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- You should set up a meeting with Diane and Lolly at the start of your first year (or any other time if you want to clarify things) to discuss your funding timeline for the course of your graduate studies.
- First and Second years (US citizens without masters) should apply for an NSF GRFP.
Princeton Funding Options
There are many sources of funding within this department and from the University, including, but not limited to:
- Princeton (the university and EEB department): Fellowship support is provided for three years. A fourth year of support comes from the teaching stipend during the two semesters of required teaching. Students without outside funding (eg. NSF GRFP or EPA STAR) will need to teach two additional semesters to cover the fifth year.
- Research support is available for the first summer. Funding for presenting your research at one national/international meeting is available, typically used in your fourth or fifth year. See Lolly O'Brien with any questions.
- The Dean's Fund for Scholarly Travel has small travel grants (up to $600) to give invited papers at conferences throughout the academic year, and APGA grants are available for the summer.
- The Graduate School Dean offers grants to hold graduate student-oriented conferences on campus; watch for emails from Lolly O’Brien.
- Your advisor may (or may not) have training and research grants.
Project Funding Sources from Within Princeton
- Walbridge Fund Graduate Award, through PEI. Up to $10,000. For projects on climate change science, modeling and policy, or closely related topics. Most recent deadline: March 25th 2011. ()
- The Princeton Environmental Institute Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy, through PEI and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Requires an environmental policy component to the doctoral thesis. Up to $3500 for research support, also pays half tuition and stipend. Current grad students can apply in the spring. ()
- Health Grand Challenges, through the Center for Health and Wellbeing. Up to $5000, must be for a project related to infectious diseases. Most recent deadline: November 15th 2010. More information: ()
- Ray Grimm Memorial Prize in Computational Physics, through the Graduate School and chaired by the program in plasma physics. Up to $5000. Most recent deadline: March 24, 2011
- The Princeton Program in Latin American Studies gives small grants for research done in Central or South America.
Field Station Grants
- Huyck Grants, through the Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station in NY. Up to $2000 - $3500 for conducting research at the research station. ()
- Mayhew graduate research award for Boyd Deep Canyon, through the Boyd Deep Canyon desert research center in Riverside, California. Up to $2000. Most recent due date: March 31st. (
Outside Princeton Funding Options
However, applying for outside funding can help you form your ideas with a grant proposal, boost your CV, and secure more money. Possibilities include, but are not limited to:
- National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program: before your general exam (if you are a US citizen and do not have a masters degree) you should apply to the NSF GRFP, which includes a stipend and travel support. Fall deadline. Talk to older grad students to see drafts of successful (and unsuccessful) proposals.
- NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant: after your general exam (regardless of whether you are a US citizen) you can apply for a DDIG research grant. Fall deadline.
- Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research: small research grants for any scientific field (international students may apply). Fall and spring deadlines.
- The Explorer’s Club Expedition Grants: small grants for field work (international students may apply). Winter deadline.
- Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results (EPA STAR): stipend support for environmental research (US citizens only). Fall deadline.
- Agriculture and Food Research Initiative: NIFA Fellowships Grant Program: stipend, tuition, travel and research supplies support for up to two years of post-generals work related to the core challenge areas of the AFRI (USDA). Letter of intent due in the fall and the application is due in the winter.
- Teresa Heinz Scholars for Environmental Research: post-generals research support for environmental research (international students may apply).
- Wildlife Conservation Society Research Fellowship Program: research grants for field work in Asia, Africa, or Latin America (international students may apply). Winter and summer deadlines; http://programs.wcs.org/grants.
- Animal Behavior Society: research grants for behavior research (international students may apply). Winter deadline.
- National Geographic Society provides some research funding, notably the Young Explorers Grant (age 18-25) and the Waitt Grants (for exploratory research). Deadlines are often well before the fieldwork (10 months in the case of the YEG), so make sure you plan ahead!
- Chapman Grants: The Frank M. Chapman Memorial Fund (American Museum of Natural History) supports ornithological research anywhere in the world. Priority for funding is given to grants investigating fundamental questions in ornithological science. Proposals about descriptive or applied aspects of ornithological science should emphasize the basic biological questions being examined. Awards are for one year; most grants range between $500-$2,000.
- Exploration Fund: For graduate, post-graduate, doctorate and early career post-doctoral students, this fund (from the Explorer's Club) provides grants in support of exploration and field research for those who are just beginning their research careers. The awards typically range from $500-1500 US for both funds. A few awards may be granted up to a $5000 award level.
- Safari Club Large Grant Program: Large grants are awarded to projects with strong potential to contribute to the sustainable management of natural resources or the advance of constructive wildlife research. Conservation projects are also awarded grants not only for their relationship to sustainable use of wildlife, but also in terms of maintaining healthy ecosystems and quality habitat for all wildlife species.
- Mewaldt-King Student Research Award: These $1,000 awards are designated in the memory of L. Richard Mewaldt and James R. King to support research that relates to the conservation of birds. Research may be in any area of ornithology, but studies that involve demographics, breeding biology, or disease ecology may be particularly relevant, especially if the species is endangered, threatened, or otherwise of management concern. Studies of species from threatened ecosystems (e.g. old growth forest, wetlands) or with reference to large-scale conservation issues such as climate or landscape change are also of particular interest.
- British Ornithological Union Small Grants: Awards of up to £2000 per project aimed at supporting small projects outright and to part-fund medium-sized research programmes.
- National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants: The National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program funds projects that require venture capital, supporting exceptional projects while foregoing a time-consuming peer-review process. NGS/Waitt grants are able to fund "proof of concept" research for applicants at an earlier stage in their careers than other NGS grant programs. Special emphasis is placed on expedited grant processing and turnaround. The selection committee endeavors to have funding decisions made within ten weeks of application submission. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
- Rufford Small Grants Foundation: The Rufford Small Grants Foundation provides funding for small nature/biodiversity conservation projects and pilot programs in developing countries. Projects must have a nature/biodiversity focus. Rufford Small Grants are designed to support small-scale or pilot projects, rather than providing a small amount of funding for a large-scale project. The Foundation has a broad scope of interest – as well as the conservation of particular threatened charismatic species, the protection of which is likely to benefit their natural habitat, it is also interested in those often neglected or less well known species. In addition, the Foundation is also keen to support projects that go beyond a species-specific focus to provide habitat protection at a wider scale. Beyond this, the overriding requirement is that the work must be structured to provide long-lasting and practical conservation outcomes on the ground. There will often be a significant human element to a successful proposal, with community education / involvement being very important. In general, the Foundation favors work at a habitat or ecosystem level rather than species-specific work. The Foundation seeks to fund those project leaders who intend to make a significant and long-lasting impact on their chosen subject. This means that the applicant should intend to devote a considerable period of time to the project and set it up in such a way that it can have a long-term future – hence local team members are an essential part of the equation so that the project can carry on functioning usefully once the team leader moves on to other work.
- Other funding opportunities are probably available for your specific sub-discipline. For example, BirdGrants.org has a list of funding available to ornithological researchers. Community of Science offers a searchable database.
- Graduate students are eligible for free membership in the Friends of the Princeton University Library. Membership includes a number of benefits for grad students, including eligibility for research travel grants and an essay contest with a prize of $2,000. To join, please contact Linda Oliveira.
Columbia has a long list of fellowships here that may be useful to check.
For more general, career-related questions, the university’s Career Services employs a Graduate Career Counselor, who can help with your CV, job applications, career goals, and more.
Tips for International Students
- For additional information on international student logistics, contact the Office of Visa Services.
- Keep in touch with the Davis International Center, they have great activities for all ages.
- Don’t miss out on international orientation week, where you learn important information on social security number application, tax forms, maintaining full time student status in the US, etc. Also be sure to attend the English Language Program (ELP), which lasts about 4 days before the semester starts.
- Make sure you name is written exactly the same on all of your official papers (e.g. I94, tax, PUID, etc). Any slight differences (e.g. using both last names vs just one) can cause big problems.
- Check with McCosh Health Center for vaccination requirements, since the US has a different vaccination schedule than some other countries.
- If English is not your native language, you need to take a SPEAK test in mid September of your first year, unless you took TSE test before and scored higher than 50. This test is like the TSE test: basically, you will be required to give directions or make recommendations or an argument in a limited time, usually very short. If you get a score more than 50 in the SPEAK test, you will be waived attending English class and eligible to be an AI (teaching assistant). Otherwise, you need to take an English class until you pass a POPT oral English test. The POPT requires you give an 8-10 minute presentation to several undergraduate students and answer questions. The topic is given to you 24 hours before your test and usually has something to do with your field.
- The role of the teaching assistant here is likely to be different from your native country, so it might be a good idea to go to a class and see what a precept is like.
- Departmental social events, such as the Thursday dinners for seminar speakers, are a great place to become familiar with the department, learn “survival tips” from fellow students, and practice your English if needed.
- Talk to other international student in EBB as well as outside, they always know where to go in case of "homesickness" and how to find good deals on traveling.
- Since funding for non-US citizens is limited, keep a special look out for certain applications which are open to all, e.g. Heinz, DDIGs, International Foundation for Science (women only), Sigma Xi, and various departmental or Princeton-specific funding sources.
Federal and state taxes are taken out of teaching assistantships, but not out of fellowships (if you are a US citizen). Therefore, you have to pay quarterly estimated taxes on your fellowship income. Download the 1040ES and instructions from the IRS website to calculate your estimated taxes and get payment vouchers. Estimated tax payments are due around the 15th of January, April, June, and September. (You probably do not need to do this your first semester at Princeton because you probably will not make the minimum amount that fiscal year required for estimated tax payments.) In addition, you will not receive a W2 for fellowship stipends (though you will for teaching assistantships). When you file your federal taxes, to the left of the "Wages, salaries, tips, etc" line on your 1040A (or equivalent) write "SCH $<amount>" for any fellowship stipend earned. Also, include your 1040ES payments on the estimated tax payments line of the "total payments" section. For New Jersey state taxes, you do not need to pay taxes on fellowship stipend, but you do need to file and pay taxes on teaching assistantship earnings. Depending on where you live, you probably qualify for a New Jersey homestead deduction or credit, so look for that in the instructions. Be sure to check that this information is up-to-date in the US and NJ 1040A instructions. If you are not a US citizen, your situation depends on what country you are from. For China, for instance, all non-service fellowship money and the first $5000 service wage (assistantship) are Federal tax exempted for Chinese citizens.
If you receive outside grants or fellowships for your research, things get more complicated. Most grants and scholarships are taxable – if you are unsure, check with the organization, but you will receive a 1099 form if the grant has been reported to the IRS. The easiest way around this problem is to arrange for the department to handle your grant money, but the downsides are 1) not having the freedom to handle your money and 2) dealing with reimbursement forms and travel advances. To avoid getting nailed with high taxes from the extra income, you will need to file form Schedule C, Profit or Loss From Business. Treat all of your research costs as business expenses and your external grants as business income. Nearly all field costs can be deducted, including room and board, labor, insurance, and vehicle expenses (with the exception of permanent equipment, although there are ways to claim depreciation on these items). Depending on whether you have a profit or a loss, you may need to file Schedule SE to figure any self-employment tax you might owe.
Tax regulations can change. When you arrive on campus, make sure to file your information with the Payroll department and to figure out if you are eligible for any tax exemptions - you can usually do that at graduate student registration. After that, make sure your information is up to date at all times. It is also a good idea to use the Glacier computer system (which is the default for international students) to store and update your information. This way, the system will prepare all forms that you need to submit, based on the information you enter, and this minimizes the hassle.
For US and international students, find advice at these links:
- Graduate School Tax Info
- Graduate School Tax Guidelines
- Office of General Counsel
- Tax Department: Diana Miles, Tax Compliance Specialist; email@example.com
See Diane Carlino for additional guidance or clarification.