Western Graduate & Postdoctoral  Studies

Graduate Student Funding Portal

This project will deliver a package of services designed to collect, maintain and inform stakeholders concerning the planning and delivery of graduate student financial support packages. 

The primary input from graduate programs will provide clear documentation concerning overarching financial models that determine baseline funding levels for students in particular groupings within graduate programs or faculties.  These funding models will be used to populate default values within individual funding plans for students, leaving program administrators and faculty supervisors to review and only update deviations from the baseline levels.

The primary output of the project will be a detailed and archived financial support package transmitted to the student on demand of the program.  These packages will be archived within the SGPS server and accessible through the Student Portal User Interface.  This decision diverges from the earlier sub-committee recommendations to include these letters in the Student Center; however greater flexibility and future development can be had with this process being initially built internally.

Project Sponsors

  • Prof. Linda Miller
    Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies)
  • Prof. Lorraine Davies 
    Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies)
  • Prof. Peter Simpson 
    Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies)
  • Ron Wagler 
    Director of Administration, SGPS

Project Team

Communication Archive

Project Documents

Training Documents

  • TBD

Deliverables

This project will create a network of services designed to support the graduate student funding model.  The network will be based on the structure of requirements put forward in the Graduate Funding Sub-Committee Report including:

The network will maintain support models for each faculty/program which will allow for the automated term-by-term funding plans to be set with default levels so users may tweak as necessary before issuing support package letters to students via email.

Faculty/Program Graduate Student Support Models

These models serve as the baseline for funding profiles.  It will allow a user to determine basic parameters that define a group of students and outline the various channels of money sources that fund that particular group.

Student Variables:

Example:

Faculty

Program

Degree

Load

Year(s)

Residency

Arts and Humanities

ALL

Master's

Full-time

<7

Domestic

Arts and Humanities

ALL

Master's

Full-time

<7

International

For each group of students a user can set a grouping of funding sources specific to that group as a baseline for students who fall into this profile.  These funding sources fall into five categories:

Across these five categories, users could select from an inventory of funding sources and amounts that create a profile for that particular category of student.  Considering the above example, Arts would add the following to those categories:

Type

Fall 2016

Winter 2017

Summer 2017

Annual Amount

GTA

$6,349.62

$6,349.62

-

$12,699.23

GTA

$6,349.62

$6,349.62

-

$12,699.23

Type

Fall 2016

Winter 2017

Summer 2017

Annual Amount

WGRS

$1,516.92

$1,516.92

$1,516.92

$4,550.77

WGRS

$4,783.59

$4,783.59

$4,783.59

$14,350.77

Some categories would require the user to provide additional information for the particular funding source.  That would be represented by an additional description tag:

Type

Description

Fall 2016

Winter 2017

Summer 2017

Annual Amount

Research Income

GRA

$3,873.18

$3,873.18

$3,873.18

$11,619.54

Research Income

GRA

$1,799.75

$1,799.75

$1,799.75

$5,399.24

Other categories (External Scholarships) would allow the user to either select a Description from a predetermined list or enter in a value manually.  Selecting from a list would allow the process to allow common elements to these shared values in other areas of the project.  An example of this functionality would be within External Scholarships.  With users selecting an award from a pre-determined list of awards the potential exists for automation later in the project (e.g. a SSHRCD award is paid the same amount across the campus).

Security for the Student Support Models would be managed by user roles with the following holding the following positions:

SGPS users could review or update any information in the service.

Ultimately this product provides users with a flexible interface to design and maintain funding models for the purpose of documentation and providing baseline values in the Term-by-Term Funding Plans for Individual Students.  See Appendix A for example.

Term-by-Term Funding Plans for Individual Students

With models in place for each of the programs/degree options for graduate students, a module can be constructed to apply these baseline profiles to individual students for each program.  The objective of this module is to take the standards created in the Support Models and apply them to students.  This can be accomplished in two steps:

  1. Categorize active students in a given grouping (program/faculty) to match the Student Variables in the Student Support Models via information collected in PeopleSoft
  2. Push the baseline funding models onto students that match the Student Variables

This process can plot out baseline funding plans for all students who meet the criteria to any of the Student Variables for each term in a grouping.  Values in the report can be adjusted as required for individual students.  Students who do not match a Support Model will display without funding and require either the user provide values manually or update the Support Models for that particular set of variables.

Consider a program in Arts and Humanities (English) establishing their funding plans for the 2016/17 academic year (Fall/Winter/Summer).  They would have already established Support Models across the Faculty that would apply to their students.  When English visited the service they would select the academic year they wish to generate funding plans for and the report would retrieve all currently active graduate students in the program and their student variables.

Student Name

Student Number

Program

Degree

Load

Terms

Residency

Elias Sebastian

001704853

English

Master's

Full-Time

1-3

Domestic

Zurab Munroe

250148412

English

Doctoral

Full-Time

10-12

Domestic

Helmut Nedelko

250247816

English

Doctoral

Full-Time

4-6

International

Anton Feliciano

250111745

English

Master's

Full-Time

1-3

Domestic

Adnan Callum

250218732

English

Doctoral

Full-Time

4-6

International

The Funding Plans would review if a student had been awarded an external scholarship via information in Student Center and plot out those incoming awards into the Plans.

Student Name

Student Variables

Source

Fall

Winter

Summer

Annual Value

Elias Sebastian

OGS

$5,000.00

$5,000.00

$5,000.00

$15,000.00

Zurab Munroe

Recruitment OGS

$5,000.00

$5,000.00

$5,000.00

$15,000.00

Helmut Nedelko

Anton Feliciano

CGS

$5,833.33

$5,833.33

$5,833.33

$17,500.00

Adnan Callum

Vanier CGS

$16,666.67

$16,666.67

$16,666.67

$50,000.00

As each of these students match an existing Support Profile the process would initially populate these default values onto each student.

Users would be able to manipulate individual values and add additional values to each student.  Any updates made to a student would be saved and marked within the funding plans as unique.  Updates to the Support Models would be pushed into the Funding Plans but would not override any existing manipulated values.

Student Name

Student Variables

Source

Source

Fall

Winter

Summer

Annual Value

Elias Sebastian

GTA

$3,174.81

$3,174.81

 

$6,349.62

Any changes made to the Funding Plans should be saved automatically after input. A user should be able to declare that Funding Plans for the academic year are now set and lock the values.  This would not prohibit additional updates but would permit further work in later stages of the process to occur.  Without that lock in place the next two stages could not take place.  See Appendix B for example.

Supervisor Approval

Some faculties require student supervisors to revise and approve certain elements of funding for students.  To facilitate this work a module will need to be created to allow a supervisor to review, update and approve specific funding elements for students under their supervision.  A faculty member will sign into a user interface and be presented with all students under their supervision who have been locked as receiving funding.

The supervisor view of funding will echo the structure of the Funding Plans for individual students.  Certain funding values will be updateable to the supervisor (normally GRA and GTA).  These settings will be determined within the Support Models and be marked clearly as editable within the interface with a minimum and maximum setting available to ensure supervisor changes remain within a limit if deemed necessary by a program/faculty.  Any changes to the values made by the supervisor will need to be marked uniquely so a coordinator can review the changes prior to continuing the funding process.

In addition to manipulating individual proposed payments to students, supervisors can also provide speedcodes that ascribe a payment source for a particular award.  A maximum of three speedcodes, with appropriate percentages of payment can be provided by a supervisor for an individual funding source.  Once a funding source is provided the values will be appropriately marked to inform users that a value has been added.

A final element of review will allow a supervisor to make a note on a particular student for general reporting purposes/administrative clarity.  These notes will be accessible to any who maintain the Funding Plans view.

Once a supervisor has completed review of their funding for students under their supervision, they will be provided a method to mark that their review is complete.  This information is passed back to the administrator to inform that the supervisor has completed review.

Financial Support Package Communications

With the complete and approved plans for graduate students in a single location it is possible to generate Financial Support Package Communications to students that inform them of this pending funding.  A program/faculty administrator will have the authority to generate emails the inform students that their Support Package is set and ready for their review.

Communications will be triggered by a graduate administrator.  These users will be able to determine which letters are to be sent and what terms are to be included in the letter.  A note will be placed on the individual funding plans recording any letters that have been sent to a student.

The content of the communication to students will be a standard email which informs them that a funding package has been prepared for them.  A copy of the funding package (in PDF format) will be attached to the email for their information.  Each package will also be archived within a service which student’s will be able to review historically going forward.  Any revisions or updates to the Individual Funding Plans after a communication has been sent will require a new letter be transmitted to the student and this revised package will also be archived for the student within the SGPS Student Portal.  Please see Appendix C for a template of this communication.