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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Summer 2014
(Email for availability)

Professional Development Peer:
Shawn Warner-Garcia

Diversity & Outreach Peer:
Hala Sun

Funding Peer:
Kyle Crocco

Writing Peer:
Ryan Dippre

The peers sometimes hold events or attend meetings during their regular office hours. To assure you connect with your Graduate Peer Advisor, we encourage you to contact them by email and make an appointment.


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View UCSB Graduate Student Resources in a larger map


Investing Basics: What You Need to Know

Whether you are a poor grad student from the humanities or a well-funded grad student from engineering, you will eventually need to invest (financially) in your future.

Savings and checking accounts are a great way to keep ready cash to pay bills, but they are a poor way to save for retirement or to increase your overall wealth. Investing allows your money to appreciate at a higher interest than inflation. This way you do not lose the value of your earned money over time.

While there is always a risk of losing your money while investing, you will always lose the value of your money if you never invest.

The three primary ways to invest are to purchase mutual funds, stocks, or bonds.

Mutual Funds
Mutual FundCredit: openclipart.comMutual funds are one of the most common ways for people to start investing. Mutual funds are not stocks or bonds, but rather are group investments in stocks and bonds. You and a group of other investors invest together by pooling your money to buy stocks or bonds.

Unlike stocks and bonds, you do not choose the individual stocks and bonds in the group investment. The mutual fund manager (portfolio manager) purchases the individual stocks and bonds on your behalf from a variety of companies or industries. Usually these purchases have a theme, such as real estate, technology, and alternative fuels. Another theme is being mega-rich. You may have heard of the billionaire Warren Buffett and his mutual fund, Berkshire/Hathaway. 

With mutual funds, you do not own any individual stock in the company, but rather just a share of the mutual fund. Mutual funds have a few advantages: one, you do not have to be knowledgeable about the stock market to choose individual stocks or bonds to start investing, and investing in several different funds can provide diversity, ensuring that you do not lose money (or at least limit your losses). On the other hand, you cannot choose individual stocks and you still can still lose money if, say, the real estate market collapses.

Another benefit of mutual funds is that you can often start investing with very little cash, sometimes as little as $50 a month, as long as you agree to automatically invest in a fund with direct debit. Some funds also charge management fees, while others have no fees at all, so be aware of that when you look at mutual funds. Likewise, before investing, check out the fund’s prospectus (the overview of the fund, what it invests in, and how it performs) and see what its success rate is over the long term.

StockCredit: openclipart.comYou probably heave heard a lot about Wall Street, the Dow Jones average, and individual stocks in the news, such as the price of Apple either going up or down. But what is a stock?

The difference between a mutual funds and stock is that buying a company's stock actually makes you a part-owner of the company. There are several types of stock, but the most common type of stock is called, not surprisingly, common stock. Purchasing common stock makes you a part-owner of the company, with voting rights, and possibly entitles you to dividends (i.e., cash payments based on the profits of the company).

The advantage of stocks is you can have a higher return than a mutual fund if you invest wisely or get lucky, but mostly if you get lucky. On the other hand, there is no guarantee of keeping your money. The stock price can rise, stay the same, or lose all value entirely over time. This is why you should always diversify by buying stocks in a variety of companies or industries to safeguard your wealth.  

If you wish to buy stock, you will need to use an online or discount broker, or a full service stockbroker.

BondCredit: openclipart.comUnlike mutual funds or stocks, bonds are loans, just like your student or car loan, except you are the one who is earning the interest.

The most familiar type of bonds are probably U.S. Treasury Bonds, which you may have received as a present from a grandparent or relative at some point. U.S. Treasury Bonds are the U.S. government borrowing money to pay off debt, which helps keep our economy from collapsing into a chaos of hyper-inflation and high unemployment. You may also have heard of “junk” bonds, which keep financially risky companies afloat and sometimes make (or lose) people lots of money.
Normally for bonds, a corporation or government (e.g., state, federal, local) will offer up a bond sale so they can invest in projects: a bridge, a new school, or to keep the U.S. economy afloat. In return for purchasing this bond, you will get your money back and also earn interest over the time of the bond.

Normally, buying bonds is considered a safe way to invest, but not a great way to increase your wealth, since bonds do not increase in value like stocks and you only earn interest at a set rate.

The advantage of investing in bonds is to not to lose your money. In fact, bonds are rated by credit rating agencies, so you can gauge how financially risky it is to buy them. The higher the rating, the safer the bond is and the more likely you'll get your money back. The worse the rating, the more likely the company will not be able to pay you back your loan or give you interest. On the other hand, higher rated bonds have lower interest rates and riskier bonds have higher ones, so you can potentially earn more money on them.

Often, it is safer to invest in bond mutual funds than to buy individual bonds, since you can diversify over an industry. You should also consider the issuer of the bond. For example, the interest on many government bonds is tax free.

U.S. Treasury Bond. Credit: wikipedia.comBuying individual bonds is just like buying individual stocks, so you will need to use an online broker to buy them. However, you can buy U.S. Treasury Bonds straight from the government.

For more inversting information, visit these websites:



The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

The Alliance for Investor Education


NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) application period is now open for graduate students in several eligible fields of research (see below). The GRFP provides three years of support for graduate study that leads to a research-based master's or doctoral degree. The NSF expects to award 2,000 Graduate Research Fellowships under this program solicitation, pending availability of funds.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)
October 29: Engineering; Computer and Information Science and Engineering; Materials Research
October 30:  Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry; Physics and Astronomy
November 3: Social Sciences; Psychology; STEM Education and Learning
November 4: Life Sciences; Geosciences

Award: $32,000 to the Fellow, plus a cost-of-education allowance of $12,000 to the graduate degree-granting institution. Pending the availability of funds in 2015, they anticipate that the stipend will increase to $34,000.

Eligibility: U.S. citizen who is a graduate or will enter a graduate degree program in the following fields: Engineering; Computer and Information Science and Engineering; Materials Research; Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry; Physics and Astronomy; Social Sciences; Psychology; STEM Education and Learning; Life Sciences; Geosciences.

Application: See the NSF FastLane page for deadlines, reference letter, and other applicant assistance.

For more information: Read the call for applications.


U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security Graduate Research Grant

Food SecurityThe U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security graduate research grant supports exceptional graduate students who are interested in developing a component of their graduate research in a developing country and in collaboration with a mentor from the International Agricultural Research Center (IARC) or a qualifying National Agricultural Research System (NARS) unit.

U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security
Deadline: Monday, November 10
Amount: Six-month grant is $15,000; 12-month grant is $20,000; 24-month grant is $40,000
Eligibility: Graduate students who are U.S. citizens
Apply: Follow application instructions

  • Application Form
  • Project Narrative
  • Budget, Budget Justification and Project Timeline Form
  • Proof of Citizenship
  • Institutional letters of support from the submitting university and participating IARC/NARS
  • Letter of approval from submitting university’s sponsored programs office
  • Two letters of recommendation

For more information: Read the request for applications.


Keep Your Money: Avoid Scams Targeting College Students

Credit: openclipart.comIf you think it's a scam, it probably is. Be wary of upfront fees, too generous discounts, and offers to split money.

Here are some "opportunities" to avoid so you can hold on to your money and keep your financial identity safe:

  • Address farming
  • Buying books online
  • Fake roommates
  • Illegal download letters
  • Mystery shopping
  • Split the check
  • Stolen credit card applications
  • Student loan and scholarship scams

Address Farming

Identity thieves ask student groups for student addresses and personal information in exchange for generous discounts. In the end, no discounts are given, and some student identities are stolen. The cure? Don't give away personal information to strangers.

Buying Books Online

A really, really cheap book from a seller turns out to be a way for a thief to get your credit card information. You don't get a book, but you do get a financial headache when you have to dispute charges and cancel your credit card. The cure? Buy from reputable sellers.

Fake Roommates

Craigslist is full of roommate and rental scams. This one involves the ad you contact for someone in need of a roommate. The roommate replies to that you can rent the place, but he/she will not be there for the first few weeks, so they will send you a check for the rent with a little extra. This falls into the split-the-check cashing scam column. They want you to take what you need and send the rest back to them. Of course, the check is bogus and you lose that money in addition to paying penalties for a bad check. The cure? Don't mail money to people you have never met. Here is also a list of Craigslist scams.

Illegal Download Letters

A letter will arrive accusing you of illegal downloading activity with an offer to settle the matter out of court with a check. The cure? Don't send the money. The current legislation for downloading activity gives you six warnings before any legal action takes place. Also, check out the company on the Better Business Bureau site to see if the company is legitimate, just in case you have been caught downloading illegally.

Mystery Shopping

This is the secret shopper scam. You are offered a job where you shop in stores or restaurants. However, once you have signed up, you are asked to pay a fee for more information or to complete the application. The cure? Never pay up front for a job. You can find legitimate shopping assignments at the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) website at

Credit: openclipart.comSplit The Check

Someone has found a check, or some other money opportunity, and offers to split it with you. Isn't that great? So, if you pay them for half of the amount, you get to keep the rest. Of course, you get nothing and lose that money. The cure? Never give money up front for an "opportunity."

Stolen Credit Card Applications

Thieves mix in with real representatives on campus and steal the information from that paper application you just filled out to that nice credit card rep. The thieves then use the information to skim off your new credit card, hoping you will not notice these small charges. The cure? Do online applications with reputable companies and check your credit card statements regularly.

Student Loan and Scholarship Scams

These loan or scholarship offers usually ask for a fee to secure the loan or to apply for a scholarship. Often, these are unsolicited offers. Sometimes they are contests. Remember, student loans never require an upfront fee and you never have to pay to apply for a student scholarship. The cure? Don't pay. Ignore these offers and attend a Finding Funding workshop with the Funding Peer or use reputable databases like Pivot.

For More Information See The Following:

Credit: openclipart.comCashCourse

Don't Get Swindled

6 Scams



Funding Deadlines for October 2014

You Have FundingHere are scholarships and grants that graduate students and postdoctoral scholars can apply for with deadlines in October.

All information comes through the UCLA GRAPES database. Click on the individual links for more details.


Open To All (No citizenship or residency requirements)

Oct 1: Life Sciences Research Foundation (LSRF), Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

Oct 1: National Humanities Center Fellowships

Oct 1: Princeton University Society of Fellows In the Liberal Arts, Postdoctoral Fellowships

Oct 1: Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship Program for Individual Humanists and Social Scientists

Oct 4: National Academy of Education/ Spencer Dissertation Fellowship Program

Oct 11: Marilyn A. Papp Graduate Scholarship for Study In Chinese Art and Culture

Oct 14: National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), Individual Mentored Research Scientist Development Awards

Oct 15: Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, Teaching Fellowships

Oct 15: The Getty, Library Research Grants

Oct 15: The Kislak Fellowship In American Studies at the Library of Congress

Oct 17: Smith Richardson Foundation World Politics and Statecraft Fellowship

Oct 23: Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study

U.S. Citizens and Residents Only

Oct 2: The Rhodes Scholarship

Oct 12: National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), Individual Mentored Research Scientist Development Awards

Oct 15: German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), German Studies Research Grants

Oct 15: Presidential Management Fellows Program

Oct 16: Robert Wood Johnson Scholars In Health Policy Research Program

Oct 17: National Science Foundation (NSF) Mathematical Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowships

Oct 23: UC Universitywide AIDS Research Program, Dissertation Research Awards

Oct 23: UC Universitywide AIDS Research Program, Postdoctoral Fellowships In Transnational Biomedical Research and Development

Oct 24: American Political Science Association (APSA), Minority Fellows Program

Chinese Citizens only

Oct 15: Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, Doctoral Fellowships



Buildium Technology Scholarship

Buildium, a cloud property management software business, is offering two scholarships this year for writing on an essay on Women In Technology. The scholarship is open to both men and women, who are studying in the fields of Product Design, Interaction Design, UX Design, Engineering, or Computer Science. You can apply for the fall scholarship now.Buildium

Women In Technology Scholarship

Deadline: Friday, October 31. (For fall scholarship. Award winner notified November 28).

Amount: $2,500.

Eligibility: College student enrolled in Product Design, Interaction Design, UX Design, Engineering, or Computer Science program.

Apply: Email your 1,001-or-fewer-words essay to The subject line must read “Women in Technology Scholarship,” and students should include their first and last name, email address, and phone number.

For more information: Read the call for submissions.


Mellon International Dissertation Fellowship for the Humanities and Social Sciences

The International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF) supports Ph.D. students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who are pursuing research about non-U.S. cultures and societies. The  program is open to proposals informed by a range of methodologies, including research in archives and manuscript collections, fieldwork and surveys, and quantitative data collection.

Andrew MellonAndrew W. Mellon. Credit: The Andrew W. Mellon FoundationSince its inception in 1997, the IDRF program has funded more than 900 projects, with research spanning the globe. The IDRF program is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Sign up for a webinar, to be held on Tuesday, September 16, that details the 2015 application process.

Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship

Deadline: Tuesday, November 4.

Stipend: An average of $20,000 for a nine- to 12-month period.

Eligibility: All graduate students, U.S. and international, in the humanities and social sciences who have completed all Ph.D. requirements except for research.

Apply: Use online application.

For more information: See the website.


Credit Reports and Credit Scores: What You Need to Know

An important part of your financial literacy (and your financial identity) is knowing your credit score and understanding your credit report. But what is a credit report and what does your credit score mean?

Credit Reports

Credit reports are like that permanent record that they talk about in school all the time, the one you don't want to have something bad on. Credit card companies and banks made decisions on lending to you or offering you credit based on the information on the report. Good information gets you good deals while bad information gives you heartache and a pinched wallet.

So what's on the report?

Credit reports show all your legal loan and banking activity, such as student loans, car loans, and credit cards. It will show you how many loans and credit cards you have, with whom you have them, how much you owe on them, your credit card limits, and your payment activity (i.e., how often you paid on time and how much you still owe on a loan).

Your reports might also include your previous and current employers and the companies that have asked to see your credit report.

It will not show, however, your loan-sharking activity or your informal loans with your family and friends.

Get A Free Credit Report

You can and should order a free credit report each year to check your report for any errors (and to guard against identity theft). Go to to fill out a form and request a copy from one or, better yet, all three of the credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Unfortunately, the reports do not show your credit score, but they will show you all your credit activity.

Annual Credit is also the only free credit reporting site. Other sites will ask you to pay for their credit monitoring services or for a credit score.

Guard Against Identity Theft

A good way to guard against identity theft is to check your free credit reports every year. Identity theft could ruin your credit if the people who stole your identity do not pay their bills on time. And let's face it, they probably aren't paying them on time if they stole your financial identity.

Check your report for such things as credit cards you do not recognize, denials of credit for no reason, and addresses or accounts you do not recogonize.

Fix Your Credit Errors

If you find errors, you will need to correct them by contacting the respective credit reporting agency (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and the lender or creditor (i.e., your bank, credit card, or car loan company).

Here are the credit reporting agency addresses:

From personal experience, making corrections is often a slow and frustrating process, since most people learn of inaccuracies after they have been denied a loan for a house or car that they had planned on buying. Corrections take time. You often have to contact all three agencies. Each agency has 30 days to investigate and 45 if you dispute information from the free report. And then it could take five days to report their findings to you.

You will, of course, need to provide documentation to prove the inaccuracy.

Credit Scores

Your credit score determines how good or bad a deal you will get for loans and credit.

The FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) score is the most commonly used scoring system. Your score can range from 300-850. A high score means you have a good credit history and are reliable at paying off your loans on time, which means you can get lower loan rates and higher credit limits. A lower score means you have a bad credit history of late payments, missed payments, or failure to pay off loans, so you will either get turned down for a loan or a credit card, or have a smaller credit card limit and have to pay higher interest rates on a loan.

How can you know your score?

This score is not on your credit report. Unfortunately, you do not have the right to know your credit score unless you get turned down for a loan. Then you have the right to request the credit score from the company which turned you down.

There are companies out there who will offer the credit score for a fee, but this is often an estimated score and not your true score.

Credit Pie ChartCredit:

For More Information

Check out the Federal Trade Commission Site on credit and loans.

And the financial literacy course CashCourse.




Deadline for UC MEXUS Dissertation Grants September 15

The deadline for submissions of proposals to the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC MEXUS) Dissertation Research Grant competition is Monday, September 15, 2014. The program offers grants for dissertation or final MFA projects in Mexico, about Mexico, or in collaboration with the Mexican academic and research community. Areas of interest include research or activities such as:

Mexico-Related Studies-All Disciplines
Latino Studies
United States-Mexican Relations
Critical U.S.-Mexico Issues
Mexican and Latino Topics in the Arts and Humanities
UC-Mexico Collaboration

The grants provide up to $12,000 during a two-year project period, and the competition is open to UC graduate students in all disciplines who will have advanced to candidacy by the end of this year (December 31, 2014). For more information, please consult the UC MEXUS website.

Established in 1980, UC MEXUS is an academic research institute dedicated to encouraging, securing, and contributing to binational and Latino research and collaborative academic programs and exchanges. Its main focus is to contribute substantially to improving binational scholarly understanding and providing positive contributions to society in both Mexico and the United States, particularly in the graduate and professional areas.


National Nuclear Security Administration Seeks Applications for Fellowship Program

Program Information. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Graduate Fellowship Program provides unique hands-on experience to prepare exceptional graduate students to become next-generation leaders in global nuclear security. During the 12-month, full-time, salary-plus-benefits term, Fellows work in policy or technical areas alongside NNSA experts in Washington, D.C., or other NNSA site locations. Fellows receive specialized training and opportunities for career development and professional networking, while also directly supporting NNSA’s global nuclear security mission in placements that align with their backgrounds and interests. Fellows will interact with leading researchers in the field while helping to shape the vision for future technologies related to detection of nuclear materials and the security of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.

Eligibility and Desired Qualifications. Applicants must be U.S. citizens eligible for a high-level security clearance, and are accepted to, enrolled in, or will be graduating from a master’s or Ph.D. program during the year of application. Desirable academic specializations for the policy track include international relations, security or nonproliferation studies, political science, public administration, economics, and related fields. For the technical track, desirable academic specializations include nuclear physics/engineering, chemical engineering, radiation health physics, radiochemistry, chemical sciences, applied physics, and related fields. Some positions may also benefit from backgrounds in safety and health, infrastructure and operations management, or finance/accounting. A combined policy and technical background is highly desirable, and a foreign language is a plus.

Application Information. Applications typically are accepted beginning in early August through October 21. Fellowship terms begin the following summer. Visit to learn more and apply.