Who’s eligible to apply for a DURF Grant?
CAS undergraduates who are freshmen, sophomores, juniors or first-term seniors (i.e., the term before your last term at NYU) are eligible to apply.
Does my project mentor have to be a CAS faculty member?
Nope. You can work with faculty in any of NYU’s schools (including the Medical School and the Law School). In fact, your mentor doesn’t have to be a part of NYU at all! Many grant winners have pursued their projects off campus (e.g. Sloan Kettering, Rockefeller University, Mt. Sinai). In some cases, we may ask a mentor who is not a part of NYU to send us their CV. However, the fact that you have a mentor who is not a member of the NYU community does not disqualify you from applying.
Even though I have regular contact with the Principal Investigator (PI) of my lab, my day-to-day project supervisor is a post-doc (or graduate student). Who should write my letter of support?
The Selection Committee very much wants to see that you are interacting with the lab’s PI and considers that mentoring relationship to be one of the most important components of your undergraduate research experience. At the same time, the Committee also understands that you will most likely be working with a post-doc or graduate student on a day-to-day basis. While it would be best if your PI writes and submits the letter, your direct project supervisor (i.e., the post-doc or graduate student) can write the letter but the PI must co-sign the letter. We will not be able to begin processing your award if your PI has not at least co-signed the letter of support. Lack of demonstrated support from your PI could result in your proposal being rejected.
Speaking of the letter of support. My mentor has never written a letter for the DURF program. They’re wondering what, exactly, the mentor assessment entails. Is it just a letter of recommendation? Are there requirements as far as the content and/or length? Are there specific things that must be addressed?
The mentor assessment is more or less just a letter of recommendation focused on your (the student’s) project and their ability to successfully complete said project. The committee does, though, provide a series of prompts to mentors as guidance and to help them be sure they’re addressing the most important issues. Some mentors choose to answer these prompts one by one in a non-narrative form. That’s fine. Most, though, address these points (which are interconnected) in a more traditional letter form. There’s no minimum or maximum length requirement. Really, the committee is most concerned with seeing students have the necessary support to successfully complete their proposed project. These are the prompts provided to mentors when they go to submit their letter of support:
- How did the student identify you to serve as his or her project mentor?
- In what capacity did you work with the student in developing the DURF proposal, timeline, and budget request?
- How will you work with the student on this project?
- How often will you meet?
- How will you provide mentoring during the course of the research?
- Do the proposed timeline and methodology seem reasonable for this project?
- Is the student prepared to successfully undertake this project?
- How would you assess the educational value of this project for the student?
Can I apply for more than one DURF Grant at a time?
Yes! You can apply for more than one DURF grant in one application cycle so long as they are for separate projects. If you are working on two independent research projects, you could apply for two DURF grants. If you are only working on one independent research project, however, you may only apply for one DURF grant per application cycle.
If I’m carrying out my research in the summer/winter/fall, should I apply during a specific application cycle? When should I apply for a DURF Grant if I’ll be doing my research in the summer (or the fall, or the winter)?
Technically, application cycles are not tied to specific terms (e.g., summer, spring or fall) and grant funds may be used in any term: fall, winter, spring, summer. Typically, though, students are applying for funds to use in the immediately following term. That is, they apply during the fall application cycle to carry out projects over the winter or spring terms or they apply during the spring application cycle to carry out projects over the summer or fall terms. It’s important to remember, though, that there are only two application cycles per academic year and that there is no application cycle over the summer.
I received a DURF Grant in the past. Can I apply again?
Yes! There’s no limit on the total number of DURFs you’re allowed to receive over the course of your undergraduate career. Several students are “repeat offenders” and have received more than one DURF award. Even if you’re still working on the project for which you previously received a DURF, you can apply again. In this case, you should explain how you used the previous grant, how the research has progressed and how the next grant will help you further your research project.
What can I purchase with the funds?
Any reasonable and justifiable budget request can be made in the proposal. In the past, we have funded the purchase of lab equipment, books, audio and visual equipment, software, voice recorders and payment for study participants among other things. Please remember, though, that all these expenses must be clearly justified in the proposal. Also, you should make every effort to find the most reasonably priced equipment/supplies available.
- The committee will not fund the purchase of equipment deemed unnecessary, readily available or too costly. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Journalism majors have access to audio and visual equipment from the Journalism Department. Any request for equipment available there (cameras, microphones, etc.) will not be funded.
- Students who request a software license for, e.g. Stata, will be awarded the cost of the lowest available subscription for students. Exceptions, however, can be made if students are working with particularly large datasets or if the project will exceed the time limits of that subscription.
- Students who request audio and visual equipment (e.g. a dslr camera) should investigate the possibility and cost of renting the equipment and/or purchasing pre-owned equipment for the project.
Can I use the funds for travel as well?
Absolutely! As long as it’s directly related to your research. Again, the most reasonably priced form of transportation should be requested, whether that means subway, bus, train, flight or fuel reimbursement. You may also use DURF funds for your accommodations while traveling.
- Meals, however, are not a legitimate budget request.
- Travel to a conference, academic or otherwise, will only be funded if you will be conducting research at the conference, for example by interviewing certain participants (if you have been accepted to present your project at a national or international conference, you should apply for a Conference Grant to fund that travel).
Is it true that I can use the funds for income replacement?
Yes! You can use DURF funds as income replacement but not as income. In other words, you must show the Selection Committee that you will be working less because of your research commitments.
- Example of an acceptable request for lost wages: “This semester I am working 15 hours per week at Imaginary Office for $12 an hour. Next semester, I will only be able to work 10 hours per week because of my research commitment in Imaginary Professor’s lab. I will therefore incur a weekly loss of $60 dollars. This amounts to a loss of $360 dollars over the course of my 6-week research project. I therefore request $360 as income replacement”
- Example of an unacceptable request for lost wages (essentially a request to use the funds as income): “I will be spending 15 hours per week in Imaginary Professor’s lab next semester doing my research. If I were to get a job instead of work on my research project, I would make $10 per hour. $10 per hour times 15 hours is $150 per week and equals $900 for the duration of my 6-week research project. I therefore request $900 as income replacement.”
I and two other students are applying for a Team Research Grant. Since there are three of us, are we eligible to receive up to $3000?
Nope. Funds are awarded on a per grant, not per person, basis. Therefore, the maximum award for a Team Grant (no matter how many team members) is up to $1000. This applies to FAST Grants as well, for which the maximum award is up to $500 per grant.
I started my research a few months ago and already spent some of my own money on research-related expenses. Can I request DURF funds as reimbursement for expenses already incurred?
You can certainly try. However, you should keep in mind that not every request will necessarily be honored either in full or in part. In other words, if you spend money on your research project before applying for a DURF Grant, you can’t be sure that you will receive enough (or any) funds to cover those expenses. Also, while the committee does sometimes grant funds for reimbursement, they will only do so for expenses incurred during the semester in which you’re applying for a grant. So, if you’re applying during the fall application cycle, for example, expenses incurred over the previous summer/before the start of the fall semester, would not be eligible.
- Pro tip: Apply for a DURF Grant the semester before you plan on starting your research project if at all possible. And, if you are awarded the grant then, keep in mind that (as mentioned above) you can always apply for another one if necessary and warranted.
How specific should my budget requests be?
As specific as possible. Excruciatingly specific in fact. Any vague request, e.g. “Books: $200” or “Lab Materials: $500” or “Miscellaneous: $237” will either be rejected outright or greatly reduced. Not only should you be specific about how you will use the funds but you should also provide a rationale for each piece of equipment, materials and/or supplies. More information as well as sample budgets can be found here.
What are the chances my proposal will be funded in full?
Budgets are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and in close conjunction with the overall proposal. Some proposals are funded in full, some only in part. Funding decisions are ultimately up to the discretion of the Selection Committee. It is therefore all the more important that you clearly explain the rationale behind and the necessity of every expense outlined in your budget. Budget requests that are deemed too vague or unnecessary will most certainly be reduced or go unfunded.
I don’t really need to buy anything to complete my research project – all my sources are online/I don’t need to travel/my lab provides all the necessary supplies. Should I still apply for a DURF Grant?
Absolutely! First of all, if you can’t think of anything to spend money on, you’re probably not trying hard enough. Most likely, there’s something you could buy to use for your research. Secondly, even if there’s really nothing you absolutely need, you should still apply. The Selection Committee doesn’t go around awarding grants to undeserving proposals just because there’s no funding request. The decision to approve a proposal with no funding request is a stamp of approval for your proposal and your project. Therefore, even if you’re awarded a DURF of $0, you can still be proud of that accomplishment and you can add that award to your CV. Furthermore, the act of applying is itself an extremely useful exercise and good practice/preparation for other grant proposals and scholarship/graduate school applications.
My research project and plans have changed somewhat since receiving a DURF. Can I still use the funds for my revised project?
Absolutely! Research is a dynamic process. A piece of new information or a new insight can take projects in a different or entirely new direction. That’s fine. As long as you’re using the funds to further the goals of your research project, you can use the funds you were originally awarded. You’ll have a chance to explain how the project changed and how you used the funds when you submit your Grant Report (more on that below).
Who decides whether to accept or reject a DURF application?
There are three DURF Selection Committees, one for each discipline in the College (Humanities, Natural Science, Social Science). The individual members of the committee change from semester to semester, but each committee is made up of CAS faculty: faculty from humanities departments serve on the Humanities DURF Selection Committee and so forth. Furthermore, the Assistant Dean for Students coordinates the Selection Committees and ensures that their decisions are carried out.
- A separate committee makes decisions about FAST Grant applications. That committee is made up of other undergraduate researchers who received a FAST Grant in the past. In addition, a few CAS faculty members and the Assistant Dean for Students coordinate and oversee the FAST Grant Selection committee.
When will the decisions be made?
There are two application deadlines each year (one in the fall and one in the spring). Decisions are usually communicated the week after the Selection Committee meets. You can find specific dates and more information on the timeline for decisions here.
- Please note that sometimes the FAST Grant selection committee meets somewhat later and that therefore those decisions might be communicated later as well.
I received a DURF Grant. Now what do I do?
Basically, you should follow the instructions provided in your award letter. But, essentially, the first thing you need to do is turn in your paperwork to our office (the Office of the Associate Dean for Students, Silver 909) by the date stated in your letter so that it can be processed as quickly as possible. Please bear in mind, however, that it will most likely take at least 20-30 business days to process the paperwork and disburse your funds.
I received a DURF Grant, and I’m an international student. Is the process the same for me as for domestic students?
Some international students will be required to register in the GLACIER system before we will be able to start the process to disburse the DURF award. Because this process can take 10 or more business days to complete, we recommend you get started as soon as possible.
I received a DURF Grant. I need to pay for things. My funds aren’t here yet. Why is it taking so long for me to get my money?
It depends. Remember, it takes at least 20-30 business days from the time you submit your paperwork to receive the funds. That said, there are many and various scenarios that may delay the disbursal of your funds. For example:
- It hasn’t been 20-30 business days since you submitted your paperwork (technically this isn’t a delay, but you should keep this in mind).
- You turned your paperwork in immediately (or shortly after) receiving the decision letter BUT there was an error or omission with one of the required pieces of information. Such errors will delay the disbursement process.
- You turned your paperwork in immediately (or shortly after) receiving the decision letter AND there were no errors with the address you listed or with another piece of the required information. You should:
- Look at the calendar: Has it been 20-30 business days since you submitted your paperwork? If not, just wait longer. If yes:
- You can contact our office (Silver 909; 212.998.8140 or email email@example.com) and we can look into the situation.
- Keep in mind, though, that the best thing you can do to help facilitate the process is to turn in your paperwork to our office ASAP.
Is my DURF Grant taxable?
Yes. Technically, DURF Grants are taxable. In addition, international students may be required to register in GLACIER. Taxes will be automatically deducted from the DURF award for many international students (the amount will vary depending on your home country). Domestic students and international students who are not required to register in GLACIER, however, are technically required to report their DURF award on their annual tax return.
If I receive a DURF Grant, is there anything else I have to do besides work on my research project?
Yes. There are a few things you get to do as a DURF Grant recipient:
- Individual and Team Research Grant recipients are required to present their finished research project at the annual Undergraduate Research Conference (more on this below);
- NB: You aren’t required to present until you have finished your project even if that means waiting a year (or more) after receiving your award;
- Also and in connection with the Conference, we will publish an abstract of your project in the College’s journal for undergraduate research Inquiry;
- Finally, we ask all grant recipients to complete a Grant Report detailing the state of your project as well as your research-related expenditures (receipts are not required). Information about the deadline for returning the Grant Report is provided in your DURF acceptance letter.
I received a DURF. Do I still have to apply for the Undergraduate Research Conference (URC)?
Yes. You’ll still need to fill out the online application. You can find a link to the application on this page. The deadline to complete that application is March 25. Part of the application includes submitting the abstract of your project which will appear in the College’s journal for undergraduate research Inquiry.
I received a DURF Grant. I really enjoy my research and the experience I’ve had/am having. Are there programs that would allow me to share my enthusiasm for research with my fellow CAS students…or even the world?
Yes! As a matter of fact there are!
- If you’d like to take part in classroom visits, information sessions, workshops and things of that nature where you’ll use your own experience both in research and in applying for a DURF Grant to help other CAS students find their own research opportunities, you should look into becoming a DURF Research Ambassador;
- If you’d like the chance to 1) reach any even larger audience, 2) exercise your creative instincts and 3) win a $1000 or $500 CAS scholarship, you should enter the DURF Video Contest. The video can use any audio/visual multimedia (e.g., video, animation, slide show) so long as it follows the submission guidelines. This is a great chance to use your creative (or not-so-creative) talents to create a video that tells the story of your research.
I have a question that somehow wasn’t addressed above. Whom should I contact?
You can email any questions not answered here to firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will get back to you with an answer as soon as possible.