I received the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in Spring 2018. The application process the previous fall had been a stressful but rewarding experience. When I first expressed interest in applying, I was told by some faculty to not even bother – that only Ivy Leagues & West Coast R1 institutions ever got it. Thankfully I'm very stubborn and had a very supportive advisor (thanks, Casey Papovich!) so I did it anyway.
I've written up some of my personal experience & advice for this process, as well as sharing my application statements and linking a ton of past & current NSF Fellows whose resources I leaned on heavily.