Payments to Students

How departments can pay a student at UW–Madison.

Payments to students can include things like scholarships, awards, travel and payroll.

Determining what type of payment to make

Departments will generally refer to the Student Payment Guide for details on how to complete the payment. Departments can also use the Student Payment Tool to help figure out which payment to make.

Download the Student Payment Guide (PDF)

Use the Student Payment Tool

It may also be helpful to see the differences between scholarships, third party payments, and remissions to help make sure departments are using the correct payment method.

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Differences between scholarships, third party payments and remissions

Set up process

Scholarships: Uses the “Item Type Request Form”
Third Party Payments: N/A
Remissions: N/A

Department administration

Scholarships:  Submit Scholarship Upload Form each term
Third Party Payments: Submit Internal Third Party Authorization Form each term, and submit an interdepartmental billing form to pay the deferral after receiving an invoice.
Remissions: Submit Tuition Remission Authorization Form each term.

Type of tuition charges and/or fees that apply

Scholarships: Does not distinguish. Applies to all tuition types and fees.
Third Party Payments: Applies to the charges specified in the Internal Third Party Authorization Form (Examples: resident tuition, non-resident add-on tuition, segregated fees, all tuition, all tuition and fees, etc.)
Remissions: Applies to instructional fees and/or non-resident fees, depending on the type of remission.

Amount applied to student account

Scholarships: Specific (fixed) dollar amount.
Third Party Payments: The assessed (billed) amount for the identified tuition and fee type(s) or a specific (fixed) dollar amount. Defers tuition and/or fees from the student tuition account to the Department. Bursar’s Office invoices the department for the deferred tuition and/or fees – the department is expected to pay within 60 days.
Remissions: Fellowship Remission waives the non-resident tuition only.  RA, PA, TA, & LSA remission waives resident and non-resident tuition only. Remissions do not waive segregated fees.

Timing for posting on the student account

Scholarships: Scholarships submitted to the Bursar’s Office prior to the start of the semester will be applied to the student’s account by the tuition due date.  Scholarships submitted after this date will be processed within 3 to 5 business days.
Third Party Payments: Internal Third Party Authorization forms submitted to the Bursar’s Office prior to start of the semester will be applied to the student’s account by the tuition due date.  Third Party Authorizations submitted after this date will be processed within 3 to 5 days.  These do not roll from Spring to Summer.
Remissions: Tuition Remission Authorization forms submitted to the Bursar’s Office prior to start of the semester will be applied to the student’s account by the tuition due date.  Tuition Remission Authorizations submitted after this date will be processed within 3 to 5 days. These do roll from Spring to Summer.

Who receives the refund

Scholarships: Unused amounts are refunded to the student.
Third Party Payments: Unused amounts are refunded to the department.
Remissions: N/A

Eligibility of the students

Scholarships: International students: disbursed to student through payroll. Amount received is net of taxes. UW-Madison non-student employees: may have tax limits due to purpose of education.
Third Party Payments: International students: eligible because Third Party is limited to tuition & fees only and is non-refundable. UW-Madison non-student employees: may have tax limits due to purpose of education.
Remissions: N/A

Departmental scholarships provide a fixed dollar award to the student. The amount is refundable to the student. Note that International students scholarships will need to be processed through payroll and may not receive the full scholarship amount since taxes must be deducted first.

Internal third-party deferrals are contracts that can specify the following: (1) type of tuition or fees; and (2) the maximum amount per student. The type of tuition or fee can be broad, such as all tuition and fees, or specific, such as the non-resident tuition add-on (to the base resident tuition amount). The payment amount can be fixed, such as $1,000, or the total amount assessed (based on the type of tuition charges or fees identified).

Factors to consider when determining the type of financial support

Third-party deferrals have more set-up options and more processing controls than scholarships. Here are some factors to consider:

Amount applied

Departmental scholarships only pay fixed dollar amounts. A third-party deferral can pay either a specific dollar amount or an assessed (billed) amount. The latter amount will adjust as the types of charges it covers change (generally due to a credit load change).

Tuition and fee types

Third-party deferrals will allow the department to identify specific tuition and fee types (e.g., instructional/resident tuition, segregated fees, etc.). Scholarship amounts will apply to all charges.

Tuition refund processing

Changes to the student’s credit load may result in a refund. Departmental scholarships are refunded to the student while internal third-party deferrals are refunded to the department. Scholarships are considered to be the student’s money and are not returned to the department. A department must use a third-party deferral to receive refunds.

Eligibility of student

Tax laws may impact whether a student is eligible to receive a scholarship or a third–party deferral and how much the student can receive.

  • International students (Nonresident Aliens) must have taxes deducted from their financial award. Consequently, scholarships for Nonresident Aliens (NRAs) are processed through payroll (and not by the Bursar’s Office) and go directly to the student. The student is expected to use the money for his or her bill but nothing guarantees this. However, NRAs are eligible for third-party deferral because third party payment is limited to tuition & fees only and is not refundable to the student.  Please refer to the Accounting Services website for more information: Scholarship Payments to Nonresident Aliens.
  • UW-Madison employees may be subject to tax law depending on the purpose of the education. Contact Laura Rader in the Bursar’s Office to discuss UW-Madison employee eligibility.

Types of payments

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Scholarships are payments awarded to students (undergraduate or graduate) to aid in the pursuit of their studies.

Pay a scholarship

Welcome checks

Welcome checks are payments made to newly admitted students, generally graduate students, to assist with initial living expenses at the start of their program. These type of payments are considered scholarships; they represent financial support to the student and are part of a student’s financial aid package.

Pay with a welcome check

Student awards

Student Awards are monetary payments to UW Madison students.  These awards recognize student achievements and may include results of a judged competition or merit.

The IRS classifies Student Awards as a scholarship in nature, and processing is similar to scholarships.  Awards are processed through the Student Information System (SIS) using the departmental scholarship upload process. This allows the award to be included as part of the student’s financial aid package, as well as IRS 1098T Tax Form reporting.

Account codes 5711 and 5709 are the main account codes for student awards.

The process of uploading Student Awards through the Bursar’s Office is only available for US Residents. Non-Resident Aliens (NRA) payments need to be processed through payroll.

Pay a student award

Student lump sum travel awards

Departments issuing unrestricted Travel Awards to graduate students via SIS, will need to upload the file to the Bursar’s Office secure upload site. In addition, please send the list of awardees, including the student’s campus ID, the term the award will be posted and the award amount, to  This will allow us to prevent the travel award from applying towards outstanding balances. If you have questions, please contact your Student Payment Coordinator or Graduate Program Coordinator.

Pay a lump sum travel award

Non-credit internships

External internship or non-recurring research support payments may not need to be included in financial award calculations. While payments for a student’s cost of attendance typically qualify as Estimated Financial Assistance (EFA), these payments are not included in EFA if they are provided to a student for costs that meet all of the following criteria:

  • Not associated with a course requirement
  • Not required for degree or certificate completion
  • For education experience enrichment only
  • Requires participation in regular activities outside of the normal curriculum
  • Payment not restricted for a specific use

Prior to posting payments to the Student Information System (SIS), the program and a listing of awardees must be reviewed and approved by the Office of Student Financial Aid using the Student Support Program Review form.

Use the Student Support Program Review Form


A prize is something of value conveyed as a result of chance or judged competition, generally for promotional purposes, to one or more participants in a University sponsored event, which was demonstrably open to both students and non-students. In order for a payment to be considered a prize, there must have been a real possibility for non-students to win the prize.

If only UW–Madison students were eligible, the transaction is a student award in nature of a scholarship.

An example of a prize would be a drawing for a gift certificate where everyone in attendance is eligible to win. The anticipated benefits of awarding a prize must be documented, and the decision to award prizes must be approved in writing by the chancellor or their designee.

Prizes are paid via the Payments to Individuals Report.

Use the Payment To Individual Report

Internal third party payments

Also referred to internal third party deferrals or contracts, this process credits a student tuition’s account with funds that will be paid by a UW–Madison department.

Pay with an internal third party payment

Tuition remission

Tuition remission (also referred to as a waiver)  is a benefit to graduate and professional students holding a Research Assistant, Teaching Assistant, Program/Project Assistant or Lecturer Student Assistant appointment to help alleviate the cost of tuition.

Pay with tuition remission

Research participant payments

The purpose of the research payment will determine how funds are paid to students. Review the Student Payment guide for help determining how to process research participant payments.

Download the Student Payment Guide (PDF)

Use the Student Support Program Review Form

Student travel reimbursements

The purpose of a student’s travel impacts how funds should be provided and accounted for, and in very rare cases, whether or not the student is able to accept funds without unintended negative financial consequences.

A student traveling on behalf of UW-Madison for university business, or to represent UW-Madison using restricted funds must be paid via e-Reimbursement or directly to a third party by the department.  In addition, direct expenses incurred by a student traveling as part of an externally funded project’s scope of work (example 144 or 133) may also be paid by purchasing card or e-Reimbursement.

For all travel payments issued to a student for a student’s personal or academic benefit, the payment must be processed as a Scholarship.  Additionally, lump sum payments issued to a student must be processed as a Scholarship.

Review the Student Payment guide for help determining how to process a Student Travel payment.

Download the Student Payment Guide (PDF)

Non-Resident Alien payments

For United States tax purposes, a non-resident alien is a non-US Citizen who has not passed either the green card test or the substantial presence test.  When paying non-service income to international students the payment method depends on the tax status of the student. Scholarships, awards, or fellowships paid to non-resident alien students enrolled at UW-Madison must be process through payroll (HRS) as non-service income.

Pay a Non-Resident Alien

Payroll (HRS)

Wages paid for services provided

In general, payroll (HRS) is to be used when services are performed for the university, of an employment nature and at the direction and control of the university. Students may be employed as hourly employees, Federal Work-Study employees, graduate assistants or student academic appointees.

If is not appropriate to use scholarship funds to circumvent hiring students for payment through HRS in order to compensate them for performing services for the university.  Further, it is not appropriate to use non-monetary forms of compensation (such as a free trip, tangible item, campus housing of meals) in lieu of hiring a student for services performed for the university.

Services required as a condition of scholarship

When performance of a service is a condition of the award, the payment must be processed through HRS.

UW–Madison must also comply with IRS withholding, tax, and wage and income reporting requirements.

Use of the incorrect payment method can have adverse effects on both UW–Madison (including penalties and fines) and on students when filing personal tax returns or applying for future financial aid.

Use the Payroll/HRS system

Tax implications

There are tax benefits for qualified students, although the tax benefits for education information provided by the Bursar’s Office is informational only and  should not be considered tax advice.

Departments can also access student payment categories sorted by type of tax document (PDF).

Divisional Student Payment Coordinators

The following Student Payment Coordinators can assist with questions related student payments, submitting requests to establish student support programs in SIS, and other related questions.

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Student Payments Committee