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Cornell University

John F. Kennedy Memorial Award FAQ

Q: I graduated or will graduate early. Am I eligible to apply?

In most cases, you are not eligible, as the winner must commit to being on campus or be enrolled in full-time virtual study during senior year to participate in award-related activities, including attendance at the year-end awards dinner. If you are otherwise eligible and have remained on campus as a grad student or are otherwise living and working at Cornell, you are eligible. Your application should provide full details of your situation.

Q: Owing to study abroad or other approved absence from the University, I will graduate a semester after the rest of my class. Am I eligible to apply?

That depends on when your absence took place. As long as you are considered a member of this year's graduating class when you graduate, and as long as you conform to the university's requirements for enrolled but off-campus students, the on-campus presence requirements during senior year as set forth above, you are eligible. Your application should include a description of your activities during your absence from campus.

Q: Are international students eligible to apply?

Yes and no. International students on J-visas, which reflect home-country or US Government sponsorship and include a two-year home residency requirement on completion of the academic program, are not eligible. Other international students should identify their visa status and any scholarships they may hold, with information on post-graduation terms and conditions. Applicants should describe how their plans address the award's mission, to serve the US public interest. There is an extra burden of persuasion on students planning to leave the US after graduation.

Q: My plans include work overseas. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes. Many past winners have had careers in international organizations, with the US Foreign Service, with non-profits working overseas, and in other institutions entailing research and work outside the US.

Q: I have an unusual major. Am I eligible to apply?

Any student, any study. The award is open to graduating seniors in all Schools, Departments, and Majors. See the Booklet, The JFK Memorial Award, History and Grantees, available for consultation in the Public Service Center and in the University library, for examples of past winners.

Q: Is the award need-based?

A student's financial status is not taken into account in evaluating applications. What does matter is the likely value-added of the award to each applicant. The JFK Award is intended to facilitate entry into a public service career where remuneration is low or slow to accumulate. The existence of student loans or the prospect of high-cost graduate study do not in and of themselves constitute a compelling argument for the award. What matters are the applicant's past activities demonstrating convincing evidence of leadership; a commitment to a career in public service; a proposal that lays out a feasible path toward a goal; and a persuasive description of how the award funds would help to realize it.