How to Apply for Smith Funding
Funding at Smith is No Secret
Do you have a great idea for a “special studies” project or summer project, but need extra cash to get it going? Do this semester’s courses require books that exceed your budget? Is the cost of your new pair of eyeglasses only partially-covered by insurance? Whatever the reason that you’re applying for Smith funding, the WCWL aims to demystify the process. Along with links to the appropriate application for each fund, we’ve included video clips with information and advice from Smith staff people who are responsible for reviewing applications, and tips developed by seasoned-Smith-funding-applicant and WCWL Program Coordinator Ally Einbinder ’10.
Ally Einbinder ’10
When I was a student at Smith, I applied for just about every funding source that was available. I received funding to pay for my eyeglasses (which I still wear today), bookstore vouchers to assist in paying for my textbooks, funding to do relief work in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans during spring break of my first year, an International Experience Grant to attend a psychology conference in Canada during my sophomore year, and funding from the sociology department to present research at a conference in Boston during my senior year. All of this experience as a student has given me a lot of insight into the “do’s and don’t's” of applying for funding at Smith. Now that I work at the Smith Wurtele Center for Work & Life, I want to present information on applying for (and using) Smith funding in a way that’s clear and accessible.
Helpful tips from our funding workshops.
Before applying for funding
- Make a realistic budget. Be explicit about what you are requesting, and show that you have done your research.
- Be exact. For each request that you make, include a specific dollar amount and any other details regarding cost.
After receiving funding
- Write thank you notes. Express your gratitude to the people involved in making your experience possible. Share a little bit about who you are and how you were able to benefit from the grant. The Study Abroad International Experience Grant web page offers a good general outline of what to include (and what not to include) in a thank you note.
- Save all receipts! This is especially important if you are receiving funding retroactively, which is often the case with events that involve multiple expenses, like travel to a multi-day conference. You may have to explicitly ask for receipts when you wouldn't normally, like at a toll booth. Remember, receipts are your only proof of the money you've used. Without them, you may have to give money already awarded back to the source, or—if being rewarded retroactively—you may never receive funding.
Additional things you should know...
- You don't need a different sheet of paper for each fund. The following funds are covered by a single application called the Student Special Funding Form: the Dean's Academic Conference fund, Institutional Diversity fund, Chapel fund, Ada Comstock Scholar fund, and Rothchild fund. (You use that one form, and people in the Class Deans Office and Dean of the College Office decide where the money will come from.) All other funds (SGA, SSAS, etc.) have their own applications.
- Check with your department. For academically related work (conferences, presentations, etc.), always check with your department to see if it has funding available. You may be able to supplement funding that's being provided by another source, or to save broad-use funds (ex. Dean of the College fund) for something else in the future.
Tips on Using Bookstore Credit
Wait to buy your books
Only use your bookstore credit when you are 100 percent sure that you are taking a course. Then, look over the course syllabus and see how frequently the assigned books are being used, and at what point during the semester you'll need them. Some professors will list a book as required but only assign a few chapters. If this is the case, it may make more sense to use the copy on reserve at the library, or to share a copy with a classmate. One other strategy: If a book is not assigned until the middle or end of the semester, then you have time to look for a less expensive copy online.
Save your bookstore credit for pricey books
Do any of your courses require books that you can find used, either online or at a local bookstore? If so, then use your bookstore credit for expensive books—such as the most recent edition of an academic textbook.
Be mindful of expiration dates
Bookstore credit expires the same day as the deadline for dropping a course. If you don't use your bookstore credit by this date, the award disappears.