Are you SMART? The Department of Defense Will Fund Your Education

Established by the Department of Defense’s National Defense Education Program, the SMART Scholarship program is a scholarship for service created to recruit and retain the next generation of science and technology leaders. The latest iteration of the program is accepting applications until Dec. 1, 2017.

The program, which stands for Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation, aims to increase the number of scientists and engineers in the DoD and is particularly interested in supporting individuals that demonstrate an aptitude and interest in conducting theoretical and applied research. As such, the program primarily targets “hand-on-the-bench” researchers and engineers. Individuals applying to the program should have a strong interest in working for the DoD as a civilian research scientist or engineer.

Applicants must be pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in one of 19 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines, available to view at https://smart.asee.org/about/. Those interested should also be a citizen of the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or United Kingdom, available to participate in summer internships at a DoD facility, age 18 or older by August 1, 2018, willing to accept post-graduate employment with the DoD, and possess a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale at the time of award.

If this sounds like you, you probably have some questions. Here’s some answers the most common ones:

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.

What is the internship requirement?

Participants awarded multi-year awards, are required to serve as interns at DoD facilities during the summer months. Internships are intended to provide valuable work experience and help the participant become familiar with the organization he/she has been sponsored by.

Will travel expenses for my internship be paid?

In addition to the stipend payment, recruitment participants completing internships may receive internship support payments depending on the distance to the sponsoring facility. Internship support payments are intended to support all travel, lodging, meals, transportation, and incidental expenses. Recruitment participants completing internships receive a payment to cover each week the participant is completing the internship, up to a maximum of 12 weeks. Participants completing extended internships do not receive more than 12 weeks of internship support payments. The internship support payments are distributed in one payment the month prior to the start of the internship

How much are the cash stipends?

Cash stipends are paid at a rate of $25,000 – $38,000 per year depending on degree pursuing.

Is there a cap on tuition funded through SMART?

No. If awarded, SMART will fund the total cost of full-time tuition at the regionally accredited U.S. college or university of the applicant’s choice.

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 Dependents’ 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 is the post-graduation service commitment?

Upon selection, awardees are assigned to the DoD laboratory where he/she will be expected to serve as a summer intern and complete a period of post-graduation employment service as a DoD civilian. The employment obligation to the DoD civilian Science and Technology (S&T) workforce upon graduation is a one-to-one commitment. For each academic year of a Participant’s award, he/she is required to commit to one year (12 months) of civilian employment with the DoD. Students will be placed in DoD laboratories in civilian positions and must be geographically mobile for placement following graduation.

Can the post-graduate employment period be deferred?

No, awardees are expected to begin fulfillment of the post-graduation employment period immediately upon graduation.

Will I get to choose the organization I will work for after graduation?

On the application, Participants have the opportunity to indicate their top three choices of DoD organizations by which they would like to be sponsored and their geographical preferences. Participant preference will be considered; however, placement with a Sponsoring Facility (SF) will be determined by the needs of the DoD.

Can active-duty military apply?

The SMART Program requires participants to complete internships and accept a period of obligated employment with the DoD immediately after graduation. In order to avoid conflicts with military service obligations, active duty military applicants must be separated or begin terminal leave on or before August 1, 2018 to be eligible for the SMART scholarship.

In the event that you are recalled to active duty, you will be granted a deferment of the scholarship. Upon your release from active duty, you will be reinstated in the Program so long as Congressional funding is available at that time.

Can members of the Reserves and National Guard apply?

Members of the Reserves and National Guard are eligible to apply for SMART. In the event that you are called to active duty, you will be granted a deferment of the scholarship. Upon your release from active duty, you will be reinstated in the Program so long as Congressional funding is available at that time.

Is A Security Clearance Required?

Yes. Participants in the SMART Program must be able to obtain and maintain a security clearance from the DoD.

For a complete list of requirements or to begin the application process, please visit https://smart.asee.org. To hear from two current program participants, watch the videos below:

 

 

 

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