Introduction: The Graduate Student Assistance Fund (GSAF) was established (2007, Kathryn White PhD) to accept voluntary donations to assist graduate students (clinical and counseling) who are APS members. Originally, the GSAF provided small awards to students to attend psychoanalytic or generally psychodynamic conferences and workshops, as well as to address research expenses. Over time, nearly all award funding shifted to help grad students who wanted to attend the Annual Spring Meeting of Division 39. Later, APS decided to amended the award to include clinical social work student members.
Usually APS has provided two award categories: (1) awards given directly from the GSAF and (2) awards given from the general funds of the organization. Awards from GSAF are designated for graduate student members only. Awards from the general account are only for the Division 39 Spring Meeting only and are assigned to graduate student members. Awards are less than $600.00 and total amounts vary according to the number of requests and content of requests.
Administration: In the past, the GSAF committee recommended names of graduate students to the Board. A small committee (members designated by the APS board) of at least two and no more than three APS members manage the applications and distribution of awards. Judgment as to amount and need was flexible, but all distributions were presented to the Board for approval. This committee must include at least one board member. No student members are part of this committee. At least one member must have some ongoing contact with graduate students.
Historically, the committee’s recommendation carried significant heft as the GSAF worked with some independence from the Board. As the Board members became more familiar with many students, this independence became less important.
GSAF donations are deposited in the general APS accounts, but donations and outlays were clearly identified in reporting. Donations are accepted by any Board or GSAF committee member, and are remitted to the APS treasurer. Distribution checks are written by the treasurer and signed by authorized Board member.
Application: A letter of request (can be emailed) to the current President is required if seeking GSAF funds. The GSAF committee often talk with any applicant if other information seems appropriate.
Qualification for an award: Awards are available only to graduate student members who are in good standing. Preference is considered on the basis of service and attendance. For example, Student Member Representatives to the Board who have exhibited efforts in addition to attendance at programs are given first preference. The second tier of preference is given to student members who have attended APS programs regularly.
Student responsibility: In some, and now rare cases, like travel to a research or convention beyond Division 39 Spring Meeting, the GSAF fund can be used to reimburse for actual expenses. In that situation, receipts are required.
In addition, students who receive awards (especially for the Spring Meeting) are required to honor the gift with written feedback about their experience. Typically, a student writes a letter about the Spring Meeting that would include comments about programs attended, their impressions of those programs/presenters, insights and benefits gained from the experience, and suggestions about valuable presenters for future APS programs.
In the rarer case in which the Board grants an award for attendance to a research program or convention, a recipient usually writes a more comprehensive letter on how the award was useful in his/her particular endeavor and a brief conference or research report.
In any case, the letter or report is sent to the President of APS, who distributes it to the Board and general membership.
Fund collection: The Board decides methods and organization by which the GSAF and general funds are solicited and collected.
The application process and requirements can be determined and modified at any time and for individual situations by the Board and, when appropriate, in consultation with the GSAF committee.
Bill MacGillivray, PhD February 2018