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6. Graduate Funding


All graduate students are admitted with a five-year funding package that offers full tuition and stipend through a combination of fellowship and Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) appointments. Students who do not receive fellowship funding in their sixth year and beyond may apply for GSI positions, if available, and in accordance with the LSA Ten Term Rule.

6.1 Eligibility for GSI Support (Ten-Term Rule)

All doctoral students should keep a copy of their letters of admission, which specify whether or for what length of time the Department has promised them financial support.  One rule generally governs eligibility, the “ten-term rule” of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.  The ten-term rule specifies that no graduate student may receive more than ten terms of College (LSA) support, including teaching and fellowships. A term of support is defined as a term in which the student has a complete tuition remission and a stipend, whether or not that stipend is earned by teaching.

After several years in the program, you should expect to see, even within a single graduate cohort, considerable variety in support patterns.  Almost every student arrives at the ten-term College support limit at a different time.  This is due to the many variables involved: external fellowships and internal Department and Rackham fellowships of several kinds, each fellowship with its own rules and stipulations; variations in the number of terms of GSI appointments and in GSI fractions; patterns of leaves of absence; and differences in faculty evaluations of academic performance.

Support that counts toward the College’s ten-term rule includes college and departmental fellowships, GSI appointments of .25 or greater, Sweetland Writing Center Fellowships, and all teaching appointments of any fraction that were defined in the offer letter as constituting a term of support.  Support that does not count toward the ten-term rule includes Comparative Literature First Year Fellowships, Comparative Literature Study Abroad Awards,  Spring/Summer GSI appointments, fellowships funded by Rackham, Institute for the Humanities, IRWG, Center for the Education of Women, external fellowships (Fulbright, Mellon) and Tuition Only Fellowships.  

6.2 Fellowships

Normally students are appointed as GSI’s during their second and third years. When students have reached candidacy in Comparative Literature, they also have the opportunity to apply for a variety of internal and external fellowships.  For more information about external fellowships, see the Rackham website

Comparative Literature Study Abroad Fellowship. Deadline is November 15. These fellowships are awarded by the Graduate Committee, giving priority to students who need to pursue study abroad for one or two semesters of linguistic and cultural immersion in a non-native language environment, usually during their third or fourth year of graduate studies.  To qualify for this funding, students must have achieved candidacy, completed coursework, be in good academic standing, and submit a plan of study endorsed by their committee chair.  Students receive a stipend for one or two semesters, must enroll in international health insurance for the term of study abroad, and upon submission of the application are automatically awarded a Tuition-Only Fellowship to cover candidacy tuition.  In addition, students are eligible for reimbursement for visa and transportation expenses related to their study abroad travel. For students who combine study abroad with personal travel or other U-M funded travel, reimbursement will be limited to the average cost of a round-trip ticket (DTW – approved study abroad location) minus funding from other sources. Students must go abroad during the term for which the fellowship is awarded, and they are required to submit a form to the SSvC reporting on their activities when they complete the fellowship. Because this fellowship is specifically designated to help students achieve cultural and linguistic fluency in their non-native language environment, applications for residency in a country where the student’s own native language is commonly spoken cannot be considered except under special circumstances. Be sure to discuss your plans with the DGS before submitting an application.

6.3 Tuition-Only Fellowships (TOF)

All PhD students are required to be registered each fall and winter term that they are not on an official Leave of Absence approved by the Rackham Graduate School.  Spring/summer registration is only required when a student is taking prelims or defending.  Students who are not teaching and not on fellowship are eligible to apply for Tuition-Only Fellowships (TOF), provided they have reached candidacy and are making satisfactory progress in the program.  Applying for a TOF does not guarantee that you will receive one. 

Please note that a TOF covers candidacy tuition, GradCare/Dental only, and will not cover stipend or additional fees.  Students will be responsible for paying their own fees, which amount to about $170 per term.  Failure to pay these fees in a timely manner will result in additional monthly charges being added each month that the fees are not paid.  The student is responsible for paying these additional charges, as well as the fees.  Failure to pay these fees and additional charges will result in denial of registration until the university account has been settled in full. Note:  students who receive Complit Study Abroad fellowships do not need to submit the application.

Comparative Literature students who need TOF assistance should submit the Tuition-Only Fellowship Application Form by November 15 for the winter term and June 1 for the fall term. This form is available HERE and requires a statement from the student’s faculty advisor.  In addition to turning in this form to the Student Services Coordinator, students must have a satisfactory progress report from their dissertation chair.  A Tuition-Only Fellowship does not count toward the LSA ten-term rule and cannot be used during the term of a dissertation defense. 

6.4 Summer Language/Research Funding

Comparative Literature Summer Language/Research Funding.  Department deadline is March 15.  Students in Comparative Literature are invited to submit proposals for summer funding (with budget including expenses for travel and, where relevant, travel-abroad health insurance).  Students conducting research or language study outside of Ann Arbor, but in the US, should complete the GradCare off-site registration form and submit the signed paperwork to Blue Care Network – BCN Claims.  All proposals will be reviewed by the Graduate Committee, giving priority to students for intensive language studies after years 1 and 2 of the graduate program.  More advanced students may also request funding to continue language studies as needed or to pursue research outside of Ann Arbor.  Summer funding is not available for living expenses in Ann Arbor.  When applying to other institution programs (Middlebury, Cornell, etc.), be sure to check into/apply for any financial aid that might be offered to help offset the program costs, and include that possible funding source on your application and in your budget. Because this funding is limited, the Department cannot always guarantee that your request will be approved; it is each student’s responsibility to identify funding sources appropriate to individual needs.  Only students in good academic standing will receive funding.  All incompletes must be resolved with a grade noted on the transcript.

Sweetland Dissertation Writing Institute.  Department deadline is mid-February for nominations; students who are nominated by the DGS will be contacted by Sweetland Writing Center to submit materials in March. To qualify, students must have already begun to write the dissertation and completed at least one chapter. Participants attend the Institute daily during eight weeks of the Spring Term to work full-time on their dissertation, and they receive a stipend of $3,000 (currently). 

Summer Institute for World Literature.  Students who are interested in the Institute for World Literature (IWL) should notify the SSvC by January 15. The Graduate Committee will select candidates, giving priority to students in the dissertation phase.  Participants selected by the Department and accepted by the Institute will be reimbursed by the Department for tuition to attend a 4-week summer program. Students who plan to attend IWL should submit proposals on March 15 for Comparative Literature Summer Language/ Research Funding (with budget for transportation, accommodation and travel-abroad health insurance).

School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell University. Rackham invites applications for a limited number of spots reserved for graduate students from the University of Michigan to attend the summer School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell.  Contact Rackham for more details.

IRWG Rackham Community of Scholars.  Deadline is early December for proposals, submitted directly to the Institute for Research on Women and Gender.  Students at any stage in their graduate careers may apply to participate in a weekly seminar involving graduate fellows during May and June, and may conduct research outside of Ann Arbor during July and August.  Students selected by IRWG receive a monthly stipend (and GradCare health insurance if needed) for May through August.

The Susan Lipschutz Fund for Women Graduate Students.  Department deadline is January 15, to nominate one student for Spring/Summer support of $5,000, awarded by the Institute for Research on Women and Gender. 

Faculty and Graduate Student Research Grants Program.  Deadline is February 29 for tenure-track faculty to apply via the online application.  Faculty award recipients will receive a grant equivalent to the cost of a .50 GSRA with the expectation that they will appoint a student, admitted to or currently enrolled at the University of Michigan, who will commit to work the combined Spring/Summer terms of the project. The grant does not include tuition for this period; any tuition obligation is the responsibility of the faculty member. Graduate students will be required to fulfill their responsibilities to the satisfaction of their faculty mentor. Faculty members will be asked to provide specific objectives and duties prior to the period of Spring/Summer employment and a plan for mentoring the student during the period of appointment.

Additional sources of summer funding. Students may be eligible to apply for additional funding from the Center for Education of Women (CEW), FLAS programs, the African Studies Center, the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, and other units on campus. GSI positions may open up for teaching in spring and/or summer terms (see section 7.1: GSI Assignments).   

6.5 Travel Grants

Conference travel. PhD students making satisfactory progress are eligible for travel grant funding (up to $800 for domestic travel and up to $1000 for international travel), to be used if giving a conference paper or participating in a conference panel.  The Department defines a year as the fiscal year, July 1 – June 30.  The Department requires that you do not apply for departmental support before you have exhausted Rackham support. You will need to apply for both Rackham and Departmental funds before the trip (there will be no exceptions to this policy), and you must attach a copy of your Rackham Conference Travel Grant as part of your application.  When you return from the conference, you must submit receipts as instructed in the approval notice in order to receive funding or reimbursement from the Department.  This grant only covers travel costs and expenses related to conference activity, but not food.  Because funds are limited, the Department cannot always guarantee that your request will be approved.  To apply for conference travel, please take the following steps:

·         Applications can be downloaded HERE.

·         Complete the form and attach a copy of the conference program or a letter of invitation confirming your participation. 

·         Return the form to the SSvC for review and routing to the Department Chief Administrator for signature and processing.

·         Receipts for reimbursement must be submitted to the Department Administrator within 10 days after your return.  All original receipts must be submitted, and only those receipts will be reimbursed.  The Comparative Literature Department must account for all funds it dispenses.  We suggest you carry an envelope to keep receipts together.  Please include a copy of your boarding pass.

·         Applications for Rackham Conference Travel Grants are available HERE.  This money is available for students who will be presenting at conferences, and Rackham also requires that you apply before the conference starts.  When you apply to Rackham for travel funding, you must give a copy of your application to the SSvC, since this will impact any Complit Travel Grant Request.  Conference and travel applications made to Rackham and other funders require a letter of support from faculty. Faculty receive many, many requests for these types of letters and may occasionally miss a deadline.  Rackham will not consider late requests or appeals after your travel, so be proactive - request an exception prior to your travel if your application is incomplete due to an outstanding faculty recommendation letterRackham will consider requests for exception made in advance. They know that faculty letters can sometimes be delayed due to travel, access to computers, and other faculty deadlines/priorities. Of course, all of the student application materials must be submitted in advance.

·         Please plan ahead. If you have further questions, please contact the SSvC.

MLA Travel. Current students who are on the job market and have interviews scheduled for MLA may apply to the Comparative Literature Department for support to travel to MLA. Students are eligible for up to $800 in funding for travel and expenses related to conference activity, but not food.  Students should submit a Travel Grant Application Form to the Department Chief Administrator and submit original receipts for reimbursement. 

International Institute Conference Travel.  The International Institute provides supplemental travel support for graduate students invited to present papers on area or international topics.  Grants are available for travel to area studies meetings, annual conferences, and workshops.

Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant.  Students can apply to Rackham to request support for research-based travel or study of foreign languages needed for research. Graduate students are eligible to apply for this grant if they are in good academic standing, and if the proposed research project helps achieve progress toward the doctoral degree.  A doctoral student is eligible for two research grants, one pre-candidacy (up to $1500) and one as a candidate (up to $3,000).  Students apply for Rackham Research Grants on a rolling basis and must give a copy of their application to the SSvC for record-keeping.

Rackham International Research Awards (RIRA).  Each year Rackham makes fifteen awards (up to $10,000) in support of graduate students conducting degree-related research outside North America. Preference will be given to students who have an approved dissertation topic, and students of any citizenship may apply. Students may receive only one RIRA award, and if they have other sources of fellowship support they must demonstrate need for additional funding. Rackham’s application deadline is mid-February, and students who apply must give a copy of their application to the SSvC for record-keeping.

Other funds for research travel.  Students may find additional support for travel via the Area Studies Centers at UM or Comparative Literature Summer Language/Research Funding (see 6.4 Summer Funding).  

6.6 International Travel Policy

The University of Michigan has set forth basic international travel requirements as part of the UM SPG 601.31. In November 2016, the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts set forth additional provisions as part of the “LSA International Travel Policy.” All members of the LSA community must comply with this policy. Any person (whether UM-affiliated or not) who may receive funding from an LSA unit or participates on an LSA-organized experienced is also encompassed under this policy. The full text of the LSA Travel Policy can be found here

Students may not travel nor can funds be released from LSA departments until all requirements of the LSA Travel Policy have been met. International travel compliance for the College of LSA will be coordinated through the CGIS office.

6.7 Rackham Graduate Student Emergency Fund

Students may apply to Rackham for this fund if they encounter one-time, unusual, or unforeseen expenses related to medical, dental, or mental health emergencies, major accidents, or expenses related to the death of an immediate family member.  Normal living expenses are generally not covered by this fund. Students must be in good academic standing and are limited to two Emergency Fund awards. Applications from students are reviewed on a rolling basis.

6.8 Nancy Harris Emergency/Discretionary Fund

The Nancy Harris Emergency/Discretionary Fund is available to provide short-term financial assistance for 1) family, medical, and dental emergencies; 2) other emergency or unplanned events that cause a financial hardship (to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis); and 3) budget shortfalls (to be considered for temporary bridge funding, subject to repayment to the University).

·         Students are expected to apply first to the Rackham emergency fund for events that meet Rackham criteria.

·         CompLit emergency/discretionary funding can be combined with Rackham emergency funds.

·         Students are eligible to apply for up to $1000 per event. In general, it is the department’s expectation that students will seek funding no more than twice in their academic career. Students will be required to submit documentation of expenses, such as an airfare receipt for travel home or a medical billing statement (no medical documentation).