The Scholarship for service program is a unique opportunity for students to acquire some scholarship money in exchange for service in the federal government for a time period equivalent to the duration of the scholarship. This program is offered collectively by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security. This program also enables federal agencies to select highly qualified and competent employees for permanent positions and internships.
The scholarship can cover all or partial expenses of room, board, tuition, books, etc. The students also receive a stipend which could be for example up to $12,000 for graduate students. The students are required to serve in a federal institution for the same length of time that they received the scholarship.
To be eligible for the scholarship the candidate must be a permanent resident of the United States and also eligible for federal employment. The candidate must also be a full time bachelor’s, masters or doctorate student at an NSF designated institution. The candidate is also required to complete the degree on time. The candidate may also be required to complete a summer internship with a participating federal agency.
In the event that a student fails to complete the full period of the employment or the scholarship itself, the student will be required to return a prescribed amount of money equivalent to the time not served. For example a candidate who has served six months less than his required time will have to return 25% of the scholarship money. The federal agencies immediately report such incidents to the scholarship for service program office which take the necessary actions immediately.
Examples include two programs offered by the Carnegie Mellon University which meet the SFS criteria. These include a MS in information security technology management and a MS in information security policy and management.
The selected candidates are also expected to participate in some extra-curricular activities. They should attend the annual SFS job fair held in Washington DC in January. They should also attend lectures, symposia, etc arranged by the SFS.
With a little commitment and perseverance, any student can opt for a scholarship for service program. Sometimes it can also be desirable to be able to serve in a federal organization after the completion of the studies. The candidates must make sure that they will be able to fulfill their commitment at the end of the scholarship period.