Tuition Remission

Updated: May 15th, 2017


Tuition Remission is a benefit to graduate students holding a Research Assistant, Teaching Assistant, or Program/Project Assistant appointment to help alleviate the cost of tuition. The tuition charges, although not segregated fees, are waived for eligible graduate students.

As part of this program, tuition remission surcharge is a policy to help recoup the waived tuition costs by University and Wisconsin State Statute. The tuition remission surcharge is calculated based on the percentage of stipend charged/student's level of work, and is automatically allocated to the funding source(s) where the assistant is appointed.

Tuition Remission Rates Semester Academic Year
Through Spring 2015 $4,000 $8,000
Fall 2015 - Spring 2016 $5,000 $10,000
Fall 2016 - Spring 2017 $6,000 $12,000

2015 Increase in Tuition Remission: Frequently Asked Questions

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1. When does the increase take effect?

  • Tuition remission will be charged of an increased rate of $5,000 per semester beginning in fall 2015.

2. When should the increased rates be used in proposals?

  • The increased rates should be used in proposals beginning immediately.

3. Are indirect costs applied to tuition remission?

  • For modified total direct cost (MTDC) awards, the indirect cost rate is not levied against tuition remission charges. For total direct cost (TDC) awards, it is.

4. If my award is MTDC can I use the indirect cost savings resulting from an increased tuition remission charge to offset the increased tuition remission charge?

  • Yes. If your MTDC award sees a $1,000 increase in tuition remission ($4,000 $5,000) during the fall semester of 2015, it will also see a reduction of $530 in budgeted indirect cost (53% of $1,000). This $530 can help offset the $1,000 tuition remission increase.

5. How will this affect current awards that run through next fall and spring?

  • The increased rates will be charged to awards beginning fall 2015. This means for current awards, the budget will likely need to be revised to accommodate the increase. Remember, for MTDC awards, there will be a reduction in indirect costs when you increase the tuition remission, which is excluded from the indirect cost or F&A calculation. If you need assistance revising your budget, please contact your Dean’s office or RSP accountant.

6. Can I go back to the sponsor to ask for an increased budget?

  • It is unlikely that sponsors would increase an award because of the institutional increase in costs. You may want to contact the grants officer before proceeding with a formal request for supplemental funds.

7. Can discretionary funds be used to cover the increase in tuition remission?

  • Stipends, salaries and tuition remission are all part of a student’s compensation package. As such they should be allocated and proportioned to amount of work that the student performed on the project(s). Any budget overruns resulting from the increased charges in tuition remission can be transferred to a discretionary fund. The appropriate order in which charges should be removed from an award can be found in Tuition Remission FAQ #10.

Tuition Remission: Frequently Asked Questions

(Note that in the following examples, the current tuition remission surcharge is applied at $4,000 per spring and fall semesters, totaling $8,000 annually.)

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1. What are the eligibility requirements?

  • In order to be eligible for tuition remission you must hold at least a 33.3% appointment as a research assistant, and/or a teaching assistant, and/or a program/project assistant.

2. Can tuition remission be transferred without the associated stipend?

  • If an award does not allow tuition remission, the tuition remission, without the stipend, can be transferred. If tuition remission is allowed on the project, the tuition remission should not be transferred separately. Stipend should be transferred first and tuition remission will follow. Stipend and tuition remission are all part of the student’s compensation package and should remain allocated and proportioned to amount of work that the student performed on the project(s).

3. If a graduate assistant's appointment is split between 2 projects, will the tuition remission surcharge be split between the projects?

  • Yes, the tuition remission surcharge will be split between the two projects based on the percent of appointment on each project.

4. If a graduate assistant has a 25% TA appointment and a 25% PA appointment for a semester, what would the tuition remission surcharge be?

  • In this case the tuition remission surcharge will only apply to the PA appointment, however the surcharge process will initially charge both appointments evenly. The PA appointment would be charged $2,000 per semester or $444.44 per month (4.5 months). The TA appointment, although initially charged $2,000 per semester, would have that charge reversed with the net effect of no surcharge applied to the TA appointment.

5. For some departments, it is quite common for their graduate assistants to work as teaching assistants during the academic year and then serve as RAs or PAs during the summer months. How much tuition remission surcharge will be charged for these summer only positions?

  • There will be no tuition remission surcharge for PA and RA appointments during the summer. The tuition remission surcharge only is applied during the fall and spring semesters (September through May).

6. What happens if the graduate assistant has a TA appointment at 33% and a RA appointment at 11.2%? Would the TA appointment cover the tuition remission surcharge, or would the RA appointment be charged too?

  • As indicated in Question 3, the surcharge is not applied to the TA appointment. The tuition remission surcharge would only be applied to the RA appointment. In this case the RA funding source would be responsible for 25% of the tuition remission surcharge or $1,000 per semester, because the RA appointment at 11.2% is 25% of the graduate assistant's total appointment of 44.2%.

7. How will the tuition remission surcharge apply when one project assistant is paid from multiple funding sources?

  • The tuition remission surcharge will be allocated to the various funding sources on the basis of appointment percentages. If the percentages change throughout the semester, the amount charged to each funding string will change accordingly.

8. What amount of tuition remission surcharge should be included on grant proposal budgets when a PA's effort is proposed to be covered by multiple grants?

  • The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs recommends that you include the full cost of the tuition remission surcharge on each proposal. There may be specific instances in which a PI has very limited graduate assistant involvement or which there is a ceiling on the amount of funds requested, but more frequently there is a need to fund graduate assistants with one or more projects.

9. How would the tuition remission surcharge be calculated for a combination of multiple grants and existing gift accounts?

  • The tuition remission surcharge will be allocated among the funding sources based on the appointment percentages.

10. What happens if a grant budget doesn't cover the full cost of the tuition remission surcharge?

  • The PI/Department will be responsible for identifying alternative sources, including re-budgeting, to cover the surcharge. If re-budgeting is not an option, the overage should be transferred to non-restricted funding. If a project is overspent and tuition remission is allowable and allocable on the award, other account codes should be used. Here is the order of priority per the APR Award Closeout solution:
    • Unallowable costs
    • Non-salary expenses
      • Travel
      • Supplies
      • Other Supplies/Services
      • Equipment
    • Salary expenses
      • Student Hourly
      • Classified/LTE
      • Academic Staff (not including RA/PA/TA)
      • RA/PA/TA
      • Faculty

11. Will the tuition remission surcharge be pro-rated by month?

  • Yes, the tuition remission surcharge will be divided into 9 payments, Sept. - May.

12. A grant ended 9/30/2014, tuition remission surcharge adjustments posted after the end date, but there are no stipend charges after the end date. Are these allowable charges?

  • In most cases, yes. When the tuition remission surcharge process is run each month, prior months are analyzed to determine if adjustments are needed. If a retroactive salary adjustment is processed for a funding source other than the grant in question, this will change the allocation of the tuition remission surcharge to all funding sources.
  • For example, cumulative stipend charges for the fall 2014-15 semester were as follows: $2,000 on PRJ99AA (144), $1,500 on PRJ99BB (133) and $1,000 on PRJ99CC (233). PRJ99AA ended 9/30/2014. With this current split, $1,777.78 (99AA), $1,333.33 (99BB), and $888.89 (99CC) would be the tuition remission surcharge posted to each project. If a retroactive adjustment is processed for PRJ99BB and posted in November 2014, this will change the total stipend for the semester to $3,500, and will change the tuition remission surcharges to $1,230.77 (99AA), $2,153.85 (99BB), and $615.38 (99CC). Adjustments will post to each funding source in November 2014 and the adjustment to PRJ99AA would be allowable.

13. How does the 3rd party deferral process relate to the tuition remission policy?

  • The 3rd party deferral process is not affected by this surcharge policy.

14. Does the current $4,000 tuition remission surcharge appear in one lump sum or equally per month of the semester?

  • The $4,000/semester or $8,000/academic year tuition remission surcharge is calculated and charged monthly from September through May to the applicable funding sources.

15. Does tuition remission cover segregated fees?

  • No. The student is responsible for paying their segregated fees by the due date.

16. What happens for a graduate assistant funded 30% TA on 101 and 20% RA on a 144 federal grant?

  • The tuition remission surcharge applicable to the RA appointment will be 40% (20%/(30%+20%)? of the total. In this case the amount of $3,200/ year will be charged against the RA funding source.

17. What happens with funding that changes from month to month?

  • The tuition remission surcharge will automatically be adjusted through the monthly tuition remission process to match the cumulative funding source for the graduate assistant stipend.

18. Does tuition remission surcharge transfer automatically after a salary transfer is processed?

  • Yes, for the current and prior fiscal year semesters only. For example, when the tuition remission process is run for March 2015, it processes spring 2014-15, fall 2014-15, spring 2013-14 and fall 2013-14. If the salary transfer is posted in March 2015 for a payroll period outside of these semesters, a manual transfer (NSCT) is needed.

19. What happens when a student leaves mid-semester?

  • It depends on the specific case. In the event that a graduate student leaves during the course of a semester, the graduate student still may qualify for a remission, while the remission surcharge may or may not be applied, depending on the cumulative appointment level. Contact the Bursar's Office for eligibility questions and Business Services for questions about the remission surcharge.

20. Can 233 discretionary accounts be used to cover cost overruns or errors?

  • Yes. If a project is overspent and tuition remission is allowable and allocable to the award, other account codes should be used to transfer the overages. Refer to question 10 for the order of priority.

21. If an awards does not allow tuition remission, can the tuition remission be transferred without the associated stipend?

  • Yes. The tuition remission surcharges can be transferred to a non-sponsored source.

22. Will tuition on T32 training grants continue to be posted as actual tuition paid?

  • Yes. The surcharge policy only affects graduate assistants with RA and PA appointments. There will be no change in how tuition for Fellows and Trainees are handled.

23. If a student eligible for tuition remission (holds a qualifying RA/PA/TA appointment) but also holds a NIH fellowship or traineeship appointment that would usually include a third party deferral, will the surcharge still apply?

  • Yes. The surcharge will still apply but the segregated fees can be covered by the NIH fellowship or training grant.

24. Is there a limit on the amount of salary, fringe benefits and tuition remission for graduate students on NIH grants?

  • Yes, per notice NOT-OD-02-017. The maximum allowable amount should not exceed the zero level of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service award stipend level in effect at the time of the competing award. Current stipend levels can be found here.

25. How is the tuition remission surcharge displayed in WISDM?

  • The Tuition Fee Remission Search is available in WISDM under the Payroll section of the Main Menu. Using a variety of search criteria, a user can look up tuition remission information for an individual. Information such as the number of appointments, FTE rate, and individual Tuition Remission charges will be displayed on a semester basis. More information on the search is available in a training document that is located at the WISDM Training Tools website titled "WISDM for Divisional/Departmental Administration (located at:

26. Who should I contact if I have questions?

  • For eligibility questions, please contact Chris Cleary-Hinz at the Bursar's office.
  • For tuition remission surcharge questions, please contact Lea Erickson at Business Services.
  • For general remission questions or specific questions related to sponsored projects, please contact Frank Austin at Research & Sponsored Programs.