Student Initiative Grant
Student Initiative Grants provide support forevents that bring together students, academically or socially, from various departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). In addition to monetary support, GSAC is also able to waive the rental fee for 301 Philosophy for eligible groups/events. Types of events supported in the past include, but are not limited to: academic conferences, discussion groups, social events, cultural events, and community service initiatives. The 2013-2014 GSAC budget, which outlines the funds allotted to these grants, can be viewed here
Eligibility & Regulations
The following criteria must be met to obtain a Student Initiative Grant:
- Groups must be officially recognized by GSAC to receive funding.
- Events must occur in the future and cannot be funded retroactively.
- Individual student groups are limited to $1000 in each academic year.
- Applications are due October 1st for the fall (Oct 20th - Feb 20th) and February 1st for the spring/summer (Feb 20th - Oct 20th).
- Groups may apply for events in the Spring (or a full year of continuous events) during the Fall application cycle, however they will be given lower priority. If groups do not receive their full requested funds in the Fall, they may reapply for more in the Spring.
- The grant may not be used for speakers' honorarium, airfare, lodging or any travel fees.
- The event should not be political or religious in nature.
- Reimbursements must be requested within 30 days following the event for which the expenditure was used (see below).
- A report must be submitted to the Budget and Finance Chair within 30 days of the event/final expenditure (see below). Failing to do so will hinder future GSAC funding.
- GSAC sponsorship must be acknowledged at the event and in all publicity.
- All sponsored events must be open to all members of GSAS.
Click here to download the funding application file (MS Word format) and submit it to the GSAC Finance Chair by email before the deadline.
Funding Approval Process
SIG applications are due by October 1st for events being held prior to spring SIG vote (i.e., Oct. 20th - Feb. 20th) and February 1st for events being held prior to Fall SIG vote (i.e., Feb. 20th - Oct. 20th, excluding summer). Applications will not be accepted during the summer. The procedure for the approval of the SIG grant will be as follows:
301 Philosophy Guidelines
- Every member of the GSAC finance committee will grade the applications based on 6 criteria (below). Each criterion will be graded on a scale 0-10, for a total of 60 points possible (10 = best).
- The event should attract a significant number of GSAS students.
- The event should improve graduate student life at Columbia.
- The event should promote interaction between various departments.
- The event should be reasonable, i.e. there should be a high probability of it being successful. (Does the application demonstrate appropriate planning? Has the group run a similar event previously?).
- The expenses should be reasonable. (Are the estimated amounts provided in the budget reasonable for the expense items listed?)
- The funding should be used for necessary/important aspects of events (i.e. venue fees, necessary supplies, etc. will be given preference over unnecessary food for events).
- Note: The details you provide in the application will be used to evaluate the application based upon the above criteria, so please provide as much detail as possible with respect to these aspects.
- The Budget and Finance chair will collect and average the grades for each application. Applications receiving >50 points will be recommended for full funding, 20-50 points will be recommended for partial funding, and <20 will be recommended for no funding. The GSAC finance committee will then meet (either in person or via electronic communication) to determine the amount that each partially funded application should receive. This will be done on a case-by-case basis and will allow applications to be compared with each other.
- The Finance committee's recommendation and comments explaining the recommendation will be emailed to the contact person for each application on or near 10 days after the deadline.
- A meeting of the Finance committee will be held on or near 15 days after the deadline, at which point any groups that wish to appeal the committee's decision can present their case for increased funding and the Finance committee can further explain their decision. The Finance committee will discuss the cases and make a final decision for funding recommendations.
- The Finance committee's final recommendations will be summarized by the chair (including the average grades and explanatory comments) and emailed to the full GSAC plenary at least one day before the 2nd plenary meeting of the semester. At the 2nd plenary meeting of the semester the plenary would be asked to approve the finance committee's recommendations (after amending them, if necessary).
301 Philosophy will be closed for the Fall 2013 semester for renovations. Updated information regarding fee waivers will be available when it reopens, hopefully Spring 2014.
Funding is on a reimbursement basis, i.e., you must submit receipts for expenses up to the amount awarded by GSAC. This must be done by preparing a reimbursement packet, affixed with a paper clip, of the following (in this order):
- The GSAC Student Initiative Grant award letter (email).
- A completed Columbia Travel and Business Expense Report.
An advertisement for the event (preferably a flyer).
Original receipts documenting all of the expenditures approved for the grant.
- The person to be reimbursed is the Payee.
- Complete the box labeled "overall business purpose." The description should be comprehensible to an Accounts Payable auditor. For example: "Food for monthly X group meeting on DATE; 15 attendees." If there were 10 or fewer attendees, list each by name.
- Do not forget to sign and date the report
- Tape (not staple) each receipt to a separate piece of 8.5" by 11" paper; more than one receipt per page is allowed as long as it is clearly marked and legible.
- Arrange the receipts in chronological order
To receive a reimbursement, bring a printed copy of the reimbursement packet to Mireille Valbrun in 109 Low Library and email a digital copy of the completed Columbia Travel and Business Expense Report to the GSAC Finance Chairman at email@example.com within 30 days following the event for which the expenditure was used.
Following all funded events, a report of the event should be filed with the GSAC Finance Chair. This report should include the following points:
Previously Funded Groups and Events
- Was the event successful in achieving its goals and the goal of enriching graduate student life at Columbia?
- How was the budget actually balanced, compared to projected revenues/expenditures?
- How many graduate students attended, compared to the projected attendance? Which departments were represented?
- How was GSAC's contribution acknowledged?
Here are some examples of events that have been funded by GSAC:
GSAC is a non-partisan graduate student organization. GSAC's funding of an event does not imply its endorsement of any views or opinions of the event's organizers or participants.