format_list_bulleted Topic Overview

Student Payments (Graduate and Undergraduate)

Students can accept employment at Stanford to meet academic year earning expectations for financial aid packages and/or to perform services related to their course of graduate study. This overview outlines information about paying student workers and various methods of funding graduate students.

Faculty members often supervise student employees on hourly-paid jobs and graduate students on assistantships and fellowships. Administrators within the departments are responsible for setting up employee records and pay instructions with Payroll, and assisting faculty with their supervisory tasks, such as approving rates of pay and, in the case of hourly employees, approving hours worked. Administrators are responsible for entering all graduate payments in the Graduate Financial Support (GFS) system.

When undergraduate or graduate students are performing a service for Stanford, treat them as employees with the requisite paperwork and, if they are working in an hourly position, keep an accurate record of hours worked.

Hourly-Paid Students

Students working in hourly-paid positions are hired as employees, with job records in PeopleSoft.

Hourly-paid students must record actual hours worked in Axess Timecard each pay period. Refer to Topic Overview: Time and Leave Reporting for more information.

I-9 Collection and Reverification

To comply with U.S. law, Stanford administrators must verify the eligibility for employment for all new employees, including student employees. However, students who are continuously enrolled, except during normal school break periods, do not need to submit a new I-9 Form when moving between jobs. They need to present renewal documents before current documents expire to avoid any disruptions in pay. Refer to How to: Verify Employment Eligibility (I-9) for more information.

Taxation of Student Pay

Student-employee pay is subject to federal and state income tax withholdings and is reported on Form W-2. Work performed in California is subject to withholding and reporting to California, regardless of residency status of the student. Registered degree-seeking students do not pay FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes or California Voluntary Disability Insurance for the quarters that they are enrolled in classes.

Students can refer to the Student Financial Services Taxes websites for information on tax considerations for:

Paying Non-Registered Students

Students who are working, but are not enrolled for a given quarter, are treated as temporary employees. Terminate the student job record, and rehire the student as a temporary employee. The wages paid during this period are subject to FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes and California Voluntary Disability Insurance. Refer to Termination Process (PeopleSoft HRMS Job Aids) for more information.

Award payments to U.S. citizens, permanent residents and residents for tax purposes are taxable to the recipient, but not reported by Stanford on a tax document. Stanford does not withhold tax from these payments. Recipients may need to make quarterly tax payments to the IRS and State of California using Form 1040-ES at the IRS website and 540-ES at the State of California Franchise Tax Board website. A letter summarizing payments greater than $600 is mailed to the recipient each January for year-end tax reporting.

Scholarships and fellowships that qualify under Section 117 of the Internal Revenue Code are excludable from the recipient’s gross income. To qualify for the Section 117 exclusion:

  • An award must be a qualified scholarship (the award is only applicable to tuition and mandatory fees).
  • The recipient must be a candidate for a degree.
  • The award must be for the purpose of studying or conducting research at an educational organization.

Refer to the IRS discussion of these exclusions

Award payments to nonresidents of the U.S. are subject to a 30% federal tax withholding and are reported on Tax Form 1042-S. Form 1042-S is mailed annually by March 15.

Students who are awarded Federal Work Study (FWS) funds may use these funds to seek employment at Stanford. For graduate students, FWS positions are sometimes structured in the form of a research or teaching assistantship with a corresponding tuition allowance.

FWS is funded primarily by the federal government with matching contributions from Stanford, and, for off-campus employment in Community Service, the hiring organization.

Upon the hiring of a work-study student, the department manager must complete the FWS Authorization Request to confirm the employment and to receive instructions on the Oracle Labor Distribution allocation for the student. The student is responsible for monitoring hour limits. Additional hours worked are funded by the hiring department. Refer to Financial Aid Federal Work Study for more information.

Since FWS jobs are structured in different ways by the various departments and schools, students should contact their academic department or school office for information about FWS opportunities. Undergraduate students interested in Community Service FWS should contact the Haas Center for Public Service. All students who wish to receive FWS funding must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. FWS awards are based on computed financial need and available funds. Additional information may be available from the Financial Aid Office.

The SU-21 Fellowship/Award Form is used to request an award check to be presented during a ceremony to a Stanford graduate student and for reimbursement for conference and training fees, travel expenses, and purchases of  computers, books and supplies for medical residents and clinical fellows (SHC or LPCH employees).

The SU-21 Form is also used to request fellowship payments (subsistence payments and travel grants) for visitors. Refer to How to: Request Subsistence Payment and Travel Grant for Visitors.

The SU-21 Form is not for use for payment for services, nor for fellowship payments to Stanford students.

Graduate student assistantships enable students to earn compensation for their research or teaching activities while continuing their academic and professional development. Graduate assistantships are controlled and/or administered by academic departments. The department administrators decide who receives these forms of financial support, and at what level a graduate student is supported. 

Assistantship salaries are set up by assigned administrative personnel within schools and departments, and paid through (Graduate Financial Support) GFS. Faculty who supervise graduate students on assistantships are assigned to approve quarterly payments for their students.

For GFS entry deadlines for each pay period, administrators can refer to Resource: Payroll Schedules and Deadlines. For policy guidelines, including pay scales and work-hour limitations, refer to the GFS Policy Manual.

Graduate students may opt to have tuition and fees deducted from their pay. Refer to Paying Tuition and Other Fees via Payroll Deduction on the Student Financial Services website for more information.

Graduate assistantships are paid on the following standard appointment periods:

  • Autumn Quarter: Oct. 1 - Dec. 31
  • Winter Quarter: Jan. 1 - March 31
  • Spring Quarter: April 1 - June 30
  • Summer Quarter: July 1 - Sept. 30

Graduate financial aid is administered by Stanford University’s Financial Aid Office, the Schools of Medicine Financial Aid Office, the Law School Financial Aid Office and the Graduate School of Business Financial Aid Office. Refer to the Financial Aid Offices for links to specific aid offices.


Federal and non-federal student loans are available to graduate students enrolled at least half-time in a degree program. Student loans are administered by the various Financial Aid Offices on campus. To apply for federal student loans, students need to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Students should contact their Financial Aid Office for information and application instructions.

Emergency Grant-in-Aid Funds

Emergency Grant-in-Aid Funds assist graduate students who experience a financial emergency or an unanticipated expense (e.g., medical, dental or legal), causing financial hardship. This program is designed to assist those who cannot reasonably resolve their financial difficulty through fellowships or loans. For more detailed information and the application procedures, refer to the Emergency Grant-In-Aid (PDF) instructions and application form.

Graduate fellowships from Stanford-based funds generally are controlled by the school and administered by the university department. The department administrators determine the requirements and restrictions for fellowships, as well as the level of support given, ranging from funds to cover partial tuition to full tuition and a living stipend.

Processing Fellowship Support in GFS

Fellowship tuition and stipend payments are entered in the GFS by department personnel and are processed by the Student Financial Services Department. Fellowship tuition support is credited against tuition charges on the student’s university bill. Stipends are not paid in cash, nor are they convertible to cash. The default for disbursement of stipends is “standard charges,” i.e., after other university charges, such as room and board, have been deducted, the remaining fellowship stipend is paid as a refund check to the student. If students prefer to receive the fellowship check for the entire amount and pay the other charges with personal funds, the students must request their home department to issue the stipend as a "check only - no deductions" (use "Stipend" charge priority). Refer to the Graduate Financial Support Policy Manual for more information on Fellowships.

Credit Balances

Credit balances on student accounts may result from aid awards that exceed charges and/or aid awards intended to be disbursed entirely to the student (not for the payment of tuition or fee charges). Some student aid has restrictions placed on it by the donor or sponsor that preclude the aid from paying specific types of charges. Therefore, students may receive credit balance checks that include excess aid and/or stipend. Also, students who have unpaid charges on their account that aid is not eligible to pay, may receive a credit balance check from their student account. To prevent this, refer to the Financial Aid and Student Permissions section on the University Bill Payment Methods.

Refund/Stipend Checks

Refund/Stipend checks distributed from student accounts are sent via Direct Deposit. Students are strongly encouraged to use Direct Deposit, because it is the fastest way for students to receive their funds, and it ensures receipt of funds regardless of address changes.

For students who are not enrolled in Direct Deposit, live checks are mailed by the Student Financial Services Office directly to the mailing address on file in Axess. Live checks are mailed on the next business day after they are printed. 

Students may review refund/stipend disbursement data in Axess by selecting View Refund Stipend Check the Finances drop-down menu in the Student tab.

Leaves of Absence After Fellowships Are Paid

If students withdraw during a quarter, the department/school administrators determine whether a prorated amount of stipend must be repaid. To have the charges reduced, and thus be able to recapture any non-applicable tuition from the fellowship, students should file a request for a Leave of Absence as soon as they know it will be needed.

External Fellowships Paid Directly to Students

In some cases, an external agency may award a fellowship directly to students, and the funding is not processed in any way through Stanford. In this case, the students are billed for tuition and fees in the same manner as other students, and they pay those expenses directly. The students’ home department should enter this support in GFS as “Info Only” to allow coordination of all aid the students may receive.

Graduate students with a fellowship award paid directly to them may be eligible for a Cardinal Care health insurance subsidy. Entering an “Info Only” aid line in GFS will trigger the subsidy, if appropriate.

Department administrators should keep a copy of appropriate documentation defining such fellowship awards before making an “Info Only” entry in GFS.

See the Graduate Financial Support Policy Manual for more information on Fellowships.

Last Updated: May 31, 2024