Graduate Fellowship

Details at a Glance

  • Award Amount: $5,000
  • Funding period:  May 10, 2021 – April 30, 2022
  • Apply online:  Applications must be submitted online via Submittable.
  • Submission Deadline:  November 11, 2020
    • NOTE: By mid-October, students should have communicated with both the faculty member they identify as their research mentor and the MSGC Campus Representative at that institution.  There are processes that need to be completed within the MSGC-affiliated institution before a proposal can be approved and submitted to MSGC.
  • Award notification and disbursement: Award recipients will be notified of their selection by early March 2021.  The cost-reimbursable sub-award agreements are expected to arrive at MSGC’s affiliated institutions late spring 2021.

Program Description

Michigan Space Grant Consortium offers research and public service fellowships to graduate students who successfully compete for the award. Students are required to have a mentor from the faculty research, education, or public service communities, with whom they intend to work. Projects should describe their connection to NASA strategic interests as detailed in NASA Strategic Plan 2014.  Preference is given to projects focused on aerospace, space science, and Earth system science.  Students working in other related science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) fields, including educational research topics in STEAM, are also eligible to apply.

After developing a research plan (including budget) with the mentor, students write and submit an essay detailing their project and how the funds will be spent.  The fellowship-supported research can occur over the summer, during the academic year, or both.

Eligibility:  This opportunity is available to graduate students who are U.S. nationals and currently enrolled at MSGC-affiliated institutions. Applicants must have a good academic record and be in good academic standing to qualify for an award.  Applicants must also be willing to (i) have their student data reported to NASA and EPSS, the company that evaluates our programs, and (ii) engage in that evaluation process through responding to emails. Women, under-represented minorities, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.  Students currently receiving MSGC Fellowships are eligible to reapply.

Merit: The merit of the application will be judged based on primary and secondary criteria.  The primary merit criteria are scientific merit, relevance to NASA strategy, clarity of student responsibilities with regard to research activities, and strength of the letter/s of recommendation.  Secondary merit criteria are interdisciplinarity of the project, the student’s level of interest in pursuing a STEAM career, overall GPA, and grades in technical courses. If the application is for continuation funding, the progress report also contributes to the merit evaluation.

  • Because reviewers come from a range of scientific fields, the writer should carefully consider the terminology used in the essay.  MSGC campus representatives can provide guidance on how to optimize the competitiveness of an application.

Use of funds: Funding can be used for the applicant’s salary/stipend and fringes, research supplies and services, and domestic travel to mentor-approved conferences, workshops, and research locations.  MSGC funds cannot be applied toward foreign travel or the purchase of equipment.  According to 2 CFR 200.33, the definition of equipment is, “tangible personal property (including information technology systems) having a useful life of more than one year and a per-unit acquisition cost which equals or exceeds the lesser of the capitalization level established by the non-Federal entity for financial statement purposes, or $5,000.” No indirect costs are allowed.

Continuation funding:  A student who has been awarded a MSGC grant in the previous year may apply again. In this case, the application must include a progress report based on activities during the current MSGC fellowship.

Letter/s of recommendation: A faculty member at the MSGC-affiliated institution must provide a letter of recommendation that relates to the applicant’s academic qualifications and interests.  This letter must also indicate the agreement of the faculty member to serve in this mentoring capacity for the duration of the award as well as his/her expectations of and responsibilities within the research project.  A second letter of recommendation from a faculty member, supervisor, coach, advisor, etc. is optional. An email giving instructions for submitting the letter to MSGC electronically will be provided to the references.

Effect on financial aid: Fellowships have the potential to impact existing financial aid.  Prior to accepting an award, students will need to understand the impact and allowability of accepting the award.  If a student has a financial aid package, it would be beneficial to inquire at the Financial Aid Office at their institution before applying.

Notes for Mentors and Institutions

Augmented awards: If the applicant is an under-represented minority student, mentors may request an additional $500 as part of this application. If the $500 goes to the student, no cost-sharing is required. If the $500 is to support supplementary mentoring activities, a 1:1 match is required.

Cost-sharing:  The MSGC Fellowship Program does not require a cost match, nor will it be a factor in the selection of fellows. The provision of tuition waivers or mentor time would be helpful to MSGC but is not required.

Indirect Cost:  No indirect costs are allowed on fellowships.

Application Requirements

Applications must be submitted online via Submittable.


The following items will be uploaded as pdfs:
  1. An essay, with budget information. Use 12-pt font, 1″ margins, and single spacing. Tables and references may utilize a smaller font. Limit: 3 pages for the narrative and 3 pages for the budget information. Upload this as a single pdf.  The following information should be included:
    • The research or public service activity the student intends to pursue and how the budget ties to the activity.
    • How the proposed activity is related to NASA’s strategic interests:  NASA Strategic Plan 2014.
    • The student’s specific responsibilities in the project and specific outcomes expected for the research.
    • The student’s future career/educational interest.
    • Timeline for the effort, including information as to when most effort is expected – summer, academic year, or both.  Explain the difference in the effort during summer versus academic year.
    • Budget information – Students must work with mentors to establish how the funding will be spent.  Submission of an application indicates support of the mentor for the included budget information.  Include:
      • a detailed budget; use the budget and justification template
      • a budget narrative/description that explains the costs in the budget. The proposed budget shall be adequate, appropriate, reasonable, realistic, and demonstrate the effective use of funds to align with the project. Personnel and Fringe costs shall only be associated with the applicant, with estimated rates and total amounts of each. Domestic travel shall include the purpose, the number of trips and expected location, duration of each trip, airfare, and per diem.  Other Direct Costs shall be explained in reasonable detail.
  2. Scanned transcript/s. If less than two semesters of graduate courses have been completed, please upload an undergraduate transcript as well as a transcript from graduate school.
  3. An abstract (not to exceed 150 words)
  4. If applying for another fellowship during a current fellowship, upload a two-page progress report on the current project, including how fellowship funds have been used. The report should describe the student’s MSGC-supported activities during the current year and an evaluation of the successful and unsuccessful components of the program. Documentation of any papers, presentations, announcements, news articles, and press releases relating to the existing project should be included in an appendix.

Reporting Requirements for Award Recipients

MSGC Reporting Requirements are available below as a downloadable pdf.  Content in the report may be utilized in the MSGC Newsletter – Frontiers. Report submission is accomplished by uploading the materials into a secure folder.

Students will also be expected to make a presentation about their research – either a poster or a talk – at the next MSGC Fall Conference after their work is completed.