Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs
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Chapter 6


BPP policy states that “Minimum stipend levels for postdoctoral fellows are to be the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) recommended postdoctoral stipend levels.”

  • All BPP postdoctoral appointees must receive the NRSA recommended minima. (See web link below). Faculty members are strongly encouraged to supplement the minima by appropriate increments if the appointee has prior postdoctoral experience at other universities or institutions.
  • Postdoctoral appointees must be brought to the correct and current NRSA level at the time of their annual reappointment based on their additional years of experience at the School of Medicine, School of Dental Medicine and School of Veterinary Medicine.
  • The School of Medicine, School of Dental Medicine and School of Veterinary Medicine will monitor that postdocs are being paid the appropriate stipend level, according to the NRSA levels based on their time here at Penn.

Equity in the lab should be considered when making these decisions. Current Postdoctoral Stipend levels can be found under BPP Policies on the BPP website. BPP routinely posts the most current notice to the postdoc website.

Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs will review postdoc stipends according to the above guidelines.

Postdoctoral Insurance Plan

University policy requires that postdocs have insurance. Postdoctoral appointees are eligible to receive single person insurance coverage, as provided under the comprehensive University of Pennsylvania Postdoctoral Insurance Plan, which is administered by Garnett-Powers & Associates. This benefit should be paid as an addition to the stipend amount and no premium should be deducted from the stipend of the postdoc.

Postdocs can elect to have family coverage under the existing policy. The difference in premium between single and family insurance coverage can be paid by the postdoc, department/mentor funds, or grant.

The School of Medicine, School of Dental Medicine and School of Veterinary Medicine Administration support the University’s Policy regarding health insurance:

  • Mentors must pay the postdoctoral basic insurance plan premiums in addition to the stipend.
  • Departments or Mentors may choose to pay for postdoctoral family insurance premiums.
  • Mentors who wish to pay for family health insurance from a grant must ensure that it is an allowable cost against that grant. Please note that federal grants and private foundations may differ in their allowable charges.

New postdoctoral insurance premiums are generally announced prior to the Open Enrollment Period in November of each year.

Waivers, Open Enrollment and Qualifying Life Events:

If a postdoc waives health insurance coverage, he/she must demonstrate alternate insurance which provides at least comparable coverage. If a postdoc waives coverage, he/she cannot change waiver status until “Open Enrollment” except for a qualifying life event (i.e. birth, death, etc.). Garnett-Powers & Associates must be notified of a qualifying life event within 30 days.

Once a year during the “Open Enrollment” period, postdocs will receive an email memo regarding the insurance plan coverage costs and information about any changes in the insurance plan coverage for that year.

Enrolling in the Postdoctoral Insurance Plan

The insurance enrollment process is done online. All of the information along with the enrollment instructions can be found at

In order to confirm that a selection has been made, we recommend that the Business Administrator have the postdoc complete the Postdoc Health Insurance Agreement OR Waiver, Postdoc Survey Sheet, Medical Enrollment/Change Form (if applicable) and keep it on file along with the other necessary documents for initial appointment.

*NOTE: Corporate Tax must approve the postdoc’s record in UMIS before the individual’s information can be uploaded to the Garnett-Powers system. An approved record will have an “OK” next the minimum record (003 screen in payroll). In addition, the “salary key” in UMIS must have an “S” for special and the "employment status code of A" or else the record will not be uploaded to the Garnett-Powers system.


The Comptroller’s Guide to Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Appointments describes the tax implications of each of the three job class codes and titles for postdocs. The Tax Office is the University designated office to deal with all tax related issues. Per the appointment process, foreign nationals should be encouraged to contact the Tax Office directly due to the complexity of tax laws and tax treaties.

Postdocs should be aware that the Tax Office is the office that the University recognizes as experts.

PennCard IDs

Biomedical Postdoctoral Fellows and Researchers are considered academic support staff at the University of Pennsylvania. As such, they can receive a PennCard AFTER they have a valid and active postdoctoral title in the University of Pennsylvania Personnel/Payroll system for at least 24 hours.


  • The postdoc must bring a completed, signed and embossed PennCard Request Form to Campus Card Services. The form must have the “POSTDOC” box checked in the “Other” category. Make sure to include an Expiration Date, not to exceed one year from the date of issue. PennCard Request Forms can be found at

(NOTE: DO NOT enter a budget number on the form as there is no charge for a postdoc card.)

  • The Postdoc must present a form of valid photo identification in order to receive his/her PennCard (i.e., a valid driver's license, passport, or other form of official identification).

There is no charge for the card and it is valid for one year. As academic support staff, postdocs will receive a faculty card which indicates “Postdoc” status. (In cases where stipends are paid directly to the postdoc and the postdoc has no active distribution line, these guidelines must still be followed.)

PennCards provide a variety of services and privileges including Library, PennNet, Transit, Recreation, and residence, academic and administrative building access. Questions about the PennCard can be directed to Campus Card Services at 215-417-CARD.