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Using Undergraduate Research Fellowship Funds

1. Undergraduate Research Fellowships (URFs) are NOT cash awards. If awarded, fellowship funds are made available for student use through an individual account administered by the supervising professor’s departmental accounting representative, and according to the recipient’s approved budget. All institutional requirements must be met before the recipient is able to spend any URF funds. If awarded, the recipient must contact the supervisor’s departmental accounting contact prior to using any of the awarded funds. The accounting contact will assist in all purchases/reimbursements made.

2. URF funds can only be used for purchases for the student receiving the award. Under no circumstances will faculty, research scientists/engineers, or graduate students be reimbursed with URF funds, nor will purchases be made on their (or a lab’s) behalf.

3. It is the responsibility of the student, supervisor, and departmental accounting representative to ensure that all expenditures support the research project in accordance with The University of Texas and State of Texas guidelines. This includes the production of fiscal documents (purchase orders, requisitions, travel vouchers, etc.) and accounting for the fellowship. Click here for more information and assistance.

4. Any and all changes to the student’s funded budget included in the original application must be approved in advance and in writing by the Office of Undergraduate Research. Please submit requests to modify with the specific dollar amount(s) and justification via e-mail to uresearch@austin.utexas.edu with Subject: “Request to Modify URF Budget”.

5. If not expended by Aug. 31 or the student’s graduation date (if prior to Aug. 31), funds will be returned to the Undergraduate Research Fellowship fund. Note that processing of purchase orders and other paperwork can take several weeks; students are strongly encouraged to arrange for all expenses several weeks in advance of the deadline.

6. Upon completion of the research project, and no later than a month after the end of the fellowship period, each URF recipient must submit a one-page final report or reflection to the Office of Undergraduate Research. The report should briefly describe the research outcome(s), list any publication(s) resulting from the work, note any academic awards received by the fellowship recipient, and include post-graduation goals of the recipient.

URF funds may be used for:

Conferences and professional development. URF funds can pay for registration or other fees for academic conferences, professional meetings, and other professional development events (i.e., specialized training workshops), taking place either in person or remotely during the fiscal year the award is made (i.e., the period ending Aug. 31 or the student’s graduation date).

Travel. URF funds can be used toward travel expenses for conferences and workshops, as well as for other research activities (e.g., data collection) outside of Austin. Travel must take place during the fiscal year the award is made (i.e., the period ending Aug. 31 or the student’s graduation date). Travel expenses include but are not limited to transportation, lodging, and registration fees. For travel to be approved, the proposal must include specific date(s) and location(s) as well as an explanation of the relevance to the research project. Only expenses for research-associated travel beyond the Austin area are allowed (e.g., not from campus to Pickle, not around Austin while conducting interviews or doing site visits, etc.). If URF funds are awarded for travel but the travel cannot be carried out (e.g., due to conference cancelation), recipients should contact the Office of Undergraduate to get approval for alternate expenses.

Supplies and materials. The URF may fund budgeted research supplies and materials required for the undergraduate student’s approved research project. These can include materials consumed in the course of conducting the research (e.g., chemical reagents) as well as books, audiovisual materials, art supplies for creative projects, archive access, or licenses for other materials. Materials needed for prototyping or building research-related devices (e.g., in a maker space) are also allowed.

Computer software. Only highly specialized computer software required for the project may be approved. No computers, computer peripherals, or commonly accessible software are covered.

Specialized research equipment and services. Small items of research equipment (e.g., cameras, recorders, maker space equipment, etc.), which become the property of The University of Texas at Austin upon the conclusion of the approved research project, may be approved if necessary for the project. Specialized research-related services, such as contracting with labs for data or sample analysis, are allowed as long as such services are necessary and the personnel executing the work are not members of the supervisor’s lab.

Human subjects compensation. Funds can be used for compensating participants in human subjects research only in cases that adhere to all relevant university guidelines. The use of funds for human subjects compensation is subject to approval by the School of Undergraduate Studies.

The University retains ownership of all equipment and/or software acquired with URF funds, which will remain the property of the supervisor’s department.

URF funds MAY NOT be used for:

  • Any purchase not included in the approved budget, unless budget is amended and approved prior to purchase. Amendments must not diverge from the project’s original intent, and will not be accepted the last week of August.
  • Any purchase, expenditure or event dated before the final URF approval or after the URF expiration date (expiration date is either Aug. 31or commencement date if earlier).
  • Student scholarships, stipends, or salaries.
  • Travel expenses (e.g. vehicle maintenance, fuel, or local transportation) costs in the Austin area.
  • Computers, computer hardware, computer peripherals, or commonly accessible software.
  • Reimbursing faculty, associated graduate assistants, or any other individual for any expenditures, including travel.
  • Reimbursing URF recipients for any expenses, except pre-approved travel-related expenditures.
  • Stocking a supervisor’s lab, office, or studio with research items unrelated to the approved student project.
  • Travel or research conducted after a URF recipient’s graduation date or after Aug. 31. See above travel restrictions.