First and foremost:
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Okay let's begin.
The National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recognizes exceptional graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and math fields. Fellows receive three (3) years of support through a $34,000 annual stipend and a $12,000 yearly education allowance toward a research-based master's or doctoral degree. Additionally, fellows may take advantage of international research opportunities and XSEDE supercomputing access.
The funding is available for five years, which allows you to postpone funding for up to two years. This "Reserve Status" (12-month increments only) is often used to pursue professional development opportunities such as teaching assistantships and internships or use other secured funding sources. The caveat is that you must be engaged in full-time research and/or coursework or participate in otherwise pre-approved degree related activities.
During my senior year at Michigan Tech, I participated in a 9-week workshop series aimed at preparing students to submit the best GRFP application. In some ways, this guide is a synopsis of what I learned over that time, but it's also an in depth look at how I personally approached the application process. I provide tips on developing a strong application as well as links to other preparation resources on the web. Moreover, I provide insight on the specific actions I took to become the best candidate for this award.