Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are frequently asked questions for the Professional Development Award. If you have more questions, you may contact the PDA Committee via

When can I submit an application for a Graduate Student Senate Professional Development Travel Award?

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. They may be submitted at any time, as long as it is submitted two weeks prior to the workshop start date, and prior to the stated deadline for each academic year. (For 2019-2020: May 17, 2020)


I was granted an award. Am I guaranteed to receive the full amount indicated in my letter? 

No. The amount an applicant is awarded is the maximum that the applicant may receive, but applicants are only guaranteed to receive the amount for which they present receipts for acceptable travel expenses. All expenses must meet the requirement of UT Fiscal Policy. See administrative personnel in your department for more information on acceptable expenses.


What should I do if I receive an award but subsequently do not complete the professional development activity?

Applicants should notify the PDA committee via email at ​ as soon as they become aware that the funds will not be spent. Applicants who are offered awards – but do not use them – are eligible for another award during the same academic year provided they withdraw their applications.


Why am I only allowed to receive one award per academic year?

The goal is to make a difference in as many students’ travel needs as possible, both to give students the opportunity to participate in professional development and to increase the University of Tennessee’s presence at workshops and similar opportunities. Given the large number of anticipated applications and the allotted budget, it is necessary to limit the travel awards to one per student per academic year.


Who can I contact for more information about the application or the review process?

The PDA Committee may be reached by email at

What makes a competitive application for PDA funding?

The committee strongly encourages that graduate students structure their application in such a way that resembles a small grant proposal. It should be similar in that the applicant is proving the need for funding, illustrating the gap in “knowledge” or in this case skill/experience, the advancement the applicant would make (project advancement, professional skill, etc.) and the long term impact the advancement would make on an applicant’s professional career.


Active participation is referenced in the criteria, but how is that scaled?

The PDA review committee considers active participation as an applicant being involved in the pursuit of the skill, project advancement, or other professional advancement opportunity approximately 50% of the time that the applicant is present at the workshop.


I was rejected for my attendance not being active enough. I am not sure how to word my active participation in the application since I will not be learning a skill on site. How do I still sell my need for funding to the PDTA?

The PDA committee suggests that applications should emphasize the need for the workshop attendance as a direct benefit to your professional career. Simply stating that an applicant will be networking, attending panels or discussions, etc. would not make a strong enough case for funding. Therefore, by reformatting an application of this nature to directly fit the long term benefits or wording it in such a way that allows for a skill to be attained would be an ideal way to sell the funding need.

For example: “I will be traveling to Conference X to pursue professional relationships with well-known researchers in my field of Y. I will be actively pursuing an open relationship in which our lab, located at the University of Tennessee, could collaborate with their lab, located at University Z. This would be of benefit to us since we lack the ability to perform (skill) and this particular lab is very proficient in this research and has proven so because of xyz. This will allow me to learn (skill) that will benefit my professional career.


I do not know if my college offered me any financial assistance. How do I find out if I was awarded partial funding from my college?

Questions concerning college funding should be directed to the office of the dean of the applicant’s college.


I do not know if my application to attend the workshop has been accepted. Will this affect my eligibility for a GSS Professional Development Travel Award?

Priority is ​not given to applicants who have already applied and been accepted to their target workshop, so eligibility is not affected. Applicants whose workshop proposals are not​ accepted,​ however, should contact the GSS Vice President <> at their earliest convenience in order to preserve their future eligibility by withdrawing their applications.

How do I file for reimbursement?

Applicants should submit their travel awards letter, as well as all receipts for acceptable travel expenses and proof of attendance, to their departmental representative responsible for travel claims. He or she will then submit the request to the Treasurer’s Office using the appropriate account number.


How long does it take to receive reimbursement?

Reimbursement will generally be distributed via direct deposit approximately two weeks after the request is filed and approved through the Treasurer’s Office.


Who should I contact for more information regarding the reimbursement filing process? 

Questions relating to reimbursement should be directed to your departmental representative that handles travel.