Compensating Graduate Students

Graduate student funding support packages can be comprised of funds from a variety of sources and can differ from student to student. Funding sources include scholarships, graduate fellowships, and part-time employment such as graduate teaching assistantships.

The two tables below outline scholarship/graduate fellowship funding and part-time employment funding - the two general methods of funding graduate student funding support packages.

Funding for Graduate Student Education - Scholarship/Fellowship

Western University faculty, staff, students, and outside funding agencies use a wide variety of terms when describing funding given to graduate students to pursue their education. i.e., award, scholarship, fellowship, grant, studentship, stipend, etc. While each term may have meaning to the person or agency using it, SGPS has created two broad definitions of graduate student funding support.

  1. Scholarship: Western uses the term scholarship when the funds come from an agency and/or university funds.
  2. Graduate Fellowship: Western uses the term graduate fellowship when the funds come from a research grant.

Funding Type Funding Source System Paid Through Western Definition Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Tax Treatment
Scholarship Agency,
University Funds

Student Center, nominated by graduate program

Western uses the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) definition: "Scholarships are amounts paid or benefits given to students to enable them to pursue their education. Scholarships usually apply to education at a post-secondary level or beyond, such as at a university, college, technical institute or other educational institution. Scholarships normally assist the student in proceeding towards a degree, diploma, or other certificate of graduation."

CRA Definition

T4A slip (box 105) is issued for these funds; because these funds are classified as a scholarship related to the student’s registration in a qualifying graduate program, the income may be fully tax exempt: Income Act s. 56(3)(a).
Graduate Fellowship Research Grant HR Payroll system, Online Appointment Process, Job Code; X0100 For the 2022 tax year, SGPS plans to move graduate fellowship payments for graduate students from the Human Resources (HR) system into the Student Center. This appointment provides financial assistance to enable the student to focus on their graduate studies. It is a position funded by a supervisor's research grant where the student conducts research that is aligned with the supervisor’s research program, often leading to jointly authored research publications. It is used to assist the student’s training to become an independent researcher and to complete research related to their own thesis or own academic pursuits (still does contribute to the professor's overall research) and tasks will include those necessary to learn to become an independent researcher. This is a non-employment relationship.

CRA Definition

T4A slip (box 105) is issued for these funds; because these funds are classified as a fellowship related to the student’s registration in a qualifying graduate program, the income may be fully tax exempt: Income Act s. 56(3)(a). The income is not insurable for purposes of making benefit claims under employment insurance and is not pensionable under the Canada Pension Plan. Income will not impact students’ RRSP deduction limit.

Funding for Graduate Student Education - Related Employment

This employment is directly linked to graduate student funding support packages. Employment is one of the ways programs fund their graduate students.

Employment Type Funding Source System Paid Through Western Definition Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Tax Treatment
Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) University Funds

HR Payroll system, Online Appointment Process, Job Code; X0200

“Graduate Teaching Assistantship” (GTAship) means the employment contract between a registered full-time graduate student and the Employer for assisting in supervised teaching-related duties listed in Article 17.03 Hours of Work.

T4 - Employment

Graduate Student Assistantship (GSA)

University Funds

HR Payroll system, Staff Appointment Notice and Contract submitted to Human Resources; Job Code; X0500

The role of a Graduate Student Assistantship (GSA) is to provide academic duties including proctoring exams, marking examination papers and/or research duties assigned to a graduate student engaged in research performed for a member of faculty not directly related to the student’s own research.

The research oriented projects contribute to the student’s academic and professional development. Must be a part-time or full-time registered Western graduate student.

CRA Definition

T4 - Employment

In addition to the tables above, HR provides further resources to help manage the administrative processes around education-related employment available to graduate students.

  • HR Researcher Toolbox: a guide for supervisors to assist with hiring/appointing; budgeting for research roles; and supervising.
  • HR Student Research Appointments Table: a summary document that applies to employment relationships at Western including appointment types, eligibility, duration, job codes, etc.