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Student Funding

Student Funding

A brief summary of BGS student funding policies and procedures is provided here. Detailed funding information is available from the BGS Finance Office, and faculty and business administrators are strongly encouraged to consult with Office staff regarding funding details for particular students.


In order to attract highly competitive applicants in the biomedical sciences to Penn, BGS coordinates the allocation of student support from a variety of sources and provides guarantees of full support to matriculating students. Institutional support, training grants, individual extramural fellowships, and research grants are used to help fund students during different stages of training. During the first 21 months of training, students are typically supported primarily by institutional funds alone or in combination with training grant or individual extramural fellowship funds. (Students who enroll with advanced standing typically receive BGS support for a shorter duration.) After 21 months, responsibility for supporting a student shifts to the thesis mentor. The mentor, his/her Business Administrator, and the student's graduate group chair must complete and sign a Mentor Funds Check Form for each BGS student. If an established mentor anticipates a funding shortfall, he or she should discuss the matter with the Graduate Group Chair and the Director of BGS. A BGS Emergency Financial Aid (EFA) Committee evaluates requests from mentors for temporary financial assistance; the mentor and graduate group chair should complete and sign the EFA Committee request form.

Institutional Student Financial Support

University funding for BGS student aid comes from the Provost and the Dean of the School of Medicine. BGS, through the School of Medicine, is credited with the tuition generated by graduate level courses taught by BGS faculty. The majority of the BGS student financial aid budget is used to support students in their first 21 months of training (see above), and the remainder is used to supplement support of students at the dissertation stage whose primary source(s) of support cannot cover all costs. Institutional funding for Combined Degree students is separate from the funding for BGS students but is administered through the BGS Finance Office.

Training Grants

Training grants are used to support the majority of pre-dissertation level BGS students who are U. S. citizens at some stage in their training (foreign nationals are not eligible for appointment to training grants unless they are permanent U. S. residents). Some of the more general training grants appoint students in their first or second year of training (e.g., Systems and Integrative Biology and Pharmacology), while other more specialized grants appoint only dissertation level students. A list of training grants with predoctoral slots can be found here. For some of the training grants that seek to appoint students from more than one graduate group, the BGS Office works with PIs to centrally coordinate nominations each spring through a web-based process; an email invitation is sent annually to students and faculty. Nominations and appointments to the other training grants are handled by the PI. The BGS Office also provides direct administrative support for managing some training grant budgets and provides some budgeting support and central data (e. g. , admissions, RCR training, minority student recruitment) in support of training grant applications. If you are planning to submit a new or renewal training grant application, please contact Judy Jackson for assistance at

Extramural Fellowships

Some BGS students are supported by individual, merit-based fellowships, including the HHMI, NSF, DOD, NIH predoctoral minority fellowships, and NIH dissertation fellowships. The BGS Office and the graduate groups provide assistance to students preparing fellowship applications, and the BGS Finance Office administers these fellowships.

Administrative Funding

BGS receives a budget from the School of Medicine to cover BGS staff salaries; graduate group coordinator salaries; graduate group chairpersons' salary supplements; graduate group recruitment; graduate group programmatic and office expenses; BGS office expenses; and modest travel grants to students who present their work at national or international meetings. Graduate groups are asked to submit budget requests to the BGS Finance Office annually and are given a BGS budget based on their previous year's expenditures and anticipated costs for the coming year. It is estimated that BGS typically covers 75-90 percent of a graduate group's administrative costs, with the difference borne by training grants or associated departments, institutes, or centers.