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The Graduate School

G-1 Communications Building
Box 353770
Seattle, Washington 98195-3770

Phone: 206.543.5900
Fax: 206.685.3234

GSFEI Top Scholar Awards

Award Definition and Policy Statement

The Graduate School’s primary goal for the Top Scholar Awards (TSA) is to help programs attract outstanding students to University of Washington programs by partnering with units to build competitive financial packages for their top student prospects. This program does not support continuing students already enrolled at the UW.

With the exception of travel funding, which is intended to bring prospective students to campus, offer letters must specify that the individual is being offered a Graduate School Top Scholar Award. If a TSA offer is initially rejected, it may be offered to another top applicant so long as he or she is one of the program’s top applicants AND the TSA offer will potentially influence that applicant’s decision to attend the UW. If an offer is accepted by a top applicant and later rejected, a request may be submitted to The Graduate School to transfer the award to another top applicant who has already accepted an offer. Requests to defer a Top Scholar Award to a subsequent academic year may be approved under exceptional circumstances.

Current Request for Proposal

The current TSA funding cycle is for the 2015-2017 biennium.

Dates and Deadlines

Call for proposals:  November 5, 2014
Response deadline:  Monday, December 15, 2014, 12:00 noon - no exceptions
Award decisions:  January 2015
Proposal limit:  2 pages

Request for Proposals: Letter from the Dean

For specifics about what funding is available and the options you may choose from, please see Dean David Eaton's letter of Nov. 5, 2014.

Proposal Format and Content

Proposals must be submitted electronically through MyGradProgram within the GSFEI module and must follow the outline described below. Although proposals may be typed directly into MyGradProgram, best practice is to complete the proposals in MS Word or another word processing program and copy the completed result into MyGradProgram.

Proposals should be no more than 2 pages in length and include the content listed below:

  1. Briefly describe your recruiting process
  2. In the following section list your request item(s) for Top Scholar Awards. Please address the following:
    • Why such funding is integral to your successful recruitment efforts
    • How such funding will be leveraged with departmental funding as required.
An example proposal is included here.

Questions and Information Sessions

Our staff will host informal information webinars to review the process and answer questions. We invite any interested GPAs, GPCs, chairs, administrators, and other pertinent department staff to attend.

There will be two question/answer sessions. This will not provide an overview, but will be an opportunity to ask questions you might have as you work on or finalize your request. The information session PowerPoint presentation can be found here.

Award Categories

  • Top Scholar RAs are service appointments and should be appointed as academic student employees in the appropriate service job code under the UW/UAW Local 4121 Contract.
  • Top Scholar fellowship appointments must not have service assigned to the recipients.
  • Top Scholar RAs, Fellowships, and Tuition Waivers are available only for students in state-supported, tuition-based programs. Block grant funds may be used for students in both tuition-based and fee-based graduate degree programs.

Research Appointments: TSA RA appointments include salary, insurance benefits under the Graduate Appointee Insurance Plan (GAIP), and tuition waivers. All Top Scholar RA awards must be regular service appointments.

Quarterly Fellowships (Non-Service Job Code 0863): TSA quarterly fellowships provide a stipend, insurance benefits (GAIP), and paid tuition. No service may be required as a condition of this award.

Tuition Waivers: Tuition waivers must be matched with departmental fellowship appointments during the quarter(s)in which they are used. Stand-alone waivers are not considered strong recruitment incentives and are therefore not allowed in the Top Scholar program.

Block Grants: Block grants are available to fund two different types of TSA awards: "top-off" fellowships and travel awards. Departments are free to allocate block grant funds between these two types of awards in whatever ways will best aid in their recruitment of new students.

  • Travel: Block grant funds used as travel awards are intended to support campus visits by applicants to meet with faculty and students, tour facilities, and participate in department recruitment activities. Units may choose how they allocate travel awards among applicants. At this time, travel awards may be used only for transportation expenses (airfare, mileage, shuttle, etc.), not for other travel expenses (e.g., hotels, food, etc.).

  • Top-Off Fellowships: Block grant funds used as "top-off" fellowships are intended to supplement another funding offer (TA/RA/SA, trainee, or fellowship) of at least one year to further enhance a recruitment funding package. Top-off fellowships must be given for a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $5,000.

Accessing Awards

Research Assistant Quarters: Units should appoint TSA RAs through OPUS on Graduate School budget number 10-1600 in the relevant job code that they would normally use for an RA..
These are service appointments. Departments that want to provide non-service appointments should request fellowship funding.

Quarterly Fellowships: Units should appoint through OPUS on their respective GSF (75-17XX) budgets using job code 0863 (Stipend Grad Fellow - A).  GSF-RSA budgets are established for most departments. If a GSF-RSA* budget has not been established for your unit or if you don't know what it is, please contact the Fellowships and Awards office at or 543-7152. Please see the financial note related to payments from these budgets below.

Tuition Waivers: Tuition waivers are paid from a central university budget. Graduate School staff will enter the waivers onto the students' accounts after the names of recipients are entered into MyGradProgram by unit personnel and accompanying appointments are confirmed.

Block Grants:

  • Travel: Units using block grant TSA awards to support applicant travel should pay from GSF (75-17XX) budgets. Please use PCA code "TSAA" when reimbursing or paying for Top Scholar travel. These budgets are established for most departments. If a GSF-RSA* budget has not been established for your unit, please contact the Office of Fellowships and Awards at or 206.543.7152. Please see the financial note related to payments from these budgets below.

  • Top-Off Fellowships: With the upcoming Payroll/HR modernization process, the way that these fellowship will be paid may change. The Office of Fellowships and Awards will keep awarded department updated on the process that will be used.

* Please note: GSF budgets are sub-accounts of a Graduate School parent budget. Funds are not transferred into these sub-accounts from the parents. Units are authorized to spend based on total awards in the categories supported from these budgets (block grants supporting top-off fellowships and travel). Award summaries will be provided at least twice per year for balancing purposes. As the GSF budgets roll up to the parent at the end of the biennium, final accounting responsibility will rest with the Graduate School not the units.