The Career Access Fund (CAF) provides financial support for expenses related to career exploration and preparation, professional development, academic or professional conferences, internship and job interviews, and graduate study preparation. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the academic year and are based on financial need as well as the quality of the request.
Read below for more information about eligibility, covered expenses, and the application process.
Disclaimer: While we do our very best to award the most money to the most amount of students, as with all funding programs, we cannot guarantee that your application will be funded, or funded at the amount you requested. Note that you must read the information below to access the link to the application, and that you must agree to and understand the rules around eligibility and covered expenses in order to move ahead with the application itself.
At this time, CAF is open to any enrolled students receiving financial aid from Williams. Students not receiving aid, or on any kind of temporary leave are unfortunately not eligible. Applicants are eligible for up to $500 max each academic year. Award amounts are tiered based on need level as determined by the Williams Financial Aid Office.
Grants are based on actual expected/reimbursable expenses; they are not granted as lump sums. Likewise, while we do our best to provide CAF grants to as many students as possible, it is still a competitive process and we cannot guarantee funding in all cases. Eligibility for and applying to CAF does not guarantee funding.
The grant award tiers are as follows:
- High Need: up to $500 total over the academic year
- Medium Need: up to $375 total over the academic year
- Low Need: up to $200 total over the academic year
Additionally, each student who is eligible for CAF will receive an email from our office at some point in the semester letting them know up to what level they qualify. If you’d like to know sooner than that, please email Stephen Biegner ([email protected]) to find out what you qualify for.
Please note that the academic year is from September 2023 - May 2024. The maximum cap for your financial need level does not reset at the beginning of the new calendar year in January. (i.e. If you are awarded $500 in October, 2023, you cannot apply for CAF again until the following academic year which starts September 2024.)
Finally, while the program is currently only open for enrolled students receiving financial aid from Williams College, there are other opportunities available through our office. We encourage you to reach out to a career advisor to explore additional ways to pursue your career goals. Schedule an appointment on Handshake. (https://app.joinhandshake.com/)
Career Access Fund grants are available to help cover expenses that include, but are not limited to:
- Interview Attire (for specific opportunities and only up to the max price supported on our Average Clothing Costs page)
- *Graduate school test preparation (e.g. GRE, MCAT, LSAT, etc. as relevant to your class year)
- *Graduate school application fees (nb - screenshots for each school required for requested amount)
- Travel Expenses for career-related trips (including meals while traveling and lodging)
- Attendance to professional development workshops or academic conferences
- *Professional development courses (e.g. Harvard CORe, programming bootcamps, etc.)
- Grooming/Hair Care (up to $300 max for service, extensions, product)
*Please note for these expenses that applicants are expected to apply for fee reduction opportunities from the organization if available.
New this year: CAF grants may cover future expenses up to 60 days in the future and reimbursements for purchases within the past 30 days. (NB - Priority given to applications for future expenses.)
Awards will be granted for the listed expenses only. All applicants will need to upload documentation (an email confirmation, a screenshot of your online cart, etc.) of the proposed expenses to their application and list the date they expect to incur expenses. For reimbursements, we must have the original, detailed receipt (not just the credit run receipt that shows the total). Documentation that does not include detailed information about your proposed or reimbursed expenses will be grounds for denial.
Please note that any tech hardware (e.g. cameras, phones, money towards a laptop, etc.) is not supported by CAF at this time.
For students requesting clothing, please note that CAF can only award funding for up to two outfits for specific upcoming opportunities where business attire is needed such as an upcoming interview, internship, presentation at a conference, or necessary networking event. Students requesting clothing will have to list specific details sharing when and for what purpose they need business attire. Further, award amounts shall not exceed the max amount listed in the Average Clothing Cost Guide. In cases where clothing is more expensive, items will be adjusted down to the max from the guide (e.g. if you find shoes that are $150, CAF will only award $100 to go toward the shoes as that is the max price listed in the guide).
Finally, for meals, students are asked to project their meal costs during their trip while adhering to the following caps - $10 for breakfasts, $15 for lunches, and $20 for dinners (or, no more than $45 total per day). This is the same guideline our staff follows for meals during travel. No documentation is required, but you are expected to detail your anticipated meal expenses for each day in your overall request.
Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis every Wednesday from 1-2pm by the review committee for as long as funds are available. To apply, simply complete the CAF application form. Applications received after noon on Wednesdays will be reviewed at the following CAF Committee Meeting.
After your application is reviewed, you will be contacted via email regarding the status of your request and will be notified of any next steps if you have been awarded funds.
Please contact Stephen Biegner, the ‘68 Center’s Operations & Funding Manager, with any questions about the application process.
Currently, CAF funds are paid out through Direct Deposit. Therefore, please ensure that you have completed the Direct Deposit Form on EPHR. Awarded students will receive an email that contains a CAF waiver which must be completed before payment can be processed. Failure to complete the waiver will delay payment processing and will increase the time it takes to receive your award.
Award letters are sent immediately after the CAF Committee meeting every Wednesday. Payment requests for CAF are processed Monday afternoons and the Accounts Payable office processes the payments on Tuesday/Wednesday weekly. There is sometimes a delay between when your payment is processed by the college and when it is deposited into your account. We tell students to expect payment within 2 weeks of processing; however, most payments go through much quicker.
If you are requesting funding for an expense you expect to incur in the next couple of days, please note that your payment may not arrive in time. For example, if you submit an application on Tuesday and need to purchase something that Friday, your payment wouldn’t even be processed until the following Monday assuming you’re awarded funding. Please plan accordingly. While we do everything we can to expedite payment, certain elements are out of our control. It’s best to leave enough time for processing and to receive your funds in a timely manner. CAF is not for urgent payment requests.
For detailed information, open the sections above. If you need a quick run-down of what CAF is, here are the bullet points:
- Only for students receiving financial aid from Williams College.
- The Financial Aid Office determines each student’s need level.
- Depending on the qualification by Financial Aid, students are eligible for up to $500, $375, or $200 for the academic year (from September 2023 - May 2024).
- Students can request funding for future purchases expected within the next 60 days OR for reimbursements for purchases made within the past 30 days.
- Eligible purchases include: Professional Attire; Graduate School Application Fees; Graduate School Test Prep; Professional Development Courses; Conference Attendance; Travel Expense (including meals and lodging)
- NB: Clothing purchases must be connected to a specific upcoming event (interview, networking event, internship, etc.) and will only be funded up to the maximum amount listed in the Average Clothing Cost Guide.
- Applications are reviewed weekly on Wednesdays from 1-2pm. Applications submitted after noon on Wednesdays won’t be reviewed until the following week.
- All awards are paid out via direct deposit, so students must make sure they’ve completed the direct deposit form on EPHR.