This page is for graduate fellowships only. If you have questions about graduate assistantships, please visit Human Resources.

Glossary of Common Terms

The definitions provided for the common terms are by no means exhaustive. These definitions are limited to the context of graduate appointments through Oregon State University. Terminology at other institutions and for other appointment types at OSU will vary from those defined below.

  • Appointment – The formalized setup of a position through OSU Human Resources. Most appointments indicate a student is employed by OSU, but there is a special appointment category for Graduate Fellowships in order to provide benefits.
  • Assistantship – A category of graduate employment, which is either a graduate research assistantship (GRA) working on a specified grant project or a graduate teaching assistantship (GTA) working to provide support or instruction for courses. These are commonly referred to as GA appointments, and are unionized positions under a collective bargaining agreement.
  • Award – Typically interchangeable with scholarship, this refers to a monetary amount directly applied to a student account in recognition of the student’s contributions to OSU. Awards can vary from one-time amounts to full tuition support for an academic year and more.
  • CBACollective Bargaining Agreement: An agreement between OSU and the CGE which outlines rights, responsibilities, appointments, salaries, benefits, etc., for all Graduate Employees on Assistantships. This is a mutually-agreed contract that has a typical duration of four years after negotiations between the union and OSU administration.
  • CGECoalition of Graduate Employees: Local chapter of union representing Graduate Employees, i.e. on appointed assistantships.
  • FTE – Full-Time Equivalent: A decimal used to show a position in terms of the number of hours of contribution compared to a full-time position of 40 hours per week, i.e. 2080 hours per year. Fellowship appointments at OSU are .49 FTE, so the expected effort while on appointment towards the fellowship is 19.6 hours, on average, per week, or 255 hours over a 13-week appointed term.
  • Fellowship – A special appointment position at OSU, which qualifies a student for resident tuition rates and health care coverage for the student and dependents. Fellowships are not employees, but it is the intent of the institution to ensure that an incentive remains 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. Graduate Fellowships must meet a number of requirements in order for appointment.
  • Remission (Tuition) – Reversal of tuition charges on a student account for a student on a qualified assistantship appointment. At present per the CBA, remissions cover up to 16 credits of enrollment each academic term. Remissions are provided from the same funding source as the graduate employee’s wages.
  • RFP – Request for Proposal: A specified announcement from an external agency to submit applications for funding to support scholarly work or research initiatives. RFPs will vary in scope, but will have stipulations on provided stipends, tuition support, fields of study, and applicant requirements. RFPs are a common way for students and faculty to access funds to support stipends of students on external fellowships in furtherance of student advanced degree objectives.
  • Scholarship – Typically interchangeable with award, this refers to a monetary amount directly applied to a student account in recognition of the student’s contributions to OSU. Awards can vary from one-time amounts to full tuition support for an academic year and more.
  • Stipend – Monetary allowance, provided in advance either monthly or quarterly, to provide funding to offset living and personal expenses for a student on a fellowship. Stipends vary from wages and salary in federal/state tax implications, they are not provide for work, and are paid in advance.
  • Training Grant – Funds used to support graduate fellows whose stipends are paid by an eligible university unit or directly by the institution via competitive training grants and/or portable external fellowships. Fellows on training grants typically have a mentor-mentee relationship with a faculty member to guide the completion of the external granting agencies requirements.
  • Tuition Buy-Down – As a means of incentivizing PhD recruitment, retention, and degree completion, the Graduate School, in conjunction with the Budget Office, has created a remission program that started spring term 2016, for doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy. The program is from the same funding source as the fellowship tuition support, but is in partial support of assistantships on nationally competitive grants.
  • Tuition Plateau – A flat tuition rate charged regardless of the number of credits of enrollment. For most masters and PhD programs, this exists between 9 and 16 credits each term, with the exception of Ecampus courses and specific rates listed yearly on tuition tables.
  • Tuition Support Request – A formalized request submitted yearly by the 3rd Monday in February to the Graduate School to provide a full or top-up tuition waiver to a student receiving a qualifying fellowship. This is available to students on qualifying fellowships that provide partial or no tuition support.
  • Top-Up Funding – A partial or full award, scholarship or tuition waiver provided to meet fellowship requirements for appointment for tuition support and/or minimum stipend level.
  • OSUFOregon State University Foundation: A 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization administered a number of accounts that provide quarterly stipends as fellowships to graduate students. Tuition support is provided through the Graduate School’s tuition support request form.
  • Waiver (Tuition) – An award/scholarship applied to a student account to cover all or part of the tuition charges to a student in an academic term. For appointed fellowships, waivers cover up to 12 credits of enrollment each academic term, not including summer term.

Qualifications of an OSU-appointed Graduate Fellowship

What is the minimum stipend level?

The minimum stipend level is the prevailing recommended minimum rate for .49 FTE graduate appointments as established annually by the Graduate School. During the 2019-2020 academic year, the rate was $1922 per month, or $5766 per term. The expected minimum rate during the 2020-2021 academic year is between $2000 and $2038 per month ($6000-$6114 per term), with the finalized rate established annually by late February.

How is a fellowship independently and transparently identified?

A fellowship must be an independent award, meaning that it can be identified as being awarded to a specific student based upon research, academic merit, and other qualities. Transparency is required as it must be a competitive selection process for the fellowship, so the Graduate School must be provided a notification (typically online) of the fellowship application and selection process, as well as requirements of the fellowship.

The fellowship is directly paid to the student. Would this qualify?

This fellowship would not qualify directly for an appointment at OSU, as university policy requires a graduate fellowship and/or traineeship with a stipend be administered in part or in full by OSU. When paid directly to the student, there is no mechanism to verify the award meets other fellowship policies. Students may still be appointed under the Alternatively-Funded Fellowship Program, but the Graduate School may not provide tuition support of any kind for students with these fellowships.

An incoming student has an existing external fellowship award. What steps would I go about to determine if it meet OSU’s requirements for appointment?

  1. Please review the definition of a graduate fellow. In most cases, you will need a copy of the fellowship award letter to show it meets the minimum stipend level, offers tuition support of some kind, and is administered by OSU. It must also be identified as a fellowship.
  2. OSRAA is the best contact for award management and making sure it meets OSU award requirements.
  3. Contact the Graduate School if you need determination on stipend, tuition support, or whether the award is viewed as a fellowship at OSU. Some criteria can be unmet by the fellowship, and the student may still be appointed under the Alternatively-Funded Fellowship Program.

How do I determine if an external award is supporting Graduate Assistantships or Graduate Fellowships?

  • Graduate Assistantships are considered employment. If there are specific work requirements in the award/grant, and/or the student is provided wages for work completed, it will be viewed as an assistantship.
  • Graduate Fellowships are not employment – there cannot be specific work assignments while on appointment, and students are provided stipends (pre-payment) for living expenses. Some awards may outline deliverables/expectations at the end of the grant award, and these are acceptable for fellowships, but there cannot be specific work requirements (time or responsibilities) outlined.  

What happens if a student with an external award is not appointed to an OSU Graduate Fellowship?

If the award does not meet OSU’s fellowship policies and conditions cannot be met for the Alternatively-Funded Fellowship Program, the student would be subject to tuition rates according to residency status and will not receive health insurance through OSU. It is still possible for the student to retain the award, but it will depend upon requirements provided in the award letter.

The fellowship stipend amount is too small to qualify and does not provide tuition – can the student be appointed to an assistantship?

If the student is appointed on an assistantship, they cannot be appointed simultaneously to a fellowship. The assistantship will be responsible for wages, tuition, and benefits per the CGE contract. It is still possible for the student to retain the award (must be viewed as scholarship), but it will depend upon requirements provided in the award letter.

Graduate School Tuition Waiver Support

Why is there a deadline to request tuition waiver support?

Each year, the Graduate School receives far more tuition support requests than waiver funding available. In order to make the tuition waiver funding available regardless of award type, the deadline of the third Monday in February (e.g. February 17, 2020) allows sufficient time for programs to identify potential student awardees, allows qualified fellowships to be used as recruitment tools, and gives the Graduate School time to connect with the central budget office if waiver requests far exceed the budget.

The RFP (Request for Proposal) for a fellowship program was not issued until after the Graduate School deadline to request tuition waiver support? Can an exception be made in this case?

The tuition waiver deadline is firm (3rd Monday in February) for full consideration. Programs may still submit requests up until June 30 each year, but requests will only be honored in early July if funding remains and on a first-come, first-serve basis. We encourage programs to submit by the posted deadline each year. Tuition support requests can be submitted without student information or full award information, but if a program expects an RFP to be issued, request waivers based upon expected student applicant numbers for the RFP.

A student did not communicate that they received a fellowship award until after the deadline—what can be done?

Tuition support requests are still subject to the firm deadline and exception only by availability of funding. The Graduate School encourages programs to reach out to students to make sure they are aware that tuition support is subject to timely notice and cannot be guaranteed on qualifying fellowships unless the request meets the deadline.

How many tuition waivers are available through the Graduate School each year?

The number of waivers depends upon the allocation from the central budget office. The current allocation has decreased over the past eight years (since 2012), leaving less funding available for waivers each year as tuition rates increase. After providing Laurels block grants, Provost Fellowships, McNair Scholar tuition waivers, Tuition buy-down for candidates on grant, and waivers to students in the NSF-Graduate Research Fellowship program and PNNL-OSU Distinguished Graduate Research Program, there is approximately $700,000 available for full academic year waivers, which equates to approximately 50 academic year tuition waivers.

How do you request a tuition waiver for the next academic year if we do not know the student’s information and/or if they will receive the fellowship?

The tuition support request form can be completed without having a student name and ID available. The survey will prompt you to enter in an expected date of when you will have the student information. The Graduate School realizes many awards are competitive and some students will not be successful in their external award applications. Please submit a request for every expected student applying for an external program and provide supporting paperwork, the URL for the external award, and/or the date of notification – each of these are prompts in the tuition support request form.

Why is there an early notification for OSUF-supported fellowships, but not for other fellowships?

Fellowships with stipends provided by OSU Foundation endowments are commonly used by some colleges as recruitment tools for new graduate students. These fellowships are automatically administered by OSU with known account information and balances available. It is much easier to verify whether a foundation-supported fellowship meets fellowship policies, so the Graduate School is able to provide early notification on these requests. External requests take much longer to verify and by nature are not used as recruitment tools, so the latest possible deadline is used to confirm tuition waiver support.

How does tuition waiver support differ from a tuition remission for assistantships?

  • Tuition waivers are scholarship awards placed directly on a student account for full- or partial-tuition coverage. They are a financial credit to the student account. Students receiving tuition waivers are still directly charged tuition, but an OSU unit (if part of the tuition support request – the Graduate School) is providing funds to cover the tuition cost through a direct award.
  • Tuition remissions appear as a reversal of charges on a student account. Governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, remissions must follow the student appointment, so the employing unit must provide the funding for reversal of the tuition charges.

Fellowship Appointment Setup

Why are some fellowships paid quarterly and others paid monthly? How do I determine which payment type for my fellowship?

Institutionally-funded fellowships, including those paid through OSU Foundation accounts and/or college funds, are paid on a quarterly basis corresponding to the OSU term schedule. Funds are disbursed using the Grants Reports and Reimbursement System (GRRS), referred to as OSU Reimbursement and Scholarship System. Externally-funded fellowships with grants administered by OSU will be paid monthly. Business Affairs handles distribution of payments to students, but are distributed monthly, in advance, as a vendor payment (Student Business Account). In either case, students are paid prior to the start of term/month, as a stipend.

What is the difference between a Section II and a Section III appointment?

Section II fellowship appointments are supported by institutional funds, typically from OSU Foundation accounts, but can be partially or wholly-supported by OSU indexes dedicated to supporting fellowship stipends. Section III fellowship appointments are supported by externally-funded sources, usually assigned a grant index through OSRAA. Any alternatively-funded fellowships, while not administered in part or in full by OSU, will be listed in Section III since they are externally funded.

Why do OSRAA and Business Affairs sign off on Section III appointments?

The Office for Sponsored Research and Award Administration (OSRAA) must verify that the external award meets grant requirements, and that the award does support fellowship(s). Since the funding is coming from external funds, it will be set up on a research index with payments disbursed monthly to the current vendor address on file. Given various awards, including allowances specified in the award letter, contact Business Affairs to make sure expenditures meet requirements and are disbursed as appropriate to the fellow.

The student is on an Alternatively-Funded Fellowship. Does the award need to go through OSRAA and Business Affairs?

OSRAA and Business Affairs review depending upon the funding sources for both the stipend and tuition support.

  1. If all funding is coming from OSU funds (internal), there is no review by OSRAA and Business Affairs.
  2. If the funding is provided directly to the student for the stipend and tuition, no review is required. However, in many cases, tuition is paid via third-party billing, and Business Affairs review is highly recommended to ensure proper payment.
  3. If any portion of the stipend and/or tuition are provided through external funds administered through OSU, both OSRAA and Business Affairs are required to review these appointments.

The appointment has been set up. How do I make sure the student will receive the stipend and/or tuition waiver payments to their account?

Payment setup depends upon the source of the funding for the appointment:

  1. Provost/Diversity Advancement Fellowship – the Graduate School will handle all stipend and tuition payments.
  2. OSU Foundation Fellowship – stipend payments are setup for quarterly payment through GRRS. Access to GRRS varies by program, college, and business center, but these payments can be setup well in advance. With a Graduate School tuition waiver, the Graduate School will setup tuition support in GRRS.
  3. Training Grant/External Fellowship – stipend payments are setup for monthly payment to the vendor address/financial account on file through Business Affairs. With a Graduate School tuition waiver, the Graduate School will setup tuition support in GRRS.
  4. Paid directly to student – stipends are outside OSU purview, so schedules will vary. Since the Graduate School cannot provide tuition support for these appointments, tuition must be paid by departmental funds, through verified external funding sources paid directly to student, or directly third-party billed.

Do appointed fellows need to sign up for health insurance or is it automatic?

The Graduate Employee Health Plan through PacificSource includes coverage for medical, dental, and vision services. Graduate Fellows are required to either enroll in the PacificSource Health Plan or waive out with comparable coverage.

What is the minimum and maximum length of an appointment? Can appointments overlap OSU fiscal years?

A fellowship appointment aligns with OSU academic terms, so an appointment can be made for one individual three-month term, and the maximum length is one year. One-year appointments can overlap OSU fiscal years, as outside granting agencies may use the federal fiscal year or the actual calendar year. The same form is used for appointment renewals when a student is supported by the same funds for a period that exceeds 12 months.

How do I handle a student who is currently on an assistantship but being appointed to a fellowship, or vice versa?

If the assistantship and fellowship do not overlap appointment dates, the appointment paperwork can be filed normally. If there is an overlap on dates, the prior appointment will need to be terminated so there is no overlap with both appointment types. Students cannot be appointed on both an assistantship and a fellowship. Fellowships are viewed as the equivalent of 0.49FTE positions, but are considered a 100% appointment. In other words, a fellow on appointment cannot hold any other positions at OSU simultaneously.

What are the fellowship start and end dates? Why are start dates on the 16th of the month?

All OSU-funded appointments must coincide with the term periods, so appointments should start on the 16th of the month of the first term of appointment and end on the 15th of the month of the last term of appointment, not to exceed 12 months. Externally supported fellowships should follow the same term appointment schedule when possible, but since some fellowship award have specific dates assigned, these can be accommodated as needed to meet external grant requirements.

Am I required to appoint a graduate fellow for the entire academic year or can I make the appointment on a term-by-term basis?

The appointment should be made for the duration the student will be funded by the fellowship award, whether internal funds to OSU or external funds administered by OSU. Term-by-term appointments are when the award is subject to external award timelines varying from OSU, or when a different student will receive a particular fellowship in subsequent term(s). Some appointments will also be over summer term.

How do I find my business center?

Business center list. Appointment setup for fellowships now runs through Employee Lifecycle, a function of Human Resources. For AMBC, ASBC, and BEBC, email hovlandsc.lifecycle@oregonstate.edu. For all other business centers (AABC, FOBC, HSBC, and UABC), email uphr.banner@oregonstate.edu.

When on Fellowship

How do I know where the stipend and where the tuition waiver support are coming from and who is handling the payments?

Stipend payments depend upon the source of the funding for the appointment, and can vary for tuition as well:

  1. Provost/Diversity Advancement Fellowship – the Graduate School will handle all stipend payments, and distribution is quarterly in the week immediately preceding the start of the term. The same is true for tuition payments.
  2. OSU Foundation Fellowship – stipend payments vary by program, college, and business center, and distribution is quarterly in the week immediately preceding the start of the term. The home academic unit of the student is the best contact point if payment is delayed. The Graduate School is the contact for any tuition payment questions.
  3. Training Grant/External Fellowship – stipend payments are setup for monthly payment to the vendor address/financial account on file through Business Affairs. Stipend payments typically post prior to the last business day of the preceding month of the stipend i.e. in advance of the start of the month. The Graduate School is the best contact for any tuition payment questions.
  4. Paid directly to student – stipends are outside OSU purview, so schedules will vary. Students should verify directly with the third-party paying on behalf of the student. Tuition can be third-party billed, paid directly by the student through the award, or paid by the home academic unit/college of the student. Students should verify tuition coverage and contact the respective office.

What happens if the student goes on a Leave of Absence?

The fellowship appointment must be terminated when the position is not occupied by the student. The fellow appointment form is used for termination, and requires the same signatures as the original appointment to complete termination, e.g. Department, OSRAA, Business Affairs, Graduate School, and Human Resources.

There is 12-credit enrollment requirement while on fellowship and the waiver only covers up 12 credits. What happens if a student takes more than 12 credits in a term?

Presently, OSU has a tuition plateau in most programs between 9 credits and 16 credits, which means the tuition rate is the same if you take anywhere between 9 and 16 credits. Some programs do charge per credit and other programs have a smaller tuition increase between 9 and 16 credits. Students are held responsible for any tuition and registration charges, if any, on their student account in excess of the tuition waiver provided for 12 credits.

Does the tuition waiver also cover mandatory fees each term?

Generally speaking, mandatory fees are not covered while students are on fellowship appointment. For OSU Graduate Fellowships, the charges appear on the student account, and funds are used to cover tuition in the form of awards/scholarships. These funds have different forms of restrictions than a reversal of charges. Most students on OSU Graduate Fellowships are responsible for fees, as they are either not provided by the external granting agency or OSU funds cannot be used to cover fees. Students should refer to their letter of appointment and/or tuition scholarship letter to verify fee coverage.

What happens if a student needs to withdraw from a class while on fellowship and enrollment falls below 12 credits?

Appointed fellows are required to enroll in a minimum of 12 credits each term (fall, winter, spring) and 3 credits if also appointed in summer. Audit registrations, INTO-OSU courses, and course withdrawals do not count towards the minimum enrollment requirement. If a student withdraws from a course, the student will need to adjust the registration to meet the minimum enrollment requirement. In addition, the student will be responsible for any fees or tuition charged as a result of the enrollment change.

What happens when a student takes Ecampus courses allowable by Their program?

Programs may have specific degree requirements that either permit or do not allow Ecampus courses for requirements, but the Graduate School does not restrict Ecampus course enrollment. When the Graduate School is providing a full or partial-tuition waiver for a student on a fellowship, the 12 credits of least expense will be waived from the student’s account. In other words, students will be responsible for any charges to their account due to enrollment in more than 12cr, if applicable, and the Graduate School will waive on-campus credits prior to Ecampus credits, as on-campus courses have lower tuition rates.

How long does it take for tuition rates to update and reflect resident rates?

The fellowship appointment must be set up by the Office of Human Resources by someone handling Life Cycle requests. Once a position is in place, tuition rate codes are typically updated three times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), and then will be reflected on the student account within two more business days.

What happens to late charges and health insurance if the appointment is significantly delayed?

Award notifications, particularly when federally-funded and requiring view of notifications, can delay the fellowship appointment process. When circumstances are outside the student fellow’s control, late charges on the student account can be reversed by Business Affairs. Health insurance is mandatory for fellows unless there is a waiver in place due to comparable coverage provided by another source. As fellows are required to have health insurance, coverage will be retroactively provided based upon the start date of the appointment. International students are more adversely impacted by late appointment setup due to student visa requirements, and may end up having to pay for double coverage during the setup term.

How does a re-appointment happen when the funding source is on a different fiscal calendar than OSU?

Since some fellowship award have specific dates assigned, these can be accommodated as needed to meet external grant requirements. Appointments can start with the grant cycle and be renewed as the award paperwork is received by OSRAA permitting re-appointment. Appointments can only be made for a maximum of 12 months at a time. Academic units are responsible for initiating new appointment and re-appointments, so check with the academic unit contact on appointment setup with a new or continuing award.

I understand that there is a 3-credit enrollment requirement for Summer Session. Do all graduate students need to enroll for 3-credits over Summer Session?

Summer session enrollment in three credits is only required for students who have an appointment that overlaps summer appointment dates. The Graduate School does not provide direct tuition support for fellows with summer appointments (except Provost and Diversity Advancement), so tuition coverage must come from the external award, grant, academic unit, or paid directly by the student.