SFS FAQ - Center for Cybersecurity and Cyber Operations
Please see Scholarship Application page for more information.
Civilian Master's Degree Scholarship - NPS SFS Program FAQ
Q: Am I enrolling in Military Service?
A: No. The "Service" referred to in the title of the program is service as a CIVILIAN in a Federal Agency such as the CIA, FBI, NSA, NSF, NPS and many others. It is a full-time real job as a civilian working for the US Government. The program does not obligate the students to enlist.
Q: Will I be an employee while enrolled as a student at NPS?
A: No. NPS SFS students are not US Navy civilian employees or Federal civilian employees while enrolled in the program.
Q: What agency administers the CyberCorps SFS program?
A: The Interagency Coordinating Committee (ICC) oversees the program. The ICC is composed of representatives from the National Security Council (NSC), National Security Agency (NSA), Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office (CIAO), National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and Office of Management and Budget (OMB). NSF administers the issuance of grants process and the capacity building component. The scholarship component (including the placement and tracking of participants) of the SFS program is administered by OPM's San Antonio Service Center. Questions about the overall Program can be directed to contacts listed on the OPM program page: https://www.sfs.opm.gov/ContactsPO.aspx
Q: Who pays for the scholarships?
A: The National Science Foundation awards the grants for the scholarships to the selected colleges and universities. The federal agencies that choose to participate by hiring program participants bear none of the cost for the scholarships.
Q: When did the NPS SFS program begin?
A: The first group of NPS SFS students joined the program in Fall 2001. The NPS SFS program has had students enrolled every year since that time.
Q: What costs are covered by the NPS SFS program?
A: NPS SFS students receive free tuition to the Naval Postgraduate School and a stipend for living expenses of approximately $34,000 per year, as well as additional yearly allowances for medical insurance, professional development and textbooks.
Q: The allowances are described as "up to". Why?
A: The amounts given are the maximum of each allowance. The amount a student receives depends upon expenditures in each separate category. Thus a student might spend $2,500 for books and receive the entire $2,000 book allowance, but might spend only $3,500 in professional development and receive only $3,500 in that category.
Q: How long is the NPS scholarship program?
A: NPS SFS students are conferred the scholarship for a period of 6 to 8 academic quarters, depending on the scholarship program to which they are accepted.
Q: How long is the service commitment for a student after graduation?
A: NPS SFS students are funded for two academic years, and must serve at a federal agency in a qualifying position for two calendar years. Typically, a qualifying position is any full-time position with a government agency or federal research lab in a position relevant to cyber security.
Q: How selective is the NPS SFS program?
A: Our selection board operates on a set of absolute criteria for excellence and our admission rate is most affected by availability of funds and the number of qualified applicants. Our acceptance rate is highly variable.
Q: I don't know if I should apply for the Monarch or the STEM program. Which is right for me?
A: Apply to the program to which you would like to be accepted. We may accept you under a different scholarship program if we believe it is more appropriate for you. We do not reject applicants because they applied to the "wrong scholarship program."
Q: What are the application eligibility requirements?
A: Applicants must have a Bachelor's Degree, prior to enrollment, with a minimum GPA of 3.0. An applicant must be a US citizen or permanent resident of the United States, who is not already a US government employee, but who meets criteria for Federal employment. Note that the vast majority of cyber security jobs in Federal Government require a security clearances, which are only granted to US citizens.
Q: How strict is the 3.0 GPA requirement mentioned in the program eligibility?
A: Fairly strict, but feel free to apply and let the admissions committee judge the strength of your application in full context.
Q: The application requests two letters of recommendation. May I submit an additional letter with my application?
A: No. Please just make a selection.
Q: I am a federal employee. Am I eligible to enroll in any of the NPS SFS programs?
A: Only if you resign from Federal employment. The NPS SFS program is for students who are not currently Federal employees. Check with your agency about opportunities to return to school as either a full-time or part-time student. The SMART scholarship (https://smart.asee.org/) may be more appropriate for current federal employees seeking funding to enroll in a graduate program.
Q: I am currently employed. Can I remain employed part-time while enrolled in the NPS SFS program?
A: NPS SFS students are full-time students and expected to not have outside employment or similar responsibilities when they enroll in the program that would distract them from their full-time student status.
Q: Is there an online or distance-learning version of the NPS SFS program?
A: No. The NPS SFS program is a resident student program.
Q: I don't currently hold a clearance. Am I eligible for the NPS SFS program?
A: Yes. Students are not required to hold a clearance. The requirement is that students be clearable and that, once holding a clearance, that it be maintained. If a student cannot meet their service commitment because they cannot be cleared or maintain a clearance, repayment of the scholarship will be required. Any prospective SFS candidate who feels that he or she may have a current or past circumstance that might ultimately result in the denial of a security clearance should familiarize themselves with the criteria under which personnel security clearance determinations are made: the Department of the Navy Security Personnel Security Program manual (SECNAV M-5510.30) may be instructive in this regard.
Q: What if I can't pass a basic background check?
A: Passing a basic background check is a strong requirement for access to the campus and, thus, being a student in our program. NPS will perform a basic background check through OPM before you can be enrolled as a student. If this check fails, you would be unable to begin the program.
Q: Will I need to get a security clearance?
A: While you are a student at NPS, there is no requirement for a clearance; however, the program does require that you be clearable. This is because the preponderance of government jobs in cyber security require a clearance, many at the TOP SECRET level. If you do not think that you will be able to obtain a security clearance, the SFS program may not be a wise choice.
Q: What student services are provided under the program?
A: SFS students at NPS are provided most of the same campus services available to military students at NPS, including parking, library access, network access, post office access, access to on-campus dining, etc. Since NPS SFS students are not federal employees, there are some on-base services to which scholarship students do not have access: Navy Exchange, NEX gas station, Navy base gymnasium, military housing, golf course access, etc.
Similarly, US military students and Navy civilian employees are able to enroll in programs such as healthcare, childcare, counseling and disability services; however, these are not provided to NPS SFS students. Our program provides a stipend to students to be used toward purchasing independent health insurance.
For students with documented disabilities, the campus is able to make certain reasonable accommodations---including extended time for assignments and exams, options for scheduling of examinations, and leniency on participation and attendance policies---however, NPS is not equipped to provide comprehensive accommodations such as note-taking services, scribes, readers, interpreters, video recorded lectures, alternative media (brailed, enlarged or audio books), alternative furniture, etc.
Q: Does NPS provide tax advice to Scholarship for Service students?
A: No. NPS does not provide tax advice to Scholarship for Service students.
Q: Is any part of my Scholarship for Service stipend, insurance allowance, professional development allowance or book allowance non-taxable?
A: NPS cannot make a determination or statement regarding the taxable nature of these allocations to students who have or are participating in the Scholarship for Service program. Participants in the Scholarship for Service program are advised to consult a professional tax advisor.
Q : Does NPS provide room and board facilities to Scholarship for Service students?
A : No. NPS does not provide room and board facilities to Scholarship for Service students.
Q: What support does the program provide to students in their search for an internship and a job?
A: Ultimately, finding internships and jobs is the responsibility of the student; however, OPM sponsors both in-person and virtual job fairs for students to meet prospective employers. In addition, NPS invites prospective employers to campus for job interviews and recruitment.
Q: Does a student need to accept post-graduation employment from the same agency where they had an internship?
A: No. Students may obtain their internship and employment from different employers.
Q: What happens if I fail to serve the entire length of my service commitment?
A: The student must repay a prorated amount equivalent to the length of the period not served. For example, if the student received funds for two years and serves for one-and-a-half years, he or she must repay 25% of the funds received. Federal agencies must notify the SFS Program Office immediately when this occurs. That office is responsible for initiating the repayment process.
Q: If I decide to withdraw from the program, what is my repayment obligation?
A: Students who decide to withdraw from the program are obliged to repay tuition paid on their behalf and any stipends and allowances they have received between the date of their matriculation at NPS and their withdrawal from the program. Tuition will include the current quarter if they withdraw mid-quarter.