L&S Procedures on Fellowships & Traineeships
This document contains information to help department staff prepare appointment letters for graduate assistants receiving a fellowship or traineeship.
This KB contains important information regarding Graduate Assistant fellow and trainee appointments in the College of Letters and Science. It provides departments with information to help understand the types and unique nature of these appointments as well as how these appointments are processed and appointment letters prepared. Contact your STS/SA HR Business Partner with questions about processing fellowships/traineeships. To find your HR Business Partner please see: L&S Human Resources/Payroll Office Department Contacts. For additional information, see also:
- Graduate School - Fellowship Administration Guide revised January 2023
- Policy on Traineeships
- Graduate School email@example.com
Note: This KB does not address or provide guidance on “Honorary Fellowship” appointments; instead, please see L&S Honorary Fellow (Zero-Dollar) Appointments.
Fellowships are monetary awards given to individual students to support them while pursuing their graduate studies. They are merit-based stipend awards an individual student wins competitively. The student applies or is nominated directly to the funding source. The competition can be national (e.g., the National Science Foundation Fellowship) or University-wide (e.g., the Graduate School Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship) or department-wide (e.g., fellowships from department funds.) The stipend is set by the funding agency each fiscal year. Depending on the source of funding, the fellowship may provide tuition and health benefits in addition to the stipend. It does not have to be paid back.
Traineeships are awarded competitively to a group of faculty members in a particular disciplinary or interdisciplinary area, the discipline having been specified in advance by the funding agency. The University faculty group awarded the training grant identifies the recipients from among its students interested in studying in the targeted field. The agency invites proposals for the support and graduate level training of future scholars, scientists or engineers in specific areas of interest. The training grant usually provides full or partial tuition and health insurance in addition to the trainee stipend.
Fellowships and Traineeships: Since both Fellowships and Traineeships generally require no work obligations, they are considered “nonservice” appointments and require a Non-Service Job Aid form. All have an assigned FTE (full-time equivalent percentage) of 1.0, and all require special language in appointment letters. All require the student to be actively enrolled in a graduate program. Effective Fall 2022, some Fellowships/Traineeships need a payroll adjustment in order to pay the correct stipend.
Types of Fellowships
- Internal Fellowships
- Department Fellowship: Fellowship controlled directly by departments
- Fellowship allocated to departments by entities within UW-Madison (for example the Graduate School, or WARF)
- uses fund 135 or in limited cases fund 101
- stipend amounts should match those set annually by the Graduate School
- example: Advanced Opportunity Fellowship (AOF)
- External Fellowships
- fellowships funded by organizations outside UW-Madison
- stipend amounts do not necessarily match those set annually by the Graduate School
- uses fund 133 or 144
Payroll adjustment may be required
Effective Fall 2022, payroll adjustments to fellow/trainee appointments may be necessary to pay out the exact stipend amount over the course of the appointment. Before requesting a fellow/trainee hire or finalizing an appointment letter, verify if a payroll adjustment is needed:
- payroll adjustment is not needed for a C-basis appointment that spans the full academic year and for an A-basis appointment whose dates span exactly 26 biweekly pay periods
- payroll adjustment is needed for a C-basis appointment that is only one semester long (Fall or Spring) and for an A-basis appointment whose dates span more than 26 biweekly pay periods
For Internal Fellowships using standard campus stipend amounts and compensation rates, payroll adjustments and other helpful information has already been provided for you by L&S HR in the Internal Fellowship Information spreadsheet . This is a screenshot of some of the information provided on this spreadsheet:
For other types of fellowships/traineeships, use the OHR Fellowship Calculator to evaluate the adjustment amount, if any. Contact your STS/SA HR Business Partner for assistance, or refer to these resources provided by the Office of Human Resources:
Trainee Fellow Payments video
Trainee Fellow Payment Solution powerpoint
Understanding Stipend Amount vs. Compensation Rate (Comp Rate)
It is important to understand the difference between “stipend amount” and “compensation rate” as these figures are not always the same for a given appointment.
- The stipend amount is the total money a fellow/trainee will receive over the course of the appointment.
- The compensation rate (“comp rate”) assigned to the fellow/trainee appointment is the academic year or annual rate needed to achieve the stipend amount.
The stipend amount is not always the same as the compensation rate, as these examples illustrate:
- When a C-basis appointment spans a full academic year or an A-Basis appointment spans a full calendar year, the stipend amount and compensation rate are identical.
- When a C-basis appointment spans less than a full academic year or an A-Basis spans less than a full calendar year, the stipend amount and compensation rate are different.
- Examples using 2023-24 Graduate School rates for internal fellowships:
- A C-Basis appointment for the entire academic year (8/21/2023-5/19/2024) has an academic year comp rate in JEMS HIRE of $24,545, and the appointment letter will cite a stipend amount of $24,545.
- A C-Basis appointment for the Fall semester only (8/21/2023-1/3/2024) has an academic year comp rate in JEMS HIRE of $24,545. However, the appointment letter will cite a stipend amount of $12,272.50 because the appointment duration is less than a full academic year, and a one-semester appointment pays exactly half of the academic year comp rate.
- Examples using 2023-24 Graduate School rates for internal fellowships:
Instructions for requesting a Fellow/Trainee appointment hire
To request a fellow/trainee hire, provide the following to your STS/SA HR Business Partner:
- draft appointment letter (see next section)
- completed Non-Service Job Aid Form
- hire request in JEMS-HIRE (only needed for L&S departments which are decentralized or centralized-with-delegation)
- hire request form (only needed for L&S departments which are centralized)
Your HR Business Partner will review the appointment letter to ensure that required details are included and that the appointment letter details match the JEMS HIRE request.
Select the appointment letter template appropriate for the type of fellowship/traineeship:
- Internal Fellowships:
- Offer Letter – Internal Fellowship
- Confirmation Letter Template – Internal Fellowship
- All other Fellowships/Traineeships: Letter template, revised 02/09/2023
NOTE: Effective Fall 2022, special language is now required in all fellow and trainee appointment letters. The purpose of this special language accomplishes the following:
- Explains the consequences for ending a fellowship/traineeship early;
- Explains the need for any needed payroll adjustment(s), if any;
- Obtains the acknowledgment and signature of the fellow/trainee regarding the above stipulations.
Limitations on Supplementation of Fellowships/Traineeships
The Graduate School places limitations on supplementation of fellowships/traineeships to ensure any teaching, project or research undertaken does not significantly prolong the time to accomplish the training objective for the fellowship or traineeship. See University of Wisconsin–Madison Policy for Supplementation and Concurrent Appointments for Graduate Students Holding Predoctoral Fellowships or Traineeships for more information. Per this policy,
“Whenever assistantships (RA, TA, PA, or fellow) are combined with fellowships or traineeships, total compensation cannot exceed the department's full-time RA rate of the student's academic home department”.
Juan currently holds an English fellowship, and History is considering offering Juan a second fellowship which will run concurrently with the existing English fellowship.
Calculate the total earned in the English fellowship (the primary fellowship)
over its length (8/22/22-5/21/23, C-Basis $20,000, 100% FTE) $ 20,000
Calculate the total earned in the proposed History fellowship, over the time
it will run concurrently (overlap) with the primary fellowship
(8/22/22-5/21/23). (C-Basis $23,727, 100% FTE) + $ 23,727
Total Earnings (8/22/23-5/21/23) $ 43,727
Verify the Full-Time RA Rate of student’s academic home
department (English), using the pay basis rate which matches the
existing Fellowship (in this example, that is C-Basis) $ 42,231
The student is allowed to earn up to a total of $42,231 (in ALL concurrent UW appointments) during the time period the English Fellowship will be active. The student will earn $20,000 from the English Fellowship during that time. The proposed History fellowship would have earnings of $23,727 during that time. Together, these two appointments would have combined earnings of $43,727, which would exceed the limit of $42,231. History is not able to offer the student the proposed fellowship unless it receives approval for an exception by the Graduate School.
Contact the graduate school Fellowship Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) or L&S HR for assistance verifying supplementation limits to determine if the student will exceed the appointment limits.
- Fellowship Administration Guide
- Graduate School Information on Fellowships
- Graduate School Information on Traineeships
- University of Wisconsin–Madison Policy for Supplementation and Concurrent Appointments for Graduate Students Holding Predoctoral Fellowships or Traineeships
- Fellow Trainee Adjustment Calculator