UPDATED Application Review Process and Timeline - Read This

Answers to various questions regarding the SMART Scholarship application process. Includes many tips and statistics.

UPDATED Application Review Process and Timeline - Read This

Postby Chris Moulder » Fri Jan 01, 2010 5:01 am

This post has multiple sections that provide background on the SMART Scholarship and the application process. This should be your first stop if you're new to the forum.

Review Process
Copied from SMARTGuide's post here: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=8

SMARTGuide wrote:We received over 3,400 applications this year; we anticipate making 250-300 awards. Please DON’T take this to mean your chances are low and you should give up now. SMART is a workforce development program with a scholarship component. We strive to select applicants that are both academically strong AND are a good fit for the workforce of the Department of Defense (DoD). Each year some academically well qualified students don’t receive awards because their career interests do not align with the needs of the DoD and/or they are unable and/or unwilling to comply with the terms of the service agreement (please see our website for copies of past service agreements). EVERY completed application will be reviewed and considered with the above in mind. Your chances are as good as the next person so don’t take yourself out of the running by not submitting follow-up information when requested. We have to somehow get from 3,400 down to 250-300 and the first to go are applicants that haven’t submitted information we need.

3) A very general description of our application review and selection process;

a) All completed applications are screened to determine if the applicant meets all of our base eligibility requirements (e.g. applicant has a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, is a U.S. citizen, 18 years of age or older, etc. – see our website for a complete description).

b) All completed applications meeting our base eligibility requirements are reviewed by a panel of subject matter experts. This year’s panel will consist of approximately 180 people; 50% will be professors from civilian universities across the country, the other 50% will be government employees with expertise in one or more of the STEM disciplines listed on our website. Each application is reviewed by three reviewers; 1 civilian professor, 1 government employee. The final reviewer can be either a civilian professor or government employee.

c) Applicants are ranked by discipline and degree type (e.g. BS, MS, Ph.D). Applicants ranking in the top 50% of their category are considered semi-finalists and are forwarded for further review.

d) Semi-finalist applications are made available to people at the DoD facilities where awardees ultimately end up working after graduation. Groups of people at these facilities review applications of individuals with backgrounds and interests that are aligned with their projected workforce needs. Most facilities conduct phone interviews with these individuals. From this group, each facility submits a list of candidates they recommend for award and placement with their organization.

e) The SMART Program Office (SPO) complies these lists, resolves issues that arise when the same candidate is recommended for placement at multiple facilities, and conducts further screening to insure recommended candidates a) understand the nature of the post-graduation service commitment and b) are willing and able to comply with the terms of the service agreement.

f) Based on the results of these screening efforts and the available budget, a sub-set of these applicants are chosen for an award.

We have been students and most of us are parents too. We truly understand how concerning financial aid and scholarship funding is to each and every individual and care deeply about our applicants and awardees. I hope you find this information helpful and sincerely thank you for your interest in the Program.


Application Review Timeline
Copied from Guest2014's post here: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=623

Guest2014 wrote:Hello all,
This is the third year that I have applied for the SMART scholarship. Those of you who applied in previous years, or have thoroughly read the threads on this forum, will know that the program has not stuck to their own proposed timeline in the past. However, I wanted to share the application review timeline that was available on the SMART website a few years ago so everyone has an idea of when they might here from the SMART program.
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All supporting application materials must be received by ASEE by 5:00 p.m. EST December 15, 2011. Applications missing transcripts, required test scores, recommendations, and/or other required documentation will be considered incomplete and will not be considered for award. If you are currently enrolled, you must maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain eligible for a SMART Scholarship Award. Below you will find a more detailed time line of the application and awardee process.

August 1
Application Period Opens
Applications are accepted only via ASEE’s online application portal. Hardcopy applications will not be accepted.*

December 15
Application Period Closes
All application materials including reference letters and required test scores MUST be RECEIVED by ASEE by 5:00 PM EST on December 15, 2011. Transcripts must be postmarked by December 15, 2011. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure these materials are submitted by the day and time listed above. NO late submissions of any materials will be accepted.

December 16 - January 15
Evaluation Level 1
Basic Eligibility Screening
Applicants are screened for basic eligibility criteria such as required GPA, citizenship status, age, and application completion.
Applicants not meeting the base eligibility criteria will be removed from award consideration.
Each year many applicants are disqualified from award consideration for either not meeting one or more eligibility criteria and/or having an incomplete application.

January 15 - January 31
Evaluation Level 2
Academic Evaluation
Applicants meeting all base eligibility criteria will be forwarded for review by an academic evaluation panel. The panel consists of professors from civilian universities and DoD employees with expertise in the STEM disciplines funded by the Program. Applicants determined by the panel to be the most academically qualified are forwarded to DoD agencies for review. All other applicants are removed from award consideration.
Approximately 50% of all applicants reviewed by the panel are forwarded for review by DoD agencies.

February 1 - March 15
Evaluation Level 3
DoD Workforce Needs Assessment
DoD agencies review and interview candidates with backgrounds and interests meeting the agency's workforce needs. Candidates determined to be a good fit for known DoD workforce needs are recommended for review by the SMART Program Office.
In recent years, approximately 1/4 of all candidates reviewed by DoD agencies were recommended for review by the SMART Program Office. All others are removed for award consideration.

March 15 - March 28
Evaluation Level 4
The SMART Program Office reviews application materials from and conducts phone interviews with, all candidates recommended for review by DoD agencies.
As a result of information obtained during the phone interview and application review, some candidates may be disqualified from award consideration. Reasons for disqualification include; inability or unwillingness to comply with the terms of the service agreement, change in degree type or field of study, change in required award length, degree type not offered at intended university, academic program not sufficiently technical**
The SMART Program Office offers awards to eligible recommended candidates based upon budget and programmatic considerations, as well as the best interests of the DoD. In recent years, approximately 2/3 of all recommended candidates were offered awards.
The number of awards made each year varies and is subject to availability of government funds.

March 31
Award Notifications Sent
Awardees will have 2 weeks to return their signed award documents and may be required to furnish additional information.

April 16***
2nd Round Award Notifications Sent

*Persons with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact ASEE to make appropriate arrangements.
**Applicants pursuing degrees in Systems/Industrial Engineering or Operations Research must pursue their degrees in academic programs that are predominantly technical rather than managerial in scope. It is the applicant’s responsibility to provide the SMART Program Office with sufficient documentation (such as copies of appropriate pages from the university course catalogue) for it to make a determination.
***On or about depending on award acceptance rates



My Experience with the Application Process (this is older)
Copied from my post here: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=3

Chris Moulder wrote:2010 Program Overview (Powerpoint)

2009 SMART Applicant Student Brief (Powerpoint)


Who am I?
I'm a Senior Aeronautical/Mechanical Engineer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute--applied in December 2008 after hearing about the SMART Scholarship from a 2008 recipient. Starting Summer 2010, I will be working in propulsion testing at Edward's Air Force Base.

I have made this site with the hope of answering many of the questions that applicants will have during the application process. Please post any new questions, and I will be happy to help find you an answer.

BEFORE YOU APPLY

Major


Generally speaking, if your major is on the list (http://smart.asee.org/about) you're good. However, the idea is that you stay with the government after you complete your required service. Also, pre-med doesn't count. Engineering (Electrical, Areo, Mechanical, Civil) majors generally get the most awards but Computer Science awards are increasing.

Facilities

It is imperative that you select preferred facilities that are relevant to your field of study. When the application database is searched, facilities will be looking for those who have selected them as an option. Facilities may also look at applicants who are close geographically or who go to schools with high competences rates (This is not fair). You can find facility descriptions here: http://smart.asee.org/sponsoring_facilities

GPA Requirement

2011 average was about 3.75. Anything below 3.5 is not very competitive.

I am going to be a freshman in the fall. The application opens in August; how would they determine my GPA if I have not even started my classes?

You will submit your High School GPA and standardized test scores.

Essays (Summary of Goals, Research Experience)
Yes, this part is important. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Know your audience. Broadly, you are writing to the Department of Defense, more specifically, you are writing to your future mentor at one of your preferred facilities. Either way, your essay should be related to your major and what your are interested in working on. If you are an Aero/Mech who listed Edwards AFB and Eglin AFB as your first choices, you better say something about flight testing. Possibly what you have worked on in the past, or what you might be interested in doing.
  • "We [the DoD] are not nice people, we kill people for a living." This was said at orientation, and I won't say by whom, and I'm taking it horribly out of context, but you get the idea. Generally speaking, the DoD is not interested in the environment or protecting the desert tortoise. You are not applying to Greenpeace. Unless environmental conservation is relevant to a program that you are interested in, don't mention it.
  • Talk about how you want to work for your facility even after your service commitment is completed.
  • If you do not have any research experience, that's okay. This is pegged as a research scholarship, but not every facility is looking to fill research positions. If you do not have research experience just talk about what experience you do have. Or even what experience you will have by the time you graduate.
  • Say you want to give back to the country and protect it from bad guys. I would suggest putting a few more adjectives and a synonym or two in there.
  • Have someone else spell and grammar check it...unlike what I have done for this forum.

Do I have to be nominated by my school to apply?

The only nominations per say are your letters of recommendation.

How many applicants are there? Acceptance Statistics?

These numbers are approximation. SMART does not actually publish the statistics. These numbers are just what I or someone else remembered hearing at orientation.

2011: 6900 application, 293 Awards, 4.3 Percent Acceptance Rate
2010: 3400 application, 298 Awards, 8.8 Percent Acceptance Rate
2009: 2200 application, 263 Awards, 12 Percent Acceptance Rate

AFTER YOU APPLY

2011 Timeline

  • December 15 - Submitted Application
  • Early February - Semi-Finalists are notified.
  • March - Most phone interviews are conducted. (It's good to get a phone interview but does not necessarily mean anything)
  • April 1- Acceptance emails were sent at 5pm Friday, April 1st. (SMART has a sense of humor)
  • July - Orientation

I was selected as an alternate, when will I know if I have been awarded a scholarship?

In 2009, awards were still being given out the week before orientation. The SMART team tries their best to let you know early, but they also adjust their budget as much as possible to allow for more participants. This includes adjusting for declined awards and varying tuition costs.

If I am rejected freshman year, can I apply again sophomore, junior, senior year?

You are encouraged to re-apply your sophomore and junior years. A senior is not eligible unless they have been accepted or are applying to a graduate program


Does every facility interview candidates before making their recommendations to the SPO?

"Sponsoring Facilities do not contact us with information about phone interviews and contacts; however, interviews typically are held until the middle of March. It is our understanding that not all facilities will contact applicants, even if they are recommending them for a scholarship."

Are the 3 facilities I specified the only ones who will receive my application? Will my application be sent to other facilities if some of my preferred facilities choose not to take awardees?

"All facilities have access to your application so facilities may take interest in sponsoring you, even if you did not list them on your application."


Will I be notified on/near March 15 if I was not recommended to SPO for award, or will I just have to assume I was not if I never get an interview from SPO?

"All semi-finalists will receive notification at the end of March if they have been selected as an awardee. The SMART Program has not notified us as to whether next-level notifications will go out before then or not."


AFTER YOU RECEIVE AN AWARD

Stipend


Direct Deposit from ASEE every third Friday of the month. However, you may not receive the full amount depending on the length of your award. For instance, I was selected in April, orientation was June, and payments started in August at 25,000/12 months = $2083.33. However, I will only receive this while I am not working for my facility. Assuming I start working on July 1, 2010, I will only be paid by SMART for 10 months x $2083.33.

Just a little note, probably the only time you will ever need to contact ASEE, other than mailing in a few forms, is if you have a payment issue. Otherwise, you always deal with SMART directly.

What happens if I am awarded a scholarship and SMART goes away?

SMART balances their budget on a per student basis. This means that once you receive and accept the award, SMART has already secured funding for your entire academic career. Should the program be dissolved, your tuition will continue to be paid, you will continue to receive your stipend, and you will still have to complete your post-graduation commitment.

The 2009 budget was $27.108 Million, which works out to ~$103,000 per student.

What happens if I die?

Yes, this has been asked and has occurred. SMART will not seek reimbursement of any funds.
Chris Moulder
 
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Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:56 pm

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