Frequently Asked Questions about the McNair Scholars Program

How do I apply for the McNair Scholars Program?

All applications can be obtained, dropped off, or mailed to our office located in 430 Sutton Hall.

Please use the following address.

IUP McNair Scholars Program
1011 South Drive
Sutton Hall, Room 430
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana, PA 15705

For more information on applying to the program, including applications and recommendation forms, see our How to Apply page.

Who is eligible for the McNair Program?
  • Students who are both first-generation and qualify as low-income
  • College students who are members of a minority group that is underrepresented in higher education
  • Enrolled in a degree program at IUP or transferring to IUP
  • Students who have completed their sophomore year of study (juniors and rising seniors) planning to pursue graduate studies and earn a doctoral degree
  • Cumulative GPA of 2.8 or better
  • A U.S. citizen or permanent resident

Note: Students whose career goals include the medical (MD) or professional (JD, DVM) fields are not eligible for the IUP McNair Program.

Definitions of Eligibility

A student may qualify either as underrepresented, or as first-generation and low-income.


The U.S. Department of Education considers the following ethnic/racial groups to be underrepresented at the graduate/doctoral level of education and as faculty members in academia:

  • African-American/Black
  • Hispanic
  • Native American or Alaskan Native

First-Generation and Low-Income

Note: in order to be eligible for the program, a student must be both first-generation and low-income.

First Generation means that neither of your parents has received a degree from a four-year college or university.

Low-Income means that your total family income is below "Annual Low Income Levels" defined for Federal TRIO Programs (listed below).

To find whether or not your family is considered "low-income":

  • Find your family's taxable income (combined from all returns) by adding together the taxable income line on the return(s) you and your family members used.
  • Find the total number of people in your household in the table below.
  • If your total taxable* income is lower than the limit listed for your family size and the region in which you live, you are considered "low income."

Independent Student/Status

  • 24 years of age
  • An orphan or ward of the court
  • Veteran of Armed Forces of the United States
  • Married individual
  • Married individual with legal dependents other than a spouse
  • A student for whom a financial aid administrator has determined independence by reason of other unusual circumstances

Remember to use your family's taxable income, which can be significantly less than gross income.

Federal TRIO Programs Low-Income Levels posted by the U.S. Department of Education

Federal TRIO Programs
Current-Year Low-Income Levels

(Effective January 17, 2017 until further notice)

Federal TRIO Programs Low-Income Levels posted by the U.S. Department of Education
Size of Family Unit 48 Contiguous States,
DC, and Outlying Jurisdictions
Alaska Hawaii
1 $18,090 $22,590 $20,790
2 $24,360 $30,435 $28,005
3 $30,630 $38,280 $35,220
4 $36,900 $46,125 $42,435
5 $43,170 $53,970 $49,650
6 $49,440 $61,815 $56,865
7 $55,710 $69,660 $64,080
8 $61,980 $77,505 $71,295

For family units with more than eight members, add the following amount for each additional family member: $6,270 for the 48 contiguous states, the District of Columbia and outlying jurisdictions; $7,845 for Alaska; and $7,215 for Hawaii.

The term low-income individual" means an individual whose family's taxable income for the preceding year did not exceed 150 percent of the poverty level amount.

The figures shown under family income represent amounts equal to 150 percent of the family income levels established by the Census Bureau for determining poverty status. The poverty guidelines were published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Federal Register, on January 31, 2017.

Who was Dr. Ronald E. McNair?

Born October 21, 1950, in Lake City, South Carolina, Ronald McNair achieved early success as both a student and an athlete at Carver High School, Lake City, South Carolina. He graduated in 1967 as valedictorian and enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1971 with a BS degree in physics. He went on to earn a Doctor of Philosophy in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1976, where he specialized in quantum electronic and laser technology. As a student, he performed some of the earliest work on chemical HF/DF and high pressure CO lasers, publishing path-breaking scientific papers on the subject.

After completing his PhD, he began working as a physicist at the Optical Physics Department of Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California, and conducted research on electro-optic laser modulation for satellite-to-satellite space communications.

In January 1978, NASA selected him to enter the astronaut cadre, making him one of the first three black Americans selected. Dr. McNair died on January 28, 1986, when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after launch from the Kennedy Space Center.

Can I apply for Financial Aid?