INFOSEC Scholarship for Service (SFS) Program

UTCS has received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support students pursuing the INFOSEC Certificate in Information Security and have a desire to use the skills gained through the certificate program by working as an information assurance professional for a government entity.  The CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service (SFS) program provides extensive financial support and other educational opportunities to student pursuing the INFOSEC Certificate.  Upon graduation, participating students work for a federal, state, tribal, or local government agency in a position focused on cybersecurity.

Program Overview

Scholarship for Service (SFS) is a unique program designed to increase and strengthen the cadre of information assurance professionals that protect the government's critical information infrastructure.  The program provides generous scholarships that cover many of the typical expenses students incur, such as tuition and fees, books, healthcare, and housing.  In return, participating students work for a federal or other government agency after graduation; the period of government service matches the scholarship support period. 

The INFOSEC SFS program integrates preparation for public service careers into the academic offerings and experiences provided to students in the INFOSEC certificate program.  Students pursuing an undergraduate degree in CS as well as the INFOSEC Certificate may participate in SFS during their final two years as a UTCS student. The goals of the UTCS SFS program are to:

  1. Prepare students with the academic knowledge to be successful cybersecurity professionals.
  2. Provide students with the career development skills to be successful public servants.
  3. Increase student involvement in cybersecurity research.
  4. Place all SFS program participants in summer internships and full-time jobs in information assurance in government agencies.

Benefits to Participating Students

Participating undergraduates receive the following each year for up to two years:

  • Tuition and fees for up to 12 credit hours for fall and spring semesters
  • $20,000 stipend
  • $1,200 health insurance reimbursement allowance
  • $1,000 for textbooks
  • $3,000 professional development allowance (primarily to participate in a federal agency career fair)

Program Eligibility

To apply for the program, you must:

  • Be a CS major (you may apply when you are a CS Entry Level student but you cannot be admitted to the program until after you've successfully completed the requirements to be a CS major)
  • Have a minimum UT GPA of 3.2
  • Be a full time student
  • Be a United States citizen
  • Meet criteria for employment with the federal government
  • Be able to receive a federal government security clearance
  • Complete the application and application process

Students who do not meet these requirements but have a strong desire to participate can appeal for special consideration.

Program Requirements

As a student in the program, you will:

  • Participate in the INFOSEC SFS annual kick-off
  • Be paired with a UTCS faculty member affiliated with the Center for Information Assurance and Security (CIAS)
  • Create annual personal goals for academic and career development, and report progress toward those goals monthly
  • Participate in a research team affiliated with a CIAS faculty member
  • Present team or individual research at a university forum
  • Attend at least three research presentations in the CIAS lecture series, and participate in Security Day activities
  • Attend two career workshops focused on gaining and being successful in government employment
  • Attend a site visit at a government agency in Texas
  • Attend two on-campus and one national career fair for government agency hiring
  • Serve as a mentor to an incoming student

In addition, you must:

  • Maintain an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above
  • Complete your UTCS studies within two years of starting the SFS program
  • Complete the INFOSEC Certificate coursework within two years of starting the SFS program
  • Be enrolled full time during the fall and spring semesters
  • Apply for and be hired as an intern with a government agency the summer prior to your expected graduation (between your junior and senior year)
  • Post and maintain a resume on the Office of Personnel Management online system

How to Apply

To apply to begin the program in Spring 2014, please provide the following to Lori McNabb in GDC 2.702 no later than noon on Monday, November 11, 2013:

  1. Your name, EID, and contact information (phone number and email address)
  2. A personal statement of purpose describing your career plans in information assurance and your commitment to public service
  3. Resume
  4. Recommendations from one or two UTCS faculty members (can be emailed by the faculty member to Lori McNabb at lmcnabb [at] cs [dot] utexas [dot] edu)
  5. Confirmation that you have a minimum UT GPA of 3.2, will be enrolled full time in Spring 2014, and expect to graduate within two years

Students who meet minimum requirements will be contacted for an interview.

FAQs

  1. When do I apply?  You should apply when you have about 2.5 years left before graduation, so you can start the program when you have two years left of coursework.
  2. Do I have to sign a contract?  Yes, you will sign a written service agreement that details your responsibilities. 
  3.  Can students in the five-year master's program participate in SFS?  Yes, if you are in the Integrated 5-Year BS/MS Program you may participate for up to three years (in exchange for up to three years of government employment).  There are other changes to the program for five-year master's students, such as the number of credit hours funded, the amount of the stipend, and similar.
  4. Can master's students participate?  Not yet, but soon.  Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, scholarships will be available for UTCS master's students.  There are changes to the program for master's students, such as the number of credit hours funded, the amount of the stipend, and similar.  In addition, participating master's students do not complete the INFOSEC Certificate coursework.
  5. Can PhD students participate?  No, the program is only available to undergraduate and, in the future, master's students.
  6. Am I required to work for two years if I earn my degree in less than two years?  No, the work requirement is a one-for-one match between the time you are supported and the time you are expected to work, but you must work a minimum of one year. 
  7. Does an internship or employment at a local government agency fulfill the work requirement?  Yes, you may work for federal, state, or local government entities. 
  8. Can I do my internship or be employed by a national laboratory?  Yes, a limited number of students may be placed in National Laboratories and Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs).
  9. Can I fulfill my internship or employment responsibility by working at a government contractor?  No, you must work at a federal, state, local, or tribal government organization, an independent agency, government corporation, commission, quasi-official agency, national laboratory, or federally funded research development center.
  10. Do I have to work in the area of cybersecurity?  Yes, you must be employed at a government agency in an information assurance position.
  11. Am I guaranteed a permanent position with a federal agency?  No, you are responsible for your own job search, but will receive support in that search through events and services such as a national career fair and a database of participants' resumes.
  12. What is the starting salary for someone graduating from this program?  Federal employees with a bachelor's degree typically begin their employment at the GS-7 level and above, and those with a master's degree may be appointed at the GS-9 level.  Higher civil service levels and steps may be applicable depending on many factors.  The hiring agency makes the determination about the civil service step and pay grade.  Federal pay rates vary depending on the geographic location of the appointment, and special pay rates have been created for federal IT-related jobs.
  13. What happens if I do not accept an offer and am not placed?  If you decline a reasonable offer and do not find a position to meet your obligation you could be required to pay back the monies received through the scholarship.
  14. What happens if I leave my job before I've served the time required?  You must repay a prorated amount equivalent to the length of the period not served. 
  15. How can I get additional information? The U.S. Department of Personnel Management has an extensive list of FAQs related to the SFS program that you may find helpful.  Or, contact a representative of UTCS listed below.

UTCS SFS Contacts

Lori McNabb, staff contact
lmcnabb [at] cs [dot] utexas [dot] edu
512.471.9563

Bill Young, PhD, faculty contact
byoung [at] cs [dot] utexas [dot] edu
512.471.9782