The 2019 Committee on Graduate Education’s report identified issues related to student payments as a recurring source of dissatisfaction among graduate students and as an impediment to student success. Based on student feedback, beginning in Summer 2023 the University will implement the next step in addressing student concerns by transitioning to a consistent monthly payment schedule for PhD student primary funding. This particular change aims to minimize confusion and financial hardship by standardizing practices that have varied by division and school and have included combinations of quarterly lump sum funding, biweekly funding, and monthly funding for students.

This FAQ aims to answer general questions related to this change. Further questions can be directed to your area’s Dean of Students Office and the UChicagoGRAD Administrative Services team (

1. What changed with PhD primary funding payments?

The Committee on Graduate Education identified uncertainty about funding payments as a source of student confusion and dissatisfaction, so as of Summer 2023, PhD Primary Funding of all kinds—fellowship, pedagogical training, and research training—is paid to students on the last business day of the month. This consistent payment schedule for all PhD students means there is no longer variability across graduate divisions or across the type of funding.

2. Who was impacted by this change?

The change in how primary funding is disbursed affected only PhD students. Master’s students, professional degree students, and undergraduates were not directly impacted by the transition.

3. When will PhD students receive primary funding payments?

PhD Primary Funding for each quarter is disbursed on the monthly payment cycle. This means that, in general, PhD students will be paid on the final business day of each month across four academic quarters:

  • Autumn Quarter funding will pay in October, November, and December.
  • Winter Quarter funding will pay in January, February, and March.
  • Spring Quarter funding will pay in April, May, and June.
  • Summer Quarter funding will pay in July, August, and September.

Incoming PhD students who begin in Autumn Quarter of each academic year will receive four payments during their first quarter to ease their transition to monthly funding. Students matriculating during any other quarter should be in touch with their area Dean of Students for their payment schedule.

4. Are taxes withheld from primary funding payments?

In quarters during which primary funding is classified as pedagogical or research training, federal and state taxes will be withheld from each monthly payment for that quarter. In quarters during which primary funding is classified as fellowship stipend, federal tax withholding will depend on an individual student’s tax status in the US:

Residency for Tax Purposes Recipient Location Tax Withholding*
Non-Resident Outside US 0% Federal
Non-Resident w/o Tax Treaty Inside US 14% Federal
Non-Resident w/ Tax Treaty Inside US 0% Federal
Resident Resident 0% Federal

*Illinois State Tax is not withheld from any fellowship stipend funding. Students are responsible for remitting state taxes directly to the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) through estimated tax payments.

5. Will the new model affect how much students pay in taxes?

For many students—those who are residents for tax purposes (i.e., US Citizens, Legal Permanent Residents, or international students who have passed the substantial presence test and are not otherwise eligible for a tax treaty)—this change will not increase how much is being paid in taxes, only how the taxes are paid. During quarters in which primary funding is tied to a pedagogical or research training assignment, federal and state taxes will be withheld directly at the point of payment. Overall this could lead to an increase in direct tax withholding but a decrease in a student’s estimated tax obligation during the tax year. PhD student funding has always been considered taxable and reportable to the IRS and Illinois Department of Revenue.

Students who are non-residents for tax purposes and have been claiming an exemption from tax withholding for both a tax treaty that applies to fellowship stipend funding and a tax treaty that applies to pedagogical training funding may experience a net increase in your tax obligation. This is due to primary funding no longer being split between multiple job profiles in one quarter.

Taxes can be very complicated, and individual situations may vary depending on the type of funding and a student’s nationality and relevant tax treaties. Any questions related to taxes should be directed to

6. Will the new model change the requirement to pay estimated taxes?

It depends—for quarters during which PhD primary funding is tied to a pedagogical or research training assignment, payments will be subject to federal and state withholding and the withheld taxes will be subtracted from the amount that would otherwise be remitted through estimated taxes. Some students will continue to need to make estimated tax payments, particularly residents for tax purposes who receive a significant amount of funding as fellowship stipend.