Could we be provided clarity on who was eligible for and received the emergency summer fellowships?

Date: July 2020

Question

Dear Deans,

I was wondering if we could be provided some clarity on who was eligible for and received the emergency summer fellowships that was announced by Dean Kahabka in April.

DGSs from two different graduate fields (totaling over 100 Ph.D. students) have shared that none of their students were approved for the fellowship despite nominations from the DGS. This included students who had run out of their summer fellowships. Many of us were relying on internal research funding for our livelihoods this summer, only for these funds to be frozen by the university. Others lost their on-campus jobs, which help supplement their summer fellowship funding. It seems that many students who lost additional funding for the summer were denied the emergency summer fellowship. I understand that the university is operating with a limited and uncertain budget, but I am deeply concerned that such conservative eligibility criteria will only further disadvantage marginalized students.

In addition to the eligibility criteria that the Grad School used to determine who would receive the emergency summer fellowship, I would appreciate it if the Grad School could also provide disaggregated data on who received the fellowship by field, college/school, race, gender, international status, etc. (without sacrificing anonymity, of course).

Thank you,

Grad4Dough


Response

Dear “Grad4Dough,”

In mid-April the Graduate School announced an emergency summer fellowship program for students who were facing unexpected loss of their planned summer support due to COVID disruptions. Because funding is coordinated by each graduate field independently, we solicited nominations from directors of graduate studies (DGSs) and worked with many GFAs iteratively over the following weeks to identify eligible students and process the awards. 

The Graduate School paid out $101,700 to support 47 graduate students who lost planned summer funding for COVID-related issues. An additional 30 applications were approved by the Graduate School but later withdrawn by the graduate field or student because the planned summer funding came through after all. About 30 applications were denied because they did not meet one of the three published eligibility criteria. The basic eligibility criteria communicated to students and fields included 1) students must be in good academic standing, 2) students must be within the period of guaranteed funding specified in their admission offer, and 3) the planned summer funding was disrupted by COVID-19. The typical award amount was $3,000 but many nominations requested an amount less than this to help offset a smaller gap in funding.

The most common disruptions mentioned in the nomination statements were the loss of summer TA appointments and the cancellation of planned summer internships or jobs. A significant number of students who were nominated by early May soon found summer TA positions so did not need the emergency fellowship and withdrew their names from consideration. The most common reasons for the Graduate School denying a funding request were:

  • “Student will receive planned/full summer funding but anticipates additional expenses”
  • “Student was not offered summer funding in the letter of admission or was beyond the period of guaranteed funding”

Your question notes that students who “had run out of their summer fellowships” were not granted the emergency fellowship. This is correct. Several fields submitted lists of nominees who were either fully funded on summer Sage fellowships, or were all beyond their summer funding commitments. I regret that those students did not meet the eligibility requirements and the Graduate School did not have the resources to provide summer support for students who were beyond their funding commitment as communicated in their offer of admission.

It’s actually difficult to provide an exact number of nominations because the lists were very fluid for several weeks as graduate fields iterated with students and the Graduate School as summer funding plans came into focus. However, I can confirm that all eligible nominees were approved, based on the information that we received in their nomination statements. In addition to the summer emergency fellowships, the Graduate School also contributed $75,867 to the Access Fund offered by the Dean of Students office. This fund provided more than $200,000 in financial support to graduate and professional students who encountered unexpected costs that created hardships due to COVID through the spring and early summer. Our staff are working flat-out on processing fall fellowships so I’m not able to offer all the demographic analyses you asked about, and in some cases sharing demographic information could violate confidentiality protections, but I hope this information helps add context to how summer emergency fellowship awards were made.

Sincerely,

Jason

Jason Kahabka
Associate Dean for Administration