Penn State College of Engineering

Staff Resources FAQ

What should I consider when purchasing permanent G-I-A Slots?

Permanent Grant-In-Aid slots can be purchased at the current rate for that fiscal year between July and March.

Issues to consider when making a purchase:

  1. Permanent general funds must be used to make the purchase.
  2. If you do not use all of your permanent slots in a particular year, you will only be reimbursed for the unused slots if other departments in the college go over their permanent allocation and decide to purchase the additional temporary slots with temporary general funds. While in recent years we have been able to reimburse departments for unused slots, there is no guarantee that departments will be reimbursed for the unused permanent slots.
  3. Once purchased, the unit owns the slot and there is never an additional charge as tuition rises.
  4. Once purchased, the university will not buy the slot back from the unit. However, the slot could be sold to another department within the College of Engineering.
  5. If your unit is buying extra temporary slots with temporary general funds every year it may make sense to purchase additional permanent slots with permanent general funds. When you buy temporary slots you pay the current tuition rate.

Why are some Graduate Students taxed on their stipend and others are not?

The Finance Office requires that before we process the IBIS graduate appointments that the unit appointing them sends the signed graduate appointment agreement to us so we can confirm that the boxed that is checked on the IBIS form is consistent with what the department head or professor signed and the graduate assistant signed. I am reasonably certain that our process verifies the correct taxing status of graduate students as determined by the appointing unit. However, if a grad student has a copy of their signed agreement that contradicts their tax withholding status, the unit should send it to the finance office for review. As far as comparing what they did one semester to the other semester, maybe they should have been taxed in prior semesters. Since we in the Finance Office do not make that determination I cannot say for sure.

Remember that a graduate student is taxed on their stipnd if they are doing any work above and beyond what is expected of a non-supported student (one who is not on a graduate assistant). Even though the Finance Office does not make that determination, personally, I would be surprised if any department or professor offers a student an assistantship and does not expect work from that student that is not expected from a non-supported student in the department. It may be that the student is teaching or working in a lab or on research for the professor or the department, but the point is; if the funded student doing any work that is not expected of the non-supported student they will be taxed.


What is a good use of Research Incentive Funds (RIF)?

In the Provost's memo concerning the return of Research Incentive Funds he states: "The University's policy on Research Incentive Funds is intended to recognize faculty initiatives in research and sponsored programs, to encourage future development of sponsored programs, and to enhance the research administration infrastructure… Examples of the possible uses of these funds include: research equipment and instrumentation; graduate assistantships… ; supplies, materials and the modification of facilities; faculty scholarly development and travel; seminars and lecture series; and personnel or other resources for departmental or college research administration. In general, the funds should not be used for faculty salaries" and cannot be used for the purchase of alcoholic beverages. "Exceptions must be approved through the Provost's Office." If you see a RIF distribution for a faculty member that looks like a duplicate because it references the same account and project name, it means that the RIF was split between two or more research categories. A research project can be split between research categories such as Life Sciences and Social Sciences. This has no impact on the amount of RIF but it does mean that there would be two data rows for the same project and if you added the two rows it would equal the total RIF returned for that program. You can verify this by looking at the IBIS screen IRID. Research Incentive Funds should always be resolved and spent out of 400 level budgets and in cost centers with the name starting with RIF.

Since Research Incentive Funds are general funds, they can be carried over from one fiscal year to the next within the same limitations of other general funds.