I was admitted to a US PhD program (in computer science, if that matters) with fellowship + stipend.

I am getting a separate stipend from my government (which is higher than the university stipend), but they forbid me from getting an additional stipend from the university.

Is it OK to ask the university to just pay for my tuition (with the fellowship), and refuse the stipend?

  • 1
    Make sure your government is ok with that! It may be not obvious, but they might be forbidding you not only from getting a direct stipend, but also from getting direct or indirect benefits. So check out very carefully what exactly they forbid you and what they allow.
    – o0'.
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 9:50

2 Answers 2


Yes. The university will generally be happy to work with you to make sure your tuition is covered and call the money whatever they need to. As you are saving the department money, you may also ask the department to provide some additional travel or research funds instead of the stipend.

  • 6
    You may have to make sure you talk to the dean of grad studies at your department about this. Sometimes the person with administrative duties will not know how to handle this and may tell you it is not possible when in fact it may be possible to work something out. Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 21:27
  • 1
    Also you're getting a conversation with the dean about how you're making his program more cost efficient. He'll like that.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 1:37
  • @corsiKa I am not sure how Hadi is using Dean, but at least in my experience Deans in the US and UK do not get involved in this stuff.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 9:59

Usually, this would work, but not always. A Sweden-based scientist I know declined a PhD student who came with their own funding, because he did not want that there would be two classes of PhD students in his group. The externally funded PhD student would have a different amount of money, different rules for vacation, sick leave, and other benefits, and he considered this to be detrimental to the group. Therefore, he declined the student.

(At least, this was the reason I was told. There could have been other motivations that I was not told.)

  • 10
    I can only imagine the response of the department head to that one. My departments promotion committee would not look to kindly on "I turned down that funding because I was worried about the inter-personal issues it would cause."
    – StrongBad
    Commented Mar 22, 2015 at 17:02
  • @StrongBad It is definitely not uncommon to turn down externally-funded students in Europe. What gerrit mentions is one reason, another is that sometimes there are concerns about the quality of the externally-funded student. Afaik, deans or department heads do not typically get involved in such cases. (also, the decision power of department heads over professors is more nominal than anything in many European universities, anyway)
    – xLeitix
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 0:20
  • Joining a PhD program in a different country implies that you will meet the obligations and regulations of that university. Having any different source of funding for your studies do not relieve you from the requirements of that university. Therefore, the point for the Swedish university professor declining admission for the argument presented above does not sound logical but if it happened then perhaps the case might not have been presented to them properly.
    – user32095
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 2:55
  • @xLeitix yes, my UK department turns down externally funded students fairly regularly because of concerns over the quality of the student. I see no problem with that. We do not regularly turn down externally funded students because of inter-personal issues.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 9:57
  • Perhaps the reasons this professor told me were not the true reasons.
    – gerrit
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 15:40

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