Project Application can be downloaded here

Applying for Project Funding

The Winter 2018 term application deadline date is  Wednesday, February 28th at noon.

GSEF’s mandate is to improve the experience of graduate students on campus, and to provide funding where possible to help aid in the production of a vibrant student experience.

The project budget for GSEF is $10,000 a term.  If the whole amount is not used up, the surplus can roll over to future terms so applications for large projects will not be refused outright.

As long as the project does not meet any of the non-allowable criteria, every project will be considered.  Applicants are encouraged to utilize the graduate house for events and catering, although no projects will be denied if they choose to not use the graduate house.  Repeat applications are allowed, but preference will be given to first time applicants or new projects.  Projects that will only positively affect <10 graduate students are still encouraged, but the cost per student ratio will be considered, and projects that will have a larger impact on the graduate student body will be given preference.

You cannot apply for individual travel funding to attend a conference using this form. See the GSO/GSEF Travel Assistantship instead. The Graduate Studies Research Travel Assistantship value is $500! The primary purpose of the travel award is to support University of Waterloo graduate students in presenting their research at professional conferences. The travel award is funded by the Graduate Studies Office (GSO) and Graduate Studies Endowment Fund (GSEF). Additional financial support may be provided by the graduate student’s supervisor, graduate program, department, school or Faculty.

You may not purchase alcohol with GSEF funds, nor may it be used to provide honoraria for guest speakers.

Your application will compete against other applications and be ranked on factors outlined below; applying does not guarantee success.

 Acceptable for funding:

  • Sensible improvements to graduate student common space
  • Hosting guest speakers for areas of graduate student interest (should be of interest to   more than a small subset of graduate students)
  • Conferences
  • Will fund intra-university conferences, generally not external conferences (but applications are still welcomed)
  • Travel costs for students can be covered under Travel Awards, not GSEF projects
  • Continuing department or faculty seminar series are allowed to apply, but preference will be given to new groups over repeat applications.
    • Ideally GSEF could help get new initiatives off the ground and the department/faculty could step in over time to make the seminar series permanent (to help pay for refreshments and/or coffee)
  • Any project that will potentially impact graduate students on campus!

However, funding is not limited to these areas and all applications will be considered.

 Not acceptable for GSEF funding:

  • Incomplete applications
  • Projects related to a graduate student’s thesis work
  • Projects that require a prohibitively large amount of funding
  • Honorarium for guest speakers, and graduate student awards
  • Projects where the majority of benefit is not to UW graduate students on campus (any campus)

Application Criteria

All applications are evaluated in the following areas. Successful applications do not have to have merit in all categories. Factors are presented in order of importance, and the first three factors (quality, value, equity/diversity) are especially important. Note: the procurement information below can help you improve the quality and value of your application, and help implement the award later on.

Quality: Proposals must be written like a professional document: well-organized with correct grammar. As well, you must demonstrate a clear rationale for the expenditure that you are proposing. Formal estimate(s) of costs must be given, from more than one source if possible.

Value: Projects are preferred if they provide high-quality benefits to many graduate students with a relatively small cost. We budget approximately $10,000 in total for all successful applications each term.

Equity and Diversity: As GSEF has a mandate to provide support for as many graduate students as possible, if many proposals similar to yours are received, or if GSEF funding has recently been granted to your group or a similar proposal, your application will be less likely to receive funding. Consult the past projects listed on the right sidebar of the GSEF website to see if your group or a similar project has received funding in the recent past. In particular, GSEF should not be relied on as a regular source of funding (e.g. for annual conferences or events). Note: The GSA provides support for departments and clubs holding events. Consult the GSA web page for further information.

Departmental Support: Part of the GSEF application asks you to approach your department (e.g. the grad officer or chair) for their financial support and/or a statement of general support saying that the project is worthwhile. If there are a lot of applications, departmental financial support makes it more likely that we would rank your project higher. In all cases, a statement by a faculty member or members makes it more evident to the Project Review Committee that the project is valuable.

Urgency: Projects whose funds will be spent by the end of the following term are preferred.

Exposure: The proposed project should provide good exposure for GSEF and Graduate Studies in general.

Other: Projects which demonstrate that other funding sources have been approached, if suitable ones exist, are preferred. If graduate students are not the only participants or beneficiaries, it is expected that other sources will contribute proportionately to GSEF.

Please Note: In order to ensure an efficient decision process, at least one representative will be required to be present at the Project Review Committee meeting to address any outstanding questions or clarifications. The designated representative(s) will be contacted to inform them of the details of this meeting. Please ensure that you are providing contact information for at least one representative on the application form.

Procurement Information

You should contact UW Procurement and Contract Services for assistance in planning your purchases. Procurement helps with all tangible items, as well as helping find consultants for different services. You may ask for help getting sources and/or quotes. One appropriate contact from their group is Terry Taylor. See UW’s Policy 17. Procurement will generally obtain quotes on the applicant’s behalf as requested.

Successful Applications

A successful application will be fully completed, with all boxes filled out.  The application will include a detailed budget, with multiple quotes for each item.  A detailed estimation of the number of graduate students this will benefit will also be included.  A letter from the department/chair is preferable if possible, either to confirm their endorsement or detail their ability to split funding.  A successful application generally provides a tangible positive benefit on the UW main or satellite campuses, and typically does not involve a small team competing outside of the university (although there are always exceptions to the rule).  Departments should attempt to only submit one application a term (maximum), and the application should be representative of a decent portion of the departments graduate students (if the application is department specific).  Applications from undergraduate groups may be considered if they have a tangible benefit to graduate students.

Timing your Application

Term Deadline to Apply Applicants Notified of Results Spending Period
Winter mid-February late March April 1* – Aug 31
Spring mid-June late July Aug 1* – Dec 31
Fall mid-October late November Dec 1* – April 30

Be sure to apply for funding in advance of your planned event or project start date. Applications for events that take place before the spending period begins will be rejected. For example, if you are planning an event for mid-October, apply during Spring term, not in the Fall.

Special or large events requiring longer-term advance planning may apply earlier; they should clearly state when funds will be spent. Spending deadline extensions require advance permission from the GSEF Board of Directors.

*: In the unlikely event that GSEF is late in notifying applicants (e.g. after the end of March for Winter applications) the spending period for winners starts as soon as they are notified.

General Application Advice

Plan Early! Contacting procurement services incurs some delay, and obtaining departmental support can also take time.

Ask Questions! Contact the GSEF coordinator, or the project review committee members from your faculty to get general advice on preparing funding applications. Do this well in advance of the deadline.

Avoid common errors! Common mistakes that applicants make include: failing to approach their department for support, submitting an application without a detailed budget, poor writing quality or unclear explanations, asking GSEF to fund luxury items (flat-screen TVs, espresso machines etc.) or asking for all or most of the $10,000 GSEF has allocated per term. You may also want to learn from previously rejected applications that your student representatives submitted to avoid making similar mistakes.

Learn from past success! Click here to download an excellent application from a previous term – this group received full funding support. Note the thoroughness of their budget and the well articulated justification for the project. They also demonstrate clear support from the department.

Application Instructions

Download the application form here at the top of this page. This is an electronic application; once complete, it should be emailed to the GSEF Coordinator: gsef [at] The document should be saved as a .pdf file before sending.

The receipt of your application will be confirmed by email within 24 hours. Applications that are submitted to the coordinator ahead of the deadline will be reviewed and returned if there are important elements missing.

Applications are reviewed by a committee made up of representatives from each Faculty at uWaterloo. Please check here to find out who your faculty representatives are. You must indicate on the application form if there are any potential conflicts of interest. The Project Review Committee may contact you with follow-up questions relating to your application.

If your project is approved, you must follow accounting guidelines (e.g. providing receipts for expenditures) and instructions posted here. Awarded funds must be used for the purpose originally indicated in the application. You should consult your department’s finance officer for assistance should you wish for the university to order items on your group’s behalf and utilize internal accounting; in this case the GSEF account can be billed directly for the applicable expenditures.

Appealing a Decision

If your project is rejected by the project review committee and you feel that the rationale provided for the decision is inaccurate or inadequate you may appeal the decision. Please contact the coordinator for more information about this process.


Applications are treated as confidential and private, subject to the following conditions: i) applications will be discussed internally within the GSEF Review Committee and the Board of Directors for the purposes of evaluating the applications; ii) GSEF reserves the right to fact-check application details with third parties when necessary, e.g. confirming quotes with a supplier; iii) for winning awards, GSEF will publish the project descriptions and award values (see top-right links such as “Winter 2008″ for examples). Submitting photos of how you use your award is optional, but encouraged.


Graduate Studies Endowment Fund • email: