What is the Scholarship For Service (SFS) program?
Scholarship For Service (SFS) is a unique program designed to recruit and train the next generation of information technology professionals, industrial control system security professionals, and security managers to meet the needs of the cybersecurity mission for Federal, State, local, and tribal governments. This program provides scholarships for up to 3 years of support for cybersecurity undergraduate and graduate (MS or Ph.D.) education. The scholarships are funded through grants awarded by the National Science Foundation. In return for their scholarships, recipients must agree to work after graduation for the U.S. Government, in a position related to cybersecurity for a period equal to the length of the scholarship.
What are the student eligibility requirements for me to participate?
The applicant must meet all of the following: be a full-time EECS student in good standing with a 3.2+ GPA pursing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the KU School of Engineering with an emphasis in cyber security or a research-based doctoral student; be a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States; meet criteria for Federal employment; and be able to obtain a security clearance. Please see www.opm.gov/faqs/topic/employment
for general FAQ's related to Federal employment.
What costs does the Jayhawk SFS program scholarship cover?
Each undergraduate and master's student receives up to two years of scholarship support - full tuition(16 hrs a semester for undergrads and up to 9 hrs for MS), $22,400/year stipend which is paid monthly over 10 months, $4000 for professional development, $2000 for books, and $3000 to cover health insurance. Ph.D. students receive support for three years, with a $34,000 annual stipend over 10 months.
What is the shortest period for which I may be funded?
The shortest period for which a scholarship may be granted is one semester. However, upon completion of degree requirements, students funded for less than two years must have an information assurance academic background equivalent to that of the typical graduate funded for two years. For example, in order to enroll in the SFS program at the beginning your senior year, you must have been pursuing information assurance studies during your junior year. If you receive a scholarship for only one semester, you are entitled to only half the stipend. If you receive a scholarship for only three semesters (one-and-a-half academic years), you are entitled to only half the stipend during the year you receive funds for only one semester.
Do I incur an obligation by receiving this scholarship?
Yes. In return for your scholarship, you must agree to work after graduation for a Government agency or, subject to approval of the NSF program office, for a State, Local, Tribal, or Territorial Government; or a Federally Funded Research and Development Center, in a position related to cybersecurity for a period equal to the length of your scholarship. An academic year (i.e., the fall and spring semesters) is equivalent to a calendar year of employment. If you are funded for three academic years, you must serve at a Federal, State, Local, Tribal or Territorial Government organization in a covered position for three calendar years. If you are funded for one academic year or less (e.g., only one semester), you must serve for one calendar year. The post graduate employment obligation must be fulltime employment. Jobs will be located throughout the United States. However, the overwhelming majority will be in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. Therefore, participants will be required to be available for placement nationwide.
What other obligations do I need to fulfill?
Scholarship recipients must register on the SFS Program website
, complete and submit a job search activity report to the program office quarterly, view/edit resume and contact information quarterly, obtain an internship with a government agency for a minimum of 10 weeks, attend the annual job fair/symposium until employment is secured, and participate in professional development activities, research and various other cyber related events at the School of Engineering. Doctoral students may substitute summer internships with a research activity.
Suppose I do not want to accept a government job offer I receive. What happens then?
If you decline an offer and do not find a position to meet your obligation you could be required to pay back the monies received under the scholarship.
Why is it important that I begin my job search early?
It is very important that you begin your job search immediately for a variety of reasons. Students who receive scholarship funds for more than one academic year are required to serve a 10 week internship performing information assurance-related work. Internships are intended to enhance the your information assurance knowledge by exposing you to field-related work experiences. If an internship is not secured early, it may jeopardize the value of the experiences due to a lack of time in the position. Delaying to find opportunities may also cause you to miss out on an internship altogether. For both internships and post-graduation commitment, most positions will require some type of security clearance and these along with the Federal hiring process can sometime be very time consuming.
May I contact agencies with which I would like to serve the internship or be placed to fulfill my post-graduation employment commitment?
Yes. In fact, students are required to find placement opportunities on their own. The School of Engineering Career Services office and Jayhawk SFS program provide many tools and resources to assist you in finding opportunities including contact information for agencies interested in hiring Information Assurance Specialists. This link has listings for current IA job announcements - https://www.sfs.opm.gov/StudResources.aspx
. Closed hiring events specifically for SFS students are held twice a year; a live job fair (typically located in the DC area and held in January) and a Virtual Career Fair (typically held in October). These events give agencies opportunities to interview and even hire SFS students on the spot.
What positions are open to me?
You can apply for any position that includes duties in Cybersecurity / Information Assurance at a Federal, State, Local, Tribal or Territorial Government organization, Independent Agency, Government Corporation, Commission, or Quasi-Official Agency. Positions may be secured to meet obligations at a National Laboratory, a Federally Funded Research Development Center (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ffrdclist/
), or other approved organization on a limited basis. If you are unsure if a particular position meets program requirement you should contact the SFS Program Office at email@example.com
Am I guaranteed permanent placement with a government agency?
No. Students are responsible for their own job search. The SFS Program Office makes several tools available to assist students in their job search efforts. These tools include the SFS program website, resume posting, dedicated job fairs, and job activity logs.
Can I defer my employment commitment to further my education?
Yes, under certain circumstances you may defer your service for up to two years to continue your education. The additional education must enhance your marketability as an Information Assurance Professional. This deferment must be approved by the Program Office and the continued education cannot be funded by the SFS program, and you must continue to fulfill SFS participant responsibilities as indicated in an addendum to your Service Agreement.
What happens if I leave my Federal position before I serve the required period?
You must repay a prorated amount equivalent to the length of the period not served. For example, if you receive funds for two years and serve for one-and-a-half years, you must repay 25% of the funds received.
What is the process to obtain government security clearance?
Government security clearance is required for employment and once you have been offered a position, the hiring agency will give you the required information to begin the investigation process. You will be required to use the Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing form (e-QIP). Applicants can only access the e-QIP system if they have been invited to do so by an appropriate official at their sponsoring agency. Individuals cannot pre-apply for a security clearance, nor update their security questionnaire unless granted access by an appropriate agency official. See additional FAQ's for the security clearance process at https://www.opm.gov/investigations/investigations-faqs
For additional questions, please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Jayhawk SFS Principal Investigator Dr. Bo Luo at email@example.com.