The National Science Foundation (NSF) has implemented a final rule that establishes repayment standards for the agency’s CyberCorps Scholarship-for-Service recipients who fail to fulfill the program’s requirements.
The rule also requires that, during the period that they are performing their service obligation under the program, scholarship recipients must provide annual documentation of their service employment and their current contact information.
NSF’s new rule will go into effect on August 31.
The goal of the program – which is led and managed by NSF in coordination with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – is to recruit and train the next generation of information technology professionals, industrial control system security professionals, and security managers to meet the needs of the cybersecurity mission for Federal, state, local, and tribal governments.
Under the program, NSF makes grant awards to qualified institutions of higher education to provide scholarships to students pursuing degrees or specialized program certifications in the cybersecurity field, including related fields like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and aerospace.
The CyberCorps Scholarship-for-Service program covers the student’s tuition and fees for not more than three years, plus stipend. In return, scholarship recipients must agree that, after receiving their degree, they will work for a period equal to the length of their scholarship in the cybersecurity mission of a Federal executive agency or other qualifying entity.
Recipients must also agree to provide OPM, NSF, and their qualified institution of higher education with “annual verifiable documentation of post-award employment” and “up-to-date contact information” while they are completing their service obligation.
NSF’s new rule sets forth repayment standards to be applied to recipients who fail to fulfill their service obligation.
The proposed rule also sets forth procedures by which scholarship recipients may request that the NSF director defer or discharge their post-award employment or repayment obligation. In addition, the proposed rule includes a provision reflecting the requirement that scholarship recipients provide annual post-award employment documentation and up-to-date contact information while completing their service obligation.
The finalized announcements of this new award came one day after NSF’s CyberCorps Scholarship-for-Service program renewed funding for seven academic institutions, providing more than $24 million over the next four years to support the development of a robust and resilient cybersecurity workforce.
NSF’s cyber scholarship – which has played a critical role in developing the U.S. cybersecurity workforce for over 20 years – aligns with the Biden-Harris administration’s newly released “National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy: Unleashing America’s Cyber Talent,” which aims to increase the number of Americans in “good-paying, middle-class” cyber jobs. The national cyber workforce strategy will be collaborating with academic institutions as well as Federal agencies, to fill the hundreds of thousands of cyber job vacancies across the nation.