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Fellowship Administration Guide

Summary of Fellowship Administration

This page is intended to be a comprehensive guide to the process of administering a graduate fellowship to a student enrolled in a PhD or Master’s degree program and studying on campus at UW-Madison. Certain processes and policies described below will apply in most, but not all, cases where students are based outside of the state of Wisconsin or the United States. 

Please let us know if anything below can be improved! Email us at funding@grad.wisc.edu or click on the Comment button at the bottom of this page to let us know what needs to be changed.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
  1. Is It a Fellowship?
  1. Internal vs. External Funding
  1. Who Administers the Fellowship?
  1. Components of a Fellowship
  1. Setting Up Internal Fellowships
  1. Setting Up External Fellowships

Is It a Fellowship? 

There are numerous types of funding that a graduate student may receive over the course of their academic career. Three of these – graduate assistantships, traineeships, and fellowships – usually fund one or more semesters of study, covering or providing remission of tuition and/or fees and paying the student a salary or stipend. It can therefore be difficult to determine which type of funding you are trying to administer.

Whenever you encounter a new source of funding, you should first fill out the Non-Service Job Aid form to determine the correct category.

Graduate students may receive funding from more than one source at the same time. However, there are restrictions on the maximum compensation that a student may receive from all university sources in the course of a year. Please consult maximum appointment rules and the departmental stipend rates before proceeding with a concurrent appointment.

Graduate assistantships – categorized as Research Assistantships (RAs), Teaching Assistantships (TAs), Program Assistantships (PAs) – are positions that pay students to work for the department that employs them. Traineeships are quite similar to fellowships, but because they are funded by federal training grants to the university rather than individual students, they carry different administrative processes and reporting requirements.

Fellowships, by contrast, are awards to individual students to support their own studies. They do not have to be paid back, and generally involve no work obligations aside from their scholarly work.

If still in doubt as to what type of funding you are dealing with, please contact the Graduate School at funding@grad.wisc.edu.

Internal vs. External Funding

Funds for a single fellowship may come from one or more sources. We define internal funding as those pools of money that are controlled directly by departments at UW-Madison, or allocated to those departments by entities like the Graduate School (e.g., the Graduate Research Scholars (GRS) and Graduate Student Support Competition (GSSC) allocations).

The processes for administration of internal and external fellowships are described in detail below. They are largely similar, but fellowships provided by external parties require additional setup by the Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) division.

External fellowships are funded by organizations outside UW-Madison and impose conditions on the use of their funds and reporting requirements beyond what is required by UW-Madison. (Some examples of external funders are US and foreign government agencies, private foundations, and corporate sponsors.) The fellowship administrator, department graduate coordinator, and recipient should meet prior to the beginning of the fellowship’s term to review the requirements set by the funder. Questions about those requirements should generally be directed to the funder, but the Graduate School (funding@grad.wisc.edu) may be able to assist if there are potential conflicts between funder rules and UW-Madison procedures.

Who Administers the Fellowship?

The Graduate School administers the following graduate fellowships directly:

External Fellowships

Internal Fellowships

  • Kemper Knapp University Fellowship 
  • Straka Fellowship 
  • Dickie Fellowship

Academic departments should plan to administer any fellowships paid from funding strings under their control, external fellowships supplemented with departmental funds, external fellowships supplemented by the Graduate School (except those listed above), fellowships funded by their annual GSSC allocation, and 2nd Year University Fellowships. 

The Graduate Research Scholars (GRS) communities on campus have various approaches in administering Advanced Opportunity Fellowships (AOFs), which are funded from separate allocations from the Graduate School. Please consult specific school/college GRS programs for additional  information. 

Certain fellowships for international study by graduate students are administered by the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS), including the Fulbright-Hays, Fulbright U.S. Student, and Boren Fellowships. Applicants and recipients of these awards should work closely with IRIS to ensure that their enrollment and benefits are handled correctly during their time abroad.

*The administering department is responsible for the award setup and management of stipend and tuition payments. For fellowships administered by the Graduate School, the Graduate School will payroll the fellowship recipient and process their tuition payments during the fellowship period.

Components of a Fellowship

There are several components of a fellowship that need to be considered when setting up and administering the award:

Stipend: This is money paid to the student – effectively a salary they receive in order to pursue their studies. Typically, fellowship stipends are paid according to the University of Wisconsin’s biweekly payroll calendar and processes.

In rare cases when necessary, stipend payments may be made as a lump sum at the beginning of each semester. Please contact the Graduate School (funding@grad.wisc.edu) if a student’s travel or ability to access a bank requires an exception to the normal payroll process.

Stipend amounts for internal fellowships should match the amounts set annually by the Graduate School.

          Graduate School fellowship stipends for 2024-25 are:

                 Academic year: $26,506
                 Semester: $13,253
                 Annual: $32,396
                 Summer: $8,835

  • Fringe: This is an amount automatically charged against the total stipend of a fellowship. Fringe rates are updated each June and posted on the RSP fringe rates page. Fellowships must be charged fringe to confer eligibility for non-WRS employee benefits, including health insurance.

Therefore, if an external fellowship is not administered by UW-Madison, a student is not able to receive these benefits as a fellow. (Other appointments may still confer these benefits.) The Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP) remains an option for all enrolled students, whether or not they currently hold a fellowship, traineeship, or assistantship.

  • Tuition: Fellowships typically cover all of a student’s tuition for the duration of the award, though there will be exceptions when funders set limits on the amount of tuition, number of credits, or type of credit (e.g., dissertator vs. non-dissertator) that they will pay. Tuition rates are updated each summer and posted to the Bursar’s tuition rates page.

At UW-Madison, there are three parts to graduate tuition and fees (Figure 1): 1) resident tuition that is charged to all enrolled graduate students, 2) non-resident tuition that is an additional charge to enrolled students who are not WI residents, and 3) segregated fees. Although the term “tuition remission” is used for graduate assistants and fellows alike, tuition remission for graduate assistants (those with appointments of 33% or higher) indicates remission of the resident and non-resident portions of tuition. Graduate assistants are responsible for paying the segregated fees themselves. Tuition remission for fellows is quite different. Fellows receive remission only of the non-resident portion of tuition. The resident tuition and segregated fees are not remitted (waived) for fellows, but paid by the funding source.

Two separate documents must be submitted to the Bursar in order to process tuition remission for fellows properly:

    1. The tuition remission form will reduce a fellow’s tuition to the in-state rate if they are charged non-resident tuition. There is no surcharge for remission of a fellow’s non-resident tuition. The Division of Business Services maintains a page explaining the rules and processes for tuition remission. The tuition remission form must be submitted at the start of each fall and spring term covered by the fellowship. 

      If a student has a concurrent RA, TA, or PA appointment that fully overlaps the fellowship, then the assistantship will provide full tuition remission and pay a surcharge. While the Bursar can deconflict multiple remission requests if necessary, you do not need to file a fellowship remission request if you know the student will have concurrent remission from an assistantship or traineeship.
    2. The third-party authorization (TPA) form instructs the Bursar to invoice your department for a fellow’s tuition and/or fees. There are a number of options tuition and fees that you may select, but most fellowships will pay Resident/MN Tuition (which applies to all fellows due to tuition remission) or Resident/MN Tuition & Seg Fees. Most internal fellowships will cover segregated fees; some but not all external fellowships will cover segregated fees. Check with program administrators if you have questions about allowable costs.
  • Segregated Fees: These miscellaneous fees are charged to all students for shared services, activities, programs, and facilities that support the mission of the University of Wisconsin System. Many fellowships do not cover these fees. Please check the award letter of the individual fellowship, or the allocation letter for the funds from which it is paid, to determine whether it covers segregated fees. The TPA form you submit to the Bursar should indicate whether or not segregated fees should be charged by the department administering the fellowship. If not, they will be charged to the student. Segregated fee rates are updated each summer and posted to the Bursar’s tuition rates page.

Setting Up Internal Fellowships

The guide below is a brief, step-by-step explanation of how to begin the administration of a graduate fellowship at UW-Madison. The process described below is for fellowships paid for entirely from funds controlled by the administrating department, hereafter “internal fellowships.” The section following this one explains the process for administering fellowships drawing on funds provided by external funders (“external fellowships”). Both processes are fairly similar, but external fellowships can be a bit more complicated.

Offering Funding – During the Admissions Process

As you are reviewing student applications for admission and deciding how to employ various sources of funding administered by your department, you should provide students to whom you are making offers with an offer letter detailing the amount, period, and rules of the fellowship. Here is a template offer letter designed for GSSC-funded awards. You may adapt this as necessary based on departmental policies.

University Housing priority: Students receiving AOF or GSSC-funded fellowships can be added to the Graduate School housing priority list. Please note that this does not guarantee the student will receive housing through University Housing as it is based on housing availability. Administrators of AOF or GSSC-funded fellowships should ask incoming fellows whether they plan to live in university housing and send a list of incoming students requesting priority housing to funding@grad.wisc.edu in late April or early May of each year. Please include the name, CampusID, and email address for each student.

Review Fellowship Information – 3 Months Before Start of Term

Before you begin administration of the fellowship, you will need to collect all of the necessary information to process the paperwork:

  • Student Information: Who is going to receive this fellowship? You will need their first and last name, CampusID, email, and (if available) HRS EmplID. 
  • Pay Basis: Is this fellowship meant to be paid out over the course of an academic year or semester (C-basis) or the full annual cycle (A-basis)?
  • Period: The period of an A-basis fellowship will nearly always be from September 1 of one year to August 31 of the following year for a fall start, or January 1 through December 31 for a spring start. Rarely, summer-start A-basis fellowships will run from June 1 through May 31. A C-basis fellowship running for a full academic year or a single semester will, in most years, start on a date a bit before the first of the month in order to match the biweekly pay calendar. Please consult with your department’s HR specialist or the payroll toolkit to determine the correct start and end dates for a C-basis appointment.
  • Funding String: What will be the source of the funding for the fellowship? Most of the forms you will need to submit will ask for three components:
    • Fund: a 3-digit number that indicates the source of the funds
    • Department (aka UDDS): a 6-digit number that indicates the department administering the fellowship
    • Project: a 7-character alphanumeric string that is distinct for each fellowship and (often) each year

Bursar invoices for tuition and fees will also ask for Program code – typically 9 for financial aid such as scholarships – and an Account code – 5713 for degree-seeking students.

More information on funding strings can be found here. Your department’s accountants and administrators will be able to help you research these numbers. Don’t guess! Correcting funding strings later can be quite difficult

  • Covered Expenses: The fellowship will almost certainly cover tuition at or above the university rate, and (with a few exceptions) fringe at the university rate. Does the fellowship also cover segregated fees? Check the award letter of the individual fellowship, or the allocation letter for the funds from which it is paid.

Confirm Student Appointments – 2 Months Before Start of Term

Check with the students receiving fellowships to make sure that they intend to maintain the level of enrollment required by the fellowship.

You should also ask them whether they intend to take on any additional university jobs or appointments during the period of the fellowship. If they intend to do so, please consult maximum appointment rules and the departmental stipend rates before proceeding with a concurrent appointment.

Process the Fellowship Paperwork - 1 to 2 Months Before Start of Term

In order to start on-time payment of a fellowship, the administrating department will need to complete all of the processes below:

  • Set Up the Appointment in JEMS: To start payroll of the stipend, which is usually disbursed as a biweekly salary of the period of the fellowship, you will need to work with an HR specialist to set up the appointment in the Job and Employee Management System (JEMS). This will create an entry in the Human Resources System (HRS) and, if the student does not already have one, an HRS Employee ID (often abbreviated EmplID). 
  • Request Tuition Remission: The tuition remission form will reduce a fellow’s tuition to the in-state rate if they are charged non-resident tuition. There is no surcharge for remission of a fellow’s non-resident tuition. The Division of Business Services maintains a page explaining the rules and processes for tuition remission. If you know that the student has a concurrent RA, TA, or PA appointment of at least 33% that overlaps the fellowship, then you do not need to file a separate tuition remission request for the fellowship. 
  • File Third-Party Authorization: The third-party authorization (TPA) form instructs the Bursar to invoice your department for a fellow’s tuition and/or fees. The tuition charges should be at the in-state rate if the student has received tuition remission from their fellowship; they should be $0 if the student has received full tuition remission from a 33% or greater concurrent RA, TA, or PA appointment.
  • Distribute Award Letters: Each student should receive an award letter confirming the amount, period, and rules of the fellowship. Here is a template confirmation letter designed for GSSC-funded awards. You may adapt this as necessary based on departmental policies. These can be customized manually or by using the mail merge function in Microsoft Word – just be careful to review the individual letters for accuracy before distributing them!

Paying Invoices – Mid-Semester, Each Semester

One or two months into the semester, the Bursar’s office will begin sending invoices for tuition and fees to departments who filed TPA forms. The first tabs of these invoices will list the names, CampusIDs, and account balances for the students listed on your TPAs. On the second tab, you will need list the applicable funding string for each award, and the amount from the total on the first tab that should be charged to that funding string.

The Bursar’s emails with the invoices will include additional instructions. If you have questions about the process or content of these invoices, please contact thirdparty@bussvc.wisc.edu or 608-262-3612.

Mid-Fellowship Paperwork – 1 to 2 Months Before Start of Each Semester

Although much of the paperwork described above will only need to be filled out once, the tuition remission and TPA forms will need to filed again for fellowships that last more than one semester:

  • Tuition remission forms need to be filed for the fall and spring semesters. If a fellowship from the spring continues into the summer term, tuition remission will carry over automatically. However, if the fellowship starts in the summer, you will need to submit a tuition remission form for the summer term.

  • TPA forms need to be filed at the beginning of every covered term – fall, spring, and summer.

Setting Up External Fellowships

The administration of fellowships from external funders is a bit more complicated than, but otherwise similar to, the process for internal fellowships. The guide below repeats some of the guidance listed above for Internal Fellowships, but with important changes. Please review the steps below if you are dealing with funding from an external source.

Award Acceptance & Review – ASAP Following Confirmation of Award

As soon as you learn that a student has been accepted for an external fellowship, you should ask for a copy of the proposal submitted by the student, the award letter and fellowships terms and conditions. Some external fellowships will require that funds be administered by the student’s university; others will not, and the student may choose whether or not they want the university to administer these funds. Funds will need to be administered by UW-Madison and be charged fringe to confer eligibility for non-WRS employee benefits, including health insurance.

Please review the terms and conditions of the award. Important questions to consider include:

  • Are the funds itemized or restricted to certain purposes? Many fellowships will specify how much money is dedicated to stipend (i.e. paid to the student for living expenses). Some will include other lines that may be paid to the university to cover costs such as tuition or health insurance (i.e. fringe).

Some fellowship terms require that the university “waive” a student’s tuition. That is technically not possible at UW-Madison, so you will want to confirm with the funder if it is acceptable for a department of the university to pay those expenses. Please emphasize that such funds will not be deducted from the student’s fellowship award.

  • Is the period of the award specific or flexible? The award letter may specify beginning and ending dates for the fellowship, or it may simply say that it is for the coming academic year. In either case, you may need to follow up with the funder to see if the fellowship can be administered according to UW-Madison’s usual calendar. The university can administer fellowships that do not follow the regular calendar, but would prefer to pay them on the same cycle as internal fellowships if the funder allows.

According to normal payroll procedure at UW-Madison, annual (A-basis) fellowships will nearly always run from September 1 to August 31 of the following year for a fall start, or January 1 through December 31 for a spring start. Academic-year (C-basis) fellowships running for a full academic year or a single semester will, in most years, start on a date a bit before the first of the month in order to match the biweekly pay calendar

  • Do the terms of the fellowship restrict other activities? Fellowship terms and conditions can vary widely. The student and their advisors should be aware of any restrictions that they place on other activities that would normally be permitted for UW-Madison graduate students. These include, but are not limited to, maximum or minimum enrollment limits, travel requirements or restrictions, and prohibitions on concurrent fellowships or other appointments.

Set Up Fellowship Administration – 3 Months Before Start of Term

Assuming the student wishes the fellowship to be administered by UW-Madison in order to qualify for health insurance and other benefits or receive supplemental funding, you will need to decide whether the fellowship will be administered by the student’s department or the Graduate School.

  • Departmental Administration: If the fellowship is sufficient and allowed to cover all of the student’s stipend, fringe, and tuition for the term of the award, your department should administer it directly in cooperation with the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP). Also, if the fellowship does not cover all of the student’s expenses but your department has sufficient supplemental funds to cover those expenses, you should administer it directly. Your department may decide whether or not to cover a student’s segregated fees. Please work with your departmental research administrator to set up the fellowship through WISPER.
  • Graduate School Administration: The Graduate School may also provide supplementation of the student’s stipend, fringe, and/or tuition if the external fellowship does not cover those costs. (Stipends will only be supplemented to the standard university amount, listed above). External Fellowships supplemented by the Graduate School, except those listed above, should be administered by student's academic program. Graduate School-supplemented fellowships fall into two categories:
    1. Automatically Approved: Certain prestigious fellowships, including the NSF GRFP, Spencer Dissertation Fellowship, and National GEM Consortium Fellowship, are always approved for supplementation. See the full list of approved fellowships here. The Graduate School will provide funds necessary to raise the stipend to the university amount and cover fringe, tuition, and/or segregated fees not covered by the fellowships. The Graduate School needs to be informed of these fellowships in order to provide this supplementation. Please forward a copy of the proposals, award letters, and terms and conditions to funding@grad.wisc.edu.
    2. Case-by-Case Approval: Fellowships not on the automatic approval list will need to be approved for supplementation. Departments may request Graduate School supplementation using the External Agency Fellowship Supplementation Request form. Graduate School supplementation is much more likely to be approved if the department and school/college also provides funding to support the student. Please note that the Graduate School will not cover segregated fees for these case-by-case supplementation requests.

If your department elects to administer the fellowship, you will need to contact the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP). Your departmental research administrator can assist with this. RSP will review the award letter and terms and conditions and create a funding string to used to pay the student’s stipend, fringe, tuition, and fees.

Confirm Student Appointments – 2 Months Before Start of Term

Check with the students receiving fellowships to make sure that they intend to maintain the level of enrollment required by the fellowship.

You should also ask them whether they intend to take on any additional university jobs or appointments during the period of the fellowship. If they intend to do so, please consult the award’s terms and conditions, as well as UW-Madison’s maximum appointment rules and the departmental stipend rates, before proceeding with a concurrent appointment.

Process the Fellowship Paperwork - 1 to 2 Months Before Start of Term

In order to start on-time payment of a fellowship, the administrating department will need to complete all of the processes below:

  • Set Up the Appointment in JEMS: To start payroll of the stipend, which is usually disbursed as a biweekly salary of the period of the fellowship, you will need to work with an HR specialist to set up the appointment in the Job and Employee Management System (JEMS). This will create an entry in the Human Resources System (HRS) and, if the student does not already have one, an HRS Employee ID (often abbreviated EmplID).
  • Request Tuition Remission: The tuition remission form will reduce a fellow’s tuition to the in-state rate if they are charged non-resident tuition. There is no surcharge for remission of a fellow’s non-resident tuition. The Division of Business Services maintains a page explaining the rules and processes for tuition remission. If you know that the student has a concurrent RA, TA, or PA appointment of at least 33% that overlaps the fellowship, then you do not need to file a separate tuition remission request for the fellowship.
  • File Third-Party Authorization: The third-party authorization (TPA) form instructs the Bursar to invoice your department for a fellow’s tuition and/or fees. The tuition charges should be at the in-state rate if the student has received tuition remission from their fellowship; they should be $0 if the student has received full tuition remission from a 33% or greater concurrent RA, TA, or PA appointment.

Paying Invoices – Mid-Semester, Each Semester

One or two months into the semester, the Bursar’s office will begin sending invoices for tuition and fees to departments who filed TPA forms. The first tabs of these invoices will list the names, CampusIDs, and account balances for the students listed on your TPAs. On the second tab, you will need list the applicable funding string for each award, and the amount from the total on the first tab that should be charged to that funding string.

External fellowship funding strings will typically be paid from the 133 or 144 Fund code. Invoices that include 133 or 144 funds will first need to be reviewed by RSP at 3rdparty@rsp.wisc.edu.

The Bursar’s emails with the invoices will include additional instructions. If you have questions about the process or content of these invoices, please contact thirdparty@bussvc.wisc.edu or 608-262-3612.

Mid-Fellowship Paperwork – 1 to 2 Months Before Start of Each Semester

Although much of the paperwork described above will only need to be filled out once, the tuition remission and TPA forms will need to filed again for fellowships that last more than one semester:

  • Tuition remission forms need to be filed for the fall and spring semesters. If a fellowship from the spring continues into the summer term, tuition remission will carry over automatically. However, if the fellowship starts in the summer, you will need to submit a tuition remission form for the summer term.

  • TPA forms need to be filed at the beginning of every covered term – fall, spring, and summer.

Award Renewal or Closeout – End of Academic Year

Some external fellowships will cover more than one year. In the case of external fellowships that are supplemented by the Graduate School, you will need to confirm continuation of automatically supplemented fellowships and submit a new request for supplementation for subsequent years. The Graduate School will not agree to multi-year supplementation of any fellowships. Please contact the Graduate School at funding@grad.wisc.edu in late spring or early summer to review supplementation plans for the coming academic year.

When an external fellowship ends, RSP will contact the administrating department with a final accounting of charges to the funding string they created for it. At closeout, RSP will resolve charges to the funding string that should go to the academic department or Graduate School. If the charges to the project match what was expected, you may close out the fellowship.

Please confirm with the student that they have submitted any required end-of-fellowship reports to the funder.



Keywordsfellowship, fellowships, FY21, internal fellows, fellows, fellow, fellowship process   Doc ID99717
OwnerAbbey T.GroupGraduate School
Created2020-03-30 10:06:54Updated2024-07-18 12:13:14
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