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Definition of a Graduate Fellow

Graduate Fellowships are a specific appointment type at Oregon State University that meet all of the following requirements:

  1. Be admitted as a graduate degree-seeking student at Oregon State University;
  2. Be currently enrolled full-time at Oregon State University, completing a minimum of 9 credits per term during the academic year (12 credits if receiving tuition support from any of the Graduate School’s tuition waiver support programs); 3 credits during summer session;
  3. Be awarded a graduate fellowship and/or traineeship that can be independently and transparently identified;
  4. Be awarded a graduate fellowship and/or traineeship with a stipend that is administered in part or in full by Oregon State University, and 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;
  5. Be awarded a graduate fellowship and/or traineeship that provides funding for the cost of the minimum required tuition enrollment (either independently or in combination with any of the Graduate School’s tuition waiver support programs); and
  6. Be funded by a single source of funds, and either:
    • 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; or
    • Be sponsored, such as through the OSU Foundation or other authorized funds designated by the Provost for strategic purposes, with a fund dedicated to providing stipends to graduate fellowships.

How to Offer and Set Up a Graduate Fellow Appointment

If all eligibility criteria as outlined in the above guidelines are met, the student may be formally appointed as a Graduate Fellow through the Office of Human Resources under a non-service, non-payroll appointment classification in Banner (C97XXX). The purpose of this appointment procedure is to identify in a common database all graduate fellows who are eligible for health insurance coverage and are allowed access to travel insurance, as well as to ensure that all requirements for the appointment are understood and completed.

Appointment as a Graduate Fellow originates with, and is administered by, the principal investigator for fellows supported under training grant awards (e.g., NSF IGERT; GK-12; NIEHS; USDA; NNF), the Graduate School for those supported by the NSF Graduate Research Fellow Program (GRFP) and other Graduate School-administered fellowship programs, 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 as listed above must complete the required paperwork for the Graduate Fellow appointment. Before beginning the paperwork process or providing the offer letter to the student, the responsible group should first confirm that all requirements are met for the Graduate Fellow appointment (see Graduate Fellow Defined above). Following this confirmation, the standard Graduate Fellow letter of offer should be given to the appointee. When signed by all parties, the letter of appointment offer letter 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 before entry into Banner.

Detailed instructions, including the OSCAR appointment form and contact information may be found on the central administrative OSCAR website. Questions about the Graduate Fellow appointment process should be forwarded to [email protected].

In 2018, OSU developed a program to appoint Alternatively-Funded Graduate Fellowships, whereby external fellowships that do not meet all of the Graduate Fellow definition requirements above may be granted Graduate Fellow status. In order to meet appointment requirements, the department of the graduate student must use internal resources to meet missing fellowship requirements. Learn more about the Alternatively-Funded Graduate Fellowship Program.

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

Health insurance is mandatory for Graduate Fellows. Graduate Fellows will automatically be enrolled in fellow-only health insurance. Graduate Fellows need to submit a health insurance enrollment form to add dependent/spouse/domestic partner coverage within the first 30 days of the Graduate Fellowship start date. They may waive University-provided health insurance only if they have group coverage that is equal or superior to the university plan (medical, vision, and dental). Graduate Fellows, by signing the fellowship letter of offer, authorize the University to post a monthly health premium charge to their student account for the level of coverage for which they have enrolled. For additional information visit the graduate insurance plan website, call 541-737-7568, or send an email to [email protected].

There is no provision for insurance during periods when the fellowship is inactive. However, COBRA benefits may be extended to those whose appointments have ended.

Administration of Fellowship Stipends

Graduate fellowship stipends administered by Oregon State University from funds supported by external sources, both federal and private, will have stipend indexes set up by the Office for Sponsored Research and Award Administration (OSRAA) and paid through the Office of Business Affairs through OSU Accounts Payable under a schedule and at a level determined by the fellowship sponsor and/or principal investigator.

Graduate Fellows 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, Graduate Fellows must be enrolled for a minimum of 9 credits each term of their appointment period during the academic year (12 credits if receiving tuition support funding from the Graduate School’s tuition support funding), and a minimum of 3 credits during the summer session to justify continuation of stipend payments.

Oregon State does not withhold taxes from fellowship stipend payments made to US citizens and US permanent residents. However, these stipend payments are subject to 1099 and/or 1098T reporting as they are income to the recipient. Therefore, graduate fellows who are US citizens and US permanent residents 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 noncitizens, unless there is a treaty exemption in place.

Please contact the Office of Business Affairs with any questions about OSU tax reporting for fellowship payments.

Oregon State staff members cannot provide tax information or guidance to students. Students are encouraged to contact the Internal Revenue Service at http://www.irs.gov/ or consult a tax professional.

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. Fellowships, while a .49FTE expected time commitment, are considered as a 100% appointment at OSU. Therefore, graduate fellows should not expect to work or receive compensation in any additional capacity at OSU while on appointment.

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.

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 the Office of Human Resources, [email protected], 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 website.

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 Graduate Tuition Waiver 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 Graduate Tuition Waiver 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.

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.

  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 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.

Financial support offers — CGS April 15 Resolution

Oregon State University is a participant in the Council of Graduate School's Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees, and Assistants. We seek your assistance in complying with its terms. Please read the Resolution carefully so that all parties understand the expectations implicit in agreements for financial support. In brief, the resolution states "students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15; earlier deadlines for acceptance of such offers violate the intent of this Resolution." The Resolution also states "...acceptance given or left in force after April 15 commits the student not to accept another offer without first obtaining a written release from the institution to which a commitment has been made."