Scholarship for Service: Government Service Track

 

Teacher in front of class

Threats to our national cyber infrastructure are some of the most serious challenges to national security and economic stability that we face.

Developing a more secure, trustworthy cyberspace is essential, and attracting top talent for technical and managerial cybersecurity work has become one of the U.S. government's highest priorities.

The federal CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) program provides funding for schools and universities to offer generous cybersecurity scholarships to students, in exchange for service in the federal, state, local or other levels of government.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, the AZSecure Cybersecurity Fellowship program offers full scholarships to qualified U.S. students, in exchange for public service.


Program Summary

Our AZSecure SFS program is a two-year, on-campus program. Through coursework in the UA’s MIS degree and electives in MIS, Computer Science (CS) and/or Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) departments as well as our online NSA-recognized Enterprise Security Certificate, fellowship students emerge with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the cybersecurity workforce. In addition to receiving a strong information security education, SFS students also participate in independent studies resulting in a Master's Paper or dissertation, other relevant publications, extra-curricular activities and internship and job placement support. Government service is required upon graduation.


Eligibility

Considerations for SFS admittance eligibility include the following:

Minimum Eligibility:

  • Citizenship: All SFS scholars must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.
  • Academic Merit: The Scholarship Committee will examine applicants' grade point average (3.00 minimum), transcripts of previous coursework, relevant extracurricular activities and references.
  • Qualifications for the MIS MS/PhD Program: Successful applicants must have a bachelor's degree and meet the requirements on the MS MIS Admissions page. 

Additional Considerations:

  • Interest in Cybersecurity or Information Assurance: Students must demonstrate a strong interest in cybersecurity work through their interview, prior academic work and/or professional experience and activities.
  • Communication Skills: Through examination of applicants' written work, CV/resume and their interview, the Scholarship Committee will evaluate each student's verbal and written communication skills.
  • Commitment and Flexibility: Through previous coursework, experience and their interviews, students applying for the program should have a demonstrable ability to commit to finishing the program and fulfilling the terms of their scholarship award. Owing to the fact that placement (for the internship, post-graduation position or both) will most likely be outside of Arizona, students interested in pursuing the Fellowship program must be flexible on where they live following graduation. Positions are often located in the Washington D.C. metro area, but can be in any state or type of locale. 

Admittance and Ongoing Eligibility:

Applicants selected for scholarships will have a final interview and fact check to ensure the integrity of the application. Applicants selected for scholarships will be submitted to the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for final verification of eligibility before any award is made. Ongoing eligibility and progress assessment will also be confirmed for all renewal applications.

Ongoing Eligibility:

Students accepted in the AZSecure Cybersecurity Fellowship program are selected for their motivation and commitment, interest in cybersecurity, academic merit and communication skills and flexibility. Once a student begins the program, success is expected. Progress through the program is reviewed regularly. At a minimum, students continuing in the program must meet the following expectations:

  • Agree to the terms and conditions specified in SFS Student Service Agreement.
  • Maintain full-time enrollment with good academic standing in your department (MIS, CS or ECE), focusing on Information Assurance, with a minimum GPA of 3.0 for masters students, and 3.5 for PhD students.
  • Measurable and satisfactory progress on independent studies.
  • Attendance at job fairs.
  • Successfully complete a Federal, State, Local or Tribal government internship position in the summer between the first and second year of scholarship study. The SFS program office, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), provides numerous tools to assist students in this job search.
  • Appropriate involvement in relevant extra-curricular activities.
  • Maintenance of security clearance eligibility.
  • Timely completion of master's paper
  • Upon graduation, work full-time as an information assurance specialist in the Federal, State, Local or Tribal Government organizations for length of time commensurate with the scholarship period (2 years for MS 3 for PhD). 

Enrolled students are also expected to keep their records up-to-date in the SFS Office of Personnel Management (OPM).  Log in here to upload your recent resume and other information:  The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Scholarship-for-Service: CyberCorps website (includes student and PI log in)

Other information can be found on our the OPM FAQ site: CyberCorps SFS Frequently Asked Questions


Funding and Benefits

With funding from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service program, the AZSecure Cybersecurity Fellowship program is able to offer the following benefits to its scholarship students:

  • Full tuition and fees
  • Annual Stipend: 
    • PhD and Masters students: $34,000 per academic year
  • Book allowances of up to $2,000 per academic year
  • Support for approved professional development of up to $4,000 per academic year
  • Independent study research experiences with faculty members, resulting in a Master's Paper or PhD dissertation
  • Extra-curricular activities and events with their cohort
  • Placement support while searching for a summer internship and post-graduation position through a virtual Career Fair, a real-world Career Fair (usually held in the DC area), and MIS departmental support

Continuing eligibility: To continue to receive their scholarship funding, students must remain in good standing by meeting all eligibility requirements during their enrollment.

Working while in school: Living stipends are meant to free students of the need to work while pursuing their degree. Students are not allowed to take university positions during the academic year, and are strongly discouraged from taking any position off campus. The coursework and independent study requirements are rigorous and demanding; attempting to work while attending classes can put a student at a risk of failing to maintain good standing and losing program eligibility.

More information about the program can be found on the The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Scholarship-for-Service: CyberCorps website (includes student and PI log in) and the CyberCorps SFS Frequently Asked Questions.


Service Agreement  

SFS Student - please keep your service agreement on file. PDF version. The text of this year’s Service Agreement is as follows: 

CyberCorps®: Scholarship For Service (SFS)

(Scholarship Track)

Service Agreement

The CyberCorps®: Scholarship For Service (SFS) program provides the means for program-approved academic institutions to grant scholarships to students (hereinafter referred to as participants) who agree to pursue a degree in the information assurance fields and serve at an approved Federal, State, local, or tribal Government agency (hereinafter referred to as “participating agency”) in a qualifying position (i.e., a position in the information assurance field) for a period of up to three years upon completing academic degree requirements, depending on the length of the scholarship. This Service Agreement sets forth the participant’s responsibilities.

I. Participant Responsibilities

The SFS scholarship participant agrees to the following:

1. Scholarship Phase:

During the scholarship phase the participant will:

  1. maintain enrollment at a participating college or university on a full-time basis;
  2. maintain good academic standing, as defined by his or her academic institution, in an information assurance program of study;
  3. at the end of the semester (or quarter or trimester, as applicable), submit an official course transcript to the Principal Investigator (PI) at the academic institution, the hiring official at the participating agency making an employment offer to the participant, or to the SFS Program Office, if so requested, listing the courses in which the participant is enrolled and the final grade(s) received;
  4. if the period of scholarship exceeds an academic year, search for and serve an information assurance-related internship of at least 10 weeks at a participating agency;
  5. participate in SFS-sponsored job fairs and all other SFS program activities;
  6. register with the SFS program, complete a participant profile, and create a résumé on-line at www.sfs.opm.gov;
  7. update SFS profile (résumé, job search activity report, and contact information) at least once quarterly;
  8. search for post-graduation employment with a participating agency in an information assurance-related position;
  9. complete periodic surveys as requested by the SFS Program Office; and
  10. respond to all requests from SFS Program Office and PI for information concerning the SFS program and participant status in accordance with guidance provided in the request.

2. Commitment Phase:

Following completion of academic degree requirements, the participant will:

  1. work full time in a qualifying position at a participating agency for a period commensurate with the length of the scholarship or one year, whichever is longer;i
  2. provide documentation to the SFS Program Office verifying employment;
  3. ensure contact information in SFS profile remains current throughout period of obligation;
  4. complete periodic surveys as requested by the SFS Program Office; and
  5. respond to all requests from SFS Program Office and PI for information concerning the SFS program and participant status in accordance with guidance provided in the request.

3. Monitoring Phase:

Upon completion of the Service Commitment Participants enter the Monitoring Phase. During this phase the Program Office monitors the Participant’s employment status and keeps current contact information on Participants. This begins upon completion of the Service Commitment and concludes 8 years after the Service Commitment end date. Participants will be required to:

  1. update contact information when it changes;
  2. complete periodic surveys as requested by SFS Program Office (usually annually).

4. Failure to secure a qualifying position:

If participant has not secured a qualifying position upon graduation, the participant agrees to:

  1. continue to search for employment with a participating agency in a qualifying position;
  2. respond to all requests from SFS Program Office and PI for information concerning the SFS service commitment in accordance with guidance provided in the request; and
  3. continue to update SFS profile (résumé, job search activity report, and contact information) at least once quarterly.

It is expected that the participant enters the commitment phase within 18 months of graduation however an extension may be granted by the SFS Program Office. If the participant has not secured a qualifying position within 18 months of graduation or by the end of the granted extension the participant understands that he/she will be indebted to the Federal Government and may be required to reimburse the SFS Program. Section II-2 addresses exceptions.

II. Participant Reimbursement to the Federal Government

1. A participant who fails to comply with any program requirement established under this Service Agreement will be indebted to the Federal Government and must immediately reimburse the SFS program. Failure to promptly reimburse the SFS program will require that the funds be collected as a debt owed the U.S. Treasury.ii The reimbursable amount will be prorated based on time already served to fulfill the employment obligation following completion of degree requirements.

a. Failure to fulfill the terms of the program during the scholarship phase occurs for any of the following reasons:

  1. the participant’s enrollment is terminated by the academic institution for reasons under the control of the participant (including failure to meet academic or behavioral standards);
  2. any changes to the participant’s curriculum or major field of study that are not compatible with the SFS program;
  3. failure to complete academic degree requirements within the scholarship period unless there are mitigating circumstances agreed to by the SFS Program Office;
  4. the participant fails to qualify for internship placement, including obtaining a security clearance if required;
  5. the participant is terminated from any Federal appointment for cause; or
  6. the participant otherwise breaches the terms of this agreement.

b. Failure to complete the period of employment in a qualifying position occurs if the participant fails to gain employment at a participating agency, employment is terminated, or the participant leaves a qualifying position, for any of the following reasons before the post-academic employment commitment is fulfilled:

  1. the participant fails to qualify for post-graduation placement, including obtaining a security clearance if required;
  2. the employee resigns;
  3. the employee is terminated for cause or for adverse suitability/security clearance determinations;iii
  4. the employee initiates action that results in reassignment, promotion or transfer to a non-covered position;
  5. the employee refuses an offer of reassignment or transfer to a covered position in the commuting area when such an action becomes necessary because of changes in the employer’s staffing needs, organizational realignment, or staff reductions; or
  6. the employee otherwise breaches the terms of this agreement.

2. Participant reimbursement is not required under any of the following conditions:

  1. the participant receives and accepts an offer from an agency designated as “participating” by the SFS Program Office and that agency is, through no fault of the participant, unable to place the participant in a covered position that permits the fulfillment of the employment obligation upon completion of academic degree requirements; and the SFS Program Office is unable to effect alternative placement in a covered position within the continental United States;
  2. the participant is reassigned to a non-qualifying position due to changes in staff requirements, organizational realignment, or staff reductions, or at management’s discretion;
  3. the participant is involuntarily separated for reasons other than misconduct or performance;
  4. the participant leaves the agency voluntarily to enter into the service of any other participating agency in a qualified position; or
  5. the National Science Foundation (NSF) determines that seeking reimbursement is not in the Federal Government’s best interests.

I certify that I have read and understand the terms of this service agreement. I further certify that I am a United States citizen, and (if a male born after December 31, 1959) have registered with the Selective Service System, or am exempt from having to do so under Selective Service law.

Footnotes

i. An academic year (nine months) of scholarship establishes a requirement for one calendar year of work. Participants must be willing to relocate anywhere within the continental United States. Please note that a high percentage of positions are in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

ii. If a participant fails to meet the terms of this agreement and is found to be indebted to the Federal Government the participant will be required to reimburse the United States Department of Treasury a sum equal to the amount outstanding plus administrative and interest fees, if any. These funds will be recovered from the participant through the appropriate provisions governing debt collection.

iii. Terminations for cause or adverse suitability/security clearance determinations may occur for any of the following reasons:

  • misconduct or negligence in employment;
  • criminal or dishonest conduct;
  • material, intentional false statement or deception or fraud in examination or appointment;
  • alcohol abuse of a nature and duration which suggests that the applicant or appointee would be prevented from performing the duties of the position to which appointed, or would constitute a direct threat to the property and safety of others;
  • illegal use of narcotics, drugs, or other controlled substances, without evidence of substantial rehabilitation; or
  • knowing and willfully engaging in acts or activities designed to overthrow the U.S. Government by force.