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The Graduate College Handbook

for students, faculty and staff – August 2019

D. Tuition Waiver Policy

Tuition rates for graduate students are recommended by the Office of the Provost and approved by the Board of Trustees. Tuition remission rates charged to research grants are determined by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. Full-time employee waiver policy is set by the Board of Trustees and administered by Academic Human Resources. The Graduate College reviews changes to the assistantship tuition waiver levels that are requested by disciplinary colleges, as dictated by the Tuition Waiver Policy.

Authority to waive tuition for graduate students with assistantships is vested in the Graduate College as a unit of the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Below is an explanation of the campus tuition waiver policy for graduate students, including information specific to graduate assistantships, information specific to fellowships and traineeships, and provisions that apply to all waiver-generating graduate appointments. 
Questions can be directed to the Graduate College 333-0035 or by email at grad@illinois.edu.

The Graduate College has created a Tuition Waiver Guide to assist units with the navigation of Graduate College tuition waiver policies. 

  1. Graduate Assistantships
  2. Fellowships and Traineeships
  3. Other Provisions

  1. Graduate Assistantships:
    Waiver-generating assistantship appointments are defined as appointments ranging from 25 percent through 67 percent time (based on a forty-hour week) for at least three-quarters of the academic term. The academic term is the period starting on the first day of classes and ending on the last day of final examinations. For fall and spring terms, three quarters is defined as 91 days. For summer term, it is defined as 41 days. A teaching assistant appointment between 25 percent and 67 percent for at least 21 days in Summer I (four-week part of Summer term) will be considered a waiver-generating appointment.

    The tuition waiver policy for graduate assistantships is established by the campus, with certain provisions tied to the graduate program in which the student is enrolled (as identified by the graduate program code). Before units can elect to make any changes to their tuition waiver policy, they must seek and receive approval from the Graduate College and the Office of the Provost. Students are governed by the waiver policy in effect at the time of first enrollment in the program as long as they are in good academic standing and are making proper progress toward graduation in that program.

    The principal provisions of the policy specific to assistantship appointments include:

    Tuition Waiver Designation Categories

    1. Cost-recovery and Self-Supporting programs. Students in approved cost-recovery and self-supporting programs are not eligible to receive tuition and fee waivers except statutory waivers. For example, these students may not hold waiver-generating appointments, receive stand-alone waivers or receive employee waivers. However students are eligible to receive tuition scholarships.
       
    2. Traditional Programs with Full Waivers. Waiver-generating assistantship appointments provide waivers of all assessed tuition for students in certain curricula. Depending on the student’s program and residency status, tuition assessment may include an in-state assessment, a non-resident assessment and a program-specific tuition assessment.
       
    3. Traditional Programs Base-rate Waivers. In certain curricula, students with waiver-generating assistantships receive base-rate waivers. A base-rate waiver covers only the resident portion of the Graduate Base Rate Tuition. The student is responsible for paying the remaining tuition, which may include a non-resident assessment and a program-specific assessment.

      Units may use their funds to pay any portion of the remaining tuition for assistants enrolled in base-rate waiver curricula. An appropriate source of funds must be used and appropriate account codes specified so the transactions can be properly tracked. Grant or contract funds may not be used for direct payments to students for tuition.
       
    4. Reimbursement(policy revised AY19-20, but will be effective AY20-21). Under the current budget policy, each disciplinary college receives the tuition income from graduate students enrolled in its programs; that income forms part of the college's operating budget. Therefore, an assistantship, through its associated tuition waiver, represents a reduction in potential income for the student's disciplinary college. Some degree programs are designated as reimbursable, which identifies programs that would be reimbursed from an appointing unit outside the college. Reimbursement will be required for the value of the waiver, with a cap set at 80% of Graduate Base Rate tuition per semester of appointment. Doctoral programs will not be designated as reimbursable programs. This means that doctoral students employed in a unit outside of their academic college would be excluded from the annual true-up process.

      The Graduate College maintains a table of tuition waiver designations for graduate programs within each college. This table will be published annually by January 31, for tuition waiver policies that will be in effect for the following fall semester. At the end of each fiscal year, the Office of the Provost will reconcile the previous year's reimbursement charges and communicate these to impacted units.
       
    5. Reimbursement from research grants and contracts. Currently, a provisional rate of 64% of a graduate assistant's stipend is charged to research grants and contracts as tuition indirect cost on all projects that have the full, negotiated indirect cost rate. The tuition indirect cost funds do not get processed into the campus tuition fund, but rather are processed as ICR funds. Therefore, the amount of reimbursement that can be sought due to an assistantship tuition waiver is limited. The amount of the reimbursement is limited to the amount of tuition ICR collected by the appointing unit and appointing disciplinary college. No tuition indirect cost is currently charged to projects that have an approved indirect cost rate lower than the full, negotiated rate.
       
    6. Reimbursement for assistants with multiple appointments. In the event of split appointments, please refer to the waiver priority policy below. In the event that the student has split appointments from two units outside of their academic college, units should agree in advance as to the responsibility for the value of the waiver (up to the established cap) for students in  are designated as reimbursable. Where there are no advance agreements, the default arrangement is for both of the appointing units to reimburse the academic college at the appropriate prorated basis. For example, if a student holds a 25% appointment in one unit and a 25% appointment in another unit, each unit would be responsible for reimbursement of half of the value of the tuition waiver (up to the established cap set by the reimbursement policy).

      Program Tuition Waiver Policy Designations 
       
  2. Fellowships and Traineeships:  
    A fellowship is defined as an award providing a stipend for living expenses at the established minimum or higher and demanding no services in return.  Fellowship appointments are reviewed in the Graduate College, and the Graduate College decides whether an award is a fellowship.

    Traineeships are research fellowships that are awarded to provide educational training in particular disciplinary areas and provide a stipend for living expenses.

    The principal provisions of the policy specific to fellows and trainees include:
    1. Cost-recovery or self-supporting programs. Students in approved cost-recovery or self-supporting programs are not eligible to receive fellowship or traineeship waivers. This means the student may receive an award that provides:
      • stipend only, or
      • both a stipend and full payment of tuition, or
      • both a stipend and a tuition scholarship that covers some portion of tuition.
         
    2. Tuition coverage. Eligible fellows and trainees receiving the established minimum or higher stipend (see chart below) receive coverage of full tuition during the tenure of the award, regardless of whether the student’s program is base-rate or full for assistantship waivers. The coverage is provided through payment by the funding agency of all tuition assessed, or payment of a negotiated institutional allowance in lieu of full payment, or a full waiver provided by campus. The Graduate College negotiates the institutional payment with the sponsor. Any exceptions to this policy must be granted by the Graduate College. Tuition income lost due to fellowship or traineeship waiver is not reimbursable. This applies to awards originating on and off-campus.
      1. The minimum fellowship/traineeship stipend amount sufficient to generate a waiver is listed below by academic year. By November of each year, the Graduate College in consultation with the Fellowship Board and approval of the Provost establishes the minimum fellowship/traineeship stipend sufficient to provide a waiver for new awards for the following academic year. For students with multi-year awards, the minimum stipend amount sufficient to generate a waiver is established in the initial year of the award and remains constant for the duration of that award.   
         

        Minimum Stipend per Year Minimum Stipend per Semester Minimum Stipend for 12-month Appointment Minimum Stipend for Summer
        $10,000 $5,000 $13,333 $1,111 for 2 months
    3. Campus fellowships and traineeships. Awards funded by campus units must be sufficient to generate a waiver or supplement a waiver-generating appointment.
       
    4. External agencies providing fellowship or traineeship support are required to pay the University for the fellow or trainee’s full tuition or pay a negotiated institutional allowance in lieu of full payment. The Graduate College negotiates the institutional payment with the sponsor. Any exceptions to this policy must be granted by the Graduate College. The Graduate College decides whether an award is a fellowship.
       
    5. Endowment based fellowships established Fall 2010 or later that provide a stipend sufficient to entitle the fellow to a tuition waiver will be required to fund the health service fee and the covered portion of the cost of the health insurance fee.
       
    6. Courtesy Fellowship Waivers. Departments may request waivers for individual students who receive a fellowship from outside the University only in cases where the stipend is paid directly to the student, the stipend meets or exceeds the campus established minimum, and the award has no funding for tuition and fees. The student must be in good academic standing. Requests for courtesy waivers must be submitted by the student’s graduate program (on a Rating Form) and must include specific information on the financial support the award provides. The Graduate College will review the information and determine the eligibility for a courtesy waiver. Courtesy fellowship waivers may include a waiver of all tuition assessed, as well as the service fee, the health service fee, the AFMFA fee, and the Library/Technology fee. They also provide vision insurance, dental insurance and partial payment of the health insurance fee.  Students receiving courtesy waivers are not required by the Graduate College to be enrolled full-time in the terms in which they receive a courtesy waiver.
       
    7. College of Medicine. Students in the College of Medicine, except those in the Medical Scholars Program, must obtain written approval from the College of Medicine before accepting a fellowship or traineeship, and subsequent tuition waiver, controlled by another campus or university unit. Should a student in the College of Medicine, not in the Medical Scholars Program, accept a fellowship or traineeship without the approval of the College, the College may request that the Graduate College remove the related waiver.
       
    8. College of Veterinary Medicine. Effective Fall 2007, students in the College of Veterinary Medicine, except those in the Veterinary Medical Scholars Program, must obtain written approval from the College of Veterinary Medicine before accepting a fellowship or traineeship, and subsequent tuition waiver, controlled by another campus or university unit. Should a student in the College of Veterinary Medicine, not in the Veterinary Medical Scholars Program, accept a fellowship or traineeship without the approval of the College, the College may request that the Graduate College remove the related waiver.
       
  3. Other Provisions:
    For all waiver-generating appointments (assistantships, fellowships and traineeships), other provisions include the following.
    1. Selection Documentation. The Joint Commission on Administrative Rules (JCAR) requires tuition and fee waiver records to be maintained for a minimum of five years.  Therefore, awarding units should retain records pertaining to application, evaluation, and selection, including records for rejected applicants for tuition and fee waiver support (waiver-generating fellowships or assistantships, courtesy waivers or stand-alone waivers). The full JCAR document can be found at www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/023/023parts.html.
       
    2. Fee waivers. Most waiver-generating appointments include coverage of the service fee, health service fee, AFMFA fee and the Library/Technology fee, along with partial payment of the health insurance fee, and full payment by the University for the University vision insurance and dental insurance plans. Note: Some fellowship and traineeship appointments provide coverage of all mandatory fees. 

      Student Fees (Fall/Spring)
      Based on Registration of 12+ Hours

      Amount Amount Waived Student Portion
      Service Fee $294 Fully Waived $0
      General Fee $293 $0 $293
      Health Insurance Fee $696 $605.52 $90.48
      Health Service Fee $238 Fully Waived $0
      Transportation Fee $62 $0 $62
      Student Initiated Fees $66 $0 $66
      AFMFA $346 Fully Waived $0
      Library & Information Technology Fee $244 Fully Waived $0
      Total $2239 $1,727.52 $511.48

      College of Law students have an additional Law Library fee. For additional fee information please see Office of the Registrar Campus Fees.
       

    3. Waiver priority. The campus has established a priority system to guide the work of the Office of Student Financial Aid in processing waivers in cases where students have more than one waiver-generating appointment or are eligible for waivers from multiple sources. The waiver priorities are as follows:

      1. Fellowship Waiver
      2. Assistantship Waiver from an Externally Funded RA 
      3. Assistantship Waiver from appointing unit within student's academic college
      4. Assistantship Waiver from appointing unit outside of student's academic college

      If a student has a waiver-generating fellowship and a waiver-generating assistantship for the same term, the fellowship waiver (full waiver of tuition) will take priority. It is not possible to combine a base-rate graduate assistant tuition waiver with other partial tuition waivers (such as a waiver of non-resident tuition) to obtain a more complete waiver of tuition. Questions about the waiver priority system can be directed to the Office of Student Financial Aid.
       
    4. Summer Automatic Waivers. Students without summer waiver-generating appointments who held waiver-generating appointments for the previous spring semester are eligible to receive summer automatic tuition waivers if they choose to enroll in the summer semester. The summer automatic waiver provides the same tuition waiver as that granted during the previous spring. However, it does not provide a waiver of the same fees as a waiver-generating appointment. Only the service fee, AFMFA fee and the Library/Technology fee are included. The health service fee and health insurance fee are not covered. Students with dental and vision insurance coverage from a waiver-generating appointment in the spring term continue to have dental and vision coverage through August 31. Reimbursable programs are reimbursed for summer automatic waivers (up to the established cap) from an appointing unit through the annual accounting process.
       
    5.  Stand-Alone Waivers. At their discretion, disciplinary colleges may elect to grant a stand-alone waiver to a student who has no waiver-generating appointment. The tuition waiver may be a base rate or full waiver depending on the graduate program in which the student is enrolled. Stand-alone waivers also include the service fee, AFMFA fee, and Library/Technology fee. No other fees are covered in this waiver nor does it include dental and vision insurance coverage. Colleges may limit the number of stand-alone waivers they will grant.   
       
    6. Exceptions for early termination of appointment. A student who resigns a waiver-generating assistantship appointment or whose appointment is canceled before service is rendered for at least three-fourths of the academic term (91 days during a spring or fall semester, 41 days in summer term, or 21 days in summer 1 term for TA appointments) loses the accompanying tuition and fee waiver. This means that the student would be required to pay the full amount of appropriate tuition and fees for that term. There are two exceptions:
      1. The waiver remains in effect if the student withdraws from the University on or before the last day of the assistantship appointment or
      2. Resigns from the assistantship and completes all degree requirements for graduation within seven calendar days of the resignation. See chapter 8.A.8 for more information about resigning assistantships.

      Exceptions for early termination of fellowship appointment. Students with waiver-generating fellowships will retain their tuition waiver for the semester if they withdraw from the University on or before the last day of the fellowship appointment, or if they complete all degree requirements within seven calendar days of resigning their fellowship.
       
    7.  Taxability of tuition waivers associated with assistantships and fellowships. All Graduate tuition and fee waivers are considered taxable income unless exempt under the Internal Revenue Code. Current tax law exempts the tuition and service fee waivers for teaching assistantships (TAs), research assistantships (RAs), and most fellowships. For graduate assistantship (GA) and pre-professional graduate assistantship (PGA) appointments, only $5,250 per calendar year is exempt. If the amount of the tuition and service fee waiver exceeds $5,250, the excess is deemed income under the IRC and additional withholding may be applied.

      Each semester, GAs and PGAs whose tuition and service fee waivers to date are valued at more than $5,250 will have withholding on the amount exceeding $5,250. The withholding tax is applied to the student’s earnings (stipend or hourly pay).

      For more information, students may contact the University Payroll Service Center at payinq@uillinois.edu or the Academic Human Resources Office at 217-333-6747 or the IRS Publication 970 www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p970.pdf, chapters 12 and 13.

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