’s program phase at the time of the follow-on application. Follow-on awards are separate from the initial award. The five year funding cap is calculated separately for each award.

a. Type 1 Follow-On Awards. Phase 1 SMART Scholarship Program Participants who wish to pursue an additional degree request a type 1 follow-on award. In order to receive a type 1 follow-on award, a SMART Scholarship Program Participant must reapply to SMART for a separate award, score in the top 50 percent of applicants for the new award cycle, and be recommended for a follow-on award by the SMART Scholarship Program Participant’s assigned Sponsoring Facility.
                                                                                                                                                      SMART Scholarship Program Participants who receive a type 1 follow-on award immediately reenter phase 1 for completion of the follow-on degree. SMART Scholarship Program Participants enter phase 2 and complete the service commitment for both awards consecutively and without interruption once the follow-on degree is completed or conferred, whichever occurs first. Time spent working at the Sponsoring Facility is not applied toward completion of the service commitment until the SMART Scholarship Program Participant completes phase 1 for both the initial award and the type 1 follow-on award.

b. Type 2 Follow-On Awards. Phase 2 SMART Scholarship Program Participants who wish to pursue an additional degree request a type 2 follow-on award. In order to receive a type 2 follow-on award, a SMART Scholarship Program Participant must reapply to SMART for a separate award, score in the top 50 percent of applicants for the new award cycle, and be recommended for a follow-on award by the SMART Scholarship Program Participant’s assigned Sponsoring Facility. SMART Scholarship Program Participants who receive a type 2 follow-on award immediately reenter phase 1 for completion of the follow-on degree. SMART Scholarship Program Participants reenter phase 2 once the follow-on degree is completed or conferred, whichever occurs first. At that time, the SMART Scholarship Program Participant completes the remaining service commitment for the initial award and the type 2 follow-on award. The service commitments are completed consecutively and without interruption.

Time working at the Sponsoring Facility is applied to the service commitment as follows:

(1) Time spent working at the Sponsoring Facility after completion of phase 1 for the initial award and prior to the start of phase 1 for the follow-on award is applied toward completion of the service commitment;

(2) Time spent working at the Sponsoring Facility during phase 1 of the follow-on award is not applied toward completion of the service commitment; and

(3) After the SMART Scholarship Program Participant enters phase 2 for the follow-on award, time working at the Sponsoring Facility is applied toward completion of the combined service commitment.

c. Type 3 Follow-On Awards. Phase 3 SMART Scholarship Program Participants who wish to pursue an additional degree request a type 3 follow-on award. In order to receive a type 3 follow-on award, a SMART Scholarship Program Participant must reapply to SMART for a separate award, score in the top 50 percent of applicants for the new award cycle, and be recommended for a follow-on award by a Sponsoring Facility. Time spent working at the Sponsoring Facility is not applied toward completion of the service commitment until the SMART Scholarship Program Participant completes phase 1 of the follow-on award.

SMART Scholarship Program Participants do not simultaneously pursue another degree while in phase 1.

Can my award be deferred?

SMART scholarships generally may not be deferred. SMART Scholarship Program Participants begin or resume academic work in the term immediately following receipt of initial SMART funding.

Can I accept other scholarships in addition to SMART?

Under the terms of the SMART Service Agreement, During phase 1, SMART Scholarship Program Participants may accept funding from sources outside of SMART, including private scholarships, fellowships, grants, and private or federal student loans. SMART Scholarship Program Participants do not accept funding from federal scholarships, fellowships, grants (including the Federal Pell Grant) or other federal funding sources other than SMART with the exception of salary supplements provided by Sponsoring Facilities and Veteran’s Affairs programs (ex: Montgomery GI Bill, Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, the Survivors’ and Dependants’ Educational Assistance Program).
There is no monetary limit on the amount of outside funding an SSPP may accept. Acceptance of outside funding may in no way impact the SMART Scholarship Program Participant’s obligations under the SMART Service Agreement. Receipt of outside funding does not reduce or eliminate the service commitment.

Participants may accept public and/or private loans.

What does the term "geographically mobile" mean?

Geographic mobility means participants in the SMART Program must be willing to accept employment wherever their sponsoring laboratory is located.

Will SMART pay for attendance at conferences and workshops?

No. Any additional training or supplemental educational activities will be at the participant’s expense.

May I spend a portion of my tenure at a non-U.S. institution?

No. SMART Scholarships are tenable only at U.S. colleges or universities. Participants are expected to complete their studies at the approved U.S. academic institution for which he/she received funding.

What if I want to transfer academic institutions?

Participants are expected to complete their studies at the approved U.S. academic institution for which he/she received funding. Participants are expected to complete their studies at the academic institution for which he/she receives funding. The Program will provide funding for only one (1) academic institution at a time. Participants who wish to transfer academic institutions after their award is made are responsible for obtaining prior written approval from the SMART Program Office. In making this determination, the SMART Program Office will coordinate review of the Participant's request with the Sponsoring Facility's POC and the Participant's mentor.

May I participate in fieldwork or study abroad programs?

Participants may study or engage in research fieldwork away from the academic institution for which they receive funding upon prior written approval from the SMART Program Office and if, in the judgement of academic or research advisor and DoD mentor the fieldwork furthers the Participant's education and contributes directly to the attainment of the degree funded by the award. The following conditions apply to all requests to engage in fieldwork:

  1. the Participant must remain officially enrolled in a U.S. academic institution approved by the SMART Program Office;
  2. the Participant must be earning academic credit toward the degree funded by the Program; and
  3. No additional funds are provided for field work expenses.

Participants may engage in a study-abroad program upon written approval from the SMART Program Office. SMART will not provide additional funding for travel or additional tuition or fees related to participation in a study-abroad program. Participation in a study-abroad program may be approved if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

  1. the study-abroad curriculum must directly contribute to the completion of degree requirements for which the Participant received funding;
  2. participation in the study-abroad program must not affect the Participant's degree completion, conferral or start of post-graduation service dates;
  3. participation in the study-abroad program must not affect the Participant's ability to fulfill his/her internship and post-graduation service commitments
  4. the Participant maintains full-time enrollment status in the U.S. academic institution for which the Participant receives funding; and
  5. tuition for the study-abroad program is paid directly to the U.S. academic institution for which the Participant receives funding; and
  6. participation in the study-abroad program must not affect the Participant's eligibility to maintain the security clearance required to complete the internship and/or post-graduation service requirements.

Participants are responsible for providing the SMART Program Office with a written confirmation from his/her academic or research advisor on university letterhead that the study-abroad program satisfies these requirements.

What is the duration of the SMART award?

SMART Scholarship Program Participants enrolled in a single degree program receive SMART funding for that degree only. SMART Scholarship Program Participants funded for a dual degree may receive funding throughout the completion of both degrees, not to exceed five years. SMART Scholarship Program Participants may request funding for subsequent degrees by reapplying to SMART for a separate award in accordance with the SMART Scholarship Program follow-on funding policy.

SMART scholarships are awarded for a specific time based on the anticipated degree completion and conferral dates on the SMART Service Agreement. SMART scholarships range from a minimum of 1 year to a maximum of 5 years per award, depending on degree.

What is the duration of participation in the Program?

Individuals are "Participants" in the SMART Program for all three phases: (1) academic phase, during which the Participant pursues his/her degree; (2) post-graduation service phase, during which the Participant completes the post-graduation employment commitment with the Department of Defense (DoD); and (3) the 10 year monitoring phase after completion of the post-graduation service requirement during which the Program tracks the Participant's employment status.