Undergraduate Research Funding

Undergraduate research has been identified by the Association of American Colleges and Universities as a high-impact practice. We promote faculty to engage with students in this evidence-based practice as it has shown to improve student outcomes and increase learning success.

One way we do this is by providing funding opportunities for students to receive a stipend while working alongside a faculty mentor on a research project. Funding is also available for project supplies associated with taking on undergraduate student researchers. Faculty can apply for the Student Engagement Fund (SEF) or Research, Engagement and Academic Diversity (READ) Grant.

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Funding Opportunities

Faculty from all colleges and disciplines can apply for funding. Regardless of the funding opportunity you apply for research projects typically fit under the following broad categories:

  • Research and Artistry: Research/ artistry project meant to contribute to a body of knowledge on a specific topic, intended to serve the academic community, and controlled by the researcher or artist.
  • Civic Engagement: projects that promote and consider ways citizens are active, engaged, and informed as it relates to political participation, education, and other societal issues.
  • Community-Engaged Research: Community based research that has as its main purpose to provide the community with tools and info to enact change; pursues community empowerment and mutual learning, controlled by researcher/artist and community members.

Student Engagement Fund

The Student Engagement Fund (SEF) is an Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning (OSEEL) funding program that provides student compensation and/or project supply funds for faculty-mentored research/artistry and community-based projects. Projects in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) are funded in partnership with the college.

SEF applications are reviewed by a committee of NIU faculty.

Research, Engagement and Academic Diversity Grant

The Research, Engagement and Academic Diversity (READ) Grant is the result of a collaboration between OSEEL, the Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships and the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ADEI). READ Grant funds can be used for research, scholarship and artistry projects on closing equity gaps, social justice and diversity, as well as projects related to social entrepreneurship or social innovation focused on social and cultural issues.

Faculty are encouraged to recruit students from historically underrepresented groups (defined here as African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and Alaskan Native/American Indian).

READ applications are reviewed by the committee within the Division of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Acceptable Use of Funds

The main purpose of READ and SEF is to increase the number of students receiving funding to participate in undergraduate research. Additionally, faculty can apply for project supply expenses. Eligible project supply expenses include:

  • Research-related travel expenses (i.e travel to a field site)
  • Materials and supplies specific to the project
  • Direct project expenses (copying, mailing surveys, etc…)

You may receive funding for more than one project. The following limits apply:

  • Student researchers: maximum of three students per semester at $1,200 each
  • Project supplies: $500 per student researcher; $1,500 maximum per application

Funding Timeline

Spring 2024

  • Application opens: mid-September
  • Application deadline: early November
  • Awardees notified: early December
  • Feb. 15, 2024: funds disbursed pending receipt of student-faculty mentor learning agreement.

Summer/Fall 2024

  • Application opens: mid-February
  • Application deadline: early April
  • Awardees notified: early May
  • June 15: funds disbursed for summer recipients pending receipt of student-faculty mentor learning agreement.

Eligibility and Requirements

Student Eligibility

In order for students to receive a stipend as an undergraduate researcher, the following criteria must be met:

  • Currently enrolled student at NIU
  • In good academic standing
  • Ability to work on the research project for the entire semester for approximately 5-7 hours per week

Program Requirements

Faculty and students will be added to OSEEL’s Research Funding Programs Blackboard organization which will be used to communicate program requirements and expectations.


  • Meet with faculty to complete student-faculty mentor learning agreement and adhere to established commitments
  • Maintain regular communication with your faculty mentor
  • Submit monthly progress reports
  • Complete end of project survey
  • Present your research project at NIU’s annual Conference on Undergraduate Research and Engagement

Faculty Mentors

  • Meet with student and use the student-faculty mentor learning agreement to establish expectations
  • Meet with student periodically to assess and review the stated learning outcomes of the project outlined in the student-faculty mentor learning agreement
  • Provide resources and necessary tools for students
  • Ensure students have completed any necessary safety training to participate in the project. Students and staff can create an account to access Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI training)
  • Share OSEEL protocol with the department office manager for purchasing of supplies and reimbursement process
  • Maintain regular communication with your student researcher and OSEEL staff on any major changes with the research project or mentoring relationship

Disbursement of Funds


Stipends for OSEEL undergraduate researchers will be processed through your bursar account and disbursed into partial payments throughout your project on the 15th of each month. If you already have a direct deposit account with the Bursar’s Office, please contact them to make sure you have the correct bank account on file for your funding to be distributed. Direct deposit as an NIU employee is not the same. You will still need to set up this feature through the Bursars office. Visit go.niu.edu/DirectDeposit for more information and to sign up for direct deposit.

Note: Students can receive financial aid (scholarships, grants, stipends, waivers, loans, and/or federal work study) up to the cost of attendance. If you receive an OSEEL undergraduate researcher stipend which causes your financial resources to exceed your cost of attendance and/or financial need, the result may be an over-award. Over-awards must be resolved and, in most cases, student loans and/or federal work study will be reduced or canceled. If there are no loans or work study available to adjust, you may not be eligible to receive the stipend.


Student Travel

Individual conference travel awards will be processed through MyScholarships. You will receive an email from MyScholarships with your awarded amount. Once you receive this email, you must accept the award. Upon acceptance, the award will be disbursed to your account within 10-14 business days.

Faculty Travel

Faculty awarded travel funds through the Experiential Learning Group Travel grant will complete the NIU Request for Group Travel advance form. Within two weeks of return from travel, a travel advance form must be completed with detailed, itemized receipts and submitted to Accounts Payable to reconcile the advance.

Taxability Statement Notice for Stipends

Please note that stipend payments for this award, though not considered wages, may be considered taxable income. The Internal Revenue Service regulations and notices state that the payer (Northern Illinois University) of a taxable stipend payment is not required to withhold income tax and not required to report the payment to the student at calendar year-end. Therefore, stipend payments issued to students who are U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or resident aliens (for U.S. tax purposes) will not be reported on IRS Form 1099-MISC at the end of the calendar year. Students are responsible for reporting these payments and remitting any tax due. Please refer to IRS Pub. 970, Tax Benefits for Education, for additional information. It is recommended you consult a qualified tax advisor to assist with personal tax questions.

Contact Us

Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning
Holmes Student Center 264-266
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