Charging Tuition Remission on Sponsored Programs

Scope and Purpose 

Case Western Reserve University aims to attract and retain top quality students to our graduate degree research programs by offering competitive compensation packages including excellent salaries, benefits, and tuition support. Part of a competitive graduate program blends academic and research learning across the classroom and laboratory. The purpose of this policy is to clarify the conditions under which CWRU may charge tuition remission to a sponsored project. 


Tuition remission (account code 512250) is that share of tuition charged directly to a grant and that is a component of the student’s total compensation package along with salary. 

Overview and Background 

Tuition remission for graduate assistants may be included in sponsored project proposals and awards provided that it is allowed by the sponsor, conforms to sponsor requirements, and is consistently treated within the CWRU accounting system as a direct cost. 

For sponsored proposals and awards, tuition remission must also meet the requirements of 2 CFR Part 200 sections 430, 431, and 466. 

Tuition remission on awards is considered a type of compensation paid as, or in lieu of, wages for performing necessary work on a sponsored program. For the charges to be allowable, all of the following conditions must be met: 

  • The individual is conducting activities necessary to the award; 
  • The charging of tuition remission is in accordance with this CWRU policy; 
  • The student is enrolled in an advanced degree program at CWRU, and the activities of the student in relation to the award are related to the degree program; and 
  • The tuition remission is reasonable compensation for work performed, and conditioned explicitly upon performance of the work. 

Tuition remission for graduate students working on more than one sponsored project in any one semester must be prorated and charged to each project in the same proportion as the student’s effort on each project. 

Justification of actual tuition remission costs requires the same types of justification as actual wages or compensation costs. At the time of writing, this means that tuition remission compensation is required to be supported through the CWRU effort reporting system. 

Guidance and Procedures 

  • Tuition remission costs will normally be identified as a direct cost within the “other direct” category of the budget for each graduate assistant budgeted in the Personnel category of the budget. 
  • Tuition remission on sponsored projects will generally be applied as a direct non-salary expense to the sponsored project supporting the graduate assistant’s compensation. Tuition remission costs are excluded from fringe benefits or indirect cost assessment, unless sponsor policies/guidelines specifically allow for fringe benefit or indirect cost assessment. 
  • Tuition remission payments on student accounts will be routed via PeopleSoft to Case Western Reserve University’s effort reporting system for inclusion in total compensation until alternative procedures for salary justification are enacted. 
  • Elective fees and penalties including parking, laboratory, student activity, and late registration/payment penalty fees, may not be covered by a grant or contract. These and any other special fees are the student’s responsibility. 
  • Many sponsors do allow inclusion of health insurance benefits on budget proposals. If this charge is allowable, specific instructions will be included in the sponsor guidelines. 
  • Tuition remission payments will normally be posted directly to the student’s Bursar accounts and charged to the sponsoring fund through PeopleSoft. 
  • If the principal investigator (PI) must add a graduate assistant to a project that did not originally request funding for tuition remission, the PI is responsible for re-budgeting dollars from other direct cost categories to cover tuition remission costs, in accordance with sponsor guidelines. 

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Cap on Graduate Student Compensation 

The maximum amount that NIH will award to support compensation for a graduate student research assistant remains at the stipend level for a postdoctoral scholar at zero years experience at the time of the award as described in the current Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Stipends, Tuition/Fees and Other Budgetary Levels Notice release on an annual basis and are published as a notice on the NIH website. The combined sum of the graduate student stipend, related fringe benefits, and tuition remission costs are subject to this maximum amount. Current postdoctoral stipend levels are included Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Stipends, Tuition/Fees and Other Budgetary Levels Notice release on an annual basis and are published as a notice on the NIH website.