A step-by-step guide for acquiring the $250 Professional Development Grant

The Professional Development Grant, funded by the CUNY SPS Student Association, offers $250 to every eligible student for academic or career advancement activities. Recently, Reshma Jaigobin, the Student Development and Leadership Coordinator, hosted an information session going over key details about the grant. Despite its potential benefits, many students remain unaware of its availability.

Here is a step-by-step guide on what types of activities the award will cover, who is eligible, the application process, as well as frequently asked questions.

How does the grant work?

Applying for the grant is straightforward: students simply submit an application and await approval from the Professional Development Grant committee. Afterwards, any fees they paid for their chosen activity will be reimbursed. It’s important to note that the grant can be claimed once per school year, either during the fall or spring semesters, excluding the summer and winter semesters. 

Furthermore, students who apply must wait to purchase and complete their activity after being approved. “We don’t back-date any payments, which means that you must submit an application, get approved and then purchase whatever it is you need to purchase,” Jaigobin stressed.

What activities does the grant support?

The grant can support various US-based activities, including:

What does the grant NOT support?

This grant is not tuition-based, meaning that students cannot use it to partially pay for their studies at CUNY SPS, which includes textbooks, course materials, and certificates that provide credits. On top of this, it also does not support:

  • Conference-related expenses such as local travels, meals, or incidentals.
  • Personal expenses, such as living costs, credit card debt, loans, and legal costs.
  • Internships and material goods.

How much does the grant cover?

The grant provides up to $250, which can be used to partially reimburse an activity. For example, if a certification or exam costs $300, you can still apply and be reimbursed for $250. 

Jaigon explained that you can also use it for multiple activities. “You can submit a two-part application if you need to,” they said during the information session “Some people apply for all of it at once and some people will break it up between fall and spring.”

Who is eligible?

Only CUNY SPS students registered for the semester with a GPA of 2.0 for undergrad and 2.5 for grad are eligible to apply. They should also be making good academic progress towards their degree, have a good conduct record, and must not owe tuition or fees to CUNY SPS. 

Jaigobin emphasized that students need to be available via email after their applications are submitted. “And please, this is an important one—I do follow up with questions… [when] some student’s applications are unclear or I need clarification.” This way, the student’s application will not be denied if they have a faulty link or vague information on their application, Jaigobin added. Here is a step-by-step guide on what types of activities the award will cover, who is eligible, the application process, as well as frequently asked questions.

How do I apply and what can I expect from the application timeline?

Students can apply here through a simple Microsoft Form. After applying, students will have to wait 7-10 business days before being approved, as the review committee is composed of current students who are part of the Student Association. At this stage in the process, students should keep an eye on their inbox for any follow-up questions from Jaigobin. 

Afterwards, a Student Life representative will be in contact about whether the application was denied or approved. If it is approved, this is where students would make the purchase for their activity. Students should not make the purchase before being approved. 

When the activity is completed, students can then submit for reimbursement by completing some paperwork and submitting a list of requested expenses, along with their corresponding receipt or proof of payment.

However, if the application was denied, students can and should apply again after asking for guidance. 

The last step after being reimbursed is writing a 250-500 word recap of the activity and how it affected the student’s educational goals. 

Who can I go to for help and questions?

Jaigobin is available to help any students with confusion or any questions about special circumstances. At the end of the day, they urge students to apply for the grant every school year no matter what. 

“If students don’t apply for the grant and the Student Life Office deems it to be unnecessary in the future, we may just hold the grant…you’re not paying a fee to apply for the grant, and you can always apply again if it’s denied,” Jaigobin explained. “So, I don’t want you to be afraid. Just apply. That’s all. I encourage everybody to apply.”

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