Charging Graduate Student Tuition Scholarships to Grants and Contracts

Overview

Beginning on July 1, 2003, as a result of negotiations with the graduate employee union, COGS, a tuition scholarship program was established that required that all graduate assistants with a 25% or higher appointment and enrolled in 9 credit hours or more per semester would receive a tuition scholarship. 

While graduate students covered by the COGS agreement are assured a tuition scholarship, all graduate students are eligible for tuition scholarship assuming the following:

The tuition scholarship and other forms of compensation must be consistently provided in each department, in accordance with established institutional and departmental policy, to students performing similar activities conducted in non-sponsored as well as sponsored activities. The COGS agreement establishes the minimum amount that can be charged to funding source for tuition.  Up to 100% of the cost of full graduate tuition may be charged to a funding source including grants and contracts, in accordance with departmental policy, unless specifically prohibited by the sponsoring agency.

This tuition scholarship is a recognized fringe benefit associated with the appointment as a graduate assistant and should not be confused with other student aid programs.

Application

Each department can establish how they handle tuition scholarships, but within the department, tuition rates must be consistent regardless of funding source, be allocated to each funding source in proportion to the salary paid, and be charged in accordance with the other criteria identified above. 

Since grants and contracts begin and end at various times during the semester, some attempt should be made to match the tuition scholarship to each salary payment as the semester progresses.  If a grant terminates before the end of the semester, only a proportionate share of the tuition scholarship should be charged to the project.  In cases where a sponsor specifically disallows the tuition costs, the costs must be charged to a non-sponsored project account.

These are sponsors that have been identified as specifically restricting tuition payments:

  • American Cancer Society (except on Mentored Research Scholar Grants)
  • American Heart Association (no tuition charges on National Chapter or Heartland Affiliate awards)
  • American Lung Association
  • Iowa Department of Transportation
  • Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

All costs related to the tuition scholarship will be charged to institutional account 6350: Graduate Student Tuition Costs.  Institutional Account 6305, Tuition Scholarship/Fellowships should continue to be used with fellowship appointments.  For grant reporting, the 6350 will be excluded from MTDC base for F&A assessment purposes.

Please note that the maximum amount that can be charged to a grant or contract is based on level zero NRSA stipend amount in effect at the time of the award (see fy15 levels).  The sum of the graduate student stipend, related fringe benefits and tuition costs are subject to this maximum NRSA amount.

Basis

These university guidelines are based on the federal government’s policy within OMB Circular A-21, Section J.45:

45. Scholarships and student aid costs.

Costs of scholarships, fellowships, and other programs of student aid are allowable only when the purpose of the sponsored agreement is to provide training to selected participants and the charge is approved by the sponsoring agency. However, tuition remission and other forms of compensation paid as, or in lieu of, wages to students performing necessary work are allowable provided that --

  • The individual is conducting activities necessary to the sponsored agreement;
  • Tuition remission and other support are provided in accordance with established educational institutional policy and consistently provided in a like manner to students in return for similar activities conducted in nonsponsored as well as sponsored activities; and
  • During the academic period, the student is enrolled in an advanced degree program at the institution or affiliated institution and the activities of the student in relation to the Federally sponsored research project are related to the degree program;
  • the tuition or other payments are reasonable compensation for the work performed and are conditioned explicitly upon the performance of necessary work; and
  • it is the institution's practice to similarly compensate students in nonsponsored as well as sponsored activities.

Charges for tuition remission and other forms of compensation paid to students as, or in lieu of, salaries and wages shall be subject to the reporting requirements stipulated in Section J.10, and shall be treated as direct or F&A cost in accordance with the actual work being performed. Tuition remission may be charged on an average rate basis.