Frequently Asked Questions UC MEXUS Dissertation Grants Program

Whom can I contact about the application process or if I have questions regarding my current grant?

Andrea Kaus (; tel: 951-827-3586)
Martha Ponce (; tel: 951-827-4773).

Am I eligible to apply?

If you are a graduate student enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of California, you may be eligible to apply provided you will have advanced to candidacy by December 31 of the funding year (i.e., 2011 for 2011 competitions). This qualification means that you must have passed all your department’s required qualifying exams and be in the phase of “All-But-Dissertation” (ABD).

I will not have advanced to candidacy by the application deadline. May I still apply?

To be eligible for this program, students must have advanced to candidacy by December 31 of the funding year (e.g., 2011 for the 2011 competitions). You can still apply if you anticipate taking your qualifying exams after the application deadline but before December 31st. Should your project be selected for funding, the grant will be contingent upon receiving notification from your campus Graduate Division that you are advanced to candidacy. You will need to ask Graduate Division to send us a letter to this effect (on letterhead with an original signature).

I am a UC graduate student getting an MFA in a program that does not offer a doctorate. May I apply to the UC MEXUS Dissertation Grants competition?

Yes, if you are asking for funding related to a final project required for the degree. In your project plan, explain what is involved as part of your final requirements and how your final project fits within these requirements.

I am not yet eligible for this program. Does UC MEXUS have any funding for graduate students in the pre-dissertation phase?

UC MEXUS does not currently offer grants programs for UC students apart from the dissertation research grants. Many students, graduate and undergraduate, are supported through UC MEXUS grants for faculty projects. These projects often have a student-training component and the budgets allow for student support. Introduce your faculty advisors to our programs.

If you are a student in Mexico interested in applying to a graduate program at the University of California, please consider the UC MEXUS-CONACYT fellowship program. A description and instructions can be found on our website under Funding Opportunities.

What format should I use for the project plan?

There is no specified or required format. We suggest that you keep the narrative simple, with at least 1 inch margins all the way around, 11-12 point fonts, and 1.5 or double-spaced. Breaking up the text with subheaders and illustrations or diagrams can also lighten a dense presentation. Keep in mind that reviewers have to read and discuss all the proposals for their particular committee, which may include 20 applications or more. They appreciate a simple, straightforward presentation and are dismayed when someone tries to put 20 pages worth of text into a 10 page narrative.

Is the bibliography included in the allowed number of pages for the project plan?

No. It is considered separately. You have the entire 5 pages for text if you need it but consider that reviewers are grateful for short, clear, concise presentations.

May I use the grant funds toward tuition costs?

No. The grant funds can only be used toward expenses that are directly related to your project, not general education expenses.

May I send UC MEXUS a draft of my proposal before the deadline for pre-review and comments on how to make it stronger?

UC MEXUS does not become involved in proposal preparation, including the pre-review of proposals. As the funding organization and office responsible for overseeing the peer review process, any participation in individual proposal development represents a conflict of interest. UC MEXUS does not encourage specific research emphases or disciplines in these competitions and any individual guidance would create an unfair advantage or unrealistic expectation of funding. Please consult the proposal writing suggestions on the Resourcespage.

How many copies should I submit?

Submit two hard copies following the electronic submission, which would consist of one original (with original signatures) and one copy. When you submit your proposal electronically, you will receive a checklist of what needs to be included in the hard copy packet. A list is also available at the end of the RFP on-line: UC MEXUS Dissertation Grants.

Why do I have to send hard copies if I've already submitted my application electronically? Can I just send a diskette?

As the Office of Record, UC MEXUS must retain a hard copy with all the signatures on the Institutional Approval Forms. We also have a set of hard copies on hand for any reviewers who are uncomfortable with accessing or reviewing the proposals from the on-line site.

How do I find out what deadlines I have to meet on my campus and where do I go for the additional signatures from the research office and Graduate Division, as indicated on the UC MEXUS application forms?

Each UC campus has slightly different policies and procedures for submitting grants to funding institutions. These policies are set by your department and campus, not UC MEXUS. The applicant is responsible for finding out what these are. Your department administrator and faculty advisor should be able to guide you with respect to departmental procedures, and you should contact your campus research office to find out when you need to submit your proposal for review and signature prior to the UC MEXUS deadline. This deadline can be more than 10 working days before our deadline, so make sure you have a working draft of the project plan and budget ready. In some cases the proposal will be submitted for you by the research office, so make sure they have a complete copy before our deadline with all the necessary signatures, including the Graduate Division’s. A list of the campus research offices can be found on our website on the Resources page.

When will I be notified of the results of the competition?

Applicants are not notified until after all the review committees have met and submitted their recommendations to UC MEXUS for the final decisions. Committee meetings are not completed until early to mid-December. Notification of the final results are sent out directly afterward, usually at the end of the quarter or semester, but it can be later depending on when committee members are available to meet. You may request information on the status of your proposal at that time. Information is given out ONLY to the student and advisor named in the project. No results are released to additional academic participants or colleagues. Once all the notifications have been sent out, a list of the grant recipients will be placed on the UC MEXUS website under “Program Results.”

How are the proposals reviewed?

UC MEXUS is committed to the principles of academic peer review. Proposals undergo an initial administrative review at UC MEXUS for completeness and eligibility. They are then divided into broad academic areas, depending on the disciplinary range of the proposals received, which are used to determine the make-up of the review committees. These divisions are used to determine the compilation of the grants review committees, usually two: Natural & Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts. UC MEXUS subsequently appoints UC and Mexican faculty to each committee. Committee members read through all the individual proposals for their committee and make initial notes on their qualifications. In addition, each proposal is assigned two primary reviewers within the committee. These committee members review their assigned proposals in detail and present the projects and their corresponding assessments to the rest of the committee when it meets.

Committee meetings are held at the end of the review period. During the meetings, the proposals are discussed and scored individually, based on their own merits, and subsequently ranked against each other in order of priority for funding. The rankings are provided to the UC MEXUS director as a set of recommendations.

Can I get reviewer comments back after the competition is over?

UC MEXUS does not provide individual reviewer or committee comments. While reviewers may make some initial notes on a proposal prior to the committee meeting, the critical review work is undertaken during the final committee meeting. Reviewers’ early assessments of a project may change significantly during the committee discussions, especially as projects are compared against each other. We have found that these discussions cannot be encapsulated in a way that captures the committees’ nuances for an applicant. In addition, the committee recommendations are not the only factors in the final decisions by UC MEXUS, which can include funding limitations and comparisons across committees. Instead, we suggest that applicants look closely at the grant writing suggestions specific to this program to see if their proposal might be strengthened in one area or another. These suggestions are posted on the UC MEXUS website on the research page.

May I postpone a grant from one year to the next?

No. Grants may not be deferred to a subsequent year. UC MEXUS can only hold the funds for a year.

How are the grants administrated for the dissertation grants? Do I need to submit receipts to UC MEXUS?

After a project is selected for a grant and all the appropriate signatures for the terms and conditions of the grant award have been received, the funds are transferred directly to the student’s department for administration there according to individual departmental and campus policies. The dissertation advisor is officially the Principal Investigator and responsible for ensuring that the grant funds are spent in accordance with the terms and conditions of the award. Receipts are submitted as required by your department or administrative office responsible for managing your grant account. A progress report is required midway through the grant period. At the end of the project, the student, faculty advisor, and the administrator submit a final narrative and financial report to report what the project accomplished and how the funds were spent in relationship to the approved budget. We strongly recommend that students discuss what is required with their department administrators before expending funds.

How long does it take to get grant funds after the final decisions are made?

After the final decisions are made and the awardees notified, UC MEXUS does a final review and approval of the proposed budgets. If there are any questions about allowable items, justification, or clarity, the student and advisor are contacted directly. Once the budget is approved, the award packets are sent out with the official letters of award, the terms and conditions of the award, a departmental transfer form, and an approved budget. The conditions of award and the departmental transfer information form must be sent back to UC MEXUS with all the required signatures from the student and dissertation advisor.

The time from notification to transferring the funds depends on how fast the student and advisor can clarify any budget questions for the final budget approval and subsequently get the required forms back to us. Once the funds are transferred, it can take 4-6 weeks for the paperwork to work its way through the systemwide University administration before the funds show up in your campus account. However, most departments will advance the funds once they receive the transfer information. Funds can be applied to anything in the approved budget that postdates the start date of the award.

Can I change the budget or extend the project period after the grant commences?

UC MEXUS recognizes that unforeseen circumstances or opportunities may require some adjustments in a project’s budget, agenda, or timing and some allowances can be made if the overall project retains the same basic goals and structure as those evaluated by the peer review committee.

Only the student (with the approval of the faculty advisor), may request a change.

For budget revisions, refer to the instructions in the conditions of award, item 5, under Project/Budget Modifications. This part of the contract states that you will only expend the funds according to the approved budget. You must ask for a budget revision for changes exceeding 10% of any budgeted line item (e.g., salaries, travel, supplies and services, etc.). Requests for budget revisions still need to follow the policies for allowable expenditures and cannot include purchases of equipment, academic salaries (except for student research assistants), indirect costs, or institutional overhead.

Requests for budget changes or no-cost extensions may be submitted electronically (via e-mail only, no faxes) and must be submitted at least 30 days in advance of proposed change. They must include the signature of the student and faculty advisor in either pdf or Word document format. For project time period extensions, send a brief letter of explanation requesting a “no-cost extension” (be sure to include the requested extension ending date.) Email your request to David Kropf, Director of Administration, at Written requests may also be sent to Mr. Kropf at UC MEXUS, 3324 Olmsted Hall, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521.

What do I do if I change dissertation advisors?

If you change advisors during the course of your project, you may request a change of the P.I. (your advisor) on your grant. This requires a written request from the “old” advisor, indicating the reason for the change and a letter (with a curriculum vitae) of acceptance from the new advisor. Both letters should indicate that the original structure of the project as reviewed by the grants review committee will not be altered. Send this packet of information (the two letters and the new advisor’s c.v.) along with your cover letter of explanation to Mr. David Kropf, Director of Administration, UC MEXUS, 3324 Olmsted Hall, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521.

If I have funds left over after the project is finished, may I use them toward something else?

Any funds leftover after the project period ends must be returned to UC MEXUS, as per the conditions of award. Before the project period ends, i.e., more than 30 days prior to the end date of your award, you may anticipate that you will not spend all the funds in your approved budget and might wish to direct them to another part of your project. In that case, you can request a rebudget and no-cost extension. Address requests to Mr. David Kropf, Director of Administration, UC MEXUS, 3324 Olmsted Hall, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521. E-mail requests and faxes will not be accepted.

What are the reporting requirements?

An interim progress report is required one year into the grant. There is no format for this report. Give us an idea of how the project is going, any progress you have made, and any problems you anticipate. A few pages is sufficient. Include any articles you may have published in the meantime and notify UC MEXUS is you receive any additional funding. Attach a copy of the approved budgets from any additional funding support.

A final narrative and financial report is required three months after the project period ends. There is no standard format for the final report, but we do provide guidelines on our website under Resources. The guidelines are not intended to be forms to fill in but more to indicate what are key points to cover. Keep in mind that we are interested in how the project reached its own goals, how the funds were spent in accordance to the approved budget, and how well the results of the project met the UC MEXUS goals in terms of supporting the completion of your dissertation and beginning of your post-student academic career.