Charging Stipends to Federally Sponsored Awards

According to federal requirements, scholarships and student aid costs (stipends) are allowable only when the purpose of the federal award is to provide training to selected participants and the charge is approved by the federal awarding agency. The National Institutes of Health Grants Policy statement states that stipends are not allowed on research grants. The National Science Foundation allows for stipends only in support of participants or trainees at conference, meetings, symposia, training activities, and workshops.

RFCUNY Guidance

Given the guidance provided by federal sponsors, it is clear that stipends are only allowed on federal research awards where the sponsor has specifically included training activities in the original scope of work. Therefore, outgoing federal proposals that include stipends in the budget should include a description of the training and its purpose in the award documentation.

Principal Investigator Procedure on Sponsored Awards

It is the policy of The City University of New York (CUNY) and the Research Foundation, CUNY to support students in the furtherance of their education and to encourage the development of future research scientists. When research training grants are awarded, it is the responsibility of principal investigators (PI) and their respective department to properly select and appoint stipend recipients in accordance with sponsor requirements.

To appoint a trainee to receive a stipend, the PI must not only submit the required documentation defined in the applicable sponsored award, but also verify the following:

  • Student Status- to qualify for a stipend, an individual must be a candidate for a degree, either at the university or elsewhere, or must have received a doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution. For post-doctoral students, stipend on “T” and “F” awards (not research “R” or “P”) should follow the NIH NRSA stipend levels indicated on the NIH website.
  • Payroll Status- verify that the student has not been paid off of CUNY’s payroll while working for the current award PI or any of the PIs departmental peers within the past two years. If students are found to be on CUNY’s payroll within the past two years, contact RFCUNY’s Human Resources department to process income tax form 1099 payments.
  • Service Requirement- if the awarding of the stipend is contingent upon completion of a service requirement, the stipend is subject to federal tax reporting to the Internal Revenue Service.

Other Considerations

The memorandum, Guidance Concerning Charging Stipends to Federally Sponsored Awards, issued by RFCUNY in 2015 provides full details on what is not allowable under the Uniform Guidance.