Does the assistantship extension and stipend supplementation also apply to students with external fellowships?

Date: April 2020


Dear Dean Kahabka,

I am a Ph.D. student funded on a fellowship this semester. I saw the message regarding the extension of the spring assistantship period and stipend supplement, and I am wondering if these changes also apply to students with an external fellowship like me. As the amount of my fellowship stipend is lower than the TA/GRA stipend rate, Cornell has supplemented it to the TA/GRA stipend rate. Your reply would be very much appreciated.

-Funded Fellow


Dear Funded Fellow,

The change in the spring 2020 assistantship does not impact fellowships or fellowship stipends. For context, assistantship stipends are provided as both a form of funding support for research students who are making academic progress and as a form of compensation for service activities to the university (such as TA-ing a class). For this reason, the appointment period for assistantships is explicitly defined by university policy. Students fulfilling their obligations in some assistantships this spring had additional service responsibilities that required an extension of the appointment period. The change in this semester’s academic calendar did not increase their own academic expectations such as course completion, research, or thesis/dissertation writing. The adjustment was truly tied to the extra days of assistantship duties this semester.

In contrast, students on fellowship do not have service obligations to the university. Fellowship stipends, paid as a lump-sum at the start of the semester, are awarded with the expectation that students make satisfactory academic progress and focus on their own studies, research, and scholarship. Fellowships are especially prized because they relieve students from service obligations and allow both additional time and flexibility to focus on degree progress.

I hope this background is helpful, and I hope that you and your loved ones are well during this very challenging time. 

Warm regards,


Jason Kahabka
Associate Dean for Administration