Frequently Asked Questions

CUSP Summer Enhancement Fellowships

Can I apply as a senior?

No. Currently this fellowship is only for Scholars in their first, sophomore, and junior summers.

Can I apply to this fellowship if I have not secured an internship/research position by the deadline?

Scholars without secured internships can still apply for the internship fellowship, and should list in the application all of the internships they have applied for. Scholars are required to inform the CUSP office by May 30th to provide an update on what internship was finally secured for the summer. Please speak with a CUSP Advisor if this applies to you.

Can I get credit on my transcript for my summer internship?

Columbia College and Columbia Engineering do not provide credit for internships.

Can I use the SEF Funding for more than one internship or independent project?

No, the funding is intended to fund one experience at a time.

Can I use this money anywhere in the world?

Yes. This fellowship can be applied anywhere in the world.

Can my CUSP Advisor complete the SEF Recommendation Form for me?

CUSP Advisors cannot complete the Recommendation Form for the CUSP Summer Enhancement Fellowship. However, if you have a good relationship with our Graduate Student Mentors (GSMs), then they can complete the Recommendation Form at your request.

Do I have to research with a Columbia faculty member?

Your main sponsor must be a permanent Columbia University faculty member, but you are encouraged to have additional sponsors and are certainly welcome to have a secondary sponsor from another university. If you have a research advisor who is not a professor at an accredited institution, please see a CUSP Advisor before submitting your application.

How does an SEF work with summer classes?

If you wish to take an unrelated summer class at the same time as your summer project, be mindful that the pace of summer classes is accelerated, and you should beware of the potential of overcommitment, as well as check with your internship supervisor or PI whether additional commitments are permitted. If you wish to take a summer class in connection to your project, be advised SEF funds cannot be applied toward tuition or school supplies; some summer programs may be considered for SEF funding if they contain a strong research, fieldwork, or experiential education component, but you should see a CUSP Advisor prior to submitting your application if your project falls in this category.

How will my Recommender or Faculty Sponsor submit their SEF Recommendation or Faculty Support Form?

Upon completing your online application, you will receive a confirmation email verifying your application submission.  Within the email, there will be an electronic link that you will send to your Recommender or your Faculty Sponsor so that they can submit a recommendation form on your behalf.  Please make note of the deadline for the Recommender and Facutly Support forms and let your contacts know as well.

If an internship is paid, would the intern still be eligible for SEF funding?

Yes, both low-paying and unpaid opportunities are eligible for the supplemental funding to help offset the related expenses.

If I apply for the fellowship this year, will it hurt my chances of applying for the funds next year?

No. Scholars can apply annually for this fellowship until their year of graduation.

If I get an internship abroad, will my airfare be paid?

All grants are based on availability of funds. Please note that CUSP cannot guarantee that you will receive the full amount that you requested.

Is it possible to do independent projects in a group?

Yes, funding has been applied to group projects in the past, but each member will need to submit their own separate application. Make sure you discuss this with your GSM to verify each member has an equitable role and deliverable.

Who chooses the fellowship awardees?

The CUSP Fellows Selection Committee selects the SEF awardees.

Will my full requested amount be approved?

Students should not expect SEF funds to cover all expenses of their summer opportunity. This is a partial fellowship, and funding is dependent on the SEF budget, the number of applicants, and the individual needs of each applicant. Thus we cannot guarantee up front that we will be able to approve all fellows for their full requested amount. If you need to commit to an opportunity prior to a funding determination, you may wish to verify that you are still able to achieve your aims for that opportunity, even if full funding is not approved.

Will there be interviews?

Interviews will no longer be conducted. 

After submitting the application in April, what might prevent students from being accepted?

Attending mandatory events and maintaining good standing does not guarantee you funding. We review each application for several factors including preparation, feasibility, and safety, but we endeavor to accept and fund all projects as best we can since these experiential opportunities are an exciting way to enhance your academic program.

Am I able to use SEF funding for independent business ventures if my independent project is a startup (either for-profit or non-profit)?

Exercise caution, as using Columbia funding for a business venture can cause that venture to fall under Columbia ownership. Check with your GSM and your Advisor.

Are international students still eligible for SEF funding?

Yes, though there may be a tax associated with your opportunity, depending on the country. This is actually a great way to receive funding whether or not you are using your CPT.

Are there instances of students pursuing independent projects in STEM?

Yes, your creativity is welcomed and encouraged, whether your ideas are artistic or scientific.

Can eligible expenses include housing in NYC if the internship is based in NYC?

Yes, rent can be presented as an expenditure eligible for SEF funding.

Can I have more than one faculty sponsor for an independent project?

Yes, you need at least one sponsor, but you are not limited to only one. You may mention in your application that you intend to have a second faculty sponsor. The main faculty sponsor must be a permanent Columbia University faculty member.

Can I participate in in-person internships outside of the US? If I’m an international student, can I use SEF for an internship in my home country?

Yes! If you are traveling abroad you will be required to follow University policies and procedures whether or not you are traveling to your home country.

Can the funding be used for non-school classes for an Indie Project?

No, the funding is not meant to be used for tuition expenses. When in doubt, please discuss with your GSM or your Advisor.

Do all expenses have to be included in the application, or can we use the funds for unforeseen expenses?

The funding is meant to cover supplies, housing, food, and travel, so your budget should be as concise as possible to help the CUSP Fellows Selection Committee anticipate and endeavor to meet your needs.

Do I have to pursue an opportunity related to my major?

No! You are certainly welcome to dig into an aspect of your current field of study, but you should also feel free to use this time to pursue opportunities in other fields; some of our greatest success stories have been from students who tried something different!

Does the faculty sponsor need to read the proposal and give the green light for an independent project?

Yes, you are expected to work on the logistics of the proposal with your GSM and then reach out to a faculty sponsor who will be able to support your project, either by expertise or by networking. Their role is to make sure your project is feasible and deliverable within the time you have allotted. The faculty sponsor will be asked to complete a form where they will share their insights on the project.

For Independent Projects, can SEF funding be used to pay me for the time I spend on the project?

No, this is not wage or a salary; it is a stipend for expenses necessary to carry out your project, such as supplies, housing, food, and travel.

For projects rooted abroad, will Columbia assist in the navigation of visa acquisition and other foreign embassy-related things?

No, these are all the student’s responsibilities.

What resources are there to find research assistantships?

See our website, as well as the websites for the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Center for Career Education for some ideas to get you started. Discuss options as well with your GSM and your Advisor.

Why do I have to submit a record of my expenses?

Our office is required to maintain documentation that the funds we distribute are being used for expenses that are appropriate to each summer fellowship opportunity. This is consistent with federal grants for scientific and non-profit research.

Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program


403 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: (212) 854-6378

Fax: (212) 854-2562

Office Hours
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.