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What: Heading link

SURF is a competitive, four-week, in-person program housed at UIC that will provide promising undergraduate students with an introduction to social insurance; the policies surrounding the social safety net; research investigating these programs, and their impact on economically vulnerable populations.

Participants will receive a $3,000  stipend as a SURF Fellow.

The SURF program will include:

  • Lectures on the history, policies, and economics of the social safety net
  • Student-led discussions on reading assignments
  • Skills training (including coding, data visualization, and career opportunities)
  • Visits and discussions with leading poverty scholars
  • On-site visit to the Chicago Federal Reserve
  • Student debates on current policy issues
  • Mentoring based on student interests and objectives
  • A fun and social learning environment!

Following the four-week fellowship, SURF fellows will intern (virtually) with researchers currently funded to investigate these topics.  This  will be a brief opportunity (10-20 hours) for participants to gain hands-on experience in contributing to active research projects.

When: Heading link

May 15-June 9, 2023

MWF, 9am-1pm (lunch and light breakfast provided)

(Internship timing TBD in Summer/Fall 2022, depending on participant and researcher schedules)

Where: Heading link

UIC campus (ARC Building)

(Internship will be virtual)

Who: Heading link

SURF Program Coordinator: Erik Hembre, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Illinois-Chicago

Up to 15 motivated undergraduate students interested in policy, economics, and the social safety net. We are particularly interested in applications from students with backgrounds currently under-represented in economics and policy fields.

SURF is a training program supported by the Center for Financial Security (CFS), and funded by the Social Security Administration (SSA) under their Retirement and Disability Research Consortium (RDRC).


FAQs Heading link

Answers to some frequently asked question:

Can graduating seniors apply?

Yes! Please do.

Do I receive any course credit for SURF?

No. UIC does not provide any course credit for SURF participation. This also means there will be no grades for the program either, only attendance and active participation is required in the four-week course and the internship is required for successful completion.

Can non-UIC student apply?

Yes! Any interested students are welcome to apply. Please note we are unable to provide lodging for participants.

What if I do not yet know if my schedule will allow me to participate?

Please still apply if you are interested in the program. We will check back in with applicants in March as to whether they believe they will be able to attend or not.

Can I apply if I am not a U.S. citizen?

Yes! Non-U.S. citizens are welcome to apply.  However, to receive the fellowship stipend you will need to fill out a W-9 form which includes inputting a social security number.

When will acceptance decisions be made?

We plan to finish reviewing applications and make selection decisions by the end of March 2022.