Stipends, Taxes & Grants


Each graduate student in OEB is guaranteed full support of tuition and stipend through June of his/her sixth year. Some of this support comes from teaching fellowships and for some students stipend support comes from outside grants such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

The current level of stipend support for OEB grad students in AY12-13 is $,2718 per month, or $32,616 annually.When someone earns over $2,718/month, either through teaching in any FAS class (not just OEB) or through outside Fellowship, OEB does not provide supplemental funds from our endowments. This is done to ensure equity in financial support for all students.


Taxable Income

Basically, any money which passes through your hands is taxable. To quote the IRS:

"Amounts received as a scholarship granted after August 16, 1986, for room and board or travel and any other amounts received for expenses other than tuition and course related expenses (see Publication 520) are taxable."

"Amounts received as a scholarship that are payment for teaching, research, or other services even if the services were required to get the grant are taxable."

The "tuition and course related expenses" referred to in the first paragraph covers the tuition grants made by OEB, NSF, and others which go directly to Harvard. These do not count as personal income. Anything which the IRS deems taxable income is also taxable at a flat 5% rate in Massachusetts. Deductions in Massachusetts are a bit different and newcomers in particular should note that half of your rent is usually deductible.

Students should also note that since no tax is deducted from stipend checks (when the stipend is in the form of a grant), you will most likely need to pay quarterly estimated income tax for both the state of Massachusetts and the IRS. Remember: all OEB Student Research funds are taxable and may be deductible if receipts are accounted for!

Tax Matters for Foreign Students:

All the publications mentioned are available through the International Office or they can tell you how to get them. Keep all your pay slips, get the appropriate tax forms early, and go to the GSAS seminar in late February. Note that the filing deadline is April 15th. Be aware that tax liabilities are the responsibility of the students.

The amount of tax you pay depends on what type of tax treaty your country has with the U.S. The US has signed tax treaties with some countries which may exempt certain individuals from taxes. You must obtain a US Social Security number in order to be exempt. For details, you should obtain IRS publication #901. See also the "Table of Exemptions from the United States' Income Tax for Nonresident Alien Students under Tax Treaties". Helpful tax info and some of these forms are available in the OEB financial office or the International Office in Holyoke Center 858 (495-2789). Foreign students must file forms with the tax office in the Payroll office at Holyoke Center.

There are 2 types of tax--Federal and State, and the rules differ in terms of what is deemed taxable income. None of us pay FICA deductions. Another bright point is that Harvard automatically withholds tax on TF and RA payments made to foreigners so you have probably already paid most of your taxes. If your stipend is in the form of a Harvard Grant, the Payroll Office will not deduct tax directly from your stipend, but will request this from you on a term bill itemized as "Federal Withholding."

Federal Tax

You will probably need a 1040 NR form and the matching set of "Instructions for Form 1040NR" from GSAS or the International Office. (Don't bet on finding them in a bank or Post Office). Your total earnings for the tax year are summarized on your W-2 Wage and Tax Statement issued to you by Harvard early in the year. Tuition, fees, books and expenses for courses are tax exempt, but note that if you have to earn the money for tuition and fees, and receive the money directly as opposed to the department applying it automatically, then you pay tax on that money. Stipends are taxable at a withholding rate of approximately 15% beyond the personal allowance. This includes scholarships that originate in the U.S. Rules vary with a different country of origin.

State Tax

Fill out the federal tax return first, then the state form, as it requires a figure from the federal form. Note that you may be eligible for deducting 50% of your rent. Check with the Mass. Department of Revenue. If your income is less than $8,000 in that year, you don't need to file a State tax return. Use a form 1-NR "Massachusetts Nonresident Income Tax Return", which comes with a matching set of instructions.



"The 300 Account": Each year, each student receives $400 to spend on books, office supplies, and other materials. See your lab's administrative assistant about how to charge purchases to this account.

Graduate Student Research Funds:

OEB provides each graduate student with the following research money:
$2,000 at the beginning of their G1 year
$3,000 after passing their qualifying exam
$3,000 after participation in the G4 mini-symposium

Each student is free to make their own decisions regarding expenditures for travel, courses, page charges, equipment and supplies with the following conditions:
(1) Single item expenses greater than $700 require a written justification to the Graduate Committee for approval.
2) Equipment bought using these funds, including computer and/or camera equipment, remains the property of OEB after a student graduates.

Ernst Mayr Grants:

For systematists who need to make short visits to museums in order to undertake research needed for the completion of taxonomic revisions and monographs. Preference will be given to studies that use the MCZ collections, although applications to work at other museums will also be considered. Applications are due 15 October and 15 April via the application form on this website:

Putnam and Goelet Research Grants:

Students of professors associated with the MCZ can apply for funding to travel to collect specimens for their thesis work. Applications are reviewed biannually, and should consist of a short proposal and budget. Application deadlines will be announced at the beginning of each semester. The Goelet grant is given only once to an individual during their time at OEB, but the Putnam can be granted more than once to the same student. More information is available on this website:

Deland Award, Arnold Arboretum:

The Deland Award from the Arnold Arboretume provides research grants to graduate and advanced undergraduate students working on the comparative biology of woody plants. Research may include developmental biology, physiology, genetics, reproductive biology, or ecology. There is no specific application deadline for this research grant. For more information see:


GSAS Conference and Summer Research Grants

The Graduate Student Council offers grants for conference attendance and summer research on a competitive basis to GSAS students who are enrolled full-time in a degree-granting program or who are GSAS Special Students, who are members of the Council and whose department has been represented at GSC monthly meetings.

David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) Grants:

DRCLAS awards grants to both Harvard undergraduate and Harvard graduate/professional school students for research requiring travel to Latin America or the Caribbean and research sites within the United States.

GSAS Fellowships Office

One of the best resources on campuses for finding fellowships and other support opportunities is the GSAS Fellowships Office. A very helpful contact person at this office is Dr. Cynthia Verba (617-495-1814,, Director of Fellowships. For more information about the services provided by this office, visit the following website:

GSAS Graduate Guide to Grants:

An online searchable database with information on many grants available to GSAS Students:


National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships:

These fellowships are intended for students at or near the beginning of their graduate study. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, and must not have completed more than 20 semester hours, 30 quarter hours, or equivalent after completion of B.S. degree.

NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG):

Grants are awarded for support of doctoral dissertation research in the social, behavioral, economic and biological sciences to improve the overall quality of dissertation research and allow doctoral candidates opportunities for greater creativity in gathering and analyzing data.

Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants in the Directorate for Biological Sciences:

Graduate fellowship for research in biogeochemical cycles, radiation and physical climate interactions, the hydrological cycle, biology, chemistry, and ecosystem dynamics, and soil science.

National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program (NDSEG):

Offers 150 three-year fellowships in a variety of specialties, among them "biosciences" and oceanography.

Sigma-Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research Program:

Research awards are made to support scientific investigation in any field. The research money (usually $1000) is for travel expenses to and from a research site or for the purchase of laboratory equipment. See the Sigma-Xi website for more information:

Smithsonian Institution - Fellowships & Grants:

These grants provide support for independent research in residence at the Smithsonian, in association with its staff, using its collections, laboratories and other facilities. Fields of study within the biological sciences include, tropical biology, ecology, systematics, natural history, evolutionary biology, animal behavior and pathology, paleobiology, marine biology and environmental studies. See the Smithsonian Fellowships website for more information:


American Museum of Natural History Grants:

Various grants are available for study of collections and field sites relating to the objectives of the AMNH. See their grants and fellowships website for more details:

Exploration Fund of the Explorers Club:

Grants are made in support of exploration and field research "to increase knowledge of the world". Grants are made in amounts typically not more than $1,000. Applications are usually due in mid January. See the Explorers Club Website for more details:

National Geographic Society Research Grants:

Supports research projects all over the world which are relevant to the field of geography as interpreted broadly (this includes biology, ecology and zoology), provided the projects depend on exploration. Grants are normally made only for field research. Investigators who hold earned doctor's degrees and are associated with institutions of higher learning are eligible to apply. Occasionally, grants are awarded to exceptionally well-qualified graduate students. Citizens of any country are eligible. For more details see the National Geographic Society Website:

Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) Fellowships:

Awards are given to graduate students to support thesis-related field research in tropical biology and similar fields. Awards are for up to $3,000. Preference given to research centered at one of the OTS field stations.



The American Society of Mammalogists:

Society of the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles:

Gaige Fund Awards (Herpetology):

Garden Club of America/World Wildlife Fund Scholarship in Tropical Botany:

Graduate Research Awards in Ornithology (from BIRDNET):

New England Botanical Club Graduate Research Award:

Mycological Society of America:

The Entomological Foundation: