About Fellowships at UAlbany 

Fellows are not RF employees because they are not performing a service for the RF. 

If the terms of the award require the recipient to provide a service, the person must be appointed to the Research Foundation payroll as an employee and paid a salary or wage for the service provided. 

Fellowship awards are subject to SUNY academic policies and procedures, including the SUNY Patents & Inventions Policy.

Participant Stipends versus Fellowships

A fellowship is generally an amount paid for the benefit of an individual to aid in the pursuit of study or research. A fellow (whether a graduate student fellow, postdoctoral fellow, etc.) is an individual performing independent research.  

If the fellow is a student, this research would be part of their educational pursuits. The student is not required to perform any specific research project or under the direct supervision of any individual. They may seek advice or assistance from colleagues or may collaborate with others in their particular discipline, but the final decisions of what to do, how to proceed and in what direction the research is to travel rests with the fellow. There is no expectation of performing a service. 

An employee (whether a research assistant, teaching assistant or postdoctoral associate) performs a service for the University and is compensated for those services. Each of these types of employees is required to perform services to receive compensation and is subject to the control and supervision of the employer.  

Service refers to teaching, research or other work that the recipient must agree to perform. Service does not include research initiated by the recipient or such incidental activities as preparing progress reports or giving a speech on the results of the recipient's research. A service is not constituted by a general condition that the recipient complies with degree requirements, even though the person is required to teach or engage in research to obtain the degree. 

Stipends are payments typically given to individuals to help defray living or other costs, often under the assumption that they are not taxable. Frequently, stipends are not taxed, not because they are not subject to tax, but because they are not reported by payers to the recipient or the IRS on an information return or by the taxpayers on their tax returns. 

Under U.S. tax law, the substance of a transaction determines how a payment is taxed, not the name or form of a payment. Therefore, the first task of payers is to classify the income character of a stipend based on the tax rules. 

Learn more about managing stipends for trainees.

Postdoctoral Fellowships

A postdoctoral fellowship is a competitive award of financial support to an individual which provides a stipend and in some cases money for benefits coverage.  

Although postdoctoral fellowships may be awarded on the basis of a proposed research program, they are not awarded to accomplish a specific statement of work and they do not lead to an employer-employee relationship. Postdoctoral fellowships are awarded on a merit basis to assist a scholar in his or her professional training and development. 

Postdoctoral fellowships may be paid through the Research Foundation or directly to the individual from the funding organization. Postdoctoral fellows are official affiliates of the institution and must comply with local campus rules with that affiliation. 

Review benefits for postdoctoral fellows. For additional information, please view SUNY RF’s Postdoctoral Employees & Fellows Policies & Practices Policy.

Note: A postdoctoral fellowship is not the same as postdoctoral employment

Fellowship Forms 

New fellows should work with their advisors to complete these forms before sending them to RFHR.  

Forms completed by both the new employee and their supervisor should be sent to [email protected] or brought to RFHR’s offices, located in Management Services Center (MSC) 100C. 

General Forms

You must complete the following forms to establish a fellowship: 

Non-citizens must contact RFHR at 518-437-4500 to schedule an appointment. You’ll be asked to complete the substantial presence test (SPT) and provide your passport and visa.  

All others must attach proof of citizenship or permanent residency to their Fellowship Form.

Tax Forms

Information for Fellows who are U.S. Citizens, Permanent Residents or Resident Aliens 

The Research Foundation (RF) is not required to withhold taxes or report taxes to the IRS on fellowship payments made to U.S. citizens, permanent residents or resident aliens. 

The RF sends out an RF Payment Reporting Memo to notify fellows of the tax payments for the year. If you do not receive a copy of this memo at the end of the tax year, you may submit a Request a Copy of Payment Reporting Memo Form

Information for Fellows who are Non-resident Aliens 

Payments made to non-resident aliens (NRAs) are subject to a set of sequential NRA taxation and exemption rules. Generally, a 14% reduced income tax is applied under IRS requirements and reportable on the IRS Form 1042-S. The Research Foundation will send non-resident fellows a 1042-S at the end of the tax year.  

Non-resident fellows have access to IRS Form W-8BEN, which serves two purposes: Part 1 gathers the individual’s official name, address, tax status and Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). Part 2 allows an individual to claim income tax treaty exemptions for a few different non-service type incomes. 

Some non-resident fellows may be eligible to claim an income tax treaty exemption if their home country has an income tax treaty with the United States, the treaty has an article that covers fellowship activity, and the fellow completes IRS Form W-8BEN and the Non-resident Alien Fellowship Tax Exemption Certificate.  

Payment Forms

Fellows must elect to receive pay via direct deposit by submitting a Direct Deposit of Salary Enrollment Form

Health Insurance Forms

If award funds will be used to cover the full or partial cost of your health insurance, please submit the appropriate form: 

For guidance, please review SUNY RF’s Procedure for Fellow Health Insurance Premiums Paid

For biweekly premium rates, please review SUNY RF’s Graduate Student Fellowship and Postdoctoral Fellowships documents.