Frequently Asked Questions


What is the daily schedule?

Our distance learning schedule breaks each day into three separate time blocks: 

  • Morning - (Asynchronous) Pre-Recorded Video lectures and independent activities available through UTBox and Canvas. 

  • Afternoon - (Synchronous) Classroom Activities through Zoom, UTbox and Canvas 

  • Evening - (Hybrid) Practice speeches and debates through Zoom, UTBox and Canvas.


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Speech and Individual Events

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Can students from all over the country participate?

Of course! Every summer we have students from all over the country join us in Austin and although we will be physically distant this year - we can still do what we always do, bring together the brightest minds in speech and debate from all over the country. Regardless of what US timezone the student resides, we believe our program and schedule will be able to accommodate their needs. We think that the ‘time zone’ problem can be resolved by making asynchronous morning content available 24-48 hours early for students and scheduling synchronous group activities in between 12:00 – 8:00pm CST to provide an acceptable buffer for students in other time zones. 

For students in Alaska, Hawaii and/or outside the mainland United States - please reach out directly to director Brendon Bankey to make alternative arrangements.

What are the technology requirements for online UTNIF?

Students should be expected to have access to a computer with steady connection to the internet. The computer needs to be able to download and view multiple word documents and allow multiple tabs of a web browser open for research. We recommend at least a Windows 8 computer with 8 GB of ram and a 120 GB hard drive for storage or most 2014+ models of apple computers. Headphones and a microphone are also required so students can give speeches for practice debates, but a web camera is NOT required though highly recommended in order to help build social ties while working exclusively online. We recommend students get headsets that include a headphone and microphone combination.

How will the UTNIF facilitate one-on-one learning while keeping interactions safe?

Students will be able to directly communicate with instructors during our daily synchronous sessions. Students will break out and work individually on assignments like block writing or research but will still have direct feedback on any questions because the instructors will be on standby. Though, to ensure the safety of our students and employees, multiple adults are always a buffer between the student and instructors communications.  

What online programs or websites will the UTNIF use for distance learning?

All of our programs will have access to University of Texas at Austin learning resources..The UTNIF will be using Canvas as our primary assignment and announcement program, UT Box as its file sharing program, and UT Zoom as our video conferencing program for synchronous sessions. All UTNIF participants will be assigned a "UT EID", which gives them the same access to the UT network as current students, staff and faculty. In addition to accessing our learning platforms, students’ UTEIDs grant access to the University of Texas library system and research databases.

How will students collaborate?

Students will constantly be researching, debating, and communicating with their fellow campers throughout the UTNIF experience. We are committed to maintaining as much student collaborations as previous UTNIFs. Using breakout rooms and individual chats, students will build arguments and learn together during camp hours. The Canvas platform offers a safe and reliable means for students to communicate and collaborate with each other. 

How will instructors track their student's progress for asynchronous learning activities?

One major benefit of using Canvas is the existing tools for instructors and students to 'keep each other in the loop'. Some of these features include the ability of instructors to see if, when and how long students are spending viewing pre-recorded lectures and completing individual assignments. Our schedule is designed to always include a synchronous follow-up session to any asynchronous activity to answer any questions and assess progress on specific learning objectives and assignments.

Financial Aid

The University of Texas National Institute in Forensics is committed to making speech and debate camp accessible for all students.

If you are interested in attending the 2021 UTNIF and need financial assistance to make it feasible, we encourage you to register ASAP and apply for financial aid by May 1st, 2021.

Any student that applies for financial aid is eligible for a full refund of their $250 application fee if they cannot attend the UTNIF. We cannot waive the application fee prior to registration. 

Please note that we will award financial aid on the basis of need, and the UTNIF does not offer merit based scholarships or discounts.

We will accept financial aid applications between March 1, 2021 to May 1, 2021. Additional information is forthcoming regarding how to apply. In the interim, please prepare the following materials:

1) Proof of Financial Need - A) Copy of parent(s)/guardian(s) most recent tax return (W2 filing) B) Any additional documentation to prove financial need.


2) Letter of Personal Interest - Prospective students seeking financial aid should provide a 1-2 page letter explaining why they want to attend the UTNIF and/or the importance of speech and debate in their lives.


3) Statement of Financial Need - A 1-2 page letter from the parent or legal guardian explaining their financial circumstances.


4) Letter of Recommendation - A 1-2 page letter of recommendation from a debate coach, teacher, sponsor or mentor who can attest to a prospective student’s passion for speech and debate.