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How do I check on my stipend and are they contingent on receiving an appointment?

Date: July 2018

Question

Hello,

After a year at Cornell being a PhD student I have a few questions about funding that I hope could get answered.

First, is there any place where I can check the nature of and break down the stipend I received? I worked as a TA for the past school year, but I don’t know the exact time I was officially a TA for a course, or how my stipend was determined. I have this question because I learned that other students in my research group received a letter of appointment detailing the duration and name of the appointment and rate of stipend. However, I cannot find my letter or see my earnings in Workday.

Second, I would like to know the policy on stipend rates during the summer. Though there is info regarding this on the Graduate School website, it says, “No minimum mandated, but awards typically range from $5,568 to $8,809”, does it mean it does not violate university regulations if zero stipend was provided?

Third, continuing on the second question, during the 9-month school year, it seems to me that receiving the specified amount of stipend is contingent upon getting an appointment. Is it possible no appointment of any kind is made for PhD students like me during the academic year? I vaguely remember that there might be some explanation about this in my PhD program offer letter but I’m not sure of the details. How can I find out if there is such appointment or not?

Thank you in advance,

“Confused About My Stipend”


Response

Dear “Confused About My Stipend”,

All students who are supported on an assistantship (a TA, RA, GRA or GA position) should receive an appointment letter, similar to the sample that is described on page 18 of University policy 1.3.   Your graduate field or the department that offered the course will be able to provide you with a copy of your TA appointment letter for last year if you can’t find the original.  You can also view your paystubs through Workday if you’d like to see a record of the payments or your tax forms. 

All standard TA appointments are defined as:

“An academic appointment in support of the teaching of a course of 15 to 20 hours per week, averaging no more than 15 hours per week for the base stipend as established by the Board of Trustees. The assignment is usually in the student’s major field or a closely related one. TAs are awarded full tuition credit, individual student health insurance, and a stipend.”

The stipend rate for assistantships during the 9-month 2017-18 academic year was $25,780.  For 2018-19, the rate has increased to $26,426. Cornell policy does not set a minimum assistantship rate for the summer, since some students are away from campus for part or all of the summer, but if students are supported on a standard assistantship it must conform to the established assistantship stipend rate.  That rate is $2864 per month in summer 2018, or $2936 for summer 2019.  Students who are supported on fellowships over the summer may receive different stipend rates, depending on the funding source.  This is the reason that the Graduate School’s website provides a range for summer.

Funded students should consult their offer of admission letter for specific details about what financial support has been committed.  A typical offer for a PhD student might offer 5 academic years of funding, but some graduate fields are also able to commit to providing summer support as well.  Of course, all funding offers require that students remain in good academic standing and make progress towards their degree.  In STEM and Life Science fields it is especially common for students to be supported as research assistants (RAs or GRAs) for part of their studies, which requires that students identify an advisor on a prescribed timeline.  If you’ve had some academic difficulties and have not been offered funding for the fall semester it might be helpful for us to talk.  Please let me know and we’ll find a convenient time for a call or in-person meeting!

Sincerely,

Jason

Jason Kahabka
Associate Dean for Administration