Graduate Student Support Competition (GSSC) Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions related to the Graduate Student Support Competition.

Graduate Student Support Competition (GSSC)


The Graduate School Support Competition (GSSC) is an annual exercise conducted by the Graduate School and graduate programs. The Graduate School uses this exercise to allot WARF and Chancellor’s funds to graduate programs to enhance recruitment, retention, and student services.

Each Fall semester, graduate programs complete the GSSC application on SurveyMonkey Apply to request GSSC funding for the upcoming fiscal year. The GSSC exercise is currently suspended in response to COVID-19. Programs can anticipate similar allotments in Fiscal Year 2022 as they received in Fiscal Year 2021. GSSC applications are reviewed by a committee that makes a final determination on GSSC allocations. After a decision is made, the Graduate School will email an official allocation letter to the program.

All allocated funds are expected to be used within the fiscal year. Remaining funds will be recovered by the Graduate School for future reallocation. Allocated funds may only be spent on PhD, DMA, or MFA-bound students.

Types of funding and how they can be used

Fellowships: Programs may request either funding for fellowships or a dollar allotment for student support. Fellowship allotments may only be used to pay for fellowships. Fellowships come in different durations: summer term, one semester, academic year (9 months), annual (12 months), or two year (one academic year prior to attaining dissertator status, one academic year after attaining dissertator status). Fellowship allotments pay for: a monthly stipend at the Graduate School fellowship rate, fringe benefits, tuition, and segregated fees. Fellowship allotments should not be used to pay other fees (e.g. international fees and office document fees. Programs are responsible for administering any fellowships allotted by the GSSC other than the second year of a 2-year fellowship. As fellowships pay for students’ tuition and segregated fees, fellowships for dissertators have a lower financial value than fellowships for non-dissertators. Dissertator fellowships should not be added to payroll until the student attains dissertator status. Overspending the GSSC fellowship funds may result in the deduction of their fellowship funds for the following year.  

Student Support Dollar Allotment: Programs may request either a dollar allotment for student support or funding for fellowships. Dollar allotments may be used for: prospective student recruitment, lab rotation stipends, student travel for research, student participation in conferences or professional development activities, fellowships at Graduate School fellowship rate, enhancement of RA stipends for incoming students (WARF funds for student support cannot be used to enhance TA or PA stipends), welcome checks, and/or application fees.

Graduate Student Support Allocation (GSSA): GSSA funds are supplemental funds and can be used for: prospective student recruitment, student travel for research or conferences, enhancement of RA stipends (WARF funds for student support cannot be used to enhance TA or PA stipends), welcome checks, and/or application fees. Due to COVID 19, we understand that the recruitment costs might differ drastically from previous years. For this reason, we will allow programs to use your GSSA allocation for fellowships in FY 21.

AOF Recruitment Funds: AOF recruitment funds may only be used on recruitment activities for prospective students eligible for the Advanced Opportunity Fellowship, such as recruitment visits, food, marketing materials, facility rental, and application fees. The program can spend these funds on any AOF-eligible prospective student even if that individual is not being considered for an AOF fellowship. 


GSSC Sections

Recruiting and Admissions Practices: In this section, programs provide key information on their recruitment strategy, admissions procedures, admissions demographics, and changes from previous years.

Retention Practices: In this section, programs provide key information on advisor-student ratios, mentorship practices, PhD/DMA/MFA completion data, time to degree, professional development initiatives, and program climate.

Funding Profile: In this section, programs provide key information on the funding packages provided to PhD/DMA/MFA-bound students in their first 4 years.

Budget Information: In this section, programs request line item budgets for the 4 funding types listed above and justification for the request.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is different for FY22?

A: In response to COVID-19, the Graduate School will not require programs to submit a GSSC application for FY22. Contingent on funding, we plan to keep allotments the same or similar as in FY21. Instead of a GSSC application, however, we are asking all programs who participate in the GSSC to complete a self-reflection survey on their practices regarding diversity, inclusion, and funding. This survey will not be used to determine allocations. We strongly urge you to be honest and critical in this self-assessment to celebrate your successes and to identify areas of improvement to incorporate into strategic planning.

Q: Can we use the funds to pay for the visit of a prospective student's guest(s)?

A: No. Funds should be spent directly on recruitment activities for prospective students, not on any guests.

Q: Are programs that only offer master’s degrees eligible to receive GSSC funding?

A: Terminal master’s programs can receive GSSA and AOF recruitment funds but not fellowships or a student support dollar allotment. We make an exception for terminal master’s programs that have a formal bridge established to a PhD program. Students entering the bridge program are considered to be PhD-bound and master’s programs can apply for GSSC funds to support them. Other terminal master’s programs only need to complete the funding budget worksheet, not the entire application.

Q: Are GRS (AOF) Fellowships distributed through the GSSC?

A: No, GRS fellowships are distributed through GRS communities.

Q: What is the difference between a Keeper Fellowship and an Offer Fellowship?

A: Keeper fellowships can be offered to another candidate if the first candidate to receive the fellowship offer does not accept. Offer fellowships are one-time offers to use in recruitment but cannot be offered to another candidate if the student doesn’t accept. The Graduate School uses the program’s average three-year acceptance rate to determine how many one-time offers a program can receive when converting a keeper fellowship to offer fellowships. Due to COVID-19, however, the conversation rate may differ this year.

Q: Fellowship stipend rate

A: All fellowships in the fellowship budget worksheet are calculated at the Graduate School’s supported fellowship rate. Graduate School-supported fellowships cannot be provided at a lower stipend rate. If relevant, programs can always offer a fellowship at a higher stipend rate.

Q: What is a two-year fellowship?

A: Two-year fellowships are a tool programs can use in recruitment. They provide one academic year of fellowship before the student attains dissertator status (usually their first year in the program) and one academic year of fellowship after they attain dissertator status. The Graduate School values these fellowships at the same rate as one academic year nondissertator fellowship plus one academic year dissertator fellowship. 


Q: Can my program convert our fellowship allocations, e.g. from 1 academic year to 2 semester fellowships?

A: Any request to convert fellowships must be approved by the Graduate School. To request a fellowship conversion, please complete this budget template and upload it to the conversion request form on SurveyMonkey Apply.

For any other questions you may have about the GSSC, please contact the Graduate School's Fellowship Officer, Nathaniel Haack, at or 608-265-5522.

Keywords:GSSC, Graduate Student Funding, Funding Competition, Fellowships, allocations, funding   Doc ID:87254
Owner:Nathaniel H.Group:Graduate School
Created:2018-10-26 12:49 CDTUpdated:2021-05-03 10:53 CDT
Sites:Graduate School
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