Dear GrantDoctor,I am a 34-year-old single mother of two teenage boys. I am enrolled in a medical transcription program at VT Tech. College. I work part-time to pay the bills. My support unit (my boyfriend) just ended our relationship of 7 years. Without his financial help, I fear I may not be able to attend this training program. The education is free as long as I work for the company that sponsors this program. I am looking for possible grants to assist me financially while I attend school.Help?-- Bonnie
I think your best bet would be to get in touch with the Association for Women in Science (AWIS), an organization committed to helping women continue professional studies.
Although the AWIS grants may not apply to you, their Web site is chock full of other resources, such as fellowships administered by the American Society for Microbiology. And if there is an AWIS office near you--they are often close to university campuses--it would be well worth your while to make an appointment to meet with an AWIS officer to describe your funding needs.
Also be sure to visit the financial aid office of your college, as well as the presidents of local public service groups like the Rotary and Lion's clubs. Scholarship money is often hiding in unexpected places--just waiting to be discovered by a worthy recipient. And don't forget to ask your employer: If the company you work for is already supporting your training, it may also be able to offer financial assistance that goes beyond paid tuition.
Best of luck,
-- The GrantDoctor
A good place to start would be with the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. Although you've missed the 15 September deadline for submission of a full proposal, there is an REU Supplement request that can be added to an existing NSF grant--this part of the program has variable deadlines. Ask your hosts if they have current NSF funding and whether they would be willing to apply for supplemental support to bankroll your travel and living expenses. Given that it is already spring, you are going to need to move quickly to find summer funding. So if you can't reach your hosts, their institution's research office will be able to give you the names of current NSF grant holders. On the REU Web site you will find phone numbers for the program officers, and it would be worth a call to ask about this program and others relevant to undergraduate research.
Your letter doesn't say what your research field will be, so I recommend a visit to Next Wave's sister site, GrantsNet, where, using the undergraduate database, you can search for funding by discipline, type of support, and deadline month. The latter is critical--summer is just around the bend. If your internship requires travel abroad, the Council on International Educational Exchange may be able to help you out. Visit their Web site for information on the countries to which they will support travel .
As always, be sure to visit your college financial aid office and career center--their files may lead you to a local funding source tailored to your needs. And, if you're hoping to travel to another lab to carry out research, be sure to have your host check into their institution's offerings in terms of paying expenses of guest researchers--there are often department discretionary funds that can be used for this purpose.
Enjoy your summer research,
-- The GrantDoctor
Due to the high volume of questions received, The GrantDoctor cannot answer all queries on an individual basis. Look for an answer to your question published in this column soon! Thank you!