GRFP Essay Insights: Application Resources for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program
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GRFP Overview

The basics

student in lab coat

The GRFP is a prestigious, nationally competitive fellowship offered by the National Science Foundation. It provides three years of financial support for beginning graduate study leading to a research-based degree in the STEM disciplines.

Financial support

The fellowship includes a $32,000-per-year stipend for three years. Additionally, each Fellow receives a tuition waiver via a cost-of-education allowance that is awarded to the graduate institution. After one year of graduate study, Fellows become eligible to apply for international research funding support through Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW).

Eligibility requirements*

*Always refer to the current NSF-GRFP Solicitation for official eligibility information.

  1. Citizenship: Must be a United States citizen, US national, or a permanent US resident by the application deadline. Refer to the GRFP solicitation.
  2. Degree requirement: Individuals are typically eligible to apply
    • during the senior year of college; or after earning a baccalaureate, but no graduate study;
    • first year graduate students;
    • second year graduate students with less than 12 months of graduate study;
    • those with a break in graduate studies of 2 or more years (can have MS degree).
  3. Note: The new solicitation clearly explains that all post-baccalaureate study counts toward eligibility. If you are enrolled in a joint BS/MS program, please refer to the GRFP solicitation for your eligibility windows.

  4. Field of study (disciplines): Biological sciences, computer science/engineering, chemistry, engineering, geosciences, information science, social sciences, life sciences, mathematical scinece, materials science, psychology, physics and astronomy, or STEM education and learning. Interdisciplinary research is also possible. Not eligible: professional practice degrees - see details in the GRFP solicitation.

Award cycle

The GRFP competition opens in August with deadlines starting in late October. Awards are announced the following spring. Fellows must commence graduate study in the summer or fall after accepting the award. About 2,000 fellowships will be offered pending availability of funds.

Special Note

Whereas the National Science Foundation awards grants to investigators to fund their research, the Graduate Research Fellowship Program funds students who are training to become well-rounded researchers. It's a fine distinction, but an important one.

Social network discussions
Advice from Fellows

If it wasn't for the NSF GRFP, I would not be able to work with either of my current advisors (one at Georgia Tech and the other at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory) because at the time, they did not have the funding to take on another student.

Rene Diaz

'11 Fellow, Engineering

Georgia Tech


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