Graduate Financial Support

Financial support is available in the form of fellowships, traineeships, teaching assistantships (TAships), and research assistantships (GSRs). The Department supports most full-time graduate students at the Ph.D. level. Sources of funding include university fellowships and traineeships from National Institutes of Health (NIH) training grants. Awarding of financial support is competitive, and stipends average $34,000.00 for the academic year in addition to the coverage of tuition, fees, and health insurance.

U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents in the Ph.D. program must establish California Residency by the start of the second year as Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition (NRST) will only be paid in the first year. This also applies to MS Plan I- Thesis students who are interested in petitioning to transition to the PhD program; NRST will not be paid by the university if you transition after your first year. More information about establishing California Residency for tuition purposes can be found on the Registrars’ Office website at Residence for Tuition Purposes. This does not apply to international students.  

The Department does not offer financial support to students at the M.S. or M.Eng. level. Masters students are encouraged to seek information on how to fund their education from the sources listed in the “Financial Support Links” section below.

Principles: Ph.D. Support Policies and Eligibility

The Department of Bioengineering expects that all students admitted to the Ph.D. program who maintain good academic standing and satisfactory progress towards completion of the degree will receive financial support from a departmental, faculty advisor, or extramural source. This support will consist of tuition/ fee remission and a stipend at a nominal minimum level set each year and offered to all newly admitted students.

Good Academic Performance 

 

Good academic standing and satisfactory progress in the department will be established by: 

  1. Maintaining a GPA of at least 3.4
  2. Satisfying all departmental teaching obligations on time
  3. Passing departmental and qualifying exams within the prescribed schedule
  4. eceiving satisfactory annual progress reports 

Failure to meet one of these standards will not, however, mean the automatic loss of financial support. These cases will be reviewed individually by the department chair in consultation with the faculty advisor, the Graduate Students Committee, and Bioengineering Student Affairs. 

 

Additional Support Eligibility Requirements

 

To be eligible for UC San Diego support (campus appointments, fellowships, traineeships, tuition/fee scholarships, etc.), graduate students must meet the following basic eligibility requirements: 

  1. Full-time enrollment (12 units or more per quarter)
  2. Good academic standing, including meeting departmental standards, having a satisfactory spring evaluation, and NOT having accumulated more than a total of eight units of "F" and/or "U" grades overall
  3. Be within departmental support time limit. Refer to the time limit information under the Ph.D. section on our “Degree Programs” page.

 

Department Support 

 

The department will provide one year of financial support to eligible first year doctoral students who do not have other sources of support. 

 

Student Support 

 

Student support in subsequent years is expected to come from faculty research grants or individual fellowships awarded to the student. Students are urged to consult early with their faculty advisor and to apply for fellowships and grants for which they are eligible.

 

International Students

 

International doctoral students are eligible for first-year departmental support and subsequent faculty advisor funding just like domestic students. 

 

Supplementary Awards

 

In cases where students receive fellowships that do not cover the full amount of tuition/ fees or the nominal stipend level, the department or faculty advisor will supplement the student to make up for any shortfall. If the department supplements a fellowship, the amount supplemented is considered part of the departmental support. Supplementary awards by the department above the nominal level are not generally made, except in special circumstances such as when supplementation is a condition of the awarding agency. The department will not generally support Ph.D. students in their 6th or later years, except in extenuating circumstances; however, faculty advisor supplementation of 6th-year students will be considered.

 

Outside Employment

Departmental Policy

 

Graduate students who receive financial support for their graduate studies whether from a research grant, departmental sources including GSR positions, or an extramural fellowship in an amount equal to or exceeding the departmental guidelines for full-time graduate study (see "Principles" section above), are expected to devote full-time effort to graduate studies and research. Therefore, paid employment outside the Department of Bioengineering is not generally permitted for supported graduate students and must be approved by both the student's faculty advisor and the Graduate Studies Committee.

This policy does not strictly apply to "unsupported" students, and exceptions will generally be considered for students receiving less than the amount indicated in the departmental guideline for full-time study. Exceptions will be considered favorably in those instances where the outside employment is clearly related to the graduate research or study goals of the student and is approved by the advisor, unless such employment clearly reduces the availability of paid positions (such as TAships in other departments) open to unsupported bioengineering graduate students.

 

 
University Policy

 

The Graduate Council in the Academic Senate has approved the following policy regarding a graduate student's employment outside UC San Diego in a company in which their research advisor has an interest: 

If a graduate student is employed by a company outside UC San Diego in which a faculty member has a fiduciary interest (e.g. owns, consults), then that faculty member may not serve as the thesis/dissertation advisor of the graduate student. However, such a faculty member may participate on the student's thesis/dissertation committee. Further, if the faculty member is on the thesis/dissertation committee, then he/she must inform the University, through the appropriate offices, of the situation and any possible conflict of interest. Upon review, exceptions may be granted by the Dean of the Graduate Division. 

Questions regarding this policy may be referred to the Dean of the Graduate Division and/ or the Assistant Dean, Graduate Academic Affairs, in the Graduate Division. Their contact information can be found on the Graduate Division’s website at grad.ucsd.edu. 

 

Funding Basics

The below information is a very brief and general primer on PhD funding for the Department of Bioengineering and does not necessarily reflect all funding setups and should therefore be taken as general guidance only as there are some very unique situations every year. With this information, we hope students are more empowered to understand how their pay works and are better able to ask questions if they ever experience issues with their pay. 

Funding

 

The Department covers the first-year funding for most students as outlined in the “Department Support” section above. This support runs September - August. The Department covers students using first-year department fellowship funds and also through special fellowships such as the Jacobs Fellowship and Powell Fellowship provided by the Jacobs School of Engineering. Some students come in with external awards, such as NSF GRFP (see the “Common Fellowships” section below). Given this, first year students should expect their support to come entirely from fellowships.

Beginning in the second year (September) and for the duration of the student’s program, the student’s faculty advisor covers the funding in most cases (see the “Student Support” section above). This support is typically in the form of a Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) position in the faculty advisor’s lab.

The Department (first year) and the PI (second year and after) "supplement" fellowship/ external awards in the cases where the funding levels of the awards are lower than the department minimum support level (see the “Supplementary Award” section above). For example a supplement of the tuition/ fees would be needed for a student who was awarded an NSF GRFP since the NSF GRFP covers the full stipend but not the full tuition/ fees. In the case of a Training Grant or F30/F31 award, supplements are needed for both the stipend and the tuition/ fees to bring students to full support. These supplements, depending on the type, can be paid with fellowship-like funds or as GSR positions. Given this, some students may be funded both through a fellowship/ training grant and a GSR position (keep this in mind when reviewing the "Payment Methods" section below).

The type of funds used to pay a student’s stipend will determine how the stipend is paid out. Greater detail about this is available in the “Payment Methods” section below. 

For students who are GSRs or who are on most external fellowships, their Tuition/ Fees are paid directly to the university and payment requests are submitted on the student’s behalf by the Bioengineering Student Affairs Office.

 

Payment Methods

 

Below is a chart explaining how a student’s pay may be distributed based on the type of pay they receive. If a student is supported entirely on fellowship or Training Grant funds that would be the "SAM/ FSRT" column. If a student is supported entirely as a GSR that would be the "UCPath" column. If "split funded" (receiving both a fellowship/ training grant and has a GSR), the student would look at both columns. Examples are provided below the chart to help illustrate this information as well. 

 

SAM/ FSRT (Student Aid Management or Financial Support Request Tool)

UCPath (payroll system)

What type of pay gets distributed?

  • Fellowships (ex. NSF, F31, AHA) 
  • Training Grants (ex. NIBIB, Q-Bio)

Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) 

What set up is required?

The Graduate Division or the Department enters the request by the monthly/ quarterly deadline.

  • The Department works with the student to fill out and submit “new hire paperwork” to hire the student into the position (“appointment”). 
  • The Department then maintains the appointment in UCPath, following applicable monthly deadlines.

When is the pay distributed?

At the end of the month for that month’s work (ex. ~ October 24-31 for October’s pay).

  • Generally on the first of the month for the previous month’s work (ex. payday is November 1st for October’s work).
  • If the first is a holiday or weekend, it generally pays out the previous business day (ex. If 11/1 is a Saturday then it pays out on Friday, 10/31, instead).
  • Always review the Payroll Calendar for exact pay dates.

How is the pay distributed?

- Via the student’s TritonLink account

- Students can set up Direct Deposit (note: this is a separate one from UCPath)

  • Via a paper check mailed to student’s mailing address on file in UCPath 
  • Students can set up Direct Deposit (note: this is a separate one from TritonLink)

When are taxes assessed?*

Taxes are not generally taken out at the time the pay is distributed, but taxes may be due on this pay later when the student files their tax returns*

Taxes are taken out at the time the pay is distributed*

 

*Note: we are not certified tax professionals, and this is given as general guidance only and does not necessarily apply to all possible student tax setups. Please consult with you own certified tax professional.

Examples
To help illustrate the different ways a student gets paid, please see below for a few example scenarios. Note that any figures mentioned are solely to help demonstrate the point and may not accurately reflect specific funding setups. 

  1. A student is awarded an NSF: since the NSF currently matches the department support level, then the student would expect to receive their entire pay through SAM/ FSRT and would look to receive their pay at the end of each month through their TritonLink account or direct deposit.
  2. A student is solely a GSR in their lab: since their pay is entirely from their GSR employment, then the student would expect to receive their entire pay through UCPath and would look to receive their pay on the first of the month for the previous month’s work either through a paper check or via direct deposit.
  3. A student is supported on an F31 award for 70% of their pay and the remaining 30% of their pay is provided by a GSR appointment in their lab: since they are funded by two different sources they would expect to receive their 70% of pay for the F31 through SAM/ FSRT and would look to receive their pay at the end of each month through their TritonLink account or direct deposit. For the remaining 30% of pay from their GSR employment, they would expect to receive their entire pay through UCPath and would look to receive their pay on the first of the month for the previous month’s work either through a paper check or via direct deposit. For students in this situation, they should pay extra attention to their pay each month since it is coming from multiple sources.

 

Additional Information

 

It is important for all funded students to regularly monitor their pay to ensure they are receiving the correct amount. If a student notices they have been underpaid or overpaid, they should contact the Bioengineering Student Affairs Office immediately to have the issue reviewed. 

If a student is overpaid, the student should NOT spend this extra money as they will be required to pay it back to the university. The Bioengineering Student Affairs Office will work with the student to process this overpayment and return the funds to the university. 

If a student is ever awarded an external fellowship (external meaning by a institution or organization outside of UCSD) or Training Grant, it is very important for the student to notify the Bioengineering Student Affairs Office immediately in order to ensure their pay is not negatively impacted while being transitioned to the new fellowship or Training Grant source.

 

Tax Information

Information provided below is meant to provide initial guidance to graduate students when filing their taxes. We are not certified tax professionals and the guidance provided may not apply to all students or their specific tax situations. 

General Information

 

The Graduate Division provides fairly comprehensive information about filing taxes as a graduate student on their website under the Tax Information section of their “Financial Support” page. The Graduate Division also provides detailed information about student FICA, Defined Contribution Plan (DCP), and Medicare on their website under the Student FICA, Defined Contribution Plan, and Medicare section of their “Employment” page. 

Information about the 1098-T Form can be found on the Student Financial Solutions website under the 1098-T Tax Form Information section of their “Student Accounts” page.

For students who received employment, such as Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) positions, TAships, and other forms of on-campus employment, information about the W-2 can be found on the UCPath website under the Taxes: W2 Statements section of their “Payroll” page.

 

 
International Students

 

For international students, the International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) has a very comprehensive guide to taxes on their website under the Taxes section of their “Taxes, SSN, and Financial Resources” page. 

 

Fellowships

The majority of PhD students, and some masters students, will apply for at least one fellowship at some point during their graduate studies. The below information is meant to assist students with their initial search for fellowships, and is not an exhaustive list of fellowship opportunities.

Note: If a student is ever awarded an external fellowship (external meaning by a institution or organization outside of UCSD) or Training Grant, it is very important for the student to notify the Bioengineering Student Affairs Office immediately in order to ensure their pay is not negatively impacted while being transitioned to the new fellowship source. 

Common Fellowships

 

Bioengineering students apply for a variety of fellowships each year. Below please find a list of common fellowships that many of our students apply to, or are nominated for, each year.
 

 

Additional Resources

 

The Graduate Division has a Funding Opportunities section under their “Financial Support” page that provides a list of a number of fellowship opportunities. This page is regularly updated with new opportunities, so please check occasionally to see if new opportunities have been posted. 

The Bioengineering Department also regularly sends out fellowship opportunities to graduate students and faculty via the department listservs for each group, so please check your email regularly for announcements. Some fellowships specifically require faculty nomination, so faculty may be notified first of these opportunities for them to prepare nomination packets.  

Additionally, students are encouraged to seek external fellowships. We recommend looking into professional organizations to learn about possible fellowship opportunities, and utilizing fellowship databases, such as UCLA's Fellowship Database, to find other funding opportunities. 

 

 

Financial Support Links

Below is a list of helpful links to find more information about financial support opportunities.

UC San Diego Financial Aid & Scholarships Office 

UC San Diego Graduate Division  

UC San Diego Career Services Center

National Institutes of Health

National Science Foundation