If you are selected for the MLEF program, it is important that you carefully review this section. It should address many of the questions you may have regarding your participation.

ORAU has also developed a virtual orientation module that answers commonly asked questions about your participation in a research fellowship and provides guidance on first day logistics, expectations, and additional information you may need to prepare for your appointment. To access the module, please visit Virtual Orientation. This module provides general information and specific details about your first day and how to prepare will be provided by your appointment site/location.

As a Participant in the MLEF program, you are not an employee of ORAU, ORISE, MLEF, DOE, the host facility, or any other office or agency. Instead, you have an appointment at the MLEF-designated facility and are affiliated with ORAU for the administration of the appointment through the ORISE appointment letter and Terms of Appointment.

When accepting the Terms of Appointment, you agree that the receipt of stipend payments shall not be construed as an employment relationship and acknowledge there are no employment-related benefits (such as paid vacations, sick pay, maternity leave, unemployment compensation, worker's compensation, etc.) associated with this appointment.


Upon selection to the MLEF program, there are several steps you need to complete before you can begin your energy appointment.

Appointment Letter

Once ORISE has received the selection notice from MLEF, you will be sent an appointment letter. You must immediately review, sign and return the appointment letter from ORISE, along with the Terms of Appointment and other required forms. These forms are required in order for you to accept the appointment and ensure that you will be eligible to receive a stipend. The appointment letter will include information such as:

  • Your start and end date
  • Mentor name and contact information
  • Site location
  • Your stipend amount
  • If you are eligible to receive an additional allowance to off-set the cost of housing and/or transportation
  • Program requirements and other information pertinent to your appointment

Please contact the mentor listed on the appointment letter with any questions regarding the research project prior to accepting an appointment. All other questions can be directed to the individual listed on the letter.

Required Information prior to start date

It is your responsibility to ensure ORISE receives the following items before your appointment begins so that stipend payments can begin on time.

  • Signed appointment letter and Terms of Appointment
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship
  • Verification of current health insurance
  • All other forms and documents included in the appointment packet or stated in the appointment letter

Event Date
Participants Orientation/Kick-off Thursday, May 28, 2020 (Washington, DC)
Program Dates Monday, June 1 to Friday, August 7, 2020
Technical Forum Monday, August 3 to Thursday, August 6, 2020 (Pittsburgh, PA)

You will receive a stipend to provide support during your appointment. Stipend rates are determined by the MLEF program.

Stipend Schedule

Stipends are distributed according to the schedule provided to you in your appointment letter. You should be prepared to cover all expenses for the first 30 days of your appointment. Stipend amounts are based on your academic status:

  • A weekly stipend of $650 for undergraduate students
  • A weekly stipend of $750 for Master's students
  • A weekly stipend of $850 for Ph.D. students

In addition, you may be eligible for:

  • A housing allowance. This allowance will not cover the full cost of your summer housing but should help offset a good portion of this expense.
  • Travel to/from the appointment site, Orientation and the Technical Forum.

Direct Deposit

ORAU strongly encourages you to sign up for Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), i.e., direct deposit, for stipend distributions. Stipends may only be electronically deposited to one account and not to separate accounts.

EFT requires you to have a U.S. bank account; ORAU cannot transfer funds to foreign institutions.

You will receive information on an online service (Doculivery) that will allow you to access your stipend payment information and annual Statement of Payments for tax filing.

Other Sources of Income

The primary focus of the program is the educational benefit of the appointment; therefore, you may not provide services for compensation to a third party that conflict with your appointment. Awards, prizes, scholarships, Veterans Administration benefits, and other payments may be accepted, provided they do not represent dual payment for the same activity.

For information on tax liabilities and how to file federal tax forms, please contact a licensed tax professional in your jurisdiction. We recommend that you provide your tax preparer with a copy of the most recent Terms of Appointment.

Federal Income Tax

All stipends distributed by ORAU directly to you are considered taxable by the U.S. federal government, meaning it is your responsibility to report these payments to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Because you are not an employee, your stipend is not considered wages and should not be reported as such. Stipends are provided in order to help defray living expenses while you are engaged in the program at MLEF. For IRS purposes, these payments are considered non-qualified scholarships and fellowships (not tuition and fees). For information on how to report this amount on your federal tax return, refer to IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education, which can be downloaded from www.irs.gov/formspubs or requested at 1-800-829-3676.

You will not have federal taxes withheld by ORAU from your stipend and will use the online payment statement service, Doculivery, to access information on your total payments to prepare your U.S. Federal Income Tax Return.

Other Taxes

Since stipends are awards (not wages), ORAU does not withhold Social Security or Medicare taxes. You are not self-employed, and therefore do not pay self-employment taxes. ORAU also does not withhold state income tax.

You are required to have health insurance on the first day of your appointment and throughout the duration of the program. You may not continue in the MLEF program if your insurance coverage lapses.

Finding safe and affordable housing will require your attention immediately upon selection into the program. There is a higher demand for short-term housing during the summer months, therefore the earlier you start the search process the better. It is strongly advised that you secure housing at least 30 days prior to your move-in date.

You need to secure housing for a move-in date of Friday, May 29, 2020 and a move-out date of Sunday, August 2, 2020.

Below you will find general guidance to start you with your housing search. This is by no means an all-inclusive list of options. You must evaluate your housing options carefully as not all may be suitable for your specific needs during your appointment.

ORAU, ORISE, DOE and MLEF are not affiliated with the companies listed below. Inclusion of a listing does not constitute a recommendation by ORISE, ORAU, DOE, or MLEF. The information is always subject to change and we strongly advise you to call and verify all information provided.

Where to start your search

  • Check with your college/university to see if they have an alumni chapter in the area. Local alumni chapters can be a good source of housing information.
  • Check with your friends and family. Apartment guides.
  • Research universities local to the area of your appointment.
  • Check with your mentor and site advisor to get insight on a particular location.
  • Websites

General Research Advice

You should always consider safety and your budget as part of your housing search. Short-term housing is more expensive than your standard one-year lease. Check your offer letter to see if you are eligible to receive a housing allowance to help offset a portion of your housing costs. Having this information upfront will assist you with your planning. When renting, always research the following: 


Safety

  • Have you checked references and postings online about the apartment?
  • Safety of the neighborhood
  • Safety of the building and apartment – security, deadbolts, fire alarms, etc.

Costs

  • Is a short-term lease available?
  • Which utilities, such as gas, water, and electricity are included in your rent? If not, on average, how much are the utilities per month?
  • How much money is required to move in; security deposit, first/last month’s rent?
  • Are references and a credit check required? Be sure to allow time to provide and clear this step, if required.

Transportation

  • How will you get to your appointment site? Can you use public transportation? Most MLEF sites will require you to have a personal car or carpool with a fellow participant.

Amenities/Proximity

  • Are there laundry facilities available, if not are there any nearby?
  • Will the short-term lease allow you to stay until the night before the Technical Forum?
  • Is the apartment furnished?
  • Is it in close proximity to restaurants, grocery stores, shopping areas, metro, etc.?

Considering a Roommate?

As a way to manage your costs, you may want to consider having a roommate. This may also make available options for commuting to/from your appointment site and managing associated costs via carpool.

As a service, MLEF can connect you with other program participants completing their assignment in the same location as you. Contact Sandra Penaherrera, MLEF Program Manager, at sandra.penaherrera@hq.doe.gov, if you want to be connected with other program participants for the purpose of finding housing.

Questions to ask a potential roommate

  • Do you smoke? If your answers do not match, what parameters can be set (ie. No smoking indoors but on balcony/patio is ok)
  • Are you a night owl or an early riser? If you do not match, perhaps quiet hours can be set at a mutually agreeable time.
  • Are you generally neat or messy?

Suggestions for living with roommates

  • Establish house rules within first week
  • Set schedule for cleaning duties of common areas
  • Discuss cooking and food sharing
  • Discuss parameters surrounding guests: family, friends, overnight
  • Communication and respect is key.

Corporate Housing Companies

The companies listed below offer national services to corporate style apartments (short-term, fully furnished). Roommates are encouraged to keep costs affordable.

The appointment end date is specified in the appointment letter that you receive from ORISE. Appointment end dates should be strictly observed and may not be changed without the appropriate communication to ORISE.

As your scheduled end date approaches, ORISE will send you a letter confirming the end date and outlining the procedures necessary to complete your appointment. Any outstanding travel reimbursement forms must also be submitted. These items must be received by ORISE before your final stipend can be issued. Additional items may also be required.

You should:

  • Recognize that this is an educational experience and not a contract of employment.
  • Be at the host facility during normal business hours as stated in the appointment letter.
  • Observe and conform to all applicable rules, regulations, and requirements of the MLEF facility including, but not limited to, those respecting environment, safety, security, operating and health physics procedures, drug-free workplace notification requirements, and conduct.
  • Participate in the ongoing research activities of MLEF.
  • Recognize that you are a guest at MLEF.
  • Recognize that you do not earn medical leave or personal leave, although the MLEF facility may permit occasional absences. Refer to your appointment letter for additional details.

You should NOT:

  • Undertake activities that are reserved for federal employees.
  • Supervise, appoint, mentor, hire or fire anyone.
  • Accept budget or program management authority, signature authority, official job titles, or function in any way as a representative of the federal government, even if directed to by a responsible federal official.