Stanford University
Postdoctoral Scholars

Paying Scholars

How to Generate Support Payments for Scholars

Jump to information about:

Stanford and NIH Levels of Support
General Information
Funding Your Postdoc
Entering Paylines into PeopleSoft for Payroll
Indicator Tools: Fellowship or Sponsored Project
How to Pay Stipends (Fellowships)
Outside Funding
Travel and Other Reimbursements
Tax information: Scholars' Handbook


Postdoctoral Scholars at Stanford must be supported by either Stanford grants and contracts, training grants, departmental or School fellowship funds, or external fellowship funds, or by a combination of these sources. Postdoctoral scholars may not be self-supporting. Scholars are normally appointed at 100% time. If an appointment is to be made for a lesser percentage, it must be pre-approved by the Assistant Dean for Postdoctoral Affairs. Clinical fellows will follow the PGY levels established by the department of Graduate Medical Education (GME) at the Stanford Hospital & Clinics. All other postdoctoral scholars, regardless of their source of funding, must be paid at least the minimum level established annually by the Vice Provost and Dean of Research and the Vice Provost for Graduate Education. That level is determined by the cumulative years of research experience for that scholar. A school may also establish a higher minimum salary level for postdoctoral scholars paid within that school.

1. Term Activation and Retroactive Appointments

a.)Term Activation

Postdocs are term activated by the registrar in the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs after being entered into People Soft. Term activation ideally takes place a day or two before a postdoc begins a new appointment.

b.) Mid-quarter Appointments

If a postdoc begins a new appointment mid-quarter, term activation must be made retroactive to the first day of the quarter in order to accomplish the mid-quarter appointment. This results in requirement of the $125 tuition payment without regard to the number of days or months that have passed after the opening of the quarter, prior to the postdoc's appointment. Once term activation is accomplished, the $125 tuition is generated within 24 hours by GFS.

2. Multiple Careers (Graduate Course Enrollment)

A postdoc is able to hold multiple careers if the postdoc is admitted to a matriculating degree academic program that requires the postdoc to take Stanford courses as a part of his/her postdoc experience. Examples of this are Bioengineering, Informatics, Bioethics and other programs. This is accomplished in GFS by aid year activating the postdoc under the TAL category from PD to GR and paying ONLY the higher of the two tuitions, but NOT both.

3. Converting to Postdoc Support from Graduate Support

a.) Postdocs Completing PhD Degrees at Stanford

A postdoc can begin an appointment at Stanford when the Office of the University Registrar has confirmed in writing that the prospective postdoc has completed all degree requirements, including a thesis with a specific date of degree conferral.

Postdoc candidates completing their PhD at Stanford will also hold graduate student status.  If the Stanford postdoc candidate wishes to begin postdoc pay mid-quarter, the GFS system will permit this only if there was no financial support for the graduate student in the same quarter. If there was no RA/TA/graduate-fellowship pay (if s/he was self-funded, or paid as an hourly employee for first part of the quarter before the dissertation was submitted), then the remainder of the quarter can be processed as postdoc pay in GFS without difficulty.  Once the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs has processed the postdoc admission, the home department approver changes the TAL Category to "PD"  for the quarter in question on the Aid-Year Activation panel. After that change has been made, the GFS entry for an RAF, RAFC, or NM-monthly stipend can be entered.

GFS will not allow the Stanford postdoc candidate to change from graduate financial support categories (RA, TA/CA/TF/etc, or graduate fellow) to postdoc categories (RAF, RAFC, or NM-Monthly stipend) in the same quarter.   Instead, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs must complete the term activation and the home department approver must change the aid-year activation record for the NEXT quarter to complete the status change and make GFS entry of postdoc support possible. In the meantime, the department may change the compensation and duties of the PhD candidate to recognize the status change from PhD student to postdoc.

b.) Postdocs Completing Ph.D. Degrees Outside of Stanford

A postdoc can begin an appointment at Stanford when a Registrar has confirmed in writing that the prospective postdoc has completed all degree requirements, including a thesis with a specific date of degree conferral. The appointment should begin on or after the degree conferral date. Most postdoc candidates entering Stanford from outside the University who meet this condition have no prior Stanford GFS status, and may be entered into the system mid-quarter with term activation retroactive to the first day of the current quarter with all other factors being the same as any other appointment.

General Information

Information on PeopleSoft is available at Policy Information is at Access to GFS through PeopleSoft requires permission from your Business Manager or Student Services Manager and you must pass required courses.

SALARY is also known as wages. Stanford pays salaries twice a month on the 7th and 22nd. Taxes are removed. Direct deposit to a bank account is available. Please note that although a scholar may be supported on salary, this does not reflect an employee-employer relationship with Stanford University.

STIPEND is also known as fellowship. Fellowships are paid once a month at the end of the month. Taxes are not removed unless the recipient is a non-treaty foreign national. Direct deposit to a bank account is available. Stipends are paid through PeopleSoft GFS. Foreign nationals must have supporting documents (such as the visa and W-8BEN) sent to Payroll before entering stipend pay lines.

Entering Paylines into GFS for Payroll

There are two types of payroll appointments in the GFS system:

1. RAF (Research Affiliate)
If you are planning to pay the scholar salary, you will use RAF as the Assistantship type. Also, use Disb.Plan "NM-Monthly". Check with your Business Manager if you have questions about the account.

2. CS (Clinical Specialist)
Clinical specialists exist in certain departments in the School of Medicine. This is an Assistantship type.

Caveats when entering into the GFS student file:

If you can, make salary appointments at 5% or more. This will prevent the ‘tuition’ (registration fee of $125/quarter) from being taxable income for the scholar. Department accounts are not charged for the tuition when TAL is generated from salary. The tuition is paid by the scholar's School or by a University account. If the salary line is 5% or less (for the total of all salary lines), then the tuition will need to be added in the Tuition section of GFS using a department unrestricted account.

These payroll entries are made by the department administrator into the GFS student file and routed for owning department approvals. Once all approvals have been made, the GFS system communicates with the Human Resources payroll system to generate the pay instructions for the scholar. The rollovers from GFS to the HR payroll system are currently only on the 15th and last day of each month.

Indicator Tools: Fellowship or Sponsored Project

The Postdoctoral Decision Model contains information about determining whether funding being provided to support a Postdoctoral Scholar should be treated as a fellowship or as a research grant/contract, i.e., as a sponsored research project.

How to Pay Stipends (Fellowships)


A postdoc that is on a department or outside fellowship/scholarship, or a NIH training grant or NRSA, is supported through stipend payments. Stipend payments are processed once a month by the Student Financial Services office and distributed at the end of the month. These stipend payments do not have federal, state, or local taxes withheld by Stanford for the scholar (unless the scholar is a foreign national from a non-treaty country). A scholar supported by scholarship payments should estimate and pay applicable quarterly taxes.

US Citizens and Permanent Residents will have entries made in GFS under FLSHP Stipend. Use the Distribution Plan of NM-Monthly.

Non-Resident Aliens continuing existing stipend payments will have entries made in GFS under FLSHP Stipend. Because they have had their visa documents reviewed previously, you should be able to enter the paylines without error messages. Use the Distribution Plan of NM-Monthly. Checks will be cut on the 25th of each month.

Non-Resident Aliens who are new to Stanford or receiving funds through Stanford for the first time will need to have supporting documents reviewed by Payroll before entry will be allowed in GFS. The following supporting documents need to be sent to Payroll at mailcode 8440:
Copy of passport
Copy of I-94
Copy of DS-2019
Copy of visa
Original W-8BEN
Once the documents have been reviewed, you will be able to enter the stipend in GFS. Use the Distribution Plan of NM-Monthly. Checks will be cut on the 25th of each month.

Outside Funding

In the event the scholar is NOT supported and paid through Stanford (with either payroll or Stipend), proof of the scholar receiving outside support is required to keep the scholar registered. Information on the ‘outside direct’ funding is entered into GFS as an Information Only line by the GFS Administrator in your Department/School.

This proof is a copy of the award letter from the sponsoring institution that must include an English translation if appropriate. The letter should include the begin and end dates of support, the amount of the support in U.S. dollars and the name of the institution's fellowship which is supporting the fellowship training while at Stanford. Exchange rates can be easily retrieved from Oanda.

It is important to send proofs of extension of outside support to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs as the scholar 's training is extended. Please monitor your scholars on outside support closely so their registration and tuition can be maintained during their scholarship training.

Appointments for scholars on personal funds are never permitted.

Travel and Other Reimbursements

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