Graduate fellowships from Stanford-based funds generally are controlled by the school and administered by the department, which determines the requirements and restrictions as well as the level of support - ranging from partial tuition to full tuition and a living stipend.

This section includes:


  1. A Fellowship is an award of financial aid, providing a stipend and/or tuition support. No service is expected in return for a fellowship; it is awarded on a merit basis to assist a student in the pursuit of a degree (see "Stipend and Salary" distinctions).

  2. Because full fellowships are intended to enable students to work exclusively on their studies, concurrent hourly employment is limited to eight hours per week (a "full fellowship" is defined as one that provides support equivalent to at least the level of a 50% assistantship - see definitions). Students on full fellowships may hold a concurrent assistantship appointment up to a maximum of 25% with no additional hourly employment .

  3. During the school year (Autumn, Winter and Spring quarters), matriculated students must be enrolled in 8-10 units to receive stipend or tuition support from a fellowship. This Stanford enrollment requirement is reduced during Summer Quarter (see below). The GFS system recognizes automatic exceptions to this requirement for TGR and Honors Co-op students. Home Department approvers may authorize an exception to this requirement for students who are within 10 units of TGR status, and for students with disabilities.

  4. During Summer Quarter, students must be enrolled in at least 1 - 3 units in order to receive any fellowship support. Home Department approvers may waive this enrollment requirement for students whom they wish to support while they are away from the campus or otherwise are not enrolled.

  5. Stipend checks for matriculated Stanford graduate students are produced by the Student Financial Services Department and are sent via Direct Deposit, or if the student is not enrolled in Direct Deposit, are mailed to the student's mailing address in Axess. Grad student stipends are normally paid once each quarter, at the beginning of the quarter. Because stipends are not paid for work performed, they may be generated at any time.

  6. Non-matriculated graduate students (e.g., Visiting Student Researchers and Students of New Faculty) are not eligible to receive named Stanford fellowship awards. They may however be supported with appropriate departmental funds in the form of stipend or tuition payments made through GFS. Normally such payments are not allowable charges on sponsored projects.

  7. Graduate students receiving fellowship stipends comparable to the minimum salary for a 10% assistantship will be eligible for a Cardinal Care subsidy. In order to receive the appropriate benefit, the student must be enrolled in Cardinal Care, and information about the fellowship must be entered into GFS and approved in Workflow by the quarterly deadline. Stanford-funded stipend payments will automatically be charged a "stipend surcharge" (similar to a fringe benefit rate) to pay for this insurance benefit (see one-page summary of rates.)

Processing Fellowship Support in GFS

Fellowship tuition and stipend payments are entered in the Graduate Financial Support system (GFS) and processed by the Student Financial Services Department. Fellowship tuition support is credited against tuition charges on the student's University bill; it is not paid in cash, nor is it convertible to cash. The default for disbursement of the stipend is "standard charges," i.e., after other University charges such as room and board have been deducted, the remaining fellowship stipend is paid as a refund check to the student. If a student prefers to receive the fellowship check for the entire amount and pay the other charges with personal funds, the student must request the home department to issue the stipend as a "check only - no deductions" (use "stipend" charge priority).

Credit balances on student accounts may result from aid awards that exceed charges and/or aid awards intended to be disbursed entirely to the student (not for the payment of tuition or fee charges). Some student aid has restrictions placed on it by the donor or sponsor that preclude the aid from paying specific types of charges. Therefore, students may receive credit balance checks that include excess aid and/or stipend. Also, a student may still have unpaid charges on his/her student account that his/her aid is not eligible to pay, but still receive a credit balance check from his/her student account.

Students may review check disbursement data under the "View your Account" window. Refund checks are listed as "Refund/Stipend." Checks will be deposited or mailed on the next business day after the checks are printed.

Should a student withdraw during a quarter, the department/school determines whether a prorated amount of stipend must be repaid. To have the charges reduced, and thus be able to recapture any non-applicable tuition from the fellowship, the student should file a request for a Leave of Absence as soon as they know it will be needed.

Stanford Graduate Fellowships (SGF)

Established in 1997, the SGF program awards full fellowships to graduate students in the sciences and engineering. The fellowships are funded through gift and endowment accounts, and they are administered for the University through the office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education (VPGE).

SGF awards are allocated by a program Steering Committee each year to departments. Those departments then submit nomination forms to the SGF Program Officer. VPGE and the Financial Aid Office, distributes information each year regarding GFS data entry for awarded fellowships. This information also includes tables for students holding nationally-competitive fellowships which are supplemented by SGF funds (see below).

The Contacts page in this manual includes contact information for the SGF Program. Additional information can be found on their website (http://sgf.stanford.edu). Resources for those administering SGF Fellowships can be found at that website.

Nationally-competitive fellowships administered by Financial Aid Office (FAO)

The Financial Aid Office is responsible for administering nationally-competitive external fellowships that:

  • Are awarded cross-school (e.g., National Science Foundation and Howard Hughes)
  • Are need-based, requiring need-analysis by strict federal guidelines (e.g., Jacob Javits)
  • Require central administration

Each fellowship has its own policy guidelines: most require enrollment and matriculation, some require supplementation while others allow tuition only for the amount of a tuition shortfall, some allow part-time assistantships while others disallow any additional support or employment, and some prohibit concurrent receipt of other federal funds. With such a diversity of policy rules and regulations, department administrators are advised to contact the FAO with any questions regarding such fellowships (for example, required tuition supplementation and/or fees). The FAO can advise as to whether a specific fellowship is administered by the school, the department or the FAO.

Stanford Graduate Fellowships and certain nationally-competitive fellowships may be used to supplement one another, up to the level of an SGF award. The SGF Program Officer, jointly with the Financial Aid Office, distributes information each year regarding GFS data entry for students holding both an SGF and a nationally-competitive fellowship.

While the Financial Aid Office staff will enter and approve stipend and tuition payments made under the terms of most nationally-competitive fellowships, Departmental personnel with the appropriate GFS access will be able to see those payments in GFS. Students should also advise their School and Department of any external fellowship support they are receiving, so as to avoid conflicts with other Stanford support.

The Contacts page in this manual includes contact information for nationally-competitive fellowships administered through the Financial Aid Office.

External fellowships paid directly to students

In some cases, an external agency may award a fellowship directly to an individual, and the funding is not processed in any way through Stanford. In this case, the student is billed for tuition and fees in the same manner as other students, and pays those expenses directly. No aid is processed through the GFS system for these students.

Students with a competitive fellowship award paid directly to them are eligible for a Cardinal Care health insurance subsidy in the same way as students with financial aid processed through Stanford. Because these subsidies are triggered by financial aid entered into the GFS system, departments with such students should also enter the aid that the student has received, checking the "Information Only" box on the entry line. By doing this, the aid is recorded in GFS, but no money will flow through Stanford's systems.

Departments should keep a copy of appropriate documentation defining such fellowship awards before making an "Information Only" entry in GFS.

School/Department Fellowship Awards

Students with school or department-based fellowships are required to be enrolled for 8 - 10 units during the school year, and for 1-3 units during Summer Quarter. Exceptions, for example, for summer travel awards, may be allowed by a Home Department Approver. Although it is rare for a nonmatriculated (i.e., not degree-seeking) graduate student to receive support, departments decide whether or not to use their own funds to support nonmatriculated students, for example, to pay the  VSR Fee for Visiting Student Researchers (see 10.7 Procedures for Appointing Visiting Student Researchers, Research Policy Handbook).

Other Uses of Stipends in GFS

Departments may use stipend payments from appropriate sources of funds to provide the following types of financial support for graduate students. In most cases, these types of payments are NOT allowable charges on sponsored projects.

  • Health insurance payments:

    Since the establishment of the Cardinal Care subsidy in 2002, the "standard charges" stipend disbursement no longer pays the student's insurance premiums. Stanford University will subsidize up to half of the quarterly insurance premium for qualified graduate students (see Vaden website for eligibility rules). Departments may pay the BALANCE of a student's health insurance with a separate stipend payment in GFS, identified with a "HLTHONLY" charge priority. Such payments are applied as a credit on the student's bill to offset the cost of health insurance only, and no "stipend surcharge" is applied to "HLTHONLY" stipend payments. Student paying for any portion of their health insurance themselves will need to do so directly with the Student Financial Services office.

  • Campus Health Service Fee:

    This fee was established in 2009-10. The fee is mandatory for all graduate students enrolled on the Stanford campus, including Visiting Student Researchers and students who participate in high school summer programs that result in course credit at Stanford. Departments wishing to pay all or part of this fee may enter a stipend payment using the charge priority of "HLTHSRVC." Stipends using the "STD_CHRG" charge priority will also pay this fee as part of the student's university bill. See Vaden information on the web.

  • Travel Reimbursement:

    Travel expenses associated with degree-related educational activity, including attendance at program-related conferences (whether speaking/presenting or participating as an attendee), visits to field sites or labs, research collaborations, etc. are reimbursable as "university business" through the Travel and Reimbursement office. See Travel Expenses, Administrative 5.4.2, Section 11 on "Student Travel and Tax Issues" at https://adminguide.stanford.edu/chapter-5/subchapter-4/policy-5-4-2.

    The Controller's Office has also included a page specifically about the reimbursement of student travel expenses, when the travel is for an educational purpose, at http://fingate.stanford.edu/students/ (click on "When Students Travel for Stanford"). Travel reimbursement for a student requires a justification (Certification For Student Travel http://fingate.stanford.edu/docs/certification_student_travel.pdf ) from the faculty advisor.

    Travel reimbursements for degree-related activities will generally not be tax-reportable income.

    Note that it is possible for a student or postdoc to get a travel advance for their expenses, in the same way that a staff member can, using the iOU system. Also, departments which have a Department Travel Card can purchase airline tickets for students and postdocs. Travelers can get an advance of up to the full daily per diem (meals and lodging) amount for their trip. This is all accomplished through Travel and Reimbursement and the iOU system, not GFS.

  • Payments to offset other educational expenses of students:

    Payments to help a grad student or postdoc pay education-related expenses, other than travel expenses (see above), will normally be considered to be student support, and not a university business expense. As such, these kinds of payments should be processed as a stipend in GFS with a "stipend" charge priority. This includes money to buy books or other materials that the student will use and keep. When money is being awarded in advance to pay research-related expenses, including anticipated travel, the funds are provided as a stipend. As student support, these payments are tax-reportable. The student may be able to deduct their education-related expenses on their taxes (and should save their receipts for this purpose). These payments will be subject to the "stipend surcharge" to fund the Cardinal Care insurance subsidy.

    If a student is being reimbursed for materials purchased for the department (where the materials will belong to Stanford, and not to the student), the expense should be reimbursed as university business through the Travel and Reimbursement office, and not by means of a stipend payment in GFS.

  • Awards and Honoraria-type payments:

    A stipend payment with a "stipend" charge priority may be used to generate a payment for a student as a way of recognizing special accomplishments or assistance provided by the student. As with all stipend payments, these are considered taxable income and will be mailed to the student's mailing address in Axess. If Stanford funds are used, a "stipend surcharge" will be applied.

Updated on June 2, 2015 3:16 PM