For Mentors

Below you will find the answers to some commonly asked questions. For more information, see our individual pages on topics such as using the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Database, strengthening mentorship skills, identifying and supporting future fellowship applicants, and more.

Does URFM offer classroom visits or presentations?

Yes! Please complete our request form if you would like to have someone from our office (including an Undergraduate Research Ambassador) to visit your class or group. If you are not at University Park, we can discuss remote presentation opportunities or put you in touch with your campus representatives who can deliver a presentation in person. At University Park, we offer presentations on a variety of topics depending on your students’ education levels and interests which you will be asked to identify in the request form.

I have an opportunity for a student to assist with research. How do I advertise this position to students?

URFM encourages students to use the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Database when searching for research opportunities at Penn State. If you would like your opportunity listed in our database, you must first create an account. Afterward, you can submit a posting form with each opportunity you have so that students can learn more about your work and contact you about available positions.

I have a student with financial need who would like to do research, but they need to be paid for their time. How do we check whether they are eligible for federal work-study?

A student can verify if they have a federal work-study (FWS) award by visiting LionPATH and reviewing their "Financial Aid Summary.” Alternatively, mentors can inquire with Kim Fisher ( to determine if a student is eligible for a FWS award.

I have a student who is eligible for work-study. Can they receive work-study funding for their work in my research group?

Yes, if you have a federal work-study position posted on WorkDay. If you do not already have a position posted, contact Kim Fisher ( for assistance on creating a position. 

Can students receive academic credit for their research?

Yes, most departments allow students to register for credit-bearing research projects. If a student receives credit, tuition is charged like any other credits earned. For more information on the procedures involved, reach out to the academic advising team in your department.

A student has asked me to serve as their mentor for the Erickson Discovery Grant. What would I need to do, and how much time will it require?

To mentor a student on an Erickson Discovery Grant, you are committing to supporting that student in full-time, independent research or creative activity over the summer. Grantees are expected to dedicate at least 20 hours per week for 8-10 weeks over the summer to their project, but the exact time commitment, including frequency and duration of training and/or meetings, will vary depending on your exact situation.

A student has asked me to prepare a letter of recommendation for a fellowship. Is this any different than recommendations for graduate school or a job?

Yes. Although the purpose of the letter is the same, the programs offering fellowships often have specific criteria they want the letter writers to emphasize, such as leadership and ambassadorial potential. For more information, please see the Identifying and Supporting a Potential Fellowship Applicant and Writing Strong Fellowship Letters of Recommendation sections.

How can I become involved in evaluating applications for the Churchill, Marshall, Mitchell, and Rhodes Scholarships?

The campus evaluation committee for the Churchill, Marshall, Mitchell, and Rhodes Scholarships meets each spring to review applications and interview potential nominees. Faculty who wish to serve on the campus evaluation committee are asked to contact Caitlin Ting, URFM director, at