1. I have an idea for a U.S.-Brazil Higher Education Consortia project? Where do I start?
We recommend the following three steps. First, check out the FIPSE website at www.ed.gov/FIPSE. This website has a lot of information about program guidelines and upcoming grant competitions. See what FIPSE has funded in your area. How is your project different and innovative? Second, read the U.S.-Brazil guidelines that are on the Web. Third, call a program officer and talk about your idea. Names of FIPSE international staff and phone numbers are on the web or call 202-502-7500.
2. Do we have to submit a preliminary proposal for the U.S.-Brazil program? Must the same final proposal be submitted to each of the national funding agencies?
You do not submit a preliminary proposal in this competition. However, you do submit the same final proposal to the two separate funding agencies. The major differences between the Brazilian and the U.S. submissions are the title pages, the budget forms, and the assurance forms. The main proposal listing the goals and project activities should be the same.
3. I would like to set up a consortium with one institution in Brazil and one in the United States. Will two institutions qualify for U.S.-Brazil Program funding?
For the U.S.-Brazil Program, your proposed consortium must involve at least two active partner higher education or training institutions from each country involved. Partnerships among institutions in different states in the United States and Brazil are preferred. You may also add third and subsequent partners from other education and training institutions or other relevant organizations (e.g. businesses, non-governmental organizations, publishers, government departments, chambers of commerce, research institutes, etc.) in the same or other states. Please note, however, that funding is intended only for academic institutions in each consortium. If your idea does not fit this configuration, you may wish to look into applying to FIPSE's Comprehensive Program for funding.
4. What makes a successful U.S.-Brazil project?
A successful project is one that integrates a U.S.-Brazil approach to a professional or academic curriculum in such a way that it benefits students at all institutions involved. It is one that has a high level of commitment from all of the institutions and makes a good effort at integrating the program into the regular offerings at each of the institutions in the consortia. This is best done around a curricular component that builds upon the strengths of all the partner institutions. A successful project needs strong leadership from the project directors in each country and a high level of participation from the partner institutions. Successful projects are ones which put a lot of energy in student recruitment early on in the project and have a strong plan for language learning built into the consortia, usually through participation of their foreign language programs. Many of our best projects make use of the Web and other electronic media (two-way video) for project management, curricular development, and curricular delivery.
5. How important is language learning? What do you mean by having a strategy for language learning?
Language learning is a very important component of this program. Students in this program should have the opportunity to learn in both languages - English and Portuguese. We have found that the most successful projects build language learning into the program from the beginning. You can best do this by working closely with the foreign language department to ensure that student language competencies are adequate. Some of our projects might develop content specific language programs (Portuguese for engineering) which train students to function in their specific topic areas.
6. What are the student stipends to be used for?
The purpose of the student stipends is to offset the cost incurred by students traveling abroad. Stipends can be used for costs that are related to international study (transportation, food and lodging for example). Student stipend money for U.S. students is not intended for travel or study within the United States or to cover tuition payments.
7. How much should we budget for student stipends?
As a rule of thumb, the maximum amount of federal stipend money allotted to any one U.S. student will be limited to $3000. Students who study for shorter times or in less expensive cities should receive less money than students who study for longer periods of time or in more expensive places. We recommend that the entire U.S. request for student stipends range from $50,000-$70,000. You should reserve this budget line item for student stipends only. We also recommend that the lead institution hold these funds and disperse them to the U.S. partner institutions when they are needed.
8. What is the purpose of the preparatory phase?
We have found that projects that have worked out institutional agreements in advance have a better chance of success than those that neglect to do so. Because of the complexities of these consortial agreements (four institutions in two countries), formal agreements help the project director manage his or her way around a number of potential administrative obstacles. As a minimum requirement, by the end of the first year the bilateral consortium will be required to submit to the two funding authorities copies of formal agreements signed by all partner institutions with respect to (a) academic credit transfer and recognition, and (b) student tuition and fees. Please note that the preparatory phase of the project does not reduce the need for you to develop and present clear and detailed plans of action and signed support letters from all of your partner institutions at the time of application. The application must be completely and fully developed, including a section on the preparatory phase that describes plans to address the issues identified above.
9. What happens if we do not complete all of the requirements during the first year?
Funding for the subsequent three years will be contingent upon satisfactory achievements during the preparatory first year. Those consortia that are unable to make significant progress towards meeting these requirements will be considered to be less likely to be successful projects. For this reason, projects that do not satisfactorily meet these preparatory requirements by the end of the first year will not be extended government support beyond that point.
10. How should we budget for the first-year preparatory phase?
Each government will give the lead institution a first year allotment to undertake the preparatory phase. In the U.S., the maximum allowed for the preparatory phase is $25,000. You must use part of this money to pay for travel and lodging for all U.S. partners at the project directors' meeting held annually on a rotating basis in the United States and Brazil. At this meeting you will have time to meet with your consortial partners for working sessions. The rest of this money must be used to ensure that you fulfill the required goals of the first year (see questions 6 and 7).
11. How detailed a budget do we have to submit with the U.S. proposal?
You must submit a budget using the categories on the budget summary form. In addition to this summary budget form, you will have to provide detailed explanations of the budget. This budget narrative may be done in a prose format but you could also use a spreadsheet for each year with columns for the FIPSE request, the institutional contribution, and the total.
12. What indirect cost rate should we charge on this grant?
FIPSE recommends that U.S.-Brazil program applicants use the U.S. Department of Education's training rate of 8 percent of total direct costs for the indirect cost rate. You may propose the difference between 8 percent and the applicant's negotiated cost rate as part of the institutional contribution. The 8 percent rate is applicable to the lead institution and the partners as well.
13. When should we begin sending students abroad?
You should begin planning for student mobility the moment you draft the proposal. Student recruitment takes time, as do the arrangements for study abroad and visas. The first year should be spent in preparation for this. The earliest you may begin to send students is in the second year of the grant. In order to give yourself time to set up curriculum exchange agreements, it might be a good idea to plan to send slightly more students in years three and four. However, you should plan to get students engaged in the program as soon as possible. This means that student recruitment and language learning should begin at the latest by the beginning of the second year.
14. Should partnerships with other institutions be completely new for this project, or can we build upon existing ones?
You may create new partnerships or build on existing international or domestic linkages. Projects, however, must be new; you should not simply duplicate or extend existing activities. Make sure that you indicate the added value of choosing each of the partners involved. It is important that you clearly indicate each partner's contribution to the joint project in addition to the description of the project director at each institution. You should also include descriptions of all project staff who will be involved.
15. What happens if one of our institutional partners is not living up to its commitment? What if one institution leaves the project before we have completed the project's goals?
We hope that by the time you and your consortial partners have successfully made it through the first year preparatory phase, the partnership will be very solid and likely to continue far beyond the duration of the federal funding. FIPSE recognizes, however, that sometimes, regardless of good efforts, partnerships don't work out. Any changes or proposed changes with partnerships should be discussed with your program officer. It is important to note that if you are the lead applicant, you are the lead fiscal agent, accountable for responsible stewardship of the grant money. Partner institutions are no less important. However, it is up to the lead institution to ensure good progress towards the goals of the grants. As always, if there are any questions about how to resolve issues, contact us at FIPSE.
16. What happens if we have not completed the project's objectives at the end of the four-year funding period?
You may contact your program officer to request a no-cost extension. Please note that you may extend the grant only for one extra year (for a total of 60 months or five years).
17. Are the institutions and organizations in this program subject to the regulations in human subjects?
No, in accordance with the Department of Education's regulations at 34 C.F.R. 97.101(b)(1) and (2), FIPSE grantees are exempt from the regulations that govern the involvement of human subjects because the projects involve activities, including evaluation, that are defined as "(1) Research conducted in established or commonly accepted educational settings, involving normal educational practices, such as (i) research on regular and special education instructional strategies, or (ii) research on the effectiveness of or the comparison among instructional techniques, curricula, or classroom management methods. (2) Research involving the use of educational tests (cognitive, diagnostic, aptitude, achievement), survey procedures, interview procedures or observation of public behavior." Institutional applicants should ensure, however, that they comply with any institutional requirements for projects involving human subjects.
18. What if I have other questions?
Contact us! You can find a listing of staff addresses and phone numbers on this Web site.