Frequently Asked Questions

. How does NSEP support awardees?
NSEP offers the following services to help award recipients through the federal job search and application process: - Resume, cover letter, and job application review - Mock interviews via phone - Job search resources (available on NSEPnet) - Boren Mentorship Program - Federal Employment Seminar - Exclusive job postings - Service requirement consultation, guidance, and resources Note: NSEP does not place awardees in positions and it is ultimately the awardee’s responsibility to secure a job that fulfills their service requirement.

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. I just returned from my NSEP funded study. What are my next steps?
Familiarize yourself with NSEPnet Once you have settled back in the United States, wait for IIE to send you an e-mail with login instructions for NSEPnet ( IIE creates NSEPnet accounts in batches, so if you recently returned from your program, you should expect to receive this email within 8-10 weeks. Please contact NSEP if you don’t receive an email within this timeframe. In the meantime, be sure to check out the “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know about Your NSEP Service Opportunity” guide. This will be your one-stop-shop to navigating the federal job search. Communicate with NSEP If you have any questions about your service requirement, you should contact the NSEP Service Team by email at or by phone at (571) 317-3701. You may not contact the NSEP office until you have completed your overseas program and returned to the United States. Fill out your SAR A SAR, or Service Agreement Report, is the best way to update NSEP on the status of your service obligation. You are required to submit a SAR annually, until you have fully completed your service requirement. You can submit a SAR to let NSEP know that you have not yet started work, partially completed service, decided to further your education, changed your graduation date, and more. Once logged into NSEPnet, head to the “Service Requirement” tab and click “Service Agreement Report” to submit your first SAR. Remember to submit a new SAR at least once a year, but more frequently as necessary. If you have forgotten your username, please send an email to the NSEP Service Team at for help. Furthering your education? Many Boren awardees choose to pursue secondary degrees after completing their NSEP funded study. If you are furthering your education at least half-time, in an accredited, degree-granting program at any institution of higher education worldwide, you may be eligible to defer your service requirement deadline. If this status seems applicable to you, head over to NSEPnet and fill out a SAR for academic deferral.

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. I am using NSEPnet for the first time, how do I sign in?
If this is your first time logging in on the system, your password will be the last four digits of your Social Security Number. If not, and you cannot remember your password, try using the “Forgot Password” tool at If you have forgotten your username, select the “Forgot Username” option. If you have forgotten both, select “Forgot User Credential”. For all options, an email to reset your credentials will be sent to the primary email address that you provided to NSEP. Once logged in, ensure that all of your information is up to date by visiting the “My Account” page.

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. What is a Service Agreement Report and how often do I have to submit it?
The Service Agreement Report (SAR) is a digital document that you are Congressionally required to submit annually through NSEPnet. It is your responsibility to submit SARs accurately and in a timely manner to avoid repayment of your award. SAR for Service Credit If submitting a SAR for service credit, you will be required to provide your supervisor’s contact information. Once submitted, your supervisor will receive an email with instructions to review and verify the information provided in your SAR. Please note that your SAR is considered incomplete until it is supervisor verified. NSEP is unable to process your SAR until this step is completed. The NSEP team encourages you to speak with your supervisor before you submit a SAR for verification. You can let him/her know that he/she should be looking for an email from, and to check spam if the email is not in his/her inbox. To view your SAR status or resend a verification email to a supervisor, select the “View SAR Status” tab from navigation bar. SAR for an Academic Deferral When submitting a SAR for an academic deferral, you must upload proof of enrollment that documents both your program start and anticipated end dates. This documentation may be in the form of enrollment verification or a signed letter from your academic advisor or university registrar on official letterhead. SAR for an Extension If submitting a SAR for an extension, you must include a letter explaining why you are requesting the extension, and what you have been doing to work toward the fulfillment of your service requirement. All awardees are eligible for a maximum of 2 one-year extensions.

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. What happens after my SAR is submitted?
Once your completed SAR has been submitted, it will be adjudicated at a Service Committee Meeting. NSEP holds Service Committee Meetings every four to six weeks. In the interim, a member of the NSEP Service Team will contact you if your SAR requires additional action. Remember that a SAR for service credit is not considered complete until it has been verified by your supervisor.

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. What does it mean to work in a position with national security responsibilities? (2008+ awardees)
NSEP defines “national security” broadly. This definition includes not only defense and anti-terrorism efforts, but also topics such as economic stability, international development, environmental conservation, and public health. The NSEP Service team encourages you to make a clear, compelling case for how the work that you are doing has national security implications. The terms and conditions of your NSEP award stipulate that your search for jobs in fulfillment of your service requirement take place in three tiers. These are: Tier One: Four priority agencies (Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State (including USAID), and the Intelligence Community) Tier Two: Federal positions (outside of the four priority agencies) with national security responsibilities Tier Three: Positions in U.S. based education, related to your NSEP-funded study (language, region, or field of study) To receive service credit for work in Tier Two or Tier Three, you must demonstrate good-faith effort to find a position in the tiers above it. To show evidence of your good-faith job search efforts in the above tiers, you must record positions for which you have applied in your NSEPnet Job Search History Log. Although there is no concrete number of job applications that qualify as a good-faith effort, past award recipients who have successfully petitioned to fulfill their service requirement in Tier Two have applied for 10 to 20 jobs in Tier One. Those who have successfully petitioned their service requirement in Tier Three have applied for 10 to 20 jobs in Tier One and 10 to 20 jobs in Tier Two.

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. Can I apply for jobs while overseas?
You may not apply for positions while overseas during the duration of your NSEP funded study. After the completion of your official Boren program, you may conduct your job search while overseas. In doing so, you should use discretion when accessing government websites, especially when applying for sensitive positions (i.e. positions within the Intelligence Community).

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. Can I work overseas to fulfill my Boren requirement
As long as the position is funded by the U.S. federal government, it may be eligible for service credit. You cannot receive service credit for work funded by non- U.S. organizations. Past award recipients who fulfilled their service requirement overseas reported service with agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Peace Corps. There may also be additional opportunities for overseas travel within federal organizations based in the U.S. Awardees cannot receive service credit for work done for international organizations, unless they are working through a specific contract funded by the United States Government.

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. Will I have to come to Washington, D.C. to accept a federal job?
No. Federal jobs are available all over the world—wherever the United States government has offices or activities. Only about one-quarter of all federal jobs are located in the greater Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Keep a look out for NSEP’s exclusive job announcements, which often feature positions outside of Washington, D.C.

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. What is the General Schedule (GS) pay scale?
The GS system is one of many pay systems used for federal employees and includes pay grades GS-1 through GS-15, with a GS-1 receiving the lowest range of pay and a GS-15 receiving the highest. Within each GS pay grade are 10 salary "steps" that can be achieved. GS pay schedules vary by geographic location to account for differences in costs of living. Entry-level employees with a Bachelor's degree and less than a year of relevant work experience generally enter at the GS-5 or GS-7 level; new federal employees with a Master's degree generally enter at the GS-9 level. Positions at the GS-13 level and above typically involve managerial tasks in addition to the basic position duties. The GS system is the responsibility of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which can be found here:

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. Why haven't I received any feedback about my application for a job that was posted on NSEPnet?
As a general rule, you should expect to hear back from a hiring official within six-eight weeks after the application close date. NSEP does not communicate with federal hiring authorities regarding the status of individual applications for exclusive job postings.

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. How do I get a security clearance?
Only the federal government may issue you a security clearance. Generally, you may only obtain a security clearance if you have been offered a federal position. If you are offered a position that requires a security clearance, you will be asked to submit paperwork detailing information from your past. While you wait to be cleared, you may be asked to work on tasks related to your job that do not require a clearance, or you may be granted an interim clearance The timeline for securing a clearance can be influenced a variety of factors, including the level of clearance required, the workload of the investigators, how critical your employment is to the hiring organization, and your background. The process for obtaining a Secret Clearance can last anywhere from a few months to more than a year. Relationships with foreign nationals and having spent significant time overseas can influence your wait time. Don’t be discouraged. Many hundreds of NSEP awardees have completed this process successfully! To expedite your clearance process, NSEP strongly recommends that you keep detailed records of your foreign travel, places you lived abroad, and contact information of the people you knew while at these locations

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. Where can I learn more about cultural interactions in a country of interest?
CultureReady ( is an NSEP partner program and place for discovering resources, programs, and initiatives that nurture cultural learning. CultureReady prepares people to build bridges with other cultures and provides the necessary resources to interact with people, no matter where you are in the world. You can assess your knowledge of places and peoples with CultureReady’s Virtual Cultural Awareness Trainers (VCATs), access research concerning the Department of Defense’s mission to promote cultural intelligence or contribute your own cross-cultural insights and research in a CultureReady blog post.

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