Supplementing Stipends

Refer to the documents on this page for an outline of best practices approach for FAS and SEAS regarding questions around supplementing stipends or setting up a secondary appointment for work performed on sponsored awards as well as for a flow chart for determining whether a stipened should be supplemented. 

FAS Guidance Documentation:


While sponsors differ in their guidance by agency and award mechanism, Harvard University’s Sponsored Expenditure Guidelines Compensation Section states that “Payments to supplement a fellowship are unallowable on any federal award.”  For purposes of the guidance document, we interpret this University guidance as referencing stipend supplementation, not salary in the form of a second appointment. 

Postdoctoral fellows and graduate students are often encouraged to apply for and accept fellowships or grants to support their scientific research while in a faculty member’s lab. In many cases, the awards include a stipend to defray living expenses.  Stipends are not an exchange for service and do not typically cover the full amount Harvard has agreed to pay the graduate student or postdoctoral fellow as outlined in their student support letter or appointment letter.  This results in a variance between what they are being paid through a stipend and their appointment letter.  The optional scenarios below provide guidance on when stipend supplementation is appropriate and when it would be appropriate to set up a second salaried appointment to meet Harvard’s financial commitment. 

In order to determine whether stipend supplementation or a second salaried appointment is the best approach for support, sponsored award terms and conditions dictated by the stipend source as well as the secondary source of support (stipend supplementation or second salaried appointment) must always be considered.