I'm apparently working with the Department of Energy's Ames Lab over the summer under chemist Ning Fang (the guy whose research is on the front page of the web site). While I'm really excited to be investigating the in vivo rotational dynamics of biomolecules by getting cells to "swallow" gold nanoparticle probes, it's also a little out in the middle of nowhere. (Ames, Iowa...)
What do NSF kids do for fun when they're not in the lab? Especially when the lab is out in the Midwest?
The internship also runs from Jun 1 to Aug 6, I also need to figure out what I'm doing between May 15 - May 30 and Aug 7 -- Aug 23 (the days of summer that aren't being used for research). I do not have my own car. In fact I don't yet know how to drive so maybe this would be a good opportunity to take a crash course (literally).
My home is about 700 miles away from my school ... so I don't know if it's worth it go home. My family is a single-parent household and we live on the humble income side so I don't know if it's worth it to go back home to stay cooped in a small apartment for two weeks! (Though the NSF will only pay for transport to and from your home/school, and not say, your uncle's place in NYC. I think. Maybe I can check if they'll be a bit flexible.) Actually I have not yet been to my mother's place ... it's in a totally different city since I moved to college (it's smaller and closer to her work) -- so none of my high school friends are there. So I kind of feel semi-nomadic!
The NSF will also be making me $4250 richer. OK, deduct $300-400 for groceries and the occasional eating out (do people even eat out in Iowa??) ... but I don't know if that affects my EFC (expected family contribution) on my FAFSA, especially if it's government-funded? I know I have to pay tax on it. Should it go to a car... or a med school / grad school fund? My undergrad debt will be about $8k ... assuming my FAFSA EFC doesn't go up. My earnings this year (excluding work-study) are about $1.5k, and AFAIK student doesn't start affecting EFC until it's over $3k. Do NSF stipends count as student income on the FAFSA?