Financial Assistance Policy
G. Financial Assistance
The Appointments Unit of the Graduate Division monitors requirements for Graduate Student Researcher and teaching appointments. The Fellowships Office of the Graduate Division administers programs for entering and continuing students. The Associate Dean for Appointments and Fellowships has oversight in these areas. The Student Services Financial Aid Office administers loan and work study programs for graduate students.
G1. Financial Support and Recruitment
Programs are encouraged to plan multi-year “packages” of financial assistance, especially for newly admitted students. Graduate advisers and assistants should inform students that some available funding is based on need. To be eligible for awards, including block awards, students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Details on nominating students for fellowships are included in the Fellowships Handbook, sent to programs every January. Inquiries should be directed to the Graduate Fellowships Office.
G1.1 Types of Financial Assistance
University-sponsored financial assistance falls into three main categories:
- Academic Appointments
There are fellowship programs available for new, continuing, and returning students (domestic and international). These are all described on the Graduate Division Fellowships web page.
Policies Governing Multi-Year Fellowships for Entering Students
University-sponsored multi-year fellowships are awarded through an annual campus-wide competition administered by the Graduate Fellowships office.
Per a Graduate Council revision of policy effective academic year 2014-2015, all doctoral applicants are eligible for nomination in the University multi-year fellowship competition, including those students who previously received a masters’ degree at the University of California, Berkeley.
Multi-year fellowships require departmental matching years, with an equivalent stipend that can be a combination of GSI or GSR appointment and direct grants.
Policies Governing University Fellowships and Grants for Continuing or Returning Students
Only registered students in good academic standing can be considered for Graduate Division or departmental funding. Additional conditions for each funding source are defined by the granting unit.
Several types of appointments as Academic Student Employee (ASE) are available to both doctoral and Master’s students:
- Graduate Student Instructor (GSI)
- Reader and Tutor
- Graduate Student Researcher (GSR)
For information on academic appointments policies and procedures, please refer to the Appointments web page.
Student loans are an important resource, but they should be considered as a last resort due to the danger of borrowing too much and accumulating high indebtedness. More information on loans, and on Federal work-study, is available on the web site of the Office of Financial Aid.
International students are not eligible for the federal financial assistance programs available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, including loans and work-study.
G1.2 Taxes on Financial Assistance
Virtually all financial assistance to graduate students, except loans, is taxable. The University does not withhold taxes from the stipend portions of fellowships. Students pursuing a degree generally can exclude from income that part of a fellowship or grant used for:
- Tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance, or
- Fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for courses.
Students cannot exclude from income any part of the grant used for other purposes, such as room and board or travel.
As required by Federal regulations, the University reports awards made to international students to the IRS, and withholds a required proportion of fellowship stipends unless the student’s home country has a tax treaty with the United States that exempts its citizens from withholding.
For more information on how Federal tax regulations treat graduate student support, students should be advised to consult IRS Publication 970 Tax Benefits for Education. As tax law changes over time, students should be encouraged to consult the latest publication on the IRS website instead of relying on advice from other students, faculty, or staff.
The Graduate Services Fellowships Office handles over 600 fellowship funds, each with unique criteria and terms for awarding.
General Terms and Conditions of Fellowships
Students who receive University fellowships are required to register full time and to devote their time to study and/or research in the field in which the award is made, make satisfactory academic progress, and maintain a 3.0 GPA.
To be considered registered, the student must be enrolled in at least one class, have had at least the first installment of fees paid, and have no registration blocks. For Fall and Spring semester, registration is normally 12 units per semester.
The Graduate Services Fellowships Office should be informed immediately, in writing, of any changes that may affect the fellow’s award, such as substandard performance, resignation, withdrawal, change of major, etc.
Combining University and External Fellowships
Entering students receiving a national award in addition to a University multi-year fellowship may request a “multi-year fellowship deferral” to combine the two sources of funding. If the total length of support exceeds four years, then one year of the University multi-year fellowship will be relinquished unless an exception is granted.
Combining Fellowships and Employment
Students who are receiving a fellowship administered by the University that will give them a defined minimum stipend level plus fees are subject to an employment restriction: they may work up to 25% time during the academic year (that is, 25% each term or 50% for one term only). There is no work restriction for the summer term.
Students receiving external fellowships must refer to the fellowship terms set by the corresponding agency which may restrict employment more than this.
Departmentally Restricted Endowment Fellowships
The Graduate Services Fellowships Office administers some Restricted Endowment Fellowships. Departmentally restricted funds cannot be used for students on filing fee or to pay professional degree supplemental tuition.
It is the responsibility of the Chair of each Department to ensure that recommendations for Restricted Endowment Fellowships meet the terms of the endowment or agency.
Annual Stipend Cap
During the 2020-21 academic year (Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Summer 2021), recipients of Graduate Division fellowship funding are subject to a stipend cap of $38,000 per year. Detailed rules and exclusions are contained in an applicable memo.
Effective 2021-22, Graduate Division-administered fellowships may be held concurrently, and with external fellowships (terms permitting), as long as the combined stipend funding does not exceed $40,000; requests to exceed this amount requires the approval of the Associate Dean of the Graduate Division. Departmentally-controlled funding (including block grant) is not subject to this stipend limit and may be used to supplement fellowships at the program’s discretion.
The Graduate Division does not have a policy on combining multiple external fellowships; students must consult the terms of their fellowship and the granting agency for further guidance. The Graduate Division defines “external fellowships” as those awarded and funded by a non-campus organization, agency, or foundation. Students must apply to the awarding organization, and following a competition, be selected by that organization; funds are generally disbursed directly to the fellow.
Procedure for renewal of multi-year fellowships:
Every spring, the Graduate Services Fellowships Office sends programs certification forms for recipients of the University multi-year and of extramural multi-year fellowships administered by the Fellowships Office, such as the NSF Graduate Fellowship. The Head Graduate Adviser should consult with fellowship recipients about their plans for the coming year. The Head Graduate Adviser should certify whether or not each student is making satisfactory progress toward the doctoral degree and whether the student will continue on the fellowship for the following year or will be supported by other means, such as a teaching or research appointment.
Procedure for combining University and External Fellowships:
Entering students receiving a national award in addition to a University multi-year fellowship may request a “multi-year fellowship deferral” by writing to the Associate Dean of Fellowships, indicating the name and award criteria of the outside fellowship. The exception request should be submitted to the Fellowships Office.
G1.4 Extramural Fellowships
The Graduate Services Fellowships Office maintains a list of extramural fellowships that are administered by Graduate Division on the Fellowships web site.
If a student is selected solely by an awarding agency, and the program or Graduate Division has no responsibility for nominating or selecting the student, the fellowship funds for that student may be sent directly to the Financial Aid Office.
G1.5 Grant Proposal Advising
The Graduate Division Fellowships Office offers workshops and resources on applying for specific fellowships, such as the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. The Graduate Division Academic Services Office offers workshops and individual consultations on grant writing. Departments seeking to offer advising on grant proposal development can contact the Academic Services Office for assistance and information.
G1.6 Financial Aid
Graduate students apply for need-based loans, emergency loans and work-study through the Student Services Financial Aid Office. Graduate students seeking loans are subject to Federal standards for assessment of Satisfactory Academic Progress.
G1.7 Tuition Support for External Fellowships
Many external fellowships provide only partial tuition/fee coverage or no funding for tuition at all. For some of these fellowships, the Graduate Division assists departments by providing fee support centrally. Details regarding which fellowships are covered and processes for obtaining such support can be found in guidelines updated annually.