Stipend, Tuition, & Health Insurance
Students making satisfactory progress receive financial support, including stipend, tuition and health insurance. The first year of funding is supported through fellowships and training grant appointments. In the second year, and for the duration of the program, support comes from the thesis advisor, teaching assistantships and individual awards that the student may receive. Generally, senior students are supported on a research grant
All stipends (both assistantships and fellowships) are considered taxable income. State and Federal income tax is withheld from all assistantship paychecks which are processed semi-monthly through Cornell’s payroll system. Fellowships are processed through the Graduate School and distributed by the Bursar’s Office. Taxes are not withheld from fellowships; however, these awards are considered taxable and students are responsible for filing a tax return and for paying taxes. Estimated taxes should be paid quarterly, you may be fined if you don’t pay the estimated taxes. Tuition is not considered taxable income. Books and supplies are deductible and receipts should be kept (consult your tax advisor). (Please note: The GFAs and the university cannot provide tax advice).
NIH Training Grant in Molecular Biophysics
The Biophysics Graduate Program has benefitted enormously by support for over 40 years from the NIH in the form of a Molecular Biophysics Training Grant (MBTG). The Program Director, presently Michelle Wang, and Executive Committee decides how the available support, currently for 4 students, is awarded. Most or all of the slots support eligible students in their first year. This award is specifically to train students in the Biophysics Graduate Program, and its continued support from the NIH depends on several factors, including maintaining its unique integration into the training structure of the Program.
Biophysics students generally cannot be supported on another NIH Training Grant as this could jeopardize the competitive renewal of the MBTG grant. Thus, students cannot be supported from another NIH Training Grant in their first two years as this would interfere with the training provided by the Program. If support is desired from another NIH Training Grant in the third year or beyond, it is due to the need for extensive new training necessary for the research project. Therefore, before applying for such support, the student and their advisor must seek permission in writing to the Biophysics DGS and MBTG Training Grant Director, explaining the compelling reason for such support. If the DGS and TG Director feel that such additional support would conflict with the intent of the NIH MBTG Training Grant, they can prohibit a Biophysics student from applying for that support.
Methods of Payment to Graduate Students
Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) or Teaching Assistant (TA)
While acting as a Graduate Research Assistant or a Teaching Assistant, a student’s stipend is processed through the payroll system. A student must be registered to receive a stipend check. Also, in accordance with federal regulations, in order to be paid as a GRA or TA, a graduate students must fill out an I-9 form. This form is necessary for a student to receive a stipend. A GRA/TA is paid semi-monthly a fixed amount based on the annual stipend rate. Timecards are not required or collected. Taxes are withheld from the student check; the amount will vary depending on how the student fills out the W-4 (withholding) form. The W-4 form can be changed anytime during the year through the Workday system. The student will receive a W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement) from the university at the address listed on your paycheck or on-line, depending on your preference. You are strongly encouraged to use direct deposit; forms can be obtained from http://www.dfa.cornell.edu/payrollservices/services/directdeposit.cfm. Physical checks are mailed to student’s local address of record. The first check should be available on August 31.
A student on a fellowship (either university fellowship or supported by a departmental fellowship i.e. the BCMB and Genetics training grant support is considered a fellowship payment) is paid once per semester through the Bursar system. This check is issued at the beginning of each semester of study (August; January; June). Most stipend checks should be available at the Bursar’s Office in Day Hall after registration and are released to registered Cornell students presenting a valid Cornell ID. Taxes are not withheld from fellowship checks and you are responsible for paying estimated taxes on your taxable income. You are strongly encouraged to sign up for direct deposit. Forms can be obtained at https://www.dfa.cornell.edu/tools-library/forms/student-refund-direct-deposit-form-nelnet.
Tuition payments are made through the university financial system and credited to your Bursar bill. Fall tuition is credited by August and Spring tuition is credited by January. The tuition payment should be taken care of automatically for most students. If you have questions regarding your Bursar bill, please see the GFA in 107 Biotech.
All registered grad students are automatically enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), an accident/illness policy that meets the health insurance standards developed by the American College Health Association. The yearly premium is paid by your source of financial support and should be taken care of automatically. Please contact the GFA if there remains a charge on your Bursar bill. Additional family coverage and/or optional dental and vision insurance is available at a cost to the student. More information can be found on the Office of Student Health Benefits web site, http://studenthealthbenefits.cornell.edu/.
Graduate students appointed on any combination of full assistantships or fellowships for spring, summer, and fall terms are entitled to two weeks (ten weekdays) of annual vacation each 12-month period (August 21 through August 20) in addition to Cornell University holidays (when the university is officially closed); vacation time will be prorated for students appointed for shorter periods of time (e.g., 4 days for a student appointed on an assistantship or fellowship for only one semester during the calendar period August 21-August 20). University holidays generally include twelve days: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and the following day, and winter break (generally six working days from December 25 through January 1). Days on which classes are not in session but the university is open (e.g., institutionally-scheduled academic breaks in Fall Semester, January intersession, Spring Semester) are not automatic vacation time nor holidays for graduate students appointed on assistantships, but graduate students appointed on assistantships may request in advance to take vacation during such periods.
Graduate student stipends are considered taxable by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the State of New York. GRA and TA stipends are administered through Payroll and typically have taxes taken out of each check. Fellowships are typically paid in lump sums throughout the year and do not have taxes withheld. Students should consult their tax advisor to determine how best to handle payment of taxes to suit their particular circumstances. Cornell faculty and staff cannot offer tax advice. General information is available on the Graduate School website as well as in the University Division of Financial Affairs.