October 14, 2021

NIH: Trainee Childcare Costs and Move to Passphrases

The National Institutes of Health recently issued two messages:

1. Announcement of Childcare Costs for Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Institutional Research Training Awards

NIH will now begin providing childcare cost support to full-time predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees appointed on NRSA institutional research training awards. This is anticipated for awards made beginning in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2022. The NRSA childcare costs apply to each full-time predoctoral or postdoctoral NIH-NRSA-supported institutional research training award appointment. Each trainee is eligible to receive $2,500 per budget period for childcare costs provided by a licensed childcare provider.

2. Replace eRA Commons Password with Passphrase, Starting Sometime in November

While eRA has been transitioning users of eRA Commons, Commons Mobile, ASSIST and IAR to two-factor authentication using either Login.gov or an InCommon Federated Account that supports NIH’s two-factor authentication standards, users will still need to maintain their eRA Commons username and password for the time being.

So eRA account credential maintenance will continue, at least for now, but not to worry, gone are the days of having to continually change your password every 120 days. NIH is moving from passwords to passphrases — a set of random words or a sentence at least 15 characters long — effective sometime in November (date to be confirmed). Passphrases will only need to be updated annually.

This change is part of a new NIH password policy designed to make passwords easy for users to remember but hard for others to guess. The new policy aims to improve user experience and enhance cybersecurity.

Once this new change is in effect, Commons users will be prompted to change their password to a passphrase when trying user credentials with an expired or forgotten password. Users are advised to avoid words that can be easily guessed, such as family names.