Student Engagement Fund FAQ

Can I apply to both SEF and USOAR?

Yes, if you can clearly document the need for additional funds then you can apply to both programs.

*Note that SEF recipients are only able to receive $1,200 in compensation, $2,500 in reimbursement, or a total of $3,500 in both categories for the entire academic year (Fall-Spring-Summer). Students can apply for up to $2500 in project support per year through the USOAR program.

I am a Faculty member. Can I utilize SEF to support a project for my class?

Yes, SEF supports travel and activities outside of the classroom that will directly benefit students enrolled in the course. In the past, Faculty recipients of SEF have used their funds to support things like travel to a local conference and printing posters for research symposiums.

Are reimbursement and travel funds only available for College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) students?

Limited funding for conference travel and reimbursement is available for non-CLAS students. Funding is provided to applicants who are able to clearly express the need and benefit of such funds.

How often can I apply for SEF?

You can apply each semester, but keep in mind that students are only able to receive $1,200 in compensation, $2,500 in reimbursement, or a total of $3,500 in both categories for the entire academic year (Fall-Spring-Summer).

How much funding is awarded each semester?

During the Spring 2017 application cycle, over $57,000 funds were requested. Of that requested amount, OSEEL and CLAS were able to fund $37,000 in project support.

Can I change my budget after it has been approved by the SEF committee?

Yes, you can change your budget up until the SEF orientation date. After that date, you are unable to make changes to your budget.

I am receiving compensation from a separate OSEEL undergraduate research program for a project. Can I apply for SEF in order to receive additional funds for the project?

No, we do not fund the same project through different OSEEL programs unless you can clearly demonstrate the need for additional funding or are working on two separate projects.

I didn’t use all of my funds. Do I keep the money?

No, if you did not use all of your reimbursement funding or spent it on things that were not in your approved budget, your Bursars Account will be charged with the difference.

I haven’t received my funds yet and need to make purchases. How are funds disbursed?

Funds are disbursed as an Academic Award through the Financial Aid Office. If you are signed up for Direct Deposit through the Bursars office, the funds will be disbursed through the bank account on file. If you do not have Direct Deposit setup, the funds will go to the address you have on file with the Financial Aid Office. Visit for more information and to sign up for Direct Deposit. Information on disbursement dates are included in your SEF award letter and during the SEF orientation.

*Note that if you have Direct Deposit as an NIU Student Employee, you will still need to sign up for direct deposit through Financial Aid. The two processes are separate.

I purchased an item that was not included in the approved budget for my project. Do my funds still cover it?

No. Any changes made to the budget after the resubmission date has passed will not be valid. Any purchases made by the student or department that were not originally approved will be charged to the students Bursar account at the end of the program.

Am I allowed to use funding for SEF after I graduate?

SEF will only fund projects as long as you are an undergraduate student. Funds will not be able to carry over past your graduation date, even if you are continuing to work on the same project.

What is the deadline to purchase approved items with reimbursement funds?

Items for SEF projects must be purchased two weeks before the last Friday of the semester that funds are awarded.