Know the Financial Difference
- Tuition waiver and stipend in exchange for work
- When you are a graduate assistant, you are an employee of the UW System. The tuition waiver and stipend are compensation for the work you perform.
- Tuition waiver and stipend do not count as financial aid
- An assistantship is a job with the university. The tuition waiver and stipend are paid in exchange for work. Therefore, they do not count as financial aid.
- Assisstantships do not affect your eligibility for other financial aid
- Because graduate assistant stipends are paid in exchange for work, they are not considered financial aid; therefore they do not reduce your eligibility for other kinds of financial aid, like federal loans. For more information, please see the Financial Aid Handbook section titled, “Just for Graduate Students.”
- Tuition waiver and/or stipend to support your studies
- Fellowships offer tuition waivers and stipends but do not require you to work for the university. A fellowship gives you more time to devote to your academic work. However, there are important financial considerations: A fellowship will reduce your eligibility for federal student loans.
- Tuition waiver and stipend count as financial aid
- The tuition waiver and stipend you receive with a fellowship are a form of financial aid and therefore lower your overall cost of attendance at UWM.
- Fellowships are financial aid and will reduce your eligibility for federal student loans
- Because there is no work requirement for fellowships, the fellowship stipend counts as financial aid, and will reduce your eligibility for other forms of financial aid. This is the primary difference between a fellowship and an assistantship. For more information please see the Financial Aid Handbook section titled, “Just for Graduate Students.”
Which type of aid is right for you?
Your individual situation is unique. You may have additional sources of income (like full-time employment, family or a working spouse) or external scholarships that impact your tuition and loan calculations. The following scenario is an illustration of the impact a fellowship or assistantship can have on your eligibility for federal student loans. Always check with the Financial Aid Office to discuss your specific financial needs and options.
Consider this scenario: The 2021-2022 9-month cost of attendance at UWM is $30,322. The typical federal loan offer is $20,500. Financial aid cannot exceed the cost of attendance.
Here is an example showing the difference in how an assistantship or fellowship affects federal loan eligibility.
Tuition waiver: $10,700
Total aid provided by fellowship: $25,700
Remaining cost of attendance: $4,622
|Federal loan offer:|
|Assistantship||Stipend: does not count as financial aid|
Tuition waiver: does not count as financial aid
Remaining cost of attendance: $30,322
|Federal loan offer:|
Please note: This is an example scenario. Financial aid considerations are complex – your individual eligibility may vary.