Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is the shortest period for which I may be funded?
  2. If I am funded for less than a year, am I entitled to the full stipend?
  3. At what grade level will I be appointed when I serve the internship and when I am placed after graduation?
  4. Can time spent in an internship beyond the required 10 weeks be credited toward my post-graduation employment commitment?
  5. Will I be paid moving expenses when I receive placement to fulfill my internship and employment commitment upon graduation?
  6. How do I enroll in the program once I am selected by the Principal Investigator (coordinator) to participate?
  7. Why is it important that I begin my job search early?
  8. May I contact agencies with which I would like to serve the internship or be placed to fulfill my post-graduation employment commitment?
  9. What positions are open to me?
  10. What constitutes a reasonable offer?
  11. Do I have to serve the internship at the Federal agency that will employ me upon graduation?
  12. Am I guaranteed permanent placement with a Federal Agency?
  13. Can I defer my employment commitment to further my education?
  14. Can I meet my employment commitment by working as a contractor for the Federal Government?
  15. Do I have to claim the funds (tuition, books, room & board, stipend, etc.) I receive for the scholarship as income when I file my taxes?

1. What is the shortest period for which I may be funded?
The shortest period for which a scholarship may be granted is one semester.

2. If I am funded for less than a year, am I entitled to the full stipend?
No. You are entitled to a prorated amount. For example, if you receive a scholarship for only one semester, you are entitled to only half the stipend. If you receive a scholarship for only three semesters (one-and-a-half academic years), you are entitled to only half the stipend during the year you receive funds for only one semester.

3.  At what grade level will I be appointed when I serve the internship and when I am placed after graduation?
The grade level at which you will be appointed depends on your qualifications at the time of appointment. In general, students with a bachelor’s degree and superior academic achievement may be appointed at the GS-7 level. Master’s degree recipients may be appointed at the GS-9 level. Recipients of a doctorate degree may be appointed at the GS-11 level. It is important to note that the pay rates for information technology professionals are higher than for other jobs.

4.  Can time spent in an internship beyond the required 10 weeks be credited toward my post-graduation employment commitment?
No, there are no provisions to credit any time served in an internship toward your post-graduation employment commitment.

5. Will I be paid moving expenses when I receive placement to fulfill my internship and employment commitment upon graduation?
The program does not contain provisions that provide for the payment of travel or lodging expenses associated with the internship, or moving expenses to the first post of duty. We suggest you ask prospective Federal employers if they have the authority, flexibility, and funds to cover any such expenses.

6.  How do I enroll in the program once I am selected by the Principal Investigator (coordinator) to participate?
The Principal Investigator nominates you. Your nomination is reviewed, and your participation approved, by the Scholarship For Service Program Office, San Antonio Services Branch, U.S. Office of Personnel Management. After you are approved, you will be asked to sign a service agreement. This agreement stipulates the nature and conditions of the scholarship and the service obligation you will incur with the Federal Government. Once the SFS Program Office receives your signed agreement, it will send you, via the Principal Investigator, instructions on how to register for the program.

7.  Why is it important that I begin my job search early?
It is very important that you begin your job search immediately for a variety of reasons.  Students who receive scholarship funds for more than one academic year are required to serve an internship performing information assurance-related work. Internships are intended to enhance the students’ information assurance knowledge by exposing them to field-related work experiences. If an internship is not secured early, it may jeopardize the value of the experiences due to a lack of time in the position.  Delaying to find opportunities may also cause th student to miss out on an internship altogether.  For both internships and post-graduation commitment, most positions will require some type of security clearance and these along with the Federal hiring process can sometime be very time consuming.

8.  May I contact agencies with which I would like to serve the internship or be placed to fulfill my post-graduation employment commitment?
Yes. In fact, students are required to find placement opportunities on their own.  The program office provides many tools and resources to assist that include contact information for agencies interested in hiring Information Assurance Specialists, website link to current IA announcements, and an annual job fair

9.  What positions are open to me?
Students can apply for any position that includes duties in Information Assurance at a Federal Agency, Independent Agency, Government Corporation, Commission, or Quasi-Official Agency, a National Laboratory, a Federally Funded Research Development Center, or other approved organization.  If a student is unsure if a particular position meets program requirement they should contact the SFS Program Office at sfs@opm.gov for verification.

10.  What constitutes a reasonable offer?
A reasonable offer is one where the grade level (salary) is equivalent to the student’s qualifications based on education at the time of placement.  In general, students with a bachelor’s degree and superior academic achievement must accept a GS-7 (or equivalent) or higher.  Master’s degree recipients must accept a GS-9 (or equivalent) or higher. Recipients of a doctorate degree may be appointed at the GS-11 level.  If a student is unsure if a position is reasonable they should contact the SFS Program Office at sfs@opm.gov for verification.

11.  Do I have to serve the internship at the Federal agency that will employ me upon graduation?
No. You may serve the internship at another Federal agency as long as the nature of the work assignments meet program requirements. However, it is highly beneficial that the internship be served at the agency that will ultimately hire you. The internship provides you the opportunity to meet and work with the agency’s information assurance professionals and become familiar with their needs and programs.  It also gives the student a chance to create a bond with the employer. Additionally, the internship should be an integral part of a mentoring process that should span throughout the entire academic and employment phases of the program.  You should also keep in mind that agencies make significant investments in their interns in terms of effort, time, and resources. Therefore, if you plan on seeking post-graduation employment with an agency other than where you serve your internship, you are encouraged to inform them of your plans.

12.  Am I guaranteed permanent placement with a Federal Agency?
No. Students are responsible for their own job search. The Program Office makes several tools available to assist students in their job search efforts. These tools include the SFS program website, resume posting, dedicated job fairs, and job activity logs.

13.  Can I defer my employment commitment to further my education?
Yes, under certain circumstances you may defer your service obligation to the Federal government for up to two years to continue your education. The additional education must enhance your marketability to Federal Agencies as an Information Assurance Professional. This deferment must be approved by the Program Office, the continued education cannot be funded by the SFS program, and you must continue to fulfill SFS participant responsibilities as indicated in an addendum to your Service Agreement.

14.  Can I meet my employment commitment by working as a contractor for the Federal Government?
No, your commitment must be in the Federal Executive Branch at a Federal Agency, Independent Agency, Government Corporation, Commission, or Quasi-Official Agency, a National Laboratory, a Federally Funded Research Development Center, or other approved organization.

15.  Do I have to claim the funds (tuition, books, room & board, stipend, etc.) I receive for the scholarship as income when I file my taxes?
You should seek the advice of a tax professional to determine what part may be taxable.