Erma Byrd Scholarship Program

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| Eligibility | Application Process | Scholarship Recipients | Service Obligation |


Which degree programs are eligible for the Erma Byrd Scholarship Program?
Eligible applicants must be within two years of completing an associate’s, bachelor’s or graduate degree in one of the following fields:

  • Mining and mineral engineering
  • Industrial engineering
  • Occupational safety and health technology/technician
  • Quality control technology/technician
  • Industrial safety technology/technician
  • Hazardous materials information systems technology/technician
  • Mining technology/technician
  • Occupational health and industrial hygiene.

Students pursuing a degree in any field other than those listed above are not eligible for this scholarship.

What are the citizenship requirements for the Erma Byrd Scholarship Program?
Applicants must be U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents.


Application Process

How do I obtain an application for the Erma Byrd Scholarship Program?
The application is available at

How do I submit an application for the Erma Byrd Scholarship Program?
Please review the instructions contained in the application package regarding transmittal of applications.

How do I sign the application documents if I am submitting my application electronically?
Applicants should sign all forms by typing their name on the signature line before submitting the form electronically in Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) format.

The application says to submit my Social Security Number via postal mail. Can I submit it via e-mail with the rest of my application instead?
No. For security reasons, we do not accept Social Security Numbers via e-mail. Your application will be considered incomplete until we receive your Social Security Number via postal mail, using the form provided in the application package.

What happens if an application is not received by the deadline date?
All applications must be received by the deadline date in order to be considered for funding. Applications received after the deadline date will be disqualified.

Is financial need considered during the application review process?
For undergraduate students, priority in awarding scholarship funds will be given to applicants who are eligible to receive a Pell grant. For graduate students, financial need is not considered.

How are applicants notified of their status? Will applicants not selected for funding be notified?
All applicants, including those not selected for funding, will be notified via e-mail after funding decisions are made.


Scholarship Recipients:

How is the scholarship disbursed to recipients?
Scholarship funds are distributed to the colleges and universities specified by scholarship recipients. Funds will then be disbursed to recipients by the institutions they attend. No funds will be sent directly from the U.S. Department of Education to scholarship recipients.

Is the Erma Byrd Scholarship subject to Federal income tax?
For guidance on this topic, please review the Internal Revenue Service’s Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education, Chapter 1: Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants, and Tuition Reductions, available at

Can I renew my scholarship for a second year?
Yes, as long as you continue to meet all eligibility requirements. An individual may receive a scholarship for a total of two years, or the time required to complete the degree for which the scholarship was awarded, whichever comes first.

What reporting is required of scholarship recipients?
While enrolled, scholarship recipients must submit an annual Student Activities Report. After graduation, scholarship recipients must submit two Verification of Employment Reports, one certifying that the recipient has begun the one-year service obligation (within six months of degree completion) and another certifying that the service obligation has been completed (within 18 months of degree completion).

May I request an interruption of study and/or deferment of the service obligation?
Interruptions of study and/or deferment of the service obligation may be requested for up to 12 months in the following circumstances:

  • Serious personal or family member illness;
  • Active duty military service;
  • Inability to secure employment despite conscientious attempts to do so (for service obligation only); or
  • Other extraordinary circumstances.

All requests for permission to interrupt study or defer the service obligation must be submitted to the program office for consideration.

May I transfer my scholarship to another institution?
Yes, provided that your new institution agrees to accept the scholarship funds on your behalf. Please contact the program office for further details.

What happens if I fail to complete my degree?
If an Erma Byrd Scholarship recipient fails to complete his or her degree or fails to comply with any other terms of the program, the recipient must repay the full scholarship amount as a Direct Unsubsidized Student Loan with all associated repayment conditions, including interest charges and fees as provided under Title IV, Part D of the Higher Education Act.


Service Obligation:

How long is the service obligation?
All Erma Byrd Scholarship recipients must work in a career position related to industrial health and safety, including mine safety, for a period of one year following the completion of their degree program.

Is there a deadline for beginning or completing the service obligation?
Scholarship recipients must begin employment no more than six months after completion of the degree program for which the scholarship was given. The entire one year service obligation must be completed within eighteen months after degree completion.

If I am employed in an eligible field while in school, does that employment fulfill the service obligation?
No. The one year service obligation begins when you complete your degree. Any work experience prior to degree completion does not count towards your service obligation, even if that employment is in an eligible field.

If I already have a job in an eligible field when I complete my degree, can I stay in that job while fulfilling the service obligation, or do I need to start a new job in order to fulfill the obligation?
If you already hold a career position in industrial health and safety, you may remain in that position during your one year service obligation. It is not necessary to begin a new position at the time you begin fulfilling the service obligation.

What happens if I fail to complete the one year service obligation?
If an Erma Byrd Scholarship recipient does not fulfill the complete service obligation within eighteen months after completion of his or her degree program, the scholarship amount must be repaid as a Direct Unsubsidized Student Loan with all associated repayment conditions, including interest charges and fees as provided under Title IV, Part D of the Higher Education Act.


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Last Modified: 03/26/2018