United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Frequently Asked Questions About Grant Opportunities

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Index to All Frequently Asked Questions Pages

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Undergraduate Scholarships and Graduate Fellowships

The announcement states that the scholarship program is for students enrolled in nuclear science and engineering. Would students enrolled in radiochemistry courses or with a minor in nuclear engineering but enrolled in other engineering or science disciplines qualify for a scholarship award?

The intent of the announcement was to focus on nuclear science and engineering and related disciplines. Radiochemistry certainly fits the definition of related disciplines and students with a nuclear minor but majoring in another engineering or science discipline would also be eligible. NRC's intention is to support disciplines that may be of benefit in developing a nuclear workforce.

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How is the $400,000 per institution for fellowships distributed? Is it for 1 year or does it cover multiple years?

For the fiscal year, up to $400,000 will be awarded per institution. This level was arrived at by calculating the cost of two fellows at up to $50,000 per fellow times a maximum of 4 years. Therefore, two fellows times $50,000 times 4 years equals $400,000. All awards for fellows in the fiscal year will be fully funded in the first year for up to 4 years. A maximum of $50,000 per fellow per year will be awarded as long as the $50,000 is the cost of attendance as defined in the Funding Opportunity Announcement. Any leveraged (non-NRC) funding may be used for any purpose bearing a relationship to a nuclear-related discipline.

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If the cost of the fellows is below the $50,000 threshold, can an institution submit more than two as long as the total of $400,000 per institution is not exceeded?

Yes, the determining factor is the $400,000 per institution per year and not the number of fellowship applicants within that amount.

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Can the scholarships be requested by an institution pursuing nuclear engineering and science education and used to sponsor a student from a minority or other educational institution not engaged in the disciplines enabling those students to take courses in nuclear engineering and science from the proposing institution?

This would be permitted as long as the sponsored student(s) not enrolled at the proposing institution pursued coursework of 15 credits or more in nuclear science/engineering and other disciplines that may be beneficial in developing and maintaining a nuclear workforce.

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Can we request funds for fellowships for both MS and Ph.D students?

Yes, funds can be requested for candidates seeking either degree.

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In the proposal, are we required to name the students who will receive the fellowships or simply give the criteria we will use to select the fellows?

It is not necessary to identify the recipients of the fellowships in the application for a grant. However, institutions who receive an award must agree to provide the NRC with a list of recipients that meet the criteria outlined in the Funding Opportunity Announcement.

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Must the recipients of the fellowships be enrolled in our graduate program at the time the fellowship is offered? If that is the case, we will not be able to use the fellowships to recruit students for our program.

While the Funding Opportunity Announcement states that applicants for fellowships must "be matriculated in a graduate degree program in a nuclear-related area, including the fields of nuclear engineering, health physics, radiochemistry and related disciplines," NRC realizes that students applying to graduate programs while completing their undergraduate education, will not have matriculated in a graduate program. These undergraduate applicants (rising graduate students) are eligible as long as they meet the other criteria, including course of study.

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If we are allowed to offer fellowships to students who are planning to enter our graduate program in the fall but are currently undergraduates (at our school or elsewhere), do we use their undergraduate GPA to determine whether they meet the 3.3 criterion?

The 3.3 GPA applies when the fellowship recipient is a graduate student. Undergraduates applying for the program should be evaluated on the criteria established by the university for graduate school applicants with the knowledge that these students, if awarded a fellowship, must be capable of achieving at least a 3.3 GPA during their graduate program.

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If a student who is on a fellowship fails to maintain a 3.3 GPA, is his or her fellowship taken away immediately or does the student have one semester to bring the cumulative GPA back to 3.3?

The fellowship recipient should achieve at least a 3.3 GPA at the conclusion of each academic year. If the GPA falls below a 3.3 during the academic year, the recipient has an additional semester to achieve the required minimum GPA. These situations will be handled on a case by case basis.

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May co-principal investigators be listed on the proposal?

Yes, two principal investigators or co-PI's may be listed.

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May a fellowship be award to a Ph.D student in public policy emphasizing nuclear energy policy?

No, the intent is to develop a nuclear science and engineering and related technical disciplines trained workforce.

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For the scholarships and fellowships programs can staff be charged for their participation in recruiting new students?

No. The funding is to be used for "…tuition, books, fees, and lab expenses" as outlined in the Funding Opportunity Announcement.

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How do we ensure that the student's employer will be accepted by the NRC? Do they need to request NRC approval before accepting employment?

The employment obligation can be achieved through service with many entities including academia, NRC, other Federal agencies, state agencies, or nuclear-related industry in the recipient's field of study and can be waived under the appropriate circumstances. There is no need to request NRC approval before accepting employment. However, NRC may be consulted for guidance as to whether certain employment qualifies.

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Can a private state corporation which publishes a Nuclear Publication (newspaper/journal) and offers an internet-based course on nuclear-related topics apply for awards?

No, the scholarships and fellowships are intended for educational institutions that offer a curriculum in nuclear-related subjects and recipients must "be matriculated in a baccalaureate degree program….".

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Faculty Development Grants

Is there a limit on the number of faculty that can be funded from the grant?

The number of faculty funded by the grant is left to the discretion of each educational institution. The base amount funded by the NRC will be $100,000 per year with up to an additional $50,000 per year of NRC funding if matched by university funding.

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Is the announcement intended for only new hires or existing faculty members?

The announcement is intended to support faculty in nuclear engineering, health physics, and radiochemistry. These grants target probationary tenure-track faculty in these academic areas during the first 6 years of their careers. Therefore, both new and existing faculty members in the first 6 years of their careers are eligible. Essentially, the grant can be used as a recruitment or retention tool.

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The maximum per institution per year is listed as $450,000. How is this calculated with regard to the number of junior faculty that can be supported?

The $450,000 is the maximum amount NRC will contribute to support junior faculty over a 3-year period. Faculty will be supported at a maximum NRC contribution of up to $150,000 per year times 3 years – all awarded in the first year. The full $150,000 would only become available if the university matched the NRC amount with $50,000 per year. Otherwise, the NRC base amount is $100,000 per year with additional funds up to the $50,000 on a dollar for dollar match with the contribution of the university.

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The announcement states that the faculty development grants are for the fields of nuclear engineering, health physics, radiochemistry, and related disciplines. If faculty in these subject areas developed curriculum for students not majoring in these subject fields, would that be permissible?

Since the grant is directed at faculty in the subject fields and not the students and the announcement specifically addresses and allows course (curriculum) development, this would be permissible.

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Can I as principal investigator apply for the grant?

No, your institution must apply.

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How many faculty members may be listed on the proposal?

The number of faculty members listed and supported is at the discretion of the educational institution.

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If an individual at a qualified institution has an existing faculty development grant from another source, is this individual eligible for this announcement?

There is no provision in the announcement that would prevent that individual from being included in the faculty development grant.

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Am I as a tenured-track assistant professor in nuclear physics, not nuclear engineering, health physics, nor radiochemistry, eligible for a faculty development grant?

Yes, you would be eligible. The faculty development grant is intended to support nuclear engineering, health physics, radiochemistry and related disciplines. Nuclear physics could be considered a related discipline that could be considered of benefit to the nuclear sector.

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In the Faculty Development Funding Opportunity Announcement, is it expected or required that the proposal contain the actual names of the junior faculty member(s) that are proposed for support?

It is not required that the proposal contain the names of the junior faculty member(s) to be supported but that level of detail would be welcomed by the NRC.

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The announcement states: Grants could include support for developing proposals for research and small amounts for initiating or continuing research projects in their areas of expertise. Other areas might include course development equipment stipends, participation in professional society meetings, preparation of papers, travel, and associated expenses. Specifically not mentioned is course delivery (i.e. classroom instruction), and university service. Is it intended that these latter two classes of activity are not to be included in the proposal?

The "other areas" listed were meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive. Those activities that add to the attraction and retention of faculty, which may include classroom instruction (what is meant by university service would have to be further defined), could be included in the proposal.

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The announcement states that "awards are for $100,000 per year plus up to an additional $50,000 per year that is awarded to the extent matched by the institution…" Are there restrictions on the source of the institution's matching funds? Specifically, is it permissible to use funds from grants and contracts from non-NRC sources, for example from the Department of Energy or its contractors, to meet the matching requirements?

It is not permissible to use Department of Energy, its contractors or other Federal grants as the institutional match.

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Curriculum Vitae are mentioned under III.A.2.b on page 5 of the announcement, but there is no other indication about which individuals should submit Vitae. Please clarify.

The principal investigator, not the individual being proposed for support, must have a Curriculum Vitae.

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In the project description, would you like to see current research interests and activities of individuals that would be funded through this faculty development program (in addition to a description of the faculty development program itself)?

While a discussion of the current research interests and activities of individuals funded by this program is not required, to the extent that it will help describe the faculty development program itself, it may prove useful.

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To improve the success of receiving an award, would you like to see the proposal come (or be entirely endorsed) at the institution level, college level, or department level? Same question in regard to administering and evaluating the program.

The Funding Opportunity Announcement speaks to the institution submitting proposals and being responsible for monitoring and reporting the effectiveness of the individual development plan. To the extent that the college or department speaks for the institution (and has the authority to submit the proposal on behalf of the institution) then it does not matter which level of the institution submits the proposal.

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To improve the success of receiving an award, would multiple programs or departments fair better than single units? In the case of our institution, we have both health physics and nuclear engineering programs, in separate departments and colleges.

There would be no advantage to having multiple departments versus one department submit a single proposal.

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Please comment on the use of this award for faculty recruitment.

The purpose of the award is to attract and retain highly qualified faculty in tenured-track positions during the first 6 years of their careers. This award can be used to recruit individuals to the university or used to support faculty already at the university.

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According to the RFP, funding from the grant can be used for "….course development, equipment stipends, participation in professional society meetings…" What are "equipment stipends"? Is there suppose to be a comma between those two words, and if so, does that mean the faculty member can use funds from the grant to pay the stipend for a graduate student?

An equipment stipend is funding that may be required to support equipment purchases for the new junior faculty position.

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If a faculty member is already at a university and has a startup package (funding from the university for support of graduate students, purchase of equipment, travel to conferences, etc.), can that startup package be used as matching money for the NRC grant?

No, the matching funds must be funds triggered specifically by the NRC faculty development Funding Opportunity Announcement.

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May the funds for faculty development be used for any faculty member who has been in his or her position for fewer than 6 years?

Yes, if the grant is for probationary tenured-track faculty in the academic areas described in the Funding Opportunity Announcement during their first 6 years of their career.

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Can the Faculty Development grant be used to pay the stipend for a graduate student?

There is no mention in the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) that speaks to funding or including graduate students or research assistants. The FOA does state that "small amounts (could be used) for initiating or continuing research projects in their areas of expertise." It also states that "the program intends to provide support to enable new faculty to enhance their careers as professors and researchers in the university department where employed." Therefore, budgeting for graduate student research assistants was not envisioned by the FOA unless it can be demonstrated that research to be performed by a graduate assistant directly assists the new faculty in the development or enhancement of their careers as professors and researchers.

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Can any funding be included for administration of the program?

One of the areas permitted is "associated expenses" that would allow reasonable administration costs.

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Is an itemized budget reflecting different activities needed?

Yes, to the extent that the detail requested in the SF 424A is met.

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If more than one faculty member is proposed for support and the institutional maximum match of $50,000 per year is made, can the institutional match be weighted more heavily toward one faculty member than another given that an experimental faculty member entails more costs than a computational junior faculty member?

The funding controlled by the university of up to $50,000 can be weighted any way the university finds it is most beneficial to the individuals proposed to be supported by the grant.

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Does the term of the award begin with the recruitment period or start with the faculty member's first term?

The term of the award begins when funds are made available to the institution regardless of whether the funds are being used for recruitment of faculty or existing faculty.

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May the NRC funding include graduate support (tuition and salary) and summer salary of the PI recipients for both course development and some research activities?

While the NRC funding can be used by the faculty recipient for course development, summer salary, and small amounts for initiating or continuing research, the funds are not intended to support graduate student tuition and salary unless it can be demonstrated that such funding directly assists or enables the faculty recipient in the development and/or enhancement of the career as a professor and researcher in the college/university employing department.

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Is it permissible for the institutional match to be in the form of support for a graduate student(s)?

Yes, as long as that graduate student is in direct support of the faculty member receiving the award.

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Would the NRC like one proposal for each faculty member being nominated or one proposal per institution?

If an institution decides to nominate more than one candidate, only one proposal for the nominations should be submitted with justification, as outlined in the Funding Opportunity Announcement.

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The announcement states that "grants could include support for developing proposals for research and small amounts for initiating or continuing research projects in their areas of expertise…Can this mean use of the NRC funding to support a graduate assistant?

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The Funding Opportunity Notice is intended to support individuals in enhancing their careers as professors and researchers. To the extent that a graduate student promotes that objective, some funding for that purpose would be permitted. However, the primary purpose is faculty development, not graduate assistant support, and the applications will be evaluated on how well that is addressed in the proposal.

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May a small amount of funding be allocated for management of the project (faculty grants)?

One of the areas permitted is "associated expenses" that would allow reasonable administration of management costs.

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Are pre-award negotiations conducted after the selection of the recommended applications? Can the pre-award negotiations influence the selection process for awards?

Yes, pre-award negotiations are conducted after selection and, based on those negotiations, the awards may be affected.

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Exactly what is meant by "institutional capacity"?

It is in the interest of the NRC to know how these faculty development grants will assist the institution in furthering the growth of the specific educational area with regard to attracting and retaining highly qualified faculty.

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Who are considered the individuals "administering the project"?" Does this refer to the department head submitting the proposal?

It can refer to the department head or anyone else responsible for project administration.

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To whom does "current and pending Federal support" refer?

It applies to both the applying department and the candidates under consideration for an award.

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Do "faculty development plans refer" to the applying department as a whole or specifically to the development plans of the identified/selected faculty candidates?

It refers to the institutions/departments faculty development plans and not the individual identified/selected candidates.

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Are the 3 year awards applicable exclusively to the specific faculty members identified at the start of the grant, or are they applicable to the department as a whole? In other words, can the department shift support to other faculty in the course of the 3 year award period?

Yes, they are specific to the identified faculty members. Support can be shifted if some unanticipated event occurs, but only after consultation with and approval by the NRC.

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Is there a bias against the department based on the other funded NRC (or other Federal agencies) projects in the department?

No, each application will be considered on its individual merits.

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Are the grants multi-year and do recipient institutions re-apply every year to have a grant continue for multiple years?

These are multi-year grants and there is not a requirement to re-apply each year.

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If a grant is received in the first year, may the receiving institution apply for a new grant from the same program in subsequent years?

Yes. Receiving a grant one year does not preclude an institution from applying for the same grant in subsequent years.

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If a faculty member has less than 2 years experience at the current faculty position in an appropriate field, but has previous experience at a different institution, does the previous experience count toward the 6 years?

"The grants specifically target probationary tenure-track faculty ….during the first 6 years of their career." If "career" were interpreted to refer to any aspect of a professional career, the faculty applicant would be ineligible if he was a professor elsewhere or worked at another profession related to nuclear. However, for purposes of this Funding Opportunity Notice, career refers to the current position.

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Trade School Scholarships

If we are in a partnership with another trade school or community college, and the coursework is predominantly in one institution but many of the credit hours occur at the other institution which grants the degree, which institution is eligible to apply for the scholarship.

The degree granting institution must apply for the scholarship(s).

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What is the funding history of community colleges?

Community colleges have participated and received funding from prior NRC announcements.

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Is there a required matching amount?

There is no required matching or leveraging for the Trades and Community College grants but the evaluation criteria does reward an institution if it leverages funding or receives matching funds (see criteria).

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Is a letter of intent required for these grants?

No.

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Service Agreements

What if a student who signed the service agreement does not receive an appropriate job offer from a nuclear-related organization? Is the student still liable to reimburse the NRC for any funds received from a scholarship or fellowship grant?

If the student receives no offers or does not like any of the offers received, the student would not be relieved of the service obligation unless, pursuant to the NRC service agreement, he or she pursued a waiver from the NRC. Implicit in the waiver request is that the student would have to provide some data and explanation to NRC in the waiver request demonstrating efforts to secure employment in a nuclear-related field. That data or explanation could include proof of job searches, referrals, etc. Absent a waiver from the NRC, multiple job offers and rejection of them may trigger the service agreement repayment obligation.

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If under an NRC grant, a student receives a scholarship or fellowship from the university for less than the full amount of allowable costs, does the student still owe the six month service requirement or would that requirement be prorated based on the amount of financial assistance received? In other words, do the words "full year of academic support" refer to time or funding?

The six month service requirement is not based upon the amount of financial assistance received from the NRC grants used by the university for scholarships or fellowships but upon the period of coverage. Therefore, six months of service in nuclear-related employment is required for each year of academic support independent of the funding amount received during that time.

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Leveraging/Matching Funds

We plan to have leveraging or matching funds in our proposal, and have a verbal commitment or understanding as to such funding, but are unable to secure the physical documentation prior to the application deadline. Can we indicate this support in our application and provide the documentation at a later date?

Yes. If your institution has an expectation of having leveraging or matching funds based on a verbal commitment or understanding but has yet to receive the letter of commitment or other physical documentation, you may indicate the type(s) and value to the support in your proposal and provide the documentation of such funding prior to issuance of the grant in order for credit to be given for such matching/leveraging funds. If documentation is not received, no credit will be given for matching/leveraged funds and the grant award may be affected.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, October 15, 2014