Departmental Funding & Student Award Payments

Departmental Funding & Student Award Payments

In some cases, students might qualify for awards through their department or school. Contact your individual program for more information. If you receive an award from your department, we are required to include it as part of any existing financial aid offer.  To remain compliant with federal guidelines aid initially offered by the Office of Scholarships & Student Aid may be adjusted  so that your total does not exceed the cost of attendance budget.

For information about scholarship opportunities, graduate and professional students should check with specific academic departments and also research funding opportunities through UNC’s Funding Information Portal.

If you are an undergraduate student receiving departmental funding, click here.

More about Departmental Funding

Through funds from private donations, academic departments may offer grants and scholarships. A separate application may be required within your academic department. Award stipulations might also include establishing contact with the donor. Contact your individual program for more information.

Funding such as tuition/fee awards, scholarships, fellowships, training grants, certain travel payments and prizes for contests, awards and recognition will be reported to us by your department through a portal called GradStar.  Departments begin to report these awards to our office beginning in August for the fall semester and January for the spring semester. Awards will be added to any existing financial aid offer which may result in an adjustment to aid initially offered by the Office of Scholarships & Student Aid.

All financial aid payments must be coordinated with any other aid a student receives.  Any student receiving state, federal or need-based institutional funding may not receive total aid from all sources which exceeds the cost of attendance.  In some cases, a reduction to federal or state aid initially offered by the Office of Scholarships & Student Aid Office will be necessary to remain compliant with federal guidelines.

Use the Cost of Attendance & Aid Calculator to determine remaining aid eligibility when receiving departmental funding or student payment.

Departmental Funding & Student award Payment frequently asked questions

You can find FAQs below by topic to assist with questions you may have about departmental funding and student award payments.

General FAQs

Any educational benefits paid because of enrollment in a postsecondary education institution, or to cover postsecondary education expenses is considered financial aid. Please view the Understanding Student Payment Type Chart to learn more about student payments and department funds that are considered financial aid.

Federal financial aid guidelines specify that the follow types of payments are not considered financial aid.

  • Employment earnings or compensation for work performed.
  • Prizes, contests, or awards open to the general public (are not specific to only students).
  • Travel or reimbursement of expenses for University business.

Federal financial aid guidelines specify that any educational benefits paid to students because of enrollment in a postsecondary education institution, or to cover postsecondary education expenses is considered financial aid. As a result, our office is required to coordinate these payments with any other aid a student receives such that the total aid from all sources does not  exceed the cost of attendance.  Students who have been offered state, federal or need-based institutional aid from the Office of Scholarships & Student Aid may have these funds adjusted in order to remain compliant with financial aid guidelines.

Generally, all student payments and departmental funds count as financial aid unless it is compensation or reimbursement for work performed (employment) or awards open to the general public (not student specific).

The Cost of Attendance is a budget of education related students for students enrolled at the University. Costs are developed as guides to help students anticipate their expenses at UNC Chapel Hill. Some students may spend more than the typical amounts, others less, depending on individual lifestyles and circumstances. A student’s eligibility for financial aid, however, will not be based on individual preferences and spending habits, but on the standard budget allowances.

The Cost of Attendance will be displayed on your Financial Aid Offer in ConnectCarolina. You can view your total aid from the Financial Aid Offer to determine if it meets the total Cost of Attendance listed in your aid offer.

Training Grant FAQs

For planning purposes, the Office of Scholarships & Student Aid included an estimated award on your aid offer if case you receive a stipend, book, or dependent care award during spring.  The estimated award is not a promise of funding, but rather, is a placeholder in case you are awarded money during spring.  Estimated awards are automatically removed from your financial aid offer on February 1.

Estimated awards are not an indication of eligibility. Your department will report actual spring amounts to our office during the spring semester.   You will receive a revised financial aid offer once actual spring amounts are reported to our office.

Training grants will not be reduced by the Student Aid Office. However, for students that complete a FAFSA and are offered federal, state, or need based institutional aid from the Student Aid Office, the total training grant amount will be coordinated with other aid awarded.  In some cases, a reduction to federal or state aid initially offered by the Office of Scholarships & Student Aid Office will be necessary to remain compliant with federal guidelines.

Training grants will not be reduced by the Student Aid Office.

Federal, state, or need based institutional aid awarded by the Office of Scholarships & Student Aid may  be  reduced such that the total aid (with the addition of the training grant) does not  exceed the cost of attendance or financial need.

  • Your academic department will use GradStar to report one payment to the Student Aid Office for the fall semester (which generally includes expenses for the months of August-December).  Your academic department will report another payment for the spring semester (which generally includes expenses for the months of January- April).  Your department may also report payments separately during the summer term (May – July).
  • The Office of Scholarships and Student Aid will send stipend payments to the University Cashier’s Office. The University Cashier’s Office will issue applicable refunds starting on the first day of classes each semester or term of enrollment.
  • Please ensure that you have signed up for Electronic Refund with the University Cashier’s Office.

Tax liability is based on many factors for each individual, the University cannot speak definitively on tax liability each student.

In general, financial aid may be taxable if it exceeds your qualified tuition and related expenses. Qualified tuition and related expenses are defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as “tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance at the educational institution or for books, supplies and equipment required for courses of instruction at the institution and required of all students in your course of instruction.”  If the sum of your financial aid exceeds your qualified tuition and related expenses, part of your award may be taxable. You should direct questions concerning the taxability of financial aid to the IRS or a qualified tax consultant.

Training Grants are reported on Form 1098-T which is issued by the Cashier’s Office.  Form 1098-T helps students determine if a tax deduction or education credit can be claimed on their federal tax return.

Questions concerning the taxability of financial aid should be directed to the IRS or a qualified tax consultant.

Travel Payment FAQs

Tuition/Fee FAQs

For planning purposes, the Office of Scholarships & Student Aid included an estimated award on your aid offer if case you receive a tuition/fee award during spring.  The estimated award is not a promise of funding, but rather, is a placeholder in case you are awarded money during spring.  Estimated tuition/fee awards are automatically removed from your financial aid offer on February 1.

The estimated tuition/fee award is not an indication of eligibility. Your department will report actual spring amounts to our office during the spring semester.  You will receive a revised financial aid offer once actual spring amounts are reported to our office.

Federal, state, or need based institutional aid awarded by the Office of Scholarships & Student Aid may be reduced such that the total aid (with the addition of the tuition/fee award) does not exceed the cost of attendance.

Prizes/Contest/Recognition Award FAQs

Yes. Any cash amounts or the values of items given to students solely because of their enrollment at the University must be treated as financial aid. Use the Cost of Attendance & Aid Calculator to determine remaining aid eligibility when receiving awards such as gift cards.

Yes. Federal financial aid guidelines state that any benefits paid to students because of enrollment in a postsecondary education institution, or to cover postsecondary education expenses are considered financial aid. Thus, any cash amounts or the values of items given to students solely because of their enrollment at the University must be treated financial aid.

Use the Cost of Attendance & Aid Calculator to determine remaining aid eligibility when receiving departmental awards.

Yes. Recognition awards do count as financial aid because they are based on student enrollment which is a criterion of financial aid as defined by federal guidelines.  Use the Cost of Attendance & Aid Calculator to determine remaining aid eligibility when receiving recognition awards.

Research or Teaching Assistant FAQs

Generally, RA/TA’S are paid as employees from a contract, federal grant, or startup funds to work for a set amount of time per week. This type of payment is considered compensation for work performed (employment) and does not count as financial aid.

  • Yes, tuition and fee payments you receive as part of your RA/TA do count as financial aid.
  • In some cases, a reduction to federal or state aid initially offered by the Office of Scholarships & Student Aid Office will be necessary to remain compliant with federal guidelines.

Yes, scholarships and/or housing and food stipends received as part of the RA/TA do count as financial aid. Federal, state, or need based institutional aid awarded by the Office of Scholarships & Student Aid may  be reduced such that the total aid  ((with the addition of the scholarship/housing or food stipend) does not  exceed the cost of attendance.

Fellowship/Scholarship FAQs

For planning purposes, the Office of Scholarships & Student Aid included an estimated award on your aid offer if case you receive a fellowship or scholarship during spring.  The estimated award is not a promise of funding, but rather, is a placeholder in case you are awarded money during spring.  Estimated fellowship/scholarship awards are automatically removed from your financial aid offer on February 1.

The estimated fellowship/scholarship award is not an indication of eligibility. Your department will report actual spring amounts to our office during the spring semester.   You will receive a revised financial aid offer once actual spring amounts are reported to our office.

Federal, state, or need based institutional aid awarded by the Office of Scholarships & Student Aid may  be  reduced such that the total aid (with the addition of the scholarship/fellowship) does not  exceed the cost of attendance.

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