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Post Doctoral Fellowship Payment Benefit Considerations


To describe relevant procedures for the payment of and eligibility for fringe benefits for Post-Doctoral employees who terminate employment in order to accept qualifying fellowships, thereby encouraging the acceptance of fellowship awards from external sources.

Applies to: 

Any Post-Doctoral employee who is offered a qualifying fellowship from an external funding source.

Policy Statement: 

External awards for fellowships may be offered to persons at the University who currently or will hold Post-Doctoral positions as employees. Some external sponsors allow the Post-Doctoral employee to continue in an employment relationship with the University where the employment duties are reduced or eliminated in compliance with the award terms and conditions. These circumstances may allow the Fellow to be paid the fellowship payment through the University’s payroll system. Continued employment status is the preferred method to manage all fellowship payments, as it allows the Fellow to continue eligibility for health insurance, worker’s compensation, retirement benefits, dependent care and health spending accounts, in-state tuition rates, among other benefits offered to benefits-eligible employees. Whenever possible, payment of fellowship awards will be managed through the payroll system.

Some external sponsors consider the payment of the fellowship award through the salary system to be contrary to the award conditions and may prohibit the payment of salary and/or fringe benefits as an allowable cost. The National Research Service Award program (NRSA), managed through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is one such program. For those fellowships that are deemed to be qualifying fellowships by the virtue of the national or international reputation of the program and the sponsor’s requirement that a Fellow may not be paid for the Fellowship through the University’s payroll system, the University will pay such fellowships through a (non-salary) fellowship payment while the Fellow is on official Leave-Without-Pay (LWOP) status. This method will only be used for benefits-eligible Post-Doctoral employees (50-100% FTE) because faculty members receiving fellowships may retain their eligibility for support through the Supplemental Salary Funding (SSF) Policy, while GRAs and GTAs remain eligible for benefits when on paid fellowships by virtue of continued student status.

An eligible Post-Doctoral employee who is awarded a qualifying fellowship will apply for official Leave-Without-Pay status through the University. If granted, the employee will be eligible to continue health insurance coverage on a direct-bill option, paying both the employee and employer costs. The University will provide an additional payment directly to the Fellow on a monthly basis from unrestricted funds to cover the employer costs of the health insurance during the fellowship period. A determination of the cost of the employer premium will be made annually by the Benefits Office based on the applicable calendar year premiums. The additional payment amount will only be adjusted once per calendar year. The payment to the Fellow for the employer portion of the health insurance premium may be adjusted to cover the yearly estimated taxable effect on the Fellow, as this payment will be deemed to be taxable compensation. The employer health insurance premium is the only benefit that will be paid by this alternate method of fellowship payment. Worker’s compensation and in-state tuition eligibility will still be maintained while on LWOP. Coverage for group and optional group life insurance while on LWOP can be maintained if the Fellow pays the applicable premiums at the group rate. Other benefits, such as dependent and health care spending accounts, and retirement are not explicitly covered by this policy. Issues with flexible spending accounts will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Inquiries should be directed to the contact listed below.


Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research
Youngberg Hall
2385 Irving Hill Road

Approved by: 
Vice Chancellor for Research
Approved on: 
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Effective on: 
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)

Some prestigious fellowship awards have been offered to Post-Doctoral employees who were unable to accept the award due to the reduction to or loss of eligibility for employee health insurance coverage and other employee fringe benefits. KU wants to make the determination for acceptance of such awards based on the merits of the award and not solely dependent on the economic impact to the individual.


Qualifying Fellowship: A fellowship in which a nationally or internationally prominent external sponsor considers the payment of the fellowship award through the University’s salary system to be contrary to its award conditions and prohibits the payment of salary and/or fringe benefits as an allowable cost.

Fellowship, Post-doc, Post-Doctoral Employment, Leave-Without-Pay, LWOP
Change History: 

07/11/2016: Updated to remove gendered pronouns.

06/18/2014: Updated title for 'Office of Research'; selected 'Lawrence' for Campus; added relevant links to Policy Statement; minor reformatting.

Financial Categories: 
Personnel: Faculty/Academic Staff Categories: 

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