Graduate and professional school students will have more options to fund their summer activities with the announcement of a new award created by the Graduate and Professional Student Senate.

Through the Summer Academic Funding Award, GPSS will allocate according to need a pool of $10,000 to qualified applicants from the graduate and professional schools, GPSS Vice President Joel Zeiner DIV ’05 said. The award, conceived by the GPSS’s executive board about a month ago, is intended to fill a funding gap that exists for many graduate and professional school students who are searching for summer grants, Zeiner said

Depending on the response generated by the award, the administration may help GPSS bolster the program’s funding pool, GPSS Secretary Lillian Wasvary SOM ’05 said.

“We don’t receive any funding for anything at all,” Zeiner said. “This is a big deal for us.”

On Tuesday, GPSS members met with Yale Provost Andrew Hamilton to discuss the possibility of expanding the funding base for the award in future years. This year’s application process will be watched closely by University administrators to gauge the demand for more broad-based summer funding, Wasvary said.

“If we get a lot of applications, it would show a need to the administration,” Wasvary said. “It all depends on how well it’s received this time.”

At Yale’s Graduate School, students enrolled in humanities and social sciences programs can receive a Summer Study Fellowship of $3,500 in any two of their first five years of graduate study, as well as a dissertation fellowship of $17,000 in their fifth or sixth year of study. But professional school students, many of whom have to foot the bill for their education with no institutional assistance, often do not have access to funding for summer activities.

While the School of Management provides internal funding for nonprofit and government-related summer internships, there is no funding available for non-paying private sector internships, Wasvary said.

“It’s very rare in our world to get funding outside of the school,” she said. “We don’t want students to have to go broke to fund what may be a really great summer experience.”

Graduate School Dean Jon Butler said he is “delighted” that the Graduate and Professional Student Senate allocated funds from its annual $17,000 budget toward summer fellowships. The Graduate Student Assembly, with “generous funding” from the dean, already provides funding to cover the travel expenses of graduate students who are presenting papers at conferences during the summer, Butler said.

“We’re always looking for ways to support graduate scholarship,” he said.

The award was partly in response to what the GPSS saw as a lack of summer funding at Yale as compared to sources available at other universities, Zeiner said. At Princeton University, humanities and social sciences Ph.D. candidates are eligible for summer stipends to continue making progress toward their degrees for five summers, Princeton Associate Dean of Administration Sandra Mawhinney said.

“Really it is intended for them to continue their academic work,” she said.

Applications will be read by a committee of eight graduate and professional school students, Zeiner said. The recipients — half professional students, half graduate students — will receive funding for “academic enriching endeavors” during the summer, which do not have to be related to one’s degree, Zeiner said.

About 15 to 20 students are expected to receive awards ranging from $100 to $1,000 this summer, Zeiner said. Although the funding likely would be insufficient to cover a student’s entire summer costs, Wasvary said the money could be put toward airfare or travel.

“I know from last summer, making no money, that every little bit helps,” she said.