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SAI Grants Frequently Asked Questions


General Questions
In-Region Organizations
Application Components
Grant Recipients
Pre Departure

General Questions:

Who is eligible for a SAI student grant?

A: All students in degree seeking programs who are returning to Harvard the following year are eligible to apply for summer grants. All full-time Harvard students are eligible for winter session funding.

Is there a program fee?
A: No, there is no program fee or cost charged by SAI to apply for a SAI grant.

What countries are considered part of South Asia?

A: Our work is focused in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives, Myanmar, Afghanistan, and the Tibetan Plateau.

Can I use SAI funds to travel to a non-South Asian country?

A: Yes, as long as the research is South Asia focused

What can I use SAI funding for?

A: SAI funding should be used for transportation (air tickets and local transportation), meals in region, visa costs, medication, and immunizations needed for travel. SAI funding should NOT be used for program fees, souvenirs, tourist activities and tour groups.

Will I receive Harvard course credit?
A: No

How much money can I expect to get from a SAI grant?
A: SAI’s grants range from $500 – $2,500 for Winter Session and $500 – 3,500 for Summer.

Should I apply to other centers as well?
A: Yes! We strongly encourage you to apply to other centers and funding sources. Please make a note in your application what other center’s you’ve applied to. In the past, we have joint funded applications with the Harvard Asia Center and the Harvard Global Health Initiative. Please note that SAI undergraduate applications will automatically be forwarded to OCS for funding consideration. Thus, do not apply to both OCS and SAI for the same project.

How long does my internship need to be?
A: For a summer internship, it needs to be at least 8 weeks. For a winter session internship, it needs to be at least 3 weeks.

I’m part of a group project. Can we apply for group funding?

A: If you are planning to apply for a SAI Winter Session Grant as part of a group – each group member should plan to submit an individual application. Your proposal should be in two parts – one that you may write together with the other members of your group outlining your project and the second that should be written by yourself and should detail your own interest in this project and how it fits in with your academic trajectory.

Are there currently any travel restrictions related to South Asia? 

A: Harvard Global Support Services maintains an up to date list of Travel Risk Ratings. Per Harvard policy, SAI is unable to fund undergraduates to travel to countries that are ‘High-Risk.’

Will I need a visa to travel to South Asia?

A: Likely. Please check Harvard Global Support Services Visa Services website.

In-Region Organizations:


None of the SAI partnered organizations match what I’m looking for. Can I apply to a non-partnered organization?
Yes, we will accept applications from non-partnered organizations. However, preference is given to applicants with internships at SAI partnered organizations.

How do I obtain an internship?
A: You are responsible for approaching the in-region organizations yourself. Please review the organization’s application materials. If you need assistance, please contact SAI’s in-region consultants in the appropriate country.

I found an organization online and I’m interested in applying for an internship, but I don’t know if it’s a reputable organization. Can SAI help?
A: SAI will try to help you get further information about organizations that are non-partnered but please keep in mind that our partnered organizations have been vetted, and it is impossible for us to know about all in-region organizations.

I have internships at two organizations, can I do both?
A: Students have been funded for two organizations in the past. This is determined on a case by case basis. Students should submit one CARAT application and proposal detailing the rationale for wanting to pursue two internships.

Will the in-region organization provide me with housing and meals?
A: Some organizations do, while others provide cultural activities like language lessons and outings. Be sure to check with that your organization will provide and take this into account when creating your budget.

Application Components:


What is a CARAT?
A:The CARAT (Centralized Applications for Dissertation Completion and Research Grants & Summer Grants) is essentially an online database to capture where students are applying for funds.

I have no idea how much things cost in South Asia, how do I estimate a budget?
A: The Grant Committee expects that you will have done your research when it comes to submitting an estimated budget. Review the example budgets on SAI’s website, and check online resources for estimates. The Grant Committee is very familiar with the costs in South Asia, so it pays to do your homework and not over estimate. If you need assistance, please contact SAI. Also keep in mind what SAI grant money should be used for, as noted above.

Who should I ask to write my recommendation letters?
A: We recommend that you have at least one Harvard faculty member write a recommendation letter. The other letter can come from an employer or a teaching fellow.

Will SAI accept emailed letters of recommendation?
A: Letters of recommendation can be uploaded to the CARAT system. However, as we transition to the new CARAT system we will accept letters of recommendation that are emailed from the recommender directly to

Can my host organization email the letter of acceptance directly to SAI?
A: No – please plan ahead and ask your organization to provide you an official letter of acceptance to include with the other application components. The letter may have been emailed to you, but please do not email acceptance letters to SAI or have the organization email the letter to SAI.

I am applying for an internship grant, I do not have a confirmation of the internship, can I still apply for funding? 
A: Your application must include confirmation of an internship. Proof of inquiry is only acceptable if the internship confirmation arrives before the review panel makes its decision.

Will SAI accept my emailed application?
A: Undergraduate and graduate students should upload application documents through CARAT. If you have any additional questions, please email

When will I find out if I got the grant?
A: We will release the grant awards by before Thanksgiving break for winter grants and the end of March for summer grants. Decisions will be sent via email.

Who will review my application?
A: Your grant application will be reviewed by a panel of interdisciplinary faculty and fellows. Visit our proposal tips page for advice from the grant review committee on what makes a good proposal.

I’m a freshman. Will I get a grant?
A: You may! Priority is given to students who have not received a grant from SAI in the past. Additional priority is given to students who will be conducting work relevant to their thesis, internships with partnered organizations, and excellent proposals.

Grant Recipients:

I received a SAI grant, but I can’t go anymore. Can I defer to the winter or to next summer?

A: Unfortunately, no. Your grant must be used within the time proposed in your application. You will be given a deadline by which you must have started using your grant or you must return it to SAI.

I need to make some changes to my original proposal. Can I do so?
A: Any changes that are made must be approved by SAI. You must notify SAI if your dates, location, or timeline changes. SAI reserves the right to rescind your funding if we feel you are unable to complete the project proposed.

If we haven’t answered your question, please send an email to



Does SAI and Harvard have any activities to help me prepare before I depart for South Asia? 

A: Yes, we have a series of activities and requirements to help you prepare for your travels, including a health clearance and online and in-person orientation. See this page for more details.

Will there be an opportunities for me to meet other Harvard students when I’m in the region?

A: Yes, in collaboration with the Alumni Clubs in South Asia, SAI often hosts events during the summer in various cities throughout South Asia. Additionally, we provide various virtual platforms for you to connect with other students in the region.