New database for student funding opportunities to go live Jan. 16
Students looking to finance study abroad, thesis research and summer internships will now be able to look through one central database for University funding.
The Student Activities Funding Engine, a website designed to streamline students’ access to funding, will go live on Jan. 16. Any current student will be able to log in to the site.
Vice Provost for International Initiatives Diana Davies proposed such a forum shortly after she arrived on campus five years ago. Work on the project began in November 2010.
Davies noted that when she first joined the administration, she immediately identified several problems with student funding.
“I was surprised by the number of times I heard students say, ‘I’d really like to do this internship, but I don’t have the money to do so,’ ” she explained.
Davies also said that a secondary goal of SAFE is to allow the University to carefully track how it spends its money on different projects. The database is designed to simplify the logistics of the actual award process for both students and academic department offices.
“Some offices are working in a vacuum because they don’t necessarily know who else has been asked to give money to a particular student,” she explained. “So that may result in giving more than the student needs or not enough.”
To apply for funding for a particular activity, students will be able to submit a funding proposal only once. The database can then match that request with a list of appropriate departments and offices that have money available for student initiatives.
“It works a little bit like an online dating service,” Davies said.
USG president Bruce Easop ’13, who had proposed an internship funding directory as part of his campaign platform last year, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
In the first phase of SAFE, students will be able to apply for grants for senior thesis research, study abroad opportunities, off-campus summer internships and a variety of other summer independent projects. The website, however, is not intended for prizes, financial aid, hardship funding or scholarships.
Next year, the database will be expanded to allow students to search for funding opportunities for student groups, including trips and on-campus activities. Davies said she hopes that the USG Projects Board will be able to award money to organizations through SAFE.
Katharine Hackett ’79, associate director of the Princeton Environmental Institute, noted that SAFE will allow PEI to distribute its resources to students more efficiently. She added that the website will also help to confirm whether students have received funds from other departments.
“We had to rely on students being candid with us before we gave them funding,” Hackett explained. “It required a lot of back end communication.”
Program Manager for Humanistic Studies and Journalism Lin DeTitta said that while the Council of Humanities will be using SAFE, students’ honesty had not been a previous concern.
“We do ask students to let us know [about alternative providers],” she said. “Our experience shows that students are up-front about that.”
OIT’s Associate Director of Administrative Information Services Ted Bross said that SAFE was one of the best projects he has ever worked on.
“The project went as well as we could possibly have hoped,” he added. “We hope the campus is happy with it.”