Faculty & Staff
Definitions and Key Words
The following terms are fundamental to Graduate Financial Support at Stanford. These are further discussed in the different sections of this manual. If you are looking for a definition, and would like to see it here, contact the Assistant Dean of Graduate Policy.
If an assistantship or fellowship is approved in GFS by the published deadline, that aid will show up on a student's bill as "anticipated aid." This lets the student know that he or she can expect financial support in that amount. Approved stipends and tuition support (fellowship tuition or TAL) appear as anticipated aid; assistantship salaries and Cardinal Care subsidies do not.
Assistantships are a form of graduate student employment, earning a compensation package (including both salary and tuition allowance) for the performance of research or teaching services to the University as part of the student's academic and professional training and development.
Matriculated graduate students, and Students of New Faculty, with fellowship stipends (non-tuition support) or assistantship appointments, who are enrolled in Stanford's student health insurance plan (Cardinal Care), will receive a quarterly subsidy of up to 50% of the cost of the quarterly premium. University-funded subsidies are processed nightly. The subsidy will be automatically entered after the stipend or assistantship aid has been entered in GFS and approved in Workflow (up to the deadline established each quarter). See the Cardinal Care website and one-page summary of rates for additional information about eligibility and amounts, and discussion of the Health Insurance Subsidy process (below).
For questions about the health insurance subsidy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A coterminal degree program allows undergraduate students to study for a master's degree while completing the requirements of their bachelor's degree. The first quarter AFTER the completion of 12 quarters is considered to be the first graduate quarter for a coterminal student (coterm). A coterm is eligible for an assistantship appointment upon the completion of 180 units.
The GFS system acts as an interface to other offices and systems at Stanford in order to provide financial support to students and scholars. GFS "disburses" aid to both the Student Financials system (providing quarterly stipend and tuition support through the Student Financial Services office) and to the HR/Payroll system (providing assistantship salaries and stipends for postdocs and non-matriculated students through the Payroll department). Disbursement means that the GFS system has successfully passed the line requesting aid to the appropriate system.
Fellowships provide financial aid, not salary. 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.
For purposes of establishing limits on amounts of additional employment, a full fellowship is defined as one that provides at least the same level of financial support as a 50% FTE Research Assistantship, at the minimum salary level established by Stanford University and providing the equivalent level of tuition support.
Financial Approvers are responsible for verifying that the support being provided through GFS is coming from appropriate sources, and that the account being used to provide that support has sufficient funds to cover the expense.
Assistantship appointments are made for a full quarter. Standard appointment periods are:
- October 1 - December 31
- January 1 - March 31
- April 1 - June 30
- July 1 - September 30.
For those students who begin work before the start of the standard appointment period, an "alternate quarter" is available. By choosing this option, the standard quarter dates are adjusted by one pay period for an entire year. If a student is being appointed on an "alternate quarter" basis, that schedule will apply to all assistantship appointments made in that quarter and in all subsequent quarters within that year.
Note that, during Summer Quarter, teaching appointments may be for eight weeks only (July and August). In this case, the assistantship is ended when the course being taught ends. The student is paid for that amount of time, and receives the appropriate TAL payment for the full Summer Quarter.
Except for specific programs such as the Honors Co-Op Program, Stanford University does not enroll part-time graduate students during Fall, Winter or Spring quarters. (Note: Graduate students in the Medical School are considered to be full-time during Summer Quarter as well.) A 50% assistantship appointment is considered a full-time appointment because it provides salary for 20 hours of work per week and requires the student to be enrolled for 8-10 units. The combination of work and study is defined as a full-time appointment.
GFS is the online application used at Stanford to administer assistantships and fellowships for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.
Graduate students have satisfied the requirements for a bachelor's degree and must be registered and enrolled in courses for all terms of each academic year from the admission term until conferral of their degree (unless on an approved leave of absence). Unless they are on TGR status (or within less than 8 units of achieving TGR status or degree completion), graduate students must be enrolled in at least 8-10 units in any quarter in which they have an assistantship or fellowship.
Students who have completed all course work and residency requirements, have formally applied to graduate and filed all necessary forms, and who need only to submit a final thesis or dissertation or project in order to graduate, may apply for a one-time Graduation Quarter. The student must have been enrolled in the immediately-preceding term. The tuition charge for the Graduation Quarter is $100. As is the case for TGR students, students on Graduation Quarter must enroll and are considered to be full-time. If the student does not submit the necessary documents during the Graduation Quarter, the student will need to enroll at the appropriate tuition rate for all subsequent quarters.
Matriculated graduate students, and Students of New Faculty, who have the necessary financial support and are enrolled in Cardinal Care, will be eligible for a health insurance subsidy. The deadline for entering and approving aid in GFS, in order for the student to receive this university-funded subsidy, is established each quarter at the time of the first payroll deadline, which is also when student bills are due. If aid is entered and approved after that deadline due to department oversight, Stanford expects the responsible department to make a stipend payment from their departmental funds equal to the amount of the subsidy.
University-funded subsidies are processed nightly. The subsidy is automatically entered after the stipend or assistantship has been approved (up to the quarterly deadline). Students will therefore not have to wait to see the subsidy on their accounts. Additionally, there is an inquiry page that you can use to view subsidy status (eligible, ineligible, health waiver). The path to that page is:
Home > STF Grad Financial Support > STF Graduate Financial Support > Inquire > Health Subsidy Status.
Home Department Approvers (HDA) are responsible for assuring that individuals receiving support through GFS are eligible for that support, and that the support has been provided in conformance with applicable policy.
The Honors Co-Op Program is a graduate program in engineering and science in which employees at companies are released from work to attend classes at Stanford. Most participating companies also allow students to attend televised classes at their locations. The program is administered through the Stanford Center for Professional Development within the School of Engineering.
Graduate students may be employed and paid for work unrelated to the student's academic and professional training. Such employment is not considered an assistantship appointment and it generates no Tuition Allowance. Other hourly employment is processed through Payroll and not through GFS. US students appointed to a 50% assistantship or holding a full fellowship are limited to an additional eight hours of hourly employment per week. (Additional limits apply to international students.)
The "item type" is the basic work unit of the PeopleSoft Student Financials system. It classifies charges and defines the accounting elements that are affected. The item type is the interface between the GFS system and the University's financial systems. The Item Type code (12-digit numeric) "ties together" a Project ID, Account, Department ID, and Charge Priority (specific types of charges, such as tuition, salary, health insurance, etc.). Put another way, the Item type is a "shorthand" notation that points to all the related accounting elements for a student financial transaction. Once you know the Oracle PTA, you can use GFS to create item types.
Matriculated students are admitted to a degree-granting program and complete requirements leading to the conferral of that degree. Nonmatriculated students are not enrolled in a degree program. Some nonmatriculated students may enroll in classes, while others, i.e., Visiting Student Researchers, may not enroll in classes.
Fellowship stipends paid to Postdoctoral Scholars and to nonmatriculated graduate students (e.g., Visiting Student Researchers, Knight Fellows, Stegner Fellows, etc.) are processed monthly through the Stanford Payroll Department. Nonmatriculated stipend checks are paid at the END of each month. Payments to international students and scholars will have appropriate tax withheld. These stipends may be automatically deposited in the same way as payroll checks.
Graduate students who are active in a doctoral program, and have not yet received their doctoral degree, are sometimes referred to as "Predocs."
The Principal Investigator (PI) has overall responsibility for the technical and fiscal management of research and other projects that are funded by outside sponsors. At Stanford, Principal Investigators are typically members of the faculty.
A Postdoctoral Scholar (Postdoc) is a trainee in residence at Stanford pursuing advanced studies beyond the doctoral level in preparation for an independent career. Their appointment at Stanford is for the purpose of advanced studies and training under the mentorship of a Stanford faculty member. Postdocs must be supported either by assistantship appointments and/or fellowships and/or documented funding received from an outside source.
(for MD students starting in 2010-11 and after)
During the MD Program, a student may elect to suspend their MD program enrollment and enroll instead in a period of full-time research. The first quarter of full-time research is assessed the regular MD tuition rate. Subsequent quarters of full-time research are assessed a reduced tuition rate, the Research Rate. MD students being charged the Research Rate, who are appointed to assistantships in GFS, are activated with the TAL category MD-RR. Upon returning to the MD program, the student will be charged regular MD tuition (TAL category MD). For MD students who started before 2010-11, see Terminal Medical Registration.
Fellowships typically pay a STIPEND, or a living allowance, to a student. Stipends are intended to provide financial support to the student while completing their education, they are processed through the Student Financial Services department, and they are normally paid to students at the beginning of each quarter. Assistantships pay a SALARY to the student, as compensation for services provided either in a teaching or research role. RAs and TAs receive a Stanford paycheck twice each month, on the same schedule as other employees.
The nonmatriculated classification "Students of New Faculty" permits newly-hired Stanford faculty to bring one or more doctoral students from their home institution to Stanford for a limited period of time to complete research under their direct guidance. The student's degree is awarded by the home institution. Students of New Faculty must enroll in the appropriate TGR course during each quarter of the academic year while they are at Stanford. They may receive tuition and stipend support from unrestricted sources, and they may be appointed to Research Assistantships. If they have the qualifying financial support and are enrolled in Cardinal Care, they will receive the university Cardinal Care subsidy.
All international students must be screened for English proficiency before being appointed to any teaching assistantship. The English for Foreign Students Office conveys approval in the GFS system for a teaching appointment (TA-OK).
Doctoral students who have been admitted to candidacy, and who have completed all required courses and degree requirements other than the University oral exam and dissertation, may request TGR status while completing their dissertation. TGR students must enroll in a designated course (801 or 802) for zero units. They are charged a reduced tuition rate (TGR tuition).
(TMR, for MD students who started before 2010-11)
Terminal Medical Registration is a category of reduced tuition for MD students whose program started before 2010-11. It is similar to Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) for doctoral students (see TGR, above). MD students who started before 2010-11, and who have already paid the equivalent of 13 quarters of full MD tuition, who wish to register for additional quarters prior to receiving the MD degree, are eligible for TMR tuition rates. For MD students who started in 2010-11 or later, see Research Rate.
Tuition Allowance (TAL) is the tuition component of the assistantship compensation package. The cost of TAL is shared between University general funds and school, department, and/or sponsored project funds providing the assistantship. TAL is paid for a full quarter.
A student who is not a citizen of the United States or a Permanent Resident needs a visa to enter the United States in order to study at Stanford. Most students are on either an F visa (for students and their immediate family) or a J visa (for exchange scholars and their immediate families). The Bechtel International Center provides current information to students and departments regarding visas.
Visiting Student Researchers are graduate students from other academic institutions, who are invited to Stanford to work with a Stanford faculty member. Visiting Student Researchers are registered at Stanford as Nonmatriculating students, are charged a monthly VSR fee, and may not enroll in any classes. They may receive stipend support from unrestricted sources, but may not hold an assistantship appointment.
The term "Visiting Scholar" is used at Stanford to describe faculty from other academic institutions, or other recognized experts in their fields, who come with funding from their home institution to work for a limited period of time with individuals at Stanford. They are appointed by the department in which they will work. Visiting Scholar appointments are without Stanford funding.
Workflow is Stanford's automated process for sending a transaction to the correct individuals for approval. The GFS system uses Workflow to process both home department approvals and financial approvals for all aid lines.Updated on August 7, 2014 12:55 PM