FAQ for processing Stipends on Sponsored Projects
The guidance below is provided by Sponsored Projects Accounting, an office reporting to Chris Cimino within Finance and Administration. Additional guidance can be found in UT policy documents including Participant Support Cost Processing and UTK-Processing Stipends Fellowships Sponsored Projects. Questions not answered below can be directed to Tim Woods, Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, or Jay Taylor, Sponsored Projects Accounting.
Departments with students funded through internal university funds will need to refer to question 1 as well as other university policies to determine if the student should be paid through payroll or stipend payment. The remaining questions in this FAQ are focused on stipend payment processing and may be helpful if the department chooses stipend payment as a processing mechanism.
Questions & Answers:
No, this isn’t true. The department must determine the type of relationship the person will have with UT and the sponsored project. If the person is participating in research activities and being paid a stipend (Participant Support Costs) they are considered a participant. The payment will need to be processed through Financial Aid or the Treasurer’s Office, depending on their status.
If the person is in an employee/employer relationship, conducting work on the project for the University and not being paid by participant support costs, they will be paid through payroll as an employee performing services on the project.
Federal guidelines require UT to process stipends in a manner in which they can be identified as non-wage payments. There may be some institutions who have a payroll system that allows for this distinction; however, UT’s payroll system will not allow for the distinction to be identified. Therefore, we must process stipends using methods within our structure to allow for transparency.
3. Current procedures require departments to process stipends for UT Student participants through Financial Aid and non-UT participants through the Treasurer’s Office as a “Vendor” because current UT students must have the stipend calculated into their overall financial aid allocation allowance. It appears by processing participants based on UT student status, UT is creating an inequity between these participants in the amount of stipends they receive. Is this the case?
The amount of funds received by UT students versus non-UT students at the time of the activity may differ due to the allowability of Federal Financial Aid funds for the UT-Students. This will be established on a case-by-case basis, as it is specific to each student. Students who are not receiving other financial aid will see no impact to their financial aid eligibility, when the stipend is issued. Students who do receive federal or state financial aid or private loans will receive the full stipend, but those students could also see a reduction to their other financial aid amounts if enrolled during the semester of participation. If the UT student participant is not enrolled during the program participation (summer, for example), the student can receive the full amount of intended funding without any reduction to their current aid-year financial aid. However, in these cases the amount received will be recorded as a resource on the upcoming academic year financial aid, and this might reduce their overall financial aid eligibility during the upcoming fall and spring semesters.
While non-UT students being paid as a vendor may receive the full stipend amount, they are still required under Federal requirements to report the stipend received to their home institutions, so the stipend can then be included in the amount of overall financial aid allowed for them. Although, the initial stipend amount received may be different, each participant is being treated equally under Federal regulations.
Departments should complete a “Scholarship Authorization Form.” The form should be submitted at least 10 days prior to the date in which the first payment needs issued. Once Financial Aid receives the form, they will process the form by creating a Banner ID for each participant. Once the Banner REU Fund ID has been created, additional payment requests will only need to be issued 3-5 days prior to the requested payment dates.
No, the departments control the timing of when stipend payments are processed and paid to participants. Stipends can be paid in a lump sum, monthly, bi-weekly, or whenever a department issues an authorization request, via the Scholarship Authorization Form. However, for consistency, UT Financial Aid recommends that multiple payments during a period of participation be put on a bi-weekly schedule for all student participants. Banner has the capacity to schedule payments, but these need to be the same for all participants of a specific program.
Financial Aid can be disbursed throughout nearly all of the academic year. The most likely issue will be students whose stipend puts them over their maximum allowable limit on total financial aid. Again, if they are a participant during a period of non-enrollment, the payments can be issued and the amount will deduct from the upcoming aid year’s financial aid cap.
Yes, each payment must be requested via the Scholarship Authorization Form. But, if departments request 5 payments for a 10-week program, for example, these can be addressed on the front end with financial aid to allow Banner to automatically schedule the 10 requested payments. In these cases, a single authorization would suffice.
The summer semester should be the selected term, unless we are within days of the regular disbursement schedule for the next semester.
The participant stipend will be processed through Financial Aid via the Scholarship Authorization Form. The intended first semester should be the semester chosen on the form for processing the stipend payment. This will ensure the stipend payment will be included in the appropriate Federal funding year for financial aid eligibility. The student should not be processed as a vendor, as they have already been accepted to UT.
Participants processed as a vendor will not receive a W-2 for tax reporting; however, they are required to self-report the stipend payments. Any tax related question specific to each individual should be discussed with their preferred tax advisor.
The University can only inform participants of the need to self-report. Departments are asked to provide each participant with a letter informing them of the need to self-report the stipend received. The University has no way of ensuring that participants are in fact reporting this as required. The responsibility is placed solely on the participants to follow the information provided to them by the University.
Participants processed as a vendor should be entered into the IRIS system as a “friend.” This will allow the participant to have access to facilities and obtain a Vol Card.
In order for participants to be covered under UT’s General Liability Insurance they will need to be entered into the IRIS system as a “Friend”. Once they are entered in as a friend, they will have the same coverage as a UT employee.
Tim Woods – firstname.lastname@example.org or Celena Tulloss – email@example.com
Kelly Rogers – firstname.lastname@example.org
Megan Talley – email@example.com
Yes, UT Financial Aid is working towards adding graduate student data into Academic Works, which will then allow stipends to be processed electronically.
In January 2020, via an email to the IRIS SAPUSERS LISTSERV, UT announced a new vendor payment system called “PaymentWorks” This system allows for vendors to enter their own data and timely sign required forms. Information included in the IRIS lISTSERV email regarding the new system is listed below:
“The University’s new vendor portal is now available to all departments who need to create a new vendor or make changes to an existing vendor. With this new portal, vendors are now responsible for supplying and maintaining their own information. To initiate the process, the department will need to send an invite to the vendor through this portal. The portal is located on the IRIS website under the IRIS tab. Dual factor authentication is needed to access this system. Once the invite has been sent, the vendor has supplied their information and this information has been validated, the person who initiated the request will be notified. Training is available and can be scheduled by visiting the K@te system and looking under webinars or searching PaymentWorks. https://acctspayable.tennessee.edu/creating-a-vendor/”
“Any questions should be sent the System Accounts Payable Office at 865-974-2302.”
Although One Stop may not be as familiar with the stipend process as some of the staff in financial aid, they recognize the appropriate times to engage staff in the UT Office of Financial Aid for assistance. Additionally, One Stop has access to the notes and award details entered by financial aid staff.
One Stop can connect the student with the staff in UT Financial aid, if needed. Tim Woods and Celena Tulloss would be the appropriate contacts.
If money is owed to the University, stipends will be posted to the debt for the current term and back within the academic year. Stipends will not be posted to future terms unless we are at the due date and are in the same academic term.
You will need to have the student sign a waiver of intellectual property prior to their participation with your project. (You can have the student sign the waiver at any point during the project, however, we suggest doing so before the student begins.) For externally sponsored projects, contact the Office of Sponsored Programs. For non-externally sponsored projects, contact the Office of Undergraduate Research.
If a payment is made to the student in advance and the student does not complete the program requirements, the scholarship authorization for the time period in question can be recalled. This may leave a balance on the student’s account if the funds have already been paid out or charged against. Contact Tim Woods or Celena Tulloss if you need to utilize this option.