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National Summer Transportation Institute Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Program Administration

  1. What is the National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI) Program?

    The NSTI Program is a transportation-focused career awareness initiative designed to introduce secondary school students to all modes of transportation-related careers, provide academic enhancement activities and encourage students to pursue transportation-related courses of study at the college/university level. Students typically spend 2-4 weeks on some of the most prominent college/university campuses in the country.

  1. Why do we have a NSTI Program?

    The NSTI Program was created to address future transportation workforce needs by ensuring that the transportation industry has a well-trained qualified and diversified workforce.

  2. What is the role of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Headquarters' Civil Rights (HCR) Office?

    HCR administers the NSTI Program and provides technical assistance to FHWA division offices.

  3. What is the NSTI organizational structure?

    The NSTI organizational structure consists of host sites, which are participating colleges and universities throughout the United States, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

  4. How can I participate in this program? Whom do I contact?

    Interested parties should contact their local FHWA division office civil rights staff. Contact information for the division office civil rights staff as well as STI host sites can be found on FHWA's HCR website (www.fhwa.dot.gov/civilrights). In addition, you may contact Ann Wicks, the NSTI Program Manager, at (202) 366-2213.

  5. What is the deadline for submitting statements of work (SOW)? What type of format should be used to submit SOWs (i.e., electronic or hard copy)? Who receives the SOWs?

    The deadline for submitting SOWs to HCR is November 1. The STI host site should submit an electronic copy of its SOW to its STA for review, approval and forwarding to the appropriate FHWA division office. The division office is responsible for submitting SOWs to HCR.

  6. What are the components that should be included in the SOW?

    The SOW components are:

    1. Program Information

      • Host Site (Name/Address)
      • Amount of Funding Requested
      • Length of Program
      • Type of Program
      • Anticipated Number of Students
      • Grade Levels
    2. Program Overview

    3. Program Administration

      • Recruitment and Student Selection Procedures
      • Staffing Requirements
      • Program Cost
      • Inter-Modal Advisory Committee
      • Specific Named Partners
      • Implementation Schedule
      • Program Curriculum
        • Academic Program
        • Enhancement Program
        • Sports/Recreation Program
      • Conducting Follow-up Survey of Participants
  7. Can the STI focus solely on one target group for outreach while excluding others?

    No. Title VI applies to all federally funded programs and no students may be discriminated based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. HCR encourages outreach to the target groups who are under-represented in the transportation workforce (i.e. minorities, females, socially economically disadvantaged individuals, students with disabilities).

  8. Is there any guidance to ensure that economically disadvantaged students receive priority? How do you define "economically disadvantaged students?" How is this information generally collected?

    No. However, HCR encourages host sites to provide outreach to minorities, females, economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities. An economically disadvantaged student is someone who comes from a family with an annual income below a specific level, which is based on low-income thresholds according to family size published by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. This information is generally collected through information contained in the proposals (recruitment locations), demographic summary sheets and/or the STI annual reports.

  9. Are students with learning disabilities included in the process for selecting students? What are the targeted disabilities?

    Yes. No disabilities should be excluded in the target group. Targeted disabilities include the following:

    • Deafness
    • Blindness
    • Missing Extremities
    • Partial/Complete Paralysis
    • Convulsive Disorders
    • Mental Retardation
    • Mental Illness
    • Distortion of Limbs
  10. How should an out-of-State student's application be handled?

    The STAs should provide guidance for determining whether out-of-State students are eligible to participate in the STI program. The HCR does not determine in/out-of-State eligibility for students applying for the STI program. However, STAs may establish individual guidelines for student eligibility as long as they are consistent with the NSTI program guidelines.

  11. Do you have to send out with a request for proposals for STIs to all educational institutions, or just offer the opportunity to the schools that have hosted the program in the past?

    You should follow your State's procurement process regarding projects that receive Federal funding. However, all accredited institutions of higher education are eligible to participate in the NSTI Program.

  12. Who is responsible for conducting the orientation/closing programs? What is the purpose of these programs?

    The project director is responsible for planning and hosting orientation and closing programs for participants and parents/guardians. During orientation, a thorough explanation of what is expected of students, an overview of all planned activities, review of rules and regulations and general information about the host site are among the topics to be included.

    The closing program held at the conclusion of the STI highlights the talents of the students. Awards for accomplishments in each program of the STI as well as a certificate of completion are presented to the students.

  13. Is there a compilation of the final report data available for other States to view?

    Yes. It is the responsibility of HCR to review, compile, write, publish and distribute a comprehensive annual report to all interested parties. Beginning in FY 2010, these reports will be posted on HCR's Website under the NSTI program link.

  14. Is there a Web site for the NSTI Program?

    Yes. You may obtain information regarding the NSTI Program from the Federal Highway Administration's Civil Rights Office Web site at: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/civilrights.

  15. What kind of annual report does HCR require? When are the annual reports due?

    The STI Project Director is required to prepare and submit an annual report to its STA that includes the results of activities associated with the STI. The report is due to HCR on or before October 15.

  16. How do States/host sites comply with Section 508 standards of the Rehabilitation Act as mentioned in the sample request for proposal; specifically website compliance?

    States and host sites must ensure that their procurement of electronic and information technology takes into account the needs of all end users – including that members of the public with disabilities who are seeking information or services have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to others.

    See Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (http://www.access-board.gov/508.htm) and the Federal IT Accessibility Initiative (http://section508.gov/) for detailed information.

Summer Transportation Institute (STI) Host Site

  1. What is the host site organizational structure?

    Each STI is conducted under the leadership of a project director who is responsible for collaborating with its STA (and/or FHWA division office/HCR staff) in developing and implementing all phases of the STI. The project director supervises all host site staff. Staff positions may include academic program coordinator, academic aide, residence hall counselor, etc.

  2. What is the length of the STI program?

    The STI program duration typically runs from 2-4 weeks. However, the program can be implemented over a 5-week period.

  3. What are the responsibilities of a STI host site?

    The host site conducts either a residential or a non-residential STI with a minimum of 15 participants. Develops and conducts an STI that focuses on a critical and systematic educational endeavor to explore all aspects of the transportation industry and its role in our society. This includes creating a curriculum that introduces students to the diverse modes of transportation and how transportation plays an integral role in our lives, as well as career opportunities that exist in the transportation industry.

  4. What are the types of STIs?

    An STI may be classified as either a middle school (7-9 grades) or high school (10-12 grades) program and as residential or non-residential. Middle school programs focus more on career exploration. High school programs include activities that are designed to assist in preparing students for post-secondary education and to encourage them to pursue transportation-related careers. In a residential program, the participant resides on the college or university campus, which includes room and board. In a non-residential program, the participant commutes to and from campus every day.

  5. Can a STI host site have both a residential and non-residential program?

    No. A STI should be classified as either residential or non-residential.


  1. What is the annual funding for the NSTI Program?

    Annual funding for the NSTI Program depends on the annual budget that HCR receives each year for the Surface Transportation Program On-the-Job Training/Supportive Services (OJT/SS) Program. A portion of the OJT/SS Program budget is set-aside each year to fund STIs. Usually, HCR allocates approximately $2.4 million dollars for the NSTI Program.

  2. How does the release of funds process work? How is the host site notified of approved funding?

    HCR allocates (releases) funds to the division offices in March. The FHWA division offices will notify the designated State transportation agency (STA) personnel once funding has been allocated into the Fiscal Management Information System. The STAs will contact the host site(s) after they receive notification of award. In addition, the host sites can contact their STA for information.

  3. Where can I find information on the budget guidelines?

    Budget guidelines can be found at the following:

    • 2 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 225, Appendix A, entitled, "General Principles for Determining Allowable Cost" and Appendix B, entitled, "Selected Items of Cost"

    • Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-21, entitled, Cost Principles for Educational Institutions (Revised 5/10/2004) https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg_a1rev

  4. Can host sites request funding for promotional items/gifts and/or marketing items?

    No. Federal funds may not be used for gifts or promotional items. OMB Circular A-87, Attachment B, item 1(f) (3), in general, prohibits the use of Federal funds for public relations costs such as: costs of promotional items and memorabilia, including models, gifts, and souvenirs. This includes pens, cups, shoelaces, key chains, baseball caps, paperweights, magnets, matchbooks, patches, t-shirts, scissors, balloons, and buttons.

    For detailed information, please visit these links:

    If your State laws, regulations, and policies allow the purchase of gifts or promotional items, you may use State funds, but again, no Federal funds may be used. In addition, the following costs are unallowable:

    1. Cost of meetings, conventions, convocations, or other events related to other activities of the institution, including:
      • Cost of displays, demonstrations, and exhibits;
      • Cost of meeting rooms, hospitality suites, and other special facilities used in conjunction with shows and other special events;
      • Salaries and wages of employees engaged in setting up and displaying exhibits, making demonstrations, and providing briefings.
    2. Cost of advertising and public relations. Exception: Promotional items having an educational component associated with them can be considered as an allowable cost (e.g., pamphlet, flyer). The host site cannot use the FHWA's logos on any of its promotional items without obtaining prior permission from FHWA.
  5. Can host sites change a line item after HCR has approved the budget?

    Yes. However, the FHWA division offices have the final approval on all budget changes once funding has been awarded. The division office is responsible for notifying HCR regarding any budget changes.

  6. Are stipends allowed?

    Yes. However, the budget must stay within the funding range provided, and funding for room and board is not being requested. Stipends may be reduced/disallowed if the funding request exceeds the recommended program costs.

  7. What does a "reasonable" budget mean?

    The majority of the budget should go to program content and student expenses rather than salaries and administrative costs. The host sites and/or partners may consider providing some type of in-kind contribution (monetary or services) for facilities, salaries, fringe benefits, etc.

  8. Can host sites request funding for food? If so, does this also pertain to orientation and/or closing programs?

    Yes. The following costs are allowable as per the regulation authority 49 CFR Part 18, 18.22(b) and the cost principles describe in OMB CIRCULAR A-21 applicable to the educational institutions:

    1. Cost of meetings and conferences, the primary purpose of which is the dissemination of technical information.

    2. Cost of meals and other items incidental to above mentioned meetings or conferences.

    3. Cost of student meals for a residential program.

    4. Orientation Meeting, Convocations and Commencement: A reasonable cost of food is allowable for all participants necessary for instruction, as long as the costs are allocated to an instruction function, or otherwise allocated based on the sponsored agreement. As stated, in OMB Circular A-21 – F9 – Student Administration and Services, the orientation meeting is similar to the convocation listed below:

      1. The expenses under this heading are those that have been incurred for the administration of student affairs and for services to students, including expenses of such activities as deans of students, admissions, registrar, counseling and placement services, student advisers, student health and infirmary services, catalogs, and commencements and convocations. The salaries of members of the academic staff whose responsibilities to the institution require administrative work that benefits sponsored projects may also be included to the extent that the portion charged to student administration is determined in accordance with Section J.10. This expense category also includes the fringe benefit costs applicable to the salaries and wages included therein, an appropriate share of general administration and general expenses, operation and maintenance, and use allowances and/or depreciation.

      2. In the absence of the alternatives provided for in Section E.2.d, the expenses in this category shall be allocated to the instruction function, and subsequently to sponsored agreements in that function.

    5. Closing Program: Because the funds must be spent as a part of the instruction function and not as an entertainment expense, a reasonable cost of food is allowable only for the students, necessary faculty and invited guest speaker(s), but not for guests of the students. The OMB Circular A-21– J 17 – Entertainment Cost forbids the repayment of funds for entertainment purposes. The same rules apply to meetings of any type, whether characterized as a convocation/general type of meeting, or as a specific type of meeting, such as an orientation or convocation.

    The following costs are unallowable:

    1. Cost of meals provided during the entertainment or socializing events.

      1. Cost of meals provided during non-NSTI related events.

  9. If a State does not use all of its NSTI allocated funds, do those funds have to be returned to FHWA?

    Yes. Any unexpended funds should be reported by the STA to their respective FHWA division office. The division office is responsible for notifying HCR that they have unexpended funds remaining and are returning the funds for redistribution.

  10. When should States financially close out projects?

    The host site and their STA should address this matter. Each STA may have a different closeout date, as States must follow their respective procurement regulations. However, STAs should provide the host site with guidance about submissions of invoices and the timely manner for this process.

  11. Can Federal funds be used for the sports and recreation program component? If so, what types of activities are allowable?

    No. The following costs are unallowable as per the cost principles described in OMB Circular A-21 applicable to the educational institutions: Cost of entertainment, including amusement, diversion, and social activities and any costs directly associated with such costs (such as tickets to shows, sports events, meals, lodging, rentals, transportation, and gratuities).

    HCR recommends that host sites utilize the sports/recreational resources already available on their campuses to fulfill this component of the program. You may wish to check with your State transportation agency to find out if State funds can be used for this type of activity. In addition, HCR recommends that you establish partnerships that can provide in-kind contributions.

  12. If a disabled student participates in the NSTI Program and requires special accommodations that were not included in the approved budget, can the host site request additional funding?

    Yes. The host site should submit a written request for additional funding regarding the type(s) of accommodation required and the cost. A revised budget should also be resubmitted.

Page last modified on May 18, 2012.
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000