From April 9-13, 2020 the Graduate College surveyed all graduate programs regarding the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on graduate students. Among the chief concerns identified were the following:
- Many students have reported cancellation of summer employment and paid internships.
- Many students report loss of income due to cancelled travel plans.
- Many students have inquired about the possibility of receiving departmental support for the summer months.
- A large number of students have expressed concerns about the cost of summer health insurance.
In response to this need, the Office of the Provost has developed a Supplemental Summer Block Grant Program that will provide additional funding to graduate programs to support graduate students in need of financial assistance during the summer of 2020. The program will be administered by the Graduate College.
Supplemental Summer Block Grant (SSBG) Program:
The Graduate College Academic Year Block Grant mechanism is used to equitably disburse funding to graduate programs considering both the size of programs and the external funding which accrues to a program to support graduate students. Traditional academic year block grants have provided funding to departments for allocation to students for many decades.
The same computational algorithm that is used for the academic year block grants will be used to calculate departmental support under the SSBG program. Graduate programs will be allocated funds which must be applied towards graduate student support in the form of summer fellowship grants. The program is intended to support students who have incurred financial hardship as a result of the COVID19 epidemic. Departments will be expected to prioritize the allocation of fellowships on the basis of student need.
Approximately $4.6 million dollars in SSBG funding will be available for graduate students support. Funding will be available from May 16, 2020 and must be expended by August 15, 2020.
Departmental Funding Levels:
The funding received by each department will be determined on the basis of both graduate program size and the level of external funding which accrues to a program to support graduate students.
The minimum departmental award will be $44,470.
The maximum departmental award will be $125,000.
Departments will be notified of the amount of their award on May 1, 2020.
Graduate Student SSBG Fellowship Funding Options:
- Students with no additional source of assistantship or fellowship funds will be funded for two summer months at a rate of not less than $1,111 per month for two months, up to a rate of not more than $2,083 per month for two months. The SSBG fellowship is accompanied by an 87% subsidy of the summer health insurance fee and a tuition waiver, both these benefits apply to the entire summer.
- Students who have already accepted a summer graduate appointment (assistantship, fellowship, or traineeship) will be eligible for a supplemental award that will increase their summer compensation up to the equivalent of a maximum of $2,083 per month for two summer months. Students receiving combined assistantships and SSBG fellowships are eligible for an 87% subsidy of the summer health insurance fee and a tuition waiver.
- Students in self-supporting or cost recovery graduate programs are not eligible to participate in the SSBG program.
SSBG Program Guidelines:
SSBG allocations must be used by departments for University Fellowships during summer 2020, with appointments beginning no earlier than May 16 and ending no later than August 15. Departments that make fellowship offers exceeding their allocations must assume financial responsibility for commitments in excess of the allocation. Units may award fellowships either as the sole support or concurrently with assistantships or other fellowships.
Fellowships must be administered in accordance with the fellowship policies outlined in the Graduate College Handbook at www.grad.illinois.edu/gradhandbook. Departmental decisions will govern University Fellowship appointments with the understanding that submissions will be subject to a brief administrative review in the Graduate College to confirm student eligibility. The Graduate College, not the department, will send each Fellow a formal Notice of Fellowship Appointment.
Additional details regarding how to submit notices of awards will be provided on May 1, 2020.
- Degree seeking graduate student - SSBG Fellows must be degree-seeking graduate students in good academic standing.
- Domestic or International - Both domestic and international students are eligible.
- Good academic standing - Students admitted on limited status due to GPA or current students on academic probation or dismissal status are not eligible.
- Registered for summer term - SSBF Fellows must be registered for the summer term.
- Self-supporting and cost-recovery programs - Students in self-supporting and cost recovery programs are NOT eligible to participate in the SSBG program.
- The SSBG Fellowship must provide two-months of summer funding at a rate of not less than $1,111 per month for two months, up to a rate of no more than $2,083 per month for two months. Departments can determine the level of funding a student receives based upon need and availability of funds. SSBG fellowships can combined with another appointment (assistantship, fellowship, or traineeship) provided the total compensation to the student does not exceed the equivalent of two-months of summer funding at the rate of $2,083 per month.
- Students receiving SSBG awards that meet the criteria listed above will receive a full summer tuition waiver. This includes Fellows in academic programs whose students receive base-rate waivers with their assistantships. Fellows receive a full waiver of tuition, service fee, AFMFA fee, and Library/Technology fee, full payment of the health service fee, partial payment of the health insurance fee along with University-paid dental and vision coverage for each term of the fellowship. This means that the Fellow is responsible for paying the balance of all other fees, unless departments elect to pay them from other funds.
- With a waiver-generating University Fellowship, a Fellow may carry assistantship or hourly appointments of no more than 50% time (20 hours total) with prior approval of the Graduate College Fellowship Office.
- Services are not required for University Fellowship holders, although services are required for any concurrent assistantships that they hold.
- Decided how to distribute their allocation in consultation with their college.
- Complete and sign a Graduate College SSBG Information Form for each student receiving an SSBG Fellowship. The form should include information on all concurrent appointments (assistantships and/or fellowships) for the fellowship period.
- Submit completed SSBG forms by May 22, 2020. Completed SSGG forms should be submitted online using the Secure Form Drop-Off.
- Track the utilization of their allocation.
The Graduate College will do the following:
- Review SSBG Information Forms to ensure the fellowship appointments comply with campus policy and guidelines.
- Contact the department if there are any problems or questions.
- Send the Fellows a Notice of Fellowship Appointment covering the terms of the Fellowship along with a congratulatory letter from the Graduate College.
- Send the department a copy of the Notice of Fellowship Appointment for each student indicating acceptance or decline.
- Initiate NESSIE New Hire.
- Add the fellowship appointment to the campus system.
- Track the utilization of the department's allocation.
Note: The home organization for students with fellowships will be the Graduate College Fellowship Office. The fellowship job will always be the primary job in Banner.
If you have additional questions regarding the use of fellowship funds, please contact the Graduate College Fellowship Office at 333-0036 or GradFellowships@illinois.edu.