CREATIVE WRITING FELLOWSHIPS: Need Help?

We have fielded many questions over the years and trust that we can help you troubleshoot any problems you encounter. We are at your service.

Please browse the answers below before you contact Endowment staff or click on one of the topics to the right that best fits your question.

Also, please determine if your question is best addressed to the Arts Endowment or Grants.gov. Grants.gov is a conduit for applying; it is a separate entity from the NEA. Though we include some tips here on navigating Grants.gov, most questions about registration and uploading your application should be directed to Grants.gov

Contact Grants.gov for help with:

  • Registration problems
  • Your registration status
  • Verifying and/or updating your registration information
  • Technology related problems including:
    • Web browser issues
    • Questions about Adobe Reader
    • Problems uploading your application to Grants.gov

The Grants.gov Contact Center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-518-4726 or support@grants.gov. The website is www.grants.gov.

Contact the Arts Endowment for help with:

  • Eligibility questions
  • Specific components of your application
  • The poetry fellowship guidelines

If, after looking over our guidelines and the answers in this section, you'd still like to speak to an Arts Endowment staff member, please call our Literature Fellowships Hotline at 202-682-5034 or email us at LitFellowships@arts.gov.

THE APPLICATION PACKAGE

Why can't I download the application? It could be because your version of Adobe Reader is incompatible with the Grants.gov system. You can find a list of supported versions of Adobe Reader here. Try Grants.gov's Adobe Test Package, or contact Grants.gov directly to check if your version is compatible.

Which Internet browser should I use to file my application? According to Grants.gov, Internet Explorer is the recommended browser. However, we've found that other browsers will work, too. If you have trouble downloading the application package, try using a different browser. If you still can't download the package, contact the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726.

Why can't I find the attachments on your website? You'll only find the attachments form on Grants.gov. Although the attachments form has 15 attachment buttons, you will submit only four attachments with your application:

You can create attachments 2-4 using any word processing software.

The information I typed into my attachments form disappeared. How do I avoid this?
Be sure to save the Grants.gov application package, the attachments form, and all your attachments directly on your computer. Once you have downloaded the application package, you will work on your application offline and will only access the Internet to submit your completed application. You aren't working in "the cloud." If you don't save your work to your computer, you will lose it.

How do I upload my writing sample using the attachment form?
It's similar to attaching a document to an email. On the attachments form, click the “Add Attachment” button and select the correct file from your computer. [Reminder: you're the only one who can ensure that your application is complete. The "Check Package for Errors" function on the forms will tell you if you missed a required field, but it can't tell you if you forgot to attach a required document or if you've attached the wrong document.

The character limit for the project description box on the SF-424 form (Application for Federal Assistance) doesn't give a lot of room to describe my project. Can I add more information elsewhere?
That's not necessary. If you've reached the character limit for this box, you've written too much. This information is for staff use only to ensure that you would use your fellowship to support your writing; the review panel will not see it (the panelists will only see your manuscript). You will be judged on your manuscript, so we suggest spending more time on that portion of your application and less time on crafting your project description.

I can't fit all of my achievements in the space allotted on the Supplemental Information Form. Can I submit my resume in addition to my other forms?
No, please don't. Put as much relevant information as you can on the one-page form (in particular any prior NEA awards and place of employment). The only part of the application that the review panel will see is your manuscript. The panel will not know your age, gender, ethnicity, education level, or whether you are an established writer or just breaking into the field. The information on the Supplemental Information Form is for NEA staff use only.

How do I determine my congressional district? What if I'm an American living abroad?
Visit the House of Representatives website at www.house.gov and use the "Find Your Representative" tool. If the address on your application is outside the United States, enter 00-000 for your Congressional District.

My postal code is in red after I type it. Does this mean there's a problem? 
Yes. The form requires your Zip+4. If you do not know your full zip code, you may look it up at www.usps.com/zip4/.

What happens if my name appears on or in my manuscript?
Your application will be ineligible for further consideration and will not be reviewed by the panel. If you are submitting autobiographical poems, double check to make sure your name is not in the manuscript.

Will I be able to update my application after the deadline?
No. No changes or additions to the application or manuscript will be accepted once your application has been submitted. If you feel you've made an error on your application and it is before the deadline, you may contact the Literature program for guidance by calling or emailing the Fellowships hotline.

How do I create a PDF?
The simplest way is to use the "Save As" option and choose "Save as a PDF" (or similar wording) in your word processing software. You may also use a PDF conversion program. To learn more, go to PDF Conversion Software.

ELIGIBILITY

Should I list everything I've published to show I'm eligible just in case there's a question?
No, please don't. If you can establish your eligibility with one book, please just list that book. If you're unsure if the book meets our eligibility requirements, list journal publications as well, but only as many as you need to establish your eligibility. Our panelists will not see your publications.

I don't have all the information on all of my necessary publications to establish eligibility. Is that a problem?
Yes. You must include the required information described in our guidelines, including ISBN/ISSN numbers for books and journals. We will check your Summary of Applicant Publication document as part of the eligibility screening process. If the Literature staff can't find one of the items on your list, we'll contact you for proof of publication. If you can't provide that proof, that publication will not count toward your eligibility.

My book will be released soon after the fellowship application deadline. Can I use it to establish my eligibility?
No. In order to apply, you must meet the eligibility requirements by the deadline date. Reader's advance copies, galleys, uncorrected proofs, and commitments for future publication or production do not fulfill the requirements. The Arts Endowment uses the publisher's official publication date to determine eligibility. Check with your publisher if you have questions about this date. No exceptions are made to the eligibility requirements. If your book will be published after the deadline, use other publications to establish your eligibility.

I'm a prose writer. Can I apply for a poetry fellowship?
If you can establish your eligibility with the required number of published poetry pieces, yes. Many writers publish in various genres. Though the manuscript you submit for review must be poetry, you will not be limited to writing in one genre should you receive a fellowship.

Can the NEA help me get my book published?
No. The Fellowships Program is designed to help published creative writers set aside time to write; there is no guarantee that it will lead to publication of a book. In order for your manuscript to be reviewed by our panel, you must meet the NEA's eligibility requirements. If you are an unpublished writer, we recommend these helpful literature resources.

I'm self-published. Am I eligible for a fellowship?
We do not accept as eligible any publication by presses that: require individual writers to pay for part or all of the production costs; require writers to buy or sell copies of the publication; publish work without competitive selection or a stated editorial policy; or publish work without professional editing. If you feel your publication falls outside of these parameters, please call the Fellowships Hotline for guidance.

I'm a blogger. Am I eligible for a fellowship?
In general, no. Personal blogs on individual websites may not be used to establish eligibility. However, curated blogs are emerging that may qualify. Contact the Literature Fellowships Hotline if you feel your blog fits into this category.

Do I have to submit my application in English?
An application must be submitted in English, but the manuscript may be in a language other than English, as long as it is accompanied by an English translation, though the translation need not be done by the applicant. If you wish to submit your manuscript in a language other than English, please contact the Literature Fellowships Hotline prior to the deadline for more guidance.

OTHER QUESTIONS

How will my application be evaluated?
Poetry applications are reviewed through an anonymous process by an advisory panel of writers that recommends awards based on artistic excellence and merit. The NEA assembles a different advisory panel every year, each diverse with regard to geography, race and ethnicity, and artistic points of view.

Will you accept joint applications?
No. Fellowships are individual grants.

I'm on faculty at a university. May the fellowship go directly to my university so that I may buy time off from teaching?
No. Fellowships are individual awards; all funds are dispersed only to the fellow. However, once our fellows receive funds, it is up to them how they wish to spend it (as long as it relates to their writing). A fellow could pay his/her university directly, in other words.

Which part of my application carries the most weight with the panel?
The most important piece of your application as far as judging is concerned is your manuscript. It should be representative of your best recent work, published or unpublished. It must be work for which you have sole artistic responsibility. Choose your manuscript sample carefully.

Can an NEA fellowship be used to pay for any or all of my MFA program expenses?
We do not fund work toward academic degrees. The NEA fellowships program is not a scholarship program.  Financial and other kinds of need, the body of past work, geographic location of the applicant, academic career, professional reputation, etc., are not criteria for receipt of a fellowship and are not reviewed by the panel.

Can plans for use of the fellowship change, within reason?
Yes. Please read the General Terms and Conditions for Literature Fellowships for more information.

If you have questions about your application, please contact the Literature staff at 202/682-5034 or e-mail LitFellowships@arts.gov.