As of 2022, the Graduate Student Affairs Coordinator (Yasasha Ridel in 2022) provides an individualized funding schedule to each graduate student. Your job is to read this, review it to ensure it is correct, and reply affirming so or providing corrections. Though the grad students spent several years working with the faculty to get this better pay system (which has solved a lot of issues), if you want to get paid properly it is, in the end, up to YOU to keep track of your funding.

Your pay schedule depends on what type of funding you have. For most GSI/GSR positions, you'll get paid in monthly installments at the beginning of each month. Department fellowships get paid in lump sums at the beginning of the semester, while e.g. NSF fellowships are disbursed monthly like GSI/GSR stipends. Note that electronic fund transfers for fellowships and GSI positions differ, so be sure to set them up separately, if you don't want to have to go fetch a paper check each month.

Pay attention to whether or not tax is withheld– it's not withheld from fellowships, and can be a large surprise when it comes to tax time in April (ballpark $4000 ).

The department has an emergency fund to cover grad students with pay issues. This should be your first resource rather than the emergency loans from the university. Please contact the chair, head grad advisor, and/or the student affairs coordinator for access to this fund.

Handbook statement (2022)

The Astronomy Department works to guarantee a minimal level of funding for each graduate student for the duration of their time in the program. Most students are supported by some combination of GSI and GSR appointments, as well as Fellowships. The total amount of financial support is reviewed annually by the Astronomy Faculty, typically around the time of graduate admissions. The amount of support is affected by a number of factors, including cost of living, competitiveness with peer institutions, support offered in other MPS departments, and the funding landscape of the University, federal grants, etc. Annual increases in support are not guaranteed, though the faculty make good faith efforts to provide the highest level of support possible in light of the above factors. Each spring, the Department Chair will notify the graduate students of the level of support for the next academic year.

In most departments in our division (e.g., Math, Physics) students’ primary form of support is through teaching. Historically, Astronomy faculty have been able to support many students through research grants, or students have been able to obtain their own external fellowship funding (e.g., NSF, DOE). We make our best efforts to provide research funding for students, and have a good past record of doing so. However, as with most departments on campus, students should be prepared to GSI if other funding sources are not available.

Note that graduate students do not typically get paid evenly throughout the year (i.e., it is not correct to simply divide the annual salary by 12 to get a monthly amount). Certain fellowships, teaching pay, research pay, and summer vs. academic year pay are often distributed unevenly and on different schedules throughout the year. This is particularly important for first-year students as they adjust to finances in grad school. Time permitting, the GSAO will try to provide regular pay schedules for graduate students. Please contact the GSAO with any specific questions about funding.

Check other sections of the handbook for more around pay, and the Taxes section of the wiki and handbook for more about doing your financial civic duty.


If you should run low on funds and need $ right away for miscellaneous expenses (the payroll office has been known to mess up pay checks from time to time), note that the university offers $775 emergency loans with 0 interest for 60 day periods, with a $20 application fee. Go to 212 Sproul to fill out the form between 9am-12:15pm M-Th, and pick up your check by 1 the same day!