Scholarly Support Fund (SSF) FAQ & GUIDELINES
The Graduate Employee Organization Scholarly Support Fund (GEO SSF) provides financial support to dues-paying GEO members who attend and/or present posters, papers (written work), or talks at academic and professional conferences. SSF is a first come-first serve grant; funding will be awarded to applicants in the order GEO receives applications. During this round of funding (Spring 2021), dues-paying members can apply for up to $200 in reimbursement for one or more items listed in the qualifying expense list. Please read this document carefully since there have been substantial changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
1.1 Who is eligible?
All graduate employees at the University of Massachusetts Boston who are also dues-paying members of the Graduate Employee Organization, UAW local 1596, at the time of application. In order to be eligible, you must be a dues-paying member before you apply.
1.2 How do I know if I am a dues-paying member?
If you are unsure whether or not you are a dues-paying member, fill out the GEO Membership Form here. This is a form-fillable PDF that you can email to GEO at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will inform you by email once we have received your membership form. Filling it out more than once will not affect your membership status, nor cause any other changes, but it will help ensure you are in our system. The GEO dues deduction form is usually completed in the pre-employment paperwork submitted by graduate assistants to the Office of Graduate Studies.
You can, however, check your pay-stub to see if you are a dues-paying member. To find your pay-stub:
- Go to UMB’s website at umb.edu
- Click on the MyUMass tab and then on HR Direct
- Log in with your UMB credentials
- Click on Payroll
- Select the latest pay period
- Under After Tax Deductions you should see Boston GEO Dues listed with a total dollar amount next to it
- If your pay-stub does not list this fee, that means you are not a dues-paying member, and must fill out a new membership form.
1.3 How many grants can be awarded to an individual applicant?
Although SSF is split into two rounds of funding per academic year, only one grant per academic year is allowed per applicant. Applicants may receive the SSF multiple times during their academic career, provided the conferences for which they are applying occur in different academic years, detailed below. For the purposes of SSF, an academic year ends on April 15th. This date is due to the university’s pay schedule.
“How do I apply?”
2.1 When does the application open?
Applications will be open for one week starting Thursday, February 11 (8 am) and closing on Friday, February 12 (11:59 pm). We will be accepting applications for incurred expenses made starting from December 1; and for anticipated expenses for which you can provide receipts within the established timeline (see below).
2.2 What are the eligible expenses?
Like the last round of SSF, this round will let you apply for an ample range of expenses. You can get reimbursed for: Registration fee(s) for virtual conference(s), Membership dues for scholarly organizations, Software license for research*, Access to database/article(s)*, Book(s) for class or research, Library fee/Interlibrary loan fee(s)*, Technological peripheral(s) [e.g., headphones, mics, computer monitor, cables (e.g., HDMI, USBs)], Ergonomic Accessories (e.g., Mouse/keyboard pad, chair with back support, and other accessories).
* These items qualify as long as they are not provided at no cost by UMass Boston.
* The eligibility of items that are not mentioned in the previous list – or which eligibility seems ambiguous – will be discussed in our internal committee meeting.
Non eligible expenses
Non-eligible expenses include internet payment(s) or other bills, flight/train/bus tickets, exercise equipment, major home appliances, leisure books/softwares (e.g., gaming or non-related to research/class), and cellphones.
* These items qualify as long as they are not provided by UMass Boston.
2.3 What is the timeline for qualifying conference-related expenses?
The timeframe for eligible virtual conference funding will be those held from September 8 to April 15, 2021. You will need to provide your registration receipt stating the conference starting date within the established timeline. If you attended a virtual academic conference in Fall 2020 – and have not been reimbursed for the registration/scholarly association fee – you can submit it on this round of SSF (Spring 2021).
- If you are applying for non-conference related items, the receipts should not be older than December 1, 2020. You can submit your receipts for other expenses (not related to virtual conference registration fees) bought on or after December 1, 2020. See the complete list of eligible expenses in the previous section.
2.4 Do I need an acceptance letter from the conference I will be presenting?
No. In this round, we will not differentiate applicants who will be presenting or attending conferences. Everyone will have the opportunity to apply for up to $200 to be spent on one or more of the qualifying expenses noted above.
2.5 What do I need to know before applying?
A list of questions and materials you will need to fill out the application is available on our website under the Solidarity Support Fund (SSF) tab. You can prepare your application using this material, which you can find here. Applications will only be accepted through an online form that will open on February 11 at 8:00 am. You will find the application form at the top of the SSF page. Applications submitted through email will not be accepted. Only applications completed throughout the application form in our website will be considered for SSF.
Before you apply…
- Make sure you are a GEO member! If you are not a member, or just want to be safe, please email a new GEO membership form to the GEO email account before February 11!
- Make sure you’re applying for eligible items that fall within the timeline and can provide receipt within 10 days of the first email notice/request.
- Download this document and the SSF checklist from our website before February 11. That way, you’ll know what you need to fill out the form and apply.
2.6 How are SSF recipients selected?
This SSF round continues being a first come-first serve award. It has been tailored to cover a broader range of expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic. As long as all requirements are met, funds will be awarded to applicants in the order by which GEO received their application. Timestamps are automatically generated by our website when the form is submitted. We will move from the first awardee down the line until all funds are distributed. If remaining funds for the last awardee total to less than their requested amount, then partial funding will be awarded to that awardee. After all funds have been distributed, a waiting list will be created of any applicants who have not been awarded funding or have received only partial funding. In case of any applicant who has been awarded the SSF are unable to finish the process for SSF – including, but not limited to, being unable to attend their conference, or being unable to prove costs or supply receipts – the award will be given to the first person on the waiting list, continuing on a first come-first serve basis. Once awardees are selected, applicants will be notified of the status of their application. All applications will be kept on file by GEO.
3.1 “When will I be hearing from you?”
After you apply, you will be contacted by one of our committee members within 2-3 days after the application window closing to tell you whether or not your application made it to the finalists, have been waitlisted, or did not make the cut. Hoping for the best, you should start gathering your receipts. You will hear from us soon after applications!
3.2 I made it to the finalists. What happens now?
Once you are notified that you’ve been selected to receive SSF, you will have 10 days starting from that date to send us all the receipts needed to process your grant. Within 10 days of the first email notification, you must submit, by email:
- Your receipts you wish to have reimbursed by the SSF.
- The receipts you wish to have reimbursed. These receipts can be for a conference that already happened starting from September 8, 2020 through April 15, 2021. The latter date is due to the university’s pay schedule.
- These receipts can be for other expenses/items bought on or after December 1st. See the complete list of eligible expenses in section 2.2 of this document.
Once GEO has all the necessary documentation, your application will be turned in to the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) for processing. After your supporting documentation is submitted to OGS, and everything is in order on the application, you should see the reimbursement through direct deposit within two pay-periods (four weeks) on your account. Suppose an applicant is unable to turn in receipts and travel registry confirmation within 10 days of the first email notification/receipt request. In that case, funding may be awarded to the next applicant on the waiting list. GEO may request additional documentation to ensure reimbursements happen on a fair and timely basis. As per university policies, if you have a pending balance in your Wiser account, your SSF grant will be allocated towards that balance.
*Grant processing times have been delayed by the current pandemic.
4.1 How much money does GEO have and how much is allotted for each round of applications?
As of Spring 2021, GEO has a total of $12,500 in SSF for each academic year. These funds are split into $6,250 for Summer/Fall and $6,250 for Winter/Spring. For each round of funding, funds will be awarded to as many applicants as can be covered by the $6,250. Candidates may apply for partial funding if their expenses do not add up to $200. Any spare funding will be passed down to the next applicant on the line, until that applicant’s requested funding amount is reached, and then the process will repeat to the next applicant. In instances that the entire allotment of funding is not spent, funds may be rolled over from the Summer/Fall round of funding unto the Winter/Spring.
4.2 What if I’m attending a conference next semester?
As long as it is a virtual academic conference, and you are able to register and get a receipt, you can use the SSF Spring 2021 round of funding. You may turn in receipts before the start date of your conference. If you’re unable to register for this conference now, you can try applying to other funding sources or stay vigilant to the Fall round of SSF.
4.3 What if I spent less than the requested $200?
If the total receipts turned in by an applicant total an amount that is less than the requested amount, the remaining funds will go to the next unfulfilled funding request.
4.4 What if I also got funding from the Graduate Student Assembly or any other internal UMass Boston source?
SSF can be used in conjunction with other sources of internal funding. However, SSF funds must be used for expenses that are not already covered by any other source of funding. For example, if an applicant spends $150 on a conference registration, and $80 in a software licence, they could use the SSF award money to pay for the conference registration, and other grants to cover their software licence. Any combination works, but funding cannot overlap. The university controller’s office keeps track of all internal funding granted to students and will let GEO know if there are any issues with misappropriated funds.
4.5 What if I received funding from other sources outside of UMass Boston?
The same rule applies, SSF will not cover any expenses already covered by other sources of funding. We hope applicants disclose all of their funding sources to ensure funds can be fairly distributed across our members.
4.6 Does the SSF ever change how it works?
This semester (Spring 2021), we are continuing with the modified SSF protocol that we used for the Fall 2020. This protocol was initially modified in the Fall 2020 to suit the circumstances brought by the current global pandemic. For Spring 2021, follow this document. We recommend that you check our Graduate Advocate email and website updates for upcoming changes or modifications to protocols and rules to suit this changing world.