NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

The following guidance is meant to assist prospective and current Vanderbilt NSF Fellows and their advisers. It is not meant to be an exhaustive overview of the program.  More information is available on the NSF-GRFP website.

Program administration information for current fellows can be found here. 

Prospective Applicants

Current Fellows: Funding Information

  • Fellowship Status - Tenure & Reserve
    • A Fellowship year is 12 months and is defined by NSF as beginning either Summer/June 1 or Fall/September 1.
    • Tenure is computed from the fellowship start date, independent of Vanderbilt’s academic year (which begins August 15),
    • At Vanderbilt, a fellowship year beginning in Fall begins August 1.
    • Fellowship Tenure Status is not defined by the date on which a stipend payment is issued.
    • A GRFP fellowship cannot be concurrently accepted or combined with another Federal Fellowship regardless of the Fellow’s status, but may be combined with other types of funding.
    • If you’re uncertain about how a particular type of funding might affect the NSF Fellowship, check with Vanderbilt’s Coordinating Official (CO), Kaitlyn Mehlhouse.
    • Regardless of Tenure Status, all continuing Fellows must submit two reports by May 1 each year via FastLane
      (1) The Annual Activities report with the signed Academic/Research Advisor Confirmation Form
      (2) the Fellowship Year Tenure Declaration. 
      (Additional details are available in the NSF Administrative Guide)
  • Stipends
    • The NSF stipend is awarded to the Fellow but managed by Vanderbilt, through the Graduate School.
    • The stipend is pro-rated in monthly increments and paid on the last business day of the month.
    • Vanderbilt defines the NSF stipend as service-free. As such, fellows are not considered salaried employees of either NSF or Vanderbilt and no funds or taxes are withheld from stipend payments.
    • On an annual basis (by January 31 of each year), HR Processing will send stipend recipients a letter regarding taxability and what forms (if any) to expect from Vanderbilt University. 
    • Please note:  Vanderbilt University does not provide tax guidance or assistance; this information is provided as a service and reminds all recipients to seek the counsel of a qualified tax advisor to determine their individual circumstances.
    • Fellows are not permitted to receive more than 12 months of GRFP stipend support during a single Fellowship Year.
    • No Fellow is eligible to receive more than 36 months cumulative GRFP stipend support.
    • While on Tenure, Fellows are exempt from paying required tuition and fees normally charged to graduate students of similar academic standing. However, all living expenses are the responsibility of the Fellow. 
  • Cost of Education (COE) Allowance
    • NSF provides a fixed COE allowance to Vanderbilt. The use of the COE allowance is at Vanderbilt’s discretion.
    • For 2024-2025, the current COE is $16,000 per Tenure (stipend) year, typically paid in two installments (fall and spring).
    • Vanderbilt uses the COE to pay a Fellow’s health insurance (unless waived by the Fellow), and a portion of tuition charges for the years the Fellow is on Tenure.
    • For fellows with 72 credit hours that are still on tenure, COE funds are used to pay health insurance, required fees, and the nominal tuition fee for a student to remain enrolled (currently $200). In these cases, fellows may request the use of the remaining COE funds for approved education, research, and professional development expenses
    • To request COE funds: A proposal is submitted in advance of any expenditures to the CO. Please see Funding Guidelines for an overview of the COE proposal process.