Tuition Charges to Grants and Contracts

According to Office of Management and Budget Circular A-21, tuition remission for students is an allowable direct charge on federal grants and contracts provided that the following conditions are met:

  1. there is an employee-employer relationship between the student and the institution for the work performed;
  2. the tuition remission is a reasonable compensation for the work performed and is conditioned explicitly upon the performance of necessary work; and
  3. it is the institution’s practice to similarly compensate students in nonsponsored as well as sponsored activities.

The University of Mississippi recognizes three categories of graduate assistantships: teaching assistants/instructors, research assistants, and administrative assistants. The University has stated its policies regarding the employment of graduate assistants in its Policies and Procedures for Graduate Assistantship Administration. The appointment category must be indicated when a student is appointed to a graduate assistantship. The University satisfies condition #3 above, since it has a practice of providing partial tuition scholarships to graduate assistants who are paid from E&G funds (in a manner that is similar to the tuition charges for research assistants that is herein described). The University also satisfies conditions #1 and #2 for all graduate assistants, since there is an employee-employer relationship in all cases and the compensation for each type of assistantship is conditioned explicitly upon the performance of necessary work.

Since tuition charges for graduate assistants are allowable direct charges on federal contracts and grants and many other types of non-federal contracts and grants, the University will ordinarily require tuition charges for graduate assistants to be built into new contract and grant budgets effective July 1, 2000. The tuition charges to grants and contracts will be at the same partial tuition scholarship level as the University provides to graduate assistants supported from E&G funds. Also, the same minimum value for the assistantship, required to trigger the tuition scholarship, will apply. (During a transition period, existing contracts and grants will not be required to be rebudgeted. Direct charges for tuition for graduate assistants will be required when such grants are competitively renewed.) This policy applies to both graduate research assistants and graduate administrative assistants who are to be supported on such external grants and contracts, with the following exceptions.

In cases where a funding agency has an explicit policy stating that tuition charges are not allowed on contracts and grants, the University will consider providing comparable tuition scholarships for students supported on such contracts and grants as a cost-sharing contribution by the University. The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, in consultation with the Graduate School, will make such commitments at the time that proposal transmittal sheets are prepared. Also, in cases where a funding agency requires a matching contribution, the University may use partial tuition waivers for graduate assistants as a means of presenting this match.

Graduate students who serve on sponsored internships present a special case. These internship appointments are usually not appropriately described as either research or teaching assistantships, though a student is technically appointed as either a graduate research or administrative assistant. Internship refers to a situation in which a graduate student is receiving practical training at an agency, institution, or corporation that is separate from the University, and in which the outside entity has entered into a contract with the University for the student’s professional services. (On some occasions the internship can be with a unit within the University, in which case there will not be an external contract and the policies regarding internal support for graduate assistants will apply.) If this agency/institution/corporation has an explicit policy that prohibits direct tuition charges as part of the contract, as mentioned above, the University will consider providing the tuition scholarship from E&G sources. However, the University is not obligated to provide partial tuition scholarships in all instances, particularly if the internship involves a direct payment to the student without transfer of funds through the University.

Another set of special cases are fellowships and traineeships. A fellowship is generally defined as a scholarship, whether from the University or an external source, which does not require service by the student. University fellowships, including dissertation fellowships, are considered to be scholarships rather than assistantships and policies regarding tuition benefits are subject to separate roles. (For example, dissertation fellowships do carry a partial tuition scholarship, whereas honors fellowships do not carry a partial tuition scholarship by themselves.) Externally funded fellowships may include full coverage of tuition as part of the educational allowance. Likewise, traineeships are usually part of federally funded programs and may or may not have teaching, research, or service requirements. Traineeships may include full coverage of tuition as a charge to the grant.

For graduate assistantships paid with E&G funds or other self-generated funds, the University will continue its policy of providing partial tuition scholarships at established rates and for established minimum assistantship levels. In cases where a student is funded partially from E&G sources and partially from contract and grant sources, the partial tuition scholarship will ordinarily be charged in a proportional manner to the respective funding sources.

The above policies refer to partial tuition charges and partial tuition scholarships. The University also has a non-resident fee. The non-resident fee is remitted (via a non-resident fee scholarship) at the 100% level for graduate students who receive financial support in the form or a graduate assistantship or fellowship at the rate of at least $600 per semester. This non-resident fee scholarship is granted for graduate assistantships funded from both E&G and external sources. That is, the University does not require the inclusion of the non-resident fee as a direct charge on grants and contracts. For an internship, the non-resident scholarship will generally be provided by the University if the funds for the internship are transferred to the University by the agency/institution/corporation. Externally funded fellowships and traineeships are expected to include the non-resident fee on the grant, though the University may negotiate with the funding source on this matter. University-funded fellowships may include a full or partial non-resident fee scholarship.