I have a bit of a quandary. I applied for a fellowship to send me to a foreign country for two months. They will give me a stipend, and pay for all of my other expenses. In the event I don't receive this fellowship, my advisor said she would fund me the whole summer using her discretionary funds. I would go on this trip and make it back exactly one month before classes start: would it be selfish for me, in the event I get this fellowship, to ask her to also fund me for that last month while I'm back and doing work?

The thing is, the fellowship stipend is about as much as I would make during the whole summer working here, so I would be making more money than I would normally make over the entire summer. Perhaps I am overthinking this.

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    I am aware that I am in a minority with this sentiment, but I never understood why discussing salary / stipends (also known as contract negotiation everywhere outside of academia) is such a no-go for some. From my point of view, everything you mention is fair game - you are free to ask for this additional month of coverage, but of course your advisor is not in any way obligated to cover you. That you make more money this summer than otherwise does not seem like a relevant information to me.
    – xLeitix
    Mar 3, 2015 at 22:32
  • To make it clear, the fellowship pays for the stipend, living expenses and plane trip. She will not fund me at all during this period. If there is no fellowship, she would fund me for 3 months. If there is fellowship, I would ask her for the last months funding.
    – Neo
    Mar 3, 2015 at 22:43
  • I see! Thanks for the clarification. I guess that would then depend on what project you and she can carve out for one month worth of work. Having a one-month student helper and a three-month one are very different. Mar 3, 2015 at 22:47
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    Perhaps I am overthinking this. — Yes, you are overthinking this.
    – JeffE
    Mar 4, 2015 at 9:52

1 Answer 1


What you are getting paid when you are not working for your university should not matter. Taking it to a (albeit artificial and ridiculous) extreme, if a top programmer in industry, with a salary of 100k$/year joins a doctoral program in June, would you consider that his salary from January to May is enough so you can not pay him for a couple of years? In my view (and some jurisdictions too), working for free is very close to slavery, and should be avoided when possible.

So, absolutely, you can go ahead and ask her if she will fund you. Your situation is good in the way that if she says no you will have a backup.

With this said, I can understand if she refuses. If it is a single, non continued project, it is not as efficient to hire a person for one month as for three, and if you are not going to do it, she may use the funds to hire someone else for the full time. If you are going to continue doing your usual work during that month, there is not so much difference between being there one or three months, and your case is stronger.

As an extra, during your fellowship, you will probably learn a bunch of new things, so you are an extra asset for your group. You can also offer to give a few seminars on what you have learned in partial exchange for the funding.

  • I was with you except working for free is very close to slavery -- this statement comes across as out-of-touch, to say the least. One is voluntary and the other is not. Apr 6, 2020 at 3:00

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