Definition of a Graduate Fellow

As a result of the differences in graduate student support and in order to gain a clear picture of the number of fully-funded graduate fellows enrolled at Oregon State University, it is necessary to articulate a common standard and set of characteristics to describe those individuals for whom the designation graduate fellow may be appropriate.

For the purpose of formalizing an OSU appointment, the graduate fellow appointment classification will include only those individuals who meet explicit eligibility criteria.

Thus, a graduate fellow will:

  1. Be admitted as a graduate degree-seeking student at Oregon State University; and
  2. Be currently enrolled full-time at Oregon State University, completing a minimum of 9 credits per term during the academic year; 3 credits during summer session;and
  3. Be awarded a graduate fellowship and/or traineeship that can be independently and transparently identified; and
  4. Be awarded a graduate fellowship and/or traineeship that is administered in part or in full by Oregon State University; and
  5. Be funded by a single source of funds; and either
  6. Be sponsored by NSF (GRFP, GK-12, IGERT); NASA (ESSF); EPA (STAR); NIH(NRSA; NIEHS); USDA (FAS NFF); or those in partnership with the National Academies of Sciences including the Ford Foundation and the Vietnam Education Foundation; or
  7. Be either sponsored externally or internally by a single source of funds (such as through the OSU Foundation or other authorized funds designated by the Provost for strategic purposes) with a stipend that throughout the fellowship award period meets or exceeds the prevailing recommended minimum rate for .49 FTE graduate appointments as established annually by the Graduate School.

Formalizing the Graduate Fellow Appointment

Effective fall 2009, graduate fellows who meet all eligibility criteria as outlined in these guidelines will be formally appointed through the Office of Human Resources under a non-service, non-payroll appointment classification (C97XX907). The purpose of this appointment procedure is to identify in a common database all graduate fellows who are eligible for health insurance coverage and have access to travel insurance.

Appointment as graduate fellow will originate with the principal investigator for fellows supported under training grant awards (NSF IGERT; GK-12; NIEHS; USDA FAS NNF), the Graduate School for those supported by the NSF Graduate Research Fellow Program (GRFP) and the Diversity Advancement Pipeline Fellowship Program, or with the student's academic program for all other fellowships both internally and externally supported.

The OSU entity responsible for administrative oversight of the fellowship will issue a letter of appointment offer outlining the name of the graduate fellowship, the appointment begin and end date, the stipend level, and the method in which the stipend will be disbursed. Graduate Fellow Model Letter of Offer. When signed by all parties, the letter of appointment offer constitutes a notice of appointment. The signed letter of offer will accompany the graduate fellow appointment form that will be submitted for review and approval by either the Graduate School or the Office of Post Award Administration before entry into Banner by the relevant Business Center or the Office of Human Resources. OSCAR appointment forms and instructions may be found on the central administrative web at: https://oscar.oregonstate.edu/.

Relationship of Graduate Fellows to the University

Graduate Fellows are not employees.  However, through their advanced degree objectives, Graduate Fellows are mentored by Graduate faculty members.

Mandatory Health Insurance Enrollment for Graduate Fellows

Effective fall 2009, graduate fellows will be provided support for health insurance coverage while on active tenure under their graduate fellowship appointment. Health insurance coverage for the duration of a graduate fellowship is mandatory. Fellows who do not either enroll in the health insurance plan or waive out of the plan will not be permitted to register for OSU credits.

To ensure timeliness of the health insurance benefit, graduate fellows must complete the health insurance enrollment or waiver form prior to the start of their appointments. Failure on the part of the graduate fellow to enroll in or waive out of the health insurance plan may have an impact on the graduate fellowship appointment. Information regarding the health insurance plan may be found athttp://studenthealth.oregonstate.edu/insurance/.

At this time, OSU offers graduate fellows health insurance coverage under the graduate assistant health insurance plan during the period of the qualifying fellowship appointment. Graduate fellows may also elect to enroll family members and/or a domestic partner on a self-pay basis.

The graduate fellow-only premium is subsidized at the same rate (currently 85%) as for graduate assistants. There is no provision for subsidy during periods when the fellowship is inactive. However, COBRA benefits may be extended to those whose appointments have ended.

Administration of Fellowship Stipends

Graduate fellowships administered by Oregon State University from funds supported by external sources, both federal and private, will have stipend payments disbursed by the Office of Post Award Administration through OSU Accounts Payable under a schedule and at a level determined by the fellowship sponsor and/or principal investigator.

Graduate fellowships sponsored by OSU institutional funds (e.g., OSU Foundation funds or other authorized institutional funds designated by the Provost for strategic purposes) will have stipend payments disbursed through the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, with installments made directly to the student's OSU Business Office account.

Regardless of the method in which stipend payments are issued, disbursement will be contingent upon the graduate fellow meeting minimum enrollment requirements for the graduate fellowship. At a minimum, active graduate fellows must be enrolled for a minimum of 9 credits each term of their appointment period during the academic year, and a minimum of 3 credits during the summer session to justify continuation of stipend payments.

Supplementation for a Graduate Fellow

Graduate fellowship sponsors, both internal and external to OSU, typically require their recipients to devote full time effort toward pursuit of the advanced degree. Many sponsors prohibit concurrent acceptance of other major fellowships and restrict employment that may delay and/or jeopardize timely degree progress and generate substantial income.

Most sponsors permit graduate fellows to secure additional resources to offset degree-related research expenses, such as travel support, field, and/or laboratory costs to the extent such supplementation is permitted by the fellow's home institution.

Currently at Oregon State University, supplementation is not restricted. Thus, determination of the appropriateness of supplementation will be guided by the graduate fellowship sponsor's unique guidelines. It is the graduate fellow's responsibility to understand and adhere to the terms of his or her fellowship.

While degree-related activities might include a reasonable amount of teaching as part of the education and training experience for advanced degree students, engagement in teaching typically is limited to furtherance of degree objectives, not service to the institution. Therefore, concurrent appointment as a graduate assistant and a graduate fellow is expected to be rare.

In the irregular circumstance that a graduate fellow is appointed simultaneously as a graduate assistant, the graduate assistantship will serve as the primary OSU appointment for the student, with tuition remission and health insurance subsidy expenses assumed by the assistantship.

Changing from Graduate Assistant to Graduate Fellow Status

While graduate assistantships remain the most common form of graduate student funding at OSU, the dynamic nature of federal and institutional resources has prompted the delivery of graduate student financial support through multiple pathways. An increasing number of advanced degree students receive all or part of their financial support through fellowships and traineeships. Financial support for any given student is often comprised of a blend of intermingled assistantship, fellowship, and traineeship periods throughout the student's degree program. As the type of financial support changes, the graduate student's need for continuation of health insurance benefits remains constant.

Beginning fall 2009, graduate students who migrate from an assistantship to a fellowship (or vice versa) without a gap in sequential appointment will not be required to submit a new health insurance enrollment or waiver form. Questions concerning health insurance enrollment should be directed to Student Health Services,osustudent.insurance@oregonstate.edu, (541) 737-7568.

Travel Insurance

Graduate students formally appointed as graduate fellows will have access to travel insurance as described on the OSU Risk Management web site.

Tuition Support

Most nationally-competitive graduate fellowships include a tuition allowance (often called a cost of education allowance) for the purpose of providing partial or full payment of the graduate fellow's tuition and fee expenses. Many cost of education allowances have not kept pace with graduate tuition and fee rates and often fall short of meeting the graduate fellow's educational expenses. The OSU Tuition Remission Policy enables access to supplemental tuition support through the Targeted Graduate Tuition Scholarship Program and/or the Training Grant and External Fellowship Tuition Support Program, both of which are administered by the Graduate School. For more information concerning which supplemental tuition support option may be applicable, please also review the Institution Educational Allowance Policy below.

Most institutionally-sponsored graduate fellowships (e.g., those funded by OSU Foundation accounts) do not include a tuition allowance. For this category of graduate fellowships, the OSU Tuition Remission Policy enables access to supplemental tuition support through the OSU Foundation Fellow Tuition Scholarship Program which is also administered by the Graduate School.

Questions concerning each of these tuition scholarship programs may be directed to the Graduate School.

Tax Liability

OSU does not withhold taxes from fellowship stipend payments made to US citizens and resident aliens and does not currently report stipend payments on an annual IRS Form 1099 (Miscellaneous Income) for these individuals. However, graduate fellows who are US citizens and resident aliens are responsible for paying all income taxes that may become due as a consequence of receiving graduate fellowship stipend payments. 

To ensure compliance with IRS tax withholding requirements, OSU must withhold tax on any taxable fellowship stipend disbursed to nonresident aliens. In addition to withholding taxes from nonresident alien graduate fellowship stipend payments, OSU issues an IRS Form 1042-S (Foreign Persons US Income Subject to Withholding) to nonresident aliens at the end of the calendar year. Nonresident aliens whose country of origin has an existing tax treaty with the United States may be exempt from tax withholding. Please contact the fellowship coordinator in the Office of Post Award Administration for more details. 

The institutional health insurance subsidy and contribution toward the administrative fee are not considered educational expenses, nor are they treated as pre-tax deductions based on employment. As a consequence, at the end of each calendar year OSU will issue an IRS Form 1099 (Miscellaneous Income) to US citizen and resident alien graduate fellows for the value of the institutional health insurance subsidy plus administrative fee. For nonresident aliens, the graduate fellow health insurance subsidy plus administrative fee will be reported on the annual IRS Form 1042-S. 

Oregon State University staff members are not tax professionals and cannot provide tax guidance to students. There are a number of IRS forms and publications that may be helpful for determining tax liability, including the following:

For more information, students are encouraged to contact the Internal Revenue Service at http://www.irs.gov/; 1-800-829-1040 and/or consult a tax professional.

Educational Allowance Policy for Externally-funded Graduate Fellowships

Many national graduate fellowships provide an institutional cost of education allowance (sometimes referred to as the university allowance) and/or student allowance. These fellowships include, but are not limited to, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, the Ford Foundation Pre-doctoral Fellowship, the NASA Earth and Space Science, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Pre-doctoral Fellowship programs. Graduate fellowship cost of education allowances typically are provided in lieu of tuition and fees and may be used for education-related purposes to benefit the fellow and/or other graduate students. Student allowances are generally provided to support student research expenses.

It is the intent of the institution to ensure that incentives exist for graduate students to seek competitive graduate fellowship support and for graduate fellows to be recognized and honored for the distinction that they bring to themselves and to the university as a result of their success.

The following guidelines describe the method in which OSU administers graduate fellowship cost of education and student allowances and pertain to all eligible fellowships, new and continuing, effective July 1, 2009:

  1. The scope of this policy is limited to nationally competitive, externally-funded graduate fellowships which carry cost of education and/or student allowances, are awarded to students by the sponsoring agencies, and are administered by Oregon State University.
  2. The cost of education allowance will be assessed a fixed fee of $600 for fellowship administration at the beginning of each fellowship year. If a cost of education allowance is not provided by the sponsor, the student allowance will be assessed this fee.
  3. After the administration fee has been applied, the Graduate School will assess a levy of 50% to the remaining cost of education allowance for the purpose of furthering graduate initiatives. Student allowances will be held harmless from this levy and will be made available to the fellow.
  4. The Graduate School will provide academic year tuition remission through a Targeted Graduate Tuition Scholarship if tuition remission will not otherwise be provided under a concurrent graduate assistantship.
  5. If the remaining balance in the cost of education allowance falls short of covering the cost of academic year mandatory fees plus the tuition and fee expense associated with 3 credits of summer session enrollment, the Graduate School will provide relief for that shortfall. 
  6. After the cost of academic year mandatory fees and 3 credits of summer session tuition and fees have been encumbered, the remaining balance in the cost of education allowance will be made available to the fellow in furtherance of his/her education, research, or other professional activity in accordance with the sponsoring agency guidelines and OSU administrative policies and procedures.
  7. In the case of multi-year graduate fellowships, surplus funds in the cost of education allowance may be carried forward to a subsequent fellowship year and must be fully utilized or surrendered by the end of the fellowship award.

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