Student Research Grants Competition Information

Have you been invited to present your research at a conference, or do you need additional funds to support upcoming research travel in preparation for your final exhibition or thesis? If so, you should consider applying for a Student Research Grants Competition (SRGC) Travel Award. Award levels range from $300 to $1,500 for Research Travel and $300 to $1,200 for Conference Presentation funds.

Funding for these awards generously comes from the Vilas Trust and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).

Research Travel Award

Do you need financial support to travel in order to conduct research related to your thesis or final exhibition? If so, apply for the SRGC Research Travel Awards. Research applications are reviewed on a regular basis throughout the academic year by a review committee and award amounts range between $300 and $1,500. All graduate students are eligible to apply, although priority will be given to dissertators and final-year MFA students. The $1,500 level research travel award is reserved for a limited number of dissertators and final-year MFA students conducting international research travel. Research travel awards cannot be used for travel that primarily involves attending a conference, workshop, or training experience that does not involve conducting research needed for your dissertation, thesis, or final exhibition.

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Application Information and Timeline

Awards for domestic and international research travel are available to UW–Madison graduate students traveling to conduct research supporting their dissertation, thesis, or final exhibition. Research travel award applications are reviewed on a regular basis during the academic year, as indicated in the table below.

Research Application review timeline:
Applications received between: Applicants will be notified by:
June 1, 2019 – July 31, 2019 August 31, 2019
August 1, 2019 – September 30, 2019 October 31, 2019
October 1, 2019 – November 30, 2019 January 15, 2020
December 1, 2019 – January 31, 2020 February 28, 2020
February 1, 2020 – March 31, 2020 April 30, 2020
April 1, 2020 – May 15, 2020 May 31, 2020

Research Travel Award Eligibility

  • Student must be enrolled at UW–Madison as a full-time graduate student in a graduate program and eligible to receiving funding.
  • Student must be traveling to conduct research supporting a dissertation, thesis, or final exhibition. The Research Travel Awards do not support travel to attend a conference, workshop, or training activity that does not involve conducting research for your dissertation, thesis, or final exhibition.
  • Travel must start between July 1, 2019 and August 31, 2020, to be considered during the current competition year, although travel starting by June 30, 2020, will have priority over travel starting later in summer 2020. Applications for research travel that has already concluded are eligible, so long as the travel occurred between the dates listed above. The fiscal year 2020-2021 application will open on May 16, 2020. Travel starting between July 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021 will be eligible for this application.

How to Apply

Prepare the following documents:

  1. Synopsis: Justify how you will use a Research Travel Award in no more than two pages. Your synopsis should be clear, professional, and well-written, and must include:
    • the importance of this travel to your research and professional advancement;
    • the significance of this research to your field of study;
    • a clear description of travel plans; and
    • demonstration of financial need, including documentation of expenditures already incurred, such as transportation, exceeding the amount requested.
    • There are no formatting guidelines for the synopsis other than the two-page length limit.
    • Your application will be evaluated by a review committee. Please note that your application may be read by someone from any discipline; strong applications are able to convey the importance of an applicant’s research and travel plans to a non-expert or person outside your field.
  2. Estimated Budget: Fill out the itemized form in your online application.
    Note: Budgeting and expense reporting for all travel activities must follow the UW–Madison travel policies. A Lodging and Per Diem Calculator is available on UW TravelWIse to help with developing your budget.
  3. Letter of support from your faculty advisor. Reviewers look for the advisor’s enthusiastic recommendation of the student and clear support of the student’s research as a worthwhile contribution to the field of study.

Complete and submit the electronic application by the appropriate posted reviewing deadline to receive a response early enough to allow you to make any necessary arrangements.

Research Travel Award Recipients

  • This competition follows UW–Madison travel guidelines. You are strongly encouraged to review the UW–Madison travel policy page and to arrange your airline travel through UW TravelWIse. Please work with your advisor and program staff as appropriate to use this resource. A calculator to help you plan your lodging and food budgets is also available on that site.
  • Per Bursar’s Office policy, students with outstanding debts on their student accounts may have those debts deducted from their SRGC award. This includes, but is not limited to, tuition and segregated fees.
  • International students with non-resident alien status: If you are selected as a Research Travel Award recipient, you may need to submit additional documentation before you can receive the funding. The process you will need to follow will be based on whether you have already held an appointment at UW–Madison.
    • If you have already held an appointment, the Glacier system through the UW–Madison HR Office will follow up with you to determine if you need to submit additional documentation.
    • If you have not held any appointment, the Graduate School Payroll Coordinator will send you a letter requesting a W-4 form and a direct deposit form before your information is forwarded to the UW–Madison HR Office.

Frequently Asked Questions

May I also apply for the Conference Presentation Funds?

Applicants can submit applications for both the Research Travel and Conference Presentation awards, however, each eligible student can only accept one SRGC award, whether a Research Travel Award or Conference Presentation Fund award, each fiscal year (July 1 – June 30).

What materials must I provide in order to complete the application?

In the online application, you will be asked to:

  1. Complete an application form
  2. Upload a synopsis
  3. Fill out an estimated budget form
  4. Request a letter of support from your academic advisor

How do I estimate my travel budget?

The itemized budget form in the application helps you estimate expenses. The primary categories are:

  • Transportation
  • Lodging/accommodations
  • Meals

You should complete the form to the best of your ability. The UW TravelWIse Lodging and Per Diem Calculator offers maximum allowable food and lodging expenses. The grant will pay actual lodging costs, up to the stated maximum rates for the location. Students are expected to research rates and include the actual rate they expect to spend, up to the maximum allowed.

Does the UW–Madison Travel Policy apply to Research Travel Award recipients?

Yes. Award recipients are required to follow the current campus travel guidelines in planning their travel. Please visit UW TravelWIse for more information.

May I apply for the award if I am driving to my research site?

Yes. You may use the award to pay for mileage or gas and parking expenses incurred during travel if you are driving a privately owned vehicle. You will need to include documentation indicating mileage as part of your application, and note that you cannot request funding to cover both mileage and gas. The use of a rental vehicle is acceptable when it is the most cost-effective means of transportation available. If the rental vehicle includes enough miles to cover your trip, you may include the rental charge, gas, parking, and tolls in your budget request. Please visit the Accounting Services website for more information on using a vehicle during travel.

How do I obtain my advisor’s letter of support?

In your application, you will provide your advisor’s contact information. Once you submit that information, your advisor will receive an email invitation that will include a link to follow that will allow the advisor to upload the letter so it will be connected to your application. You are encouraged to follow up with your advisor to confirm that she/he received the message titled “Please Serve as a Reference for [Student Name]” from the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub.

What happens after I submit my application?

Should your application be both complete and correctly submitted, you should expect to receive a notification of the award decision by email by the notification deadline indicated for your submission period. Once notified of an award decision, you should follow the instructions in the award letter to officially accept the award.

Will I receive my award if I don’t have my receipts?

Students are no longer required to submit receipts in order to receive their travel award. However, please keep your receipts and records of your travel expenses, as the Graduate School will do random documentation checks to confirm that the approved travel took place.

Will I receive funding to cover all my travel expenditures?

No, in most cases. SRGC awards are currently only available at the $300, $600, $1,200, or $1,500 levels. You may request and be considered for the highest award level that is less than your demonstrated unmet need. The maximum award for domestic research travel is $1,200. There are a limited number of $1,500 awards available only for dissertators and final-year MFA students conducting international travel.

Conference Presentation Funds

Do you need financial support to present your research at a conference? If so, apply for the SRGC Conference Presentation Funds. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and award amounts are for $300, $600, or $1,200.

All graduate students are eligible to apply for SRGC Conference Presentation Funds, with priority given to dissertators and final-year MFA students.

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Application Information and Timeline

Awards for domestic and international conference travel are available to UW–Madison graduate students traveling primarily for the purpose of presenting their research at a conference. Conference Presentation Fund applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Decisions are typically sent within four weeks of receiving all application materials, including advisor approval.

Eligibility

To be eligible for a Conference Presentation award, the following criteria must apply:

  • Student must be enrolled at UW–Madison as a full-time graduate student in a graduate program and eligible to receiving funding.
  • Student must be traveling to present research (e.g., paper, poster, panel) at a conference (may be domestic or international).
  • Conference end date must fall within the current fiscal year (between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020). Students intending to travel after July 1, 2020 may apply for the 2020-2021 competition when the application opens on May 16, 2020.
  • Student must demonstrate unmet need of at least $300 (after deducting from the total cost any other funding you will receive for the same conference presentation event) by filling out an Estimated Budget Form. While filling out the budget form, please keep in mind the UW System travel policies as well as these competition-specific policies:
    • The per diem for food is based on your location and travel dates. Food should be included in your budget using the UW TravelWIse Lodging and Per Diem Calculator. If some or all meals are included in the conference fee, those meals must be deducted from your per diem (the UW TravelWIse calculator will ask for this information, so have a list of included meals handy when you respond to those questions).
    • The estimated budget you submit should use actual lodging costs, within the stated maximum rates for the location. The maximum allowable rates can be found using the UW TravelWIse Lodging and Per Diem Calculator. Students are expected to research rates and include the rate they expect to spend, within the stated maximum.
    • If you are sharing a hotel room, only claim the amount that you will be spending on the room, not the entire cost.

How to Apply

Prepare the following documents:

  1. Proof of acceptance to present at the conference (e.g., email, letter of paper/poster acceptance, or conference program cover and page where you are listed as a panelist/presenter). Please highlight the portion of the document which lists you as a presenter if it is not immediately apparent. This document must show that you are presenting a paper or poster, moderating a session, serving as a panelist, or in a leadership role for the hosting organization, not simply attending the conference. This document must be submitted in the application as a PDF file and must be in English or include an English translation.
  2. Abstract of paper or poster to be presented.
  3. An estimated budget form that includes all outside funding sources (if any) and shows that at least $300 of additional funding is needed. Please be accurate in your estimations and keep in mind the UW System travel policies. The budget form you will use is in the online application as well as instructions on the process to get your advisor’s approval.
  4. Complete the online application, including submitting the above listed materials, at the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub.

Conference Presentation Funds Recipients

  1. This competition follows UW–Madison travel guidelines and policies. You are strongly encouraged to familiarize yourself with UW–Madison travel policies and also arrange your airline travel through the UW System’s managed travel program website. Please work with your advisor and program staff as appropriate to use this resource. A lodging and food budget calculator is also available on that site.
  2. International students with non-resident alien status: If you are selected as a Conference Presentation Fund recipient, you may need to submit additional documentation before you can receive the funding. The process you will need to follow will be based on whether you have already held an appointment at UW–Madison:
    • If you have already held an appointment, the Glacier system through the UW–Madison HR Office will follow up with you to determine if you need to submit additional documentation.
    • If you have not held any appointment, the Graduate School Payroll Coordinator will send you a letter requesting a W-4 form and a direct deposit form before your information is forwarded to the UW–Madison HR Office.

Per Bursar’s Office policy, students with outstanding debts on their student accounts may have those debts deducted from their SRGC award. This includes, but is not limited to, tuition and segregated fees.

Frequently Asked Questions

May I apply even though I don’t know if my proposal will be accepted to the conference?

No. Confirmation of conference acceptance is required at the time of application. You are encouraged to start your application as soon as you are able once you receive your acceptance. If you need to request pre-approval for the SRGC award due to special policies set by the conference you would like to attend, please contact srgc-conference@grad.wisc.edu.

May I also apply for the Research Travel funds?

Applicants can submit applications for both the Research Travel and Conference Presentation awards, however, each eligible student can only accept one SRGC award, whether a Research Travel Award or Conference Presentation Fund award, each fiscal year (July 1 – June 30).

What materials must I provide in order to complete the application?

In the online application, you will be asked to:

  • Complete an application form
  • Upload proof of acceptance to present (PDF)
  • Upload the presentation abstract
  • Fill out an estimated budget form
  • Request approval from your research/thesis advisor. Note that this is not a formal letter of recommendation. Rather, your advisor will confirm that you are or are not attending the conference to present and that the advisor is in support of your attendance at the conference.
  • Upload a summary of your travel plans and any additional justification that will help with your travel award application

How do I estimate my travel budget?

The itemized budget form in the application helps you estimate expenses. The primary categories are:

  • Conference registration/society membership
  • Transportation
  • Lodging/accommodations
  • Meals

You should complete the form to the best of your ability. The UW TravelWIse Lodging and Per Diem Calculator indicates maximum allowable food and lodging expenses. For the purpose of this budget, actual lodging costs should be included, up to the stated maximum rates for the location. Students are expected to research rates and include the actual rate they expect to spend, up to the maximum allowed.

Does the UW–Madison Travel Policy apply to SRGC award recipients?

Yes. Award recipients are required to follow the current campus travel guidelines in planning their travel. Please visit UW TravelWIse for more information.

May I apply for the award if I am driving to the conference?

Yes. You may use the award to pay for mileage or gas and parking expenses incurred during travel if you are driving a privately owned vehicle. You will need to include documentation indicating mileage as part of your application, and note that you cannot request funding to cover both mileage and gas. The use of a rental vehicle is acceptable when it is the most cost-effective means of transportation available. If the rental vehicle includes enough miles to cover your trip, you may include the rental charge, gas, parking, and tolls in your budget request. Please visit the Accounting Services website for more information on using a vehicle during travel.

How do I obtain my advisor’s approval for this application?

In your application, you will provide contact information for your advisor. This should be the person advising you toward the research/thesis/exhibition relevant to your participation in the conference. Once you complete the application, your advisor will receive an email invitation to follow the link and approve your submission for the Conference Presentation Funds. You are encouraged to follow up with your advisor to confirm that she/he received the message titled “Please Serve as a Reference for [Student Name]” from the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub.

What happens after I submit my application?

Should your application be both complete, including advisor approval, and correctly submitted, you should expect to receive a notification of the award decision by email within four weeks of submission. Once notified of an award decision, you should follow the instructions in the award letter. If anything is unclear, please contact srgc-conference@grad.wisc.edu.

Will I receive my award if I don’t have my receipts?

Students are no longer required to submit receipts in order to receive their travel award. However, please keep your receipts and records of your travel expenses, as the Graduate School will do random documentation checks to confirm that the approved travel took place.

Will I receive funding to cover all my travel expenditures?

No, in most cases. Conference Presentation Funds awards are currently only available at the $300, $600, or $1,200 levels. You may request and be considered for the highest award level that is less than your demonstrated unmet need. During the July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020 award period, $1,200 awards are limited to dissertators only.

General FAQ

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When should I apply?

As soon as you are able, before or after you travel. Applications for the Conference Presentation Funds are accepted and reviewed all year on a rolling basis. Research Travel Award applications are also accepted year-round and reviewed in batches on a regular cycle, as described in the Research Travel Award Application Information and Timeline section of this webpage.

What might cause my application to be rejected?

There are several reasons why your application may be rejected:

  • You are not enrolled in one of the graduate degree programs of the Graduate School, or are not eligible to receiving funding.
  • You have not followed the guidelines for submitting the required materials.
  • You have applied to the wrong competition – e.g., you are traveling primarily to present at a conference but you applied using the Research Travel application or vice versa.
  • You have already received an award during this fiscal year.
  • You submitted documents in languages other than English without providing a translation.
  • Your proposal was not approved by the reviewing committee.

In years when funding is limited, the Graduate School reserves the right to award qualifying applications using a lottery system, and not all qualifying applications will be funded. Dissertators and final-year MFA students will receive priority over other graduate students if awards are limited.

What documents do I need to submit in order to receive my award funds?

New for 2019-2020, awards will be processed upon acceptance by the student. We still require students to provide post-travel documents. These include 1) an updated budget including the expenses you incurred during your travels, and 2) a post-travel report documenting how presenting at the conference assisted your professional development as a student and scholar. Failure to provide these documents will affect your eligibility for future student travel competitions administered by the Graduate School.

May I still receive the award if my travel plans change?

This depends on the nature of the changes. Minor changes on travel dates and/or length of stay are normally acceptable. However, the award may not be used for traveling to research sites or conferences other than what was proposed in the application and approved unless a prearrangement is made with the Graduate School. If there is a discrepancy between the estimated budget and the final budget because your plans have changed, you must provide a statement or explanation with your finalized budget.

How long will it take for me to receive my funds?

Domestic students or those with Permanent Resident Alien status will receive payment two to six weeks after accepting the award. International students will receive payment within three to eight weeks depending on the tax treaty between the U.S. and your home country.

Note: Due to legal requirements, international students considered to be non-resident aliens for tax purposes may have taxes taken out of their award. This is not something over which the Graduate School has control (see “Am I required to pay tax on the award?” below).

Is there are funding string associated with the award?

These awards are classified as “scholarships” and not “reimbursements”, so there is no funding string associated with the award.

Can the Graduate School issue the check to my program instead of me?

No. Awards will only be issued in your name. You are responsible for making payment arrangements with your program coordinators or any other parties if they make travel arrangements on your behalf.

Am I required to pay tax on the award?

This depends on your citizenship status. Most awardees (domestic students and international students with resident alien status for tax purposes) will receive the full amount of the award, and are advised to consult with a tax expert for tax-related questions. However, if you are an international student with non-resident alien status for tax purposes, tax may be deducted from your award, depending on the treaty between the U.S. and your home country. UW–Madison’s Accounting Services has webpages for additional information on federal and state tax reporting and payments to individuals (especially see “Scholarships and Fellowships” under “Federal and State Withholding on Payments to Individuals”).

May I still receive the award if I graduate before I receive my funds?

Normally, yes. You can still receive the award if you apply and the travel takes place during the time when you are still enrolled at UW–Madison. However, if you graduate before receiving your funding, you will need to contact the Graduate School award administrators in order to change your mailing address.