Fellowship Best Practices

The Office of Sponsored Programs at CSU developed the following fellowship guidance.

Fellowships provide financial support of an individual’s pursuit of learning, whether in the classroom or in tandem with a project. Because fellowships are awarded to support scholarly endeavors, funds may be used to pay for textbooks, housing, tuition, travel, or other costs related to education and/or training in a particular area depending on the fellowship terms and conditions.

Fellowships may or may not include a service component; may be paid directly to an individual or through the institution; and may or may not have deliverables. Bottom line: Fellowships benefit the Fellow. Because fellowships support learning, students paid on a fellowship receive a stipend and should not be classified as University employees. When creating an Oracle assignment for a Fellow, it is imperative that they be brought on as a GRA Predoc Fellow (OC 5381) so they are eligible to receive all the benefits entitled to them from the fellowship.

Sample fellowships, and key points by sponsor, are provided below.

National Science Foundation 

Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) 

  • Proposals are submitted by the Fellow through NSF’s portal.
  • The Fellowship award is made to the Institution at which the Fellow is enrolled, and the Institution is responsible for the distribution of funds. At CSU, distribution is through payroll.
  • Fellows must make acceptable progress toward their degree. The Fellow and their Advisor are responsible for reporting progress toward the degree.
  • The GFRP provides up to three (3) years of financial support usable over the five-year fellowship period. Fellows may request summer support and supplemental funding may be available.
  • Fellows are exempt from paying tuition and fees during the three years they are on tenure.
  • Tuition and fees must be paid from a Cost of Education account assigned to the Fellow. Any tuition and fees costs more than the annual allocation must be paid by a department account.
  • Any residual Cost of Education funds may be used by the Fellow, or their Advisor, for 1-year after the Fellow’s tenure is finalized. After that time, the funds may be retained and used by the Institution.

Non-GRFP Fellowship/Trainee Programs

  • Funds are awarded to the Institution and a 5-3 account is established.
  • Fellows/Trainees must be full-time students, as defined by CSU and requires the fellow to be enrolled a minimum of 9 credits per semester.
  • Fellows/Trainees are exempt from paying tuition and fees during their tenure.
  • Tuition and fees must be paid from a Cost of Education account assigned to student. Any tuition and fees costs more than the annual allocation must be paid by a department account.
  • If there are residual Cost of Education funds, contact the OSP Assistant Director to determine how the funds may be used.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

NRSA Fellowships

  • Funds are awarded to the Institution and a 5-3 account is established.
  • Funding is provided to pursue research training on a full-time basis, normally defined as at least 40 hours per week.
  • Awardees are eligible to apply for childcare costs (currently $2,500 annually).
  • NIH contributes to the combined cost of tuition and fees at the rate in place at the time of the award. Check award terms and conditions for allowable rates.
  • Institutional Allowance is provided to defray the cost of expenses such as health insurance, research supplies, equipment, books, and travel to scientific meetings.
  • Any residual Institutional Allowance may be used by the Fellow, or their Advisor, for 1-year after the fellow’s tenure is finalized. After that time, the funds may be retained and used by the Institution.

NRSA Institutional Training Grants

  • Funds are awarded to the Institution and a 5-3 account is established.
  • NIH contributes to the combined cost of tuition and fees at the rate in place at the time of the award. Check award terms and conditions for allowable rates.
  • Training Related Expenses are provided to defray the cost of expenses such as health insurance, staff salaries, consultant costs, equipment, research supplies, and faculty/staff travel related to the research training program. 
  • If there are residual Training Related Expenses funds, contact the OSP Assistant Director to determine how the funds may be used.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

NIFA Fellowships

  • Funds are awarded to the Institution and a 5-3 account is established.
  • Fellows must carry out their program on a full-time bases, as defined by CSU.
  • Institutional Allowance is provided in lieu of indirect costs. Funds may be used for tuition, fees, fringe benefits, supplies, travel, workshops, and publications.
  • Funds must be expended during the project period. 
  • Residual Institutional Allowance funds are returned to the sponsor.