Frequently Asked Questions

Managers and Supervisors of DoD Applicants

What is a retention applicant?

A retention candidate for the SMART Program is an individual who is currently employed by the DoD and plans to pursue a degree in a STEM discipline. After graduation, retention awardees are required to continue working for the DoD to fulfill the employment service obligation required by the SMART Service Agreement (Please note this is the 2017 agreement and that future agreements are subject to change).

Will my employee be required to work for another organization if selected?

It is the intent of the program to assign retention candidates to the organization they are currently employed by. However, there may be cases where a candidate expresses an interested in transferring to a different DoD service or agency. In these cases, the SMART Program Office will contact you and the participant to ensure appropriate coordination with all parties.

Why does my employee need a letter from me acknowledging his/her intent to apply for the program?

Retention applicants are required to submit a brief letter from his/her supervisor so that reviewers are able to identify whether the candidate's application is supported by his/her organization.

This support is required for applicants intending to remain with their organization after graduation.

If one of my employees is selected, what is my organization required to do?

Organizations supporting retention awardees must agree to continue employing the participant during his/her tenure in the program including the post-graduation period of obligated employment. Prior to graduation, employers must agree to allow the participant adequate time off to focus on his/her studies.

While the participant is in school, the SMART Program office will send to your organization via MIPR, funding to cover the following items;

  • The participant’s stipend + 30% for benefits administration
  • $1,000 for supplies

It is intended these funds will be distributed via your organizations typical financial systems (i.e. payroll, purchasing, travel system). Tuition to the participant's university is paid directly through ASEE.

For further details please contact the appropriate liaison. 

Are there any direct costs my organization is required to fund?

Your organization is not required to fund any costs during the time the participant is pursuing his/her degree. However, some organizations have opted to provide funds and other opportunities to help bridge the gap between the stipend awarded and the participant's current salary. While not required, it is highly encouraged as doing so will make pursuing a degree more obtainable to employees whose household situations have been structured based on a higher income.

**Please Note**

SMART Scholarships pay for expenses associated with the participant's academic activities. After graduation, your organization will be responsible for funding the participant as a full-time employee.

Can any employee apply?

Yes, any civilian employee of the DoD meeting the eligibility requirements may apply.

What is the benefit to my agency?

The SMART Program is an excellent way for employees in your organization to further their education without having to allocate funds from your operating budget. Your organization benefits by retaining highly valued, better educated, employees without the typical costs associated with recruitment and training.


How can I find out more information about the program?

For more information, please contact the SMART Program at