Eligibility & Application Process

Institutions eligible for consideration for a Simon Award must be accredited, degree-granting higher education institutions of the United States or its territories.

  • An institution cannot be considered for any Simon Award if it is affiliated with a member of the current Simon Selection Committee.
  • An institution cannot be considered for any Simon Award if it is affiliated with a current or newly elected member of the NAFSA Board of Directors

Additional eligibility requirements for previously awarded institutions include:

  • An institution awarded a Simon Spotlight Award is eligible to apply for a Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization the following year or for a Spotlight Award in a different focus area after five years.
  • An institution awarded a Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization is eligible to apply for a Simon Award, whether Comprehensive or Spotlight, after 10 years.

Institutions selected to receive a Simon Award will reflect, as much as possible, a variety of institutional types within the Carnegie Classifications, as well as diversity in terms of institutional size, geographic location, and public or private governance.

What are the application components?

  1. A one-page cover letter on institutional letterhead.
  2. An essay addressing criteria as described below (Areas of Special Importance for Your Essay). Additional appendixes, images, links, graphs, and charts will not be accepted.
    • A 2,500 word essay that addresses the criteria as described below is required for applications for the Comprehensive Award.
    • A 1,800 word essay is required for those applying for the Spotlight Award
  3. A demographics form. This is a required form. Please fill in all sections to the best of your ability. Do not leave sections blank.

How to submit an application

  • Prepare a cover letter and essay addressing criteria for the intended award category. Download and complete the demographics form.
  • Applications must be uploaded using NAFSA's 2024 online application form no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT, Monday, October 16, 2023. A Word file and a PDF of the cover letter, essay, and demographics form are required.
  • No background material is required at this initial phase. Institutions selected in the first round of screening will be asked to provide further information on a case-by-case basis.
  • If you are applying for both awards, two separate complete applications must be submitted. The essays and cover letters must be distinct from one another.

Tips for Preparing a Successful Simon Award Application

Watch a short video to gain tips and advice to successfully complete an application for the NAFSA Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization.

Learn how to complete each application component and how to navigate the application process.

  • Read about past winners.
  • Collaborate with campus offices
  • Utilize the cover letter effectively.
  • Keep essays within word limits.


The 2024 application cycle is closed. Plan ahead! The next application cycle will launch in August 2024.


Senator Paul Simon Comprehensive Award
Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award
Application Process FAQs