The SURF application deadline was Friday, February 25, 2022 (sample of application). Late applications are accepted. Please email SURF to request a link to the application.
Recording of SURF 2022 Info Session Thursday, January 27, 12:30pm

SURF Applicant and Participant FAQ

The stipend rate for summer 2022 will be $5,700 for 40 hours per week over 10 weeks, prorated for shorter projects at $570 per week, full-time. Please see Important things to know about Funding below for more detail regarding stipends.

Slides from 12/3/21 Info Session. Session to be held again in January via Zoom.

 

Who to contact if you have questions about SURF and/or your application

Eligibility, time frame, and connecting with a research advisor

The SURF Application

Important things to know about funding and housing

Receiving and accepting a SURF funding award

What you need to do/know at the conclusion of your SURF program participation

SURF 2021 abstract submission and post-program survey can be found here.

 

Who do I contact if I have questions about SURF?

If after reading this FAQ you find that you still have questions, please contact Heather McQueen at the SURF program email address surf@smith.edu.

 Eligibility and time frame, connecting with an advisor

Who is eligible to receive funding for SURF at Smith?

Smith College undergraduate students  (including Math Post Baccalaureate students and graduating seniors*) who are:

  • In good academic standing, enrolled the spring before the summer of their SURF**
  • Working directly with a Smith College science research advisor
  • Working on a multi-week project

 

*Graduating seniors are eligible to apply for SURF funding, but are NOT eligible under any circumstances to apply for on-campus summer housing. Arrangements must be finalized well before the end of the academic semester, as graduating seniors must be paid their stipend before the semester ends. Graduating seniors cannot be brought into the SURF program after the semester ends on the last day of exams.

**Students who have taken a leave of absence during AY 21-22 are considered NOT enrolled students by the college (even if they enroll for Fall 2022). They can still be considered for SURF funding, but there are implications that affect how they are paid (see the taxable income section below) and they would not be able to apply for campus housing.

Who is NOT eligible to receive funding for SURF at Smith?

  • Students working with faculty outside of the Sciences at Smith.*
  • Students enrolled at other institutions (including UMass, Amherst, Mt. Holyoke, Hampshire),
  • Smith students who wish to work exclusively with advisors at other institutions,
  • Smith Alumna (with the exception of the summer immediately following graduation).

 

*If a faculty advisor has a dual appointment that includes a science department or program and a humanities/social science department or program, it may be possible to apply for a SURF project. Please consult with the faculty member to determine eligibility.

What do I need to do before I apply? How do find a faculty advisor?

 

Talk with the faculty that you would like to be your SURF advisor!

SURF is not a program that matches students with faculty in their field of choice. The first step towards applying is the agreement between student and advisor to work on a SURF project.

The Research at Smith page has some guidelines for reaching out to faculty. Look over faculty websites, attend department lunch events where faculty talk about their research, think about professors you have taken classes with. If you are not already working with a research advisor, make an appointment or drop by office hours to speak with the professor(s) you are interested in working with.

It is recommended that you do this in the Fall semester or as early as possible if you are planning on applying for SURF the following summer. You want to be sure that the particular faculty you have in mind will be working with SURF students this year and that your respective schedules align. Your academic advisor may also have suggestions.

Some departments hold an information session for students explaining the available research opportunities during SURF, so be sure to check out the calendar of events for the department or program you are interested in working with.

What is the duration of SURF participation? How many hours per week do I have to work?

The duration of a full SURF fellowship is 10 weeks. It is possible to work fewer weeks. Students should work with their research advisor to determine the appropriate duration and schedule. The expectation is that students work 40 hours per week, unless they make other arrangements with their advisor.

Can I do a SURF project remotely?

If a project is suitable for remote work and the advisor agrees that the project can be worked on this way, a remote project can be considered for SURF funding. You MUST have the agreement of your advisor beforehand.

I want to apply for a research program at another institution. Can I still apply for SURF? Can I work on a project elsewhere while doing a SURF project?
 
You can definitely apply for other research opportunities at the same time as you apply for SURF. We ask that you are transparent about this with your advisor, so they know you are considering something else. This is very common and everyone understands that you want to consider many opportunities. 
 
It is not typical to participate in two projects simultaneously, as most projects do require a full time commitment. However, it may be possible to work on a SURF project for part of the summer and another project elsewhere for another part of the summer. Rarely, it may be possible to work on a SURF project on a part time basis. All of these scheduling particulars would need to be worked out with and approved by your advisor.

 

What else do I need to do before or right after applying?

We strongly suggest that students who have not filled out employment paperwork with the college (I-9, tax forms etc) do so before the application due date so that there are no issues or delays, should they be offered a position that is funded hourly.

International students who do not yet have a social security card should start that process as soon as possible if they wish to avoid being taxed (see Important Information about Funding below). The office of International Students & Scholars can assist with this process.

The SURF Application

Another application? How long will this take?

Is very straightforward and only takes a few minutes to complete.  Here is a sample.

The SURF application deadline was Friday, February 25, 2022 (sample of application). Late applications are accepted. Please email SURF to request a link to the application.

So what actually happens after I submit my application?

Shortly after the application deadline (02/25/22), SURF will distribute applications to departments. The departments work out how many students they can fund for SURF in the first round, and confirm advisor-student assignments. The departments return their decisions to SURF. The SURF program sends notices to students if they are funded, waitlisted, or declined.

Can I submit a late application?

Late applications are accepted. However, applying now ensures we have all of the info needed to consider your application for the first round of funding and for any funding that may become available later on in the spring.

Important things to know about funding

When will I find out if I have SURF funding?

Announcements for the first round of funding will be sent to students in late March/early April.

How much is the stipend for participating in the SURF program? How/when is it paid out?

The stipend for participation in Smith SURF 2022 will be $5,700. Stipends are based on 10 weeks of participation at 40 hours per week (400 hours total) doing independent research working with a Smith science advisor. For projects with shorter duration, stipends will be prorated for participation based on the total number of hours to be worked.

The majority of stipend payments are made in one installment on or around June 1. (Graduating seniors have to be paid prior to the end of the semester.)

If you receive an award paid by stipend, your stipend will be paid via Direct Deposit.  If you do not have direct deposit OR  change your direct deposit information and do not update it with the college’s records, a check will be sent to the last primary home address the college has on file. You can confirm and update this address via Workday.

If you withdraw from the SURF program after being paid, you will be asked to pay back the appropriate portion.

Is this income taxable?

It depends.

For most students currently enrolled in the semester before their SURF summer, who are U.S. citizens/residents, no 1099 forms or other IRS documents are generated. Please consult your tax advisor about your SURF stipend in preparation for your income tax return, to understand to what degree your stipend may be taxable. The IRS website topic “ Do I Include My Scholarship, Fellowship, or Education Grant as Income on My Tax Return? ” provides some guidance.

Taxes may be withheld on your stipend if you are a citizen of a country that does not have a tax treaty with the US. If there is a scholarship treaty with the student’s country of residence and they have a tax id number (social security card) in the US, then the College does not withhold taxes. If there is no treaty and/or they don’t have a tax id, taxes are withheld, usually at a 14%. The IRS maintains public data on the specific treaties here.

Please contact the accounts payable office at Smith College to get specific details regarding taxes on your particular stipend.

We strongly suggest that students who have not filled out employment paperwork with the college (I-9, tax forms etc) do so before the application due date so that there are no issues or delays, should they be offered a position that is paid hourly. International students who do not yet have a social security card should start that process as soon as possible so that there are no issues or delays for any type of SURF position. The office of International Students & Scholars can assist with this process. 

If the stipend payment is made after the student graduates (which is done only on a very exceptional basis) then the scholarship exemption no longer applies and the tax rate is 30%.

If the stipend payment is made, and the student was not enrolled in the spring before the SURF summer (which is done only on a very exceptional basis) then the scholarship exemption no longer applies and the withheld tax rate is 30%.

If your stipend is taxable for the reasons cited above, this means that your stipend will be a gross payment of $5,700 for 10 weeks or the appropriately prorated amount. The net payment (the actual dollar amount you receive after taxes) will be less; how much depends on your specific circumstances. Taxes withheld may be refundable at the time of filing income tax for the year. Please consult your tax advisor for information regarding your tax filing.

Are any SURF positions paid hourly?

A number of SURF stipends are funded from an outside grant from an organization such as the National Institute of Health (NIH) or internally from CFCD grants made to faculty. These funding sources do not allow for lump sum stipend payments, funds have to be paid out on an hourly basis, on the College’s bi-weekly payroll schedule for FY22, through 6/30/22. The FY 23 schedule (beginning 7/1/22) has not yet been posted but follows a similar course.

PLEASE BE SURE YOUR EMPLOYMENT DOCUMENTS ARE ON FILE WITH THE COLLEGE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE TO AVOID DELAYS IN STARTING WORK AND RECEIVING PAYMENT. Here is the I-9, W-4, and direct deposit information.

During the academic year, no withholding is made from students with a work-study award in the tax or FICA categories due to the regulations that apply to work-study. Outside of the academic year, including the summer, student positions are not part of work-study and so income tax and FICA are taken out each pay period. How much really depends on the individual student’s situation. There are payroll calculators available online that will give a good idea of what to expect for federal and state income tax, and FICA withholding. Students can check how they have filed W4 withholdings and any voluntary deductions in Workday, under “pay”, “withholding elections”. The required employment paperwork and process for submitting it can be found here.

SURF participants who are paid hourly and wish to work another job on campus need to do 1 of 2 things. 1) Make arrangements with their supervisors so that their combined total hours do not exceed 40 hours per week; 2) Make arrangements to be paid overtime for one of their positions.

This means that you will receive gross payment of $5,700 for 10 weeks, or the appropriately prorated amount for shorter SURF projects. The net payment (the actual dollar amount you receive after taxes) will be less; how much depends on your specific circumstances.

If being paid hourly, are F-1/J-1 Visa students limited to 20 hours per week as they are during the regular semester?

No. This regulation only applies during the regular semesters, not during the summer. The summer is defined as the day after exams end and the day before the first day of classes.

Does the SURF program provide housing?

No. SURF students are responsible for arranging their own housing. Campus Housing is available as summer break housing through ResLife. Graduating seniors are not eligible for campus housing.

Summer Housing is structured differently than it has been in past years. Please read the Summer Break Housing info carefully.

Please contact ResLife directly for questions about campus housing. Check the Summer Break Housing page regularly for updated details regarding summer 2022. The application generally opens on or around April 15. All students get an email directly from ResLife when the application opens.

The cost of housing for summer 2022 is $250 per week, with a 7 day meal plan.

Students with high financial need as determined by Student Financial Services will receive an additional cost of living stipend, equivalent to half the weekly cost of campus housing for the duration of their project, up to 10 weeks ($125 per week) . This will be paid automatically, along with the standard stipend. Students do not need to provide any additional information (other than confirming their participation in the program) and are not required to live in campus housing to receive this benefit.

What if I need time off? What about holidays?

Students should work with their advisor on a mutually agreeable work schedule, including time off and Smith’s observed holidays. There is no additional compensation for holiday time during the SURF program, regardless of the payment type (stipend or hourly).

Students who are working during these times should follow the buddy system or approved  “work alone” procedures.

What you need to do at the conclusion of your SURF Program Participation

  • ABSTRACT – At the conclusion of your summer research project, we require that you write a one-page abstract describing your work. The abstracts are important to demonstrate the nature of student research at Smith and are essential in annual reporting to the various individuals, institutions, and agencies that provide the funding that makes this program possible. Please turn in your abstract on time. Abstracts from previous SURF years can be viewed here under “Past SURF Project Descriptions”.
  • SURVEY – We ask you to respond positively to requests from Smith College to complete surveys about your participation in SURF, now and in the future. As part of an ongoing effort to assess the impact of summer research on the careers of our students, we track the career progress of students conducting research through periodic surveys. These assessments are important in our efforts to improve the Smith SURF Program and to secure continued funding for future students. We look forward to your participation.
  • THANK YOU LETTERS – Many SURF awards are funded by endowments established by alumnae and friends of Smith College. In most cases, students will submit this in their internal survey response.
  • SURF participants will receive instructions for submitting their abstracts, survey, and thank you letters via email, on or around July 20. SURF 2022 abstract submission and post-program survey will be posted here when available.

Questions? Contact Heather McQueen x3950, 413-585-3950, Burton 115, surf@smith.edu.

SURF Dates & deadlines will be listed here!

 

Return to the SURF home page