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Benefits, Compensation & Taxes

The Office of Postdoctoral Research provides the following brief, summary information to assist postdocs, faculty advisors, and administrative staff.

Detailed, official information about job titles, benefits, and compensation is available from the OSU Office of Human Resources (phone: (614) 292-1050; web: http://hr.osu.edu/).

While the postdoc office strives to provide accurate information, please note that benefits eligibility, aspects of particular benefits, and federal and university guidelines may change. Your unit's human resources professionals and the OSU Office of Human Resources are excellent resources for answering questions about human resource issues. 

Understanding the two postdoctoral job titles
Compensation and taxes (includes a special section for international postdocs)

Understanding the two postdoctoral job titles

Since eligibility for benefits and aspects of compensation and taxation differ between the two OSU postdoctoral job titles, it is important to understand what distinguishes a postdoctoral researcher from a postdoctoral fellow. The postdoc's source of funding, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and grantor's guidelines concerning that funding ultimately determine which job title is appropriate. Note that postdoctoral scholars who change job titles while at Ohio State will experience a change (gain or loss) in some of their benefits, as well as possible compensation and tax changes.

  • Postdoctoral Researcher (job code 6504)
    • An employee of the university pursuing continued education and specialized research training and experience.
    • Receives a salary (wages).
    • Supported by funding that does not prohibit the postdoc from having an employee designation. Typically performs services on a grant or contract in exchange for compensation during postdoctoral training.
    • Common funding sources are the faculty advisor's NIH R01 grant or another research grant awarded to the advisor.
    • The majority of postdocs at Ohio State and in the College of Medicine/Office of Health Sciences are in this job title.
  • Postdoctoral Fellow (job code 6500)
    • Trainee, not an employee. Pursuing specialized research training and experience primarily for the fellow's own benefit.
    • Receives a stipend (payment not for services rendered).
    • Supported by a true fellowship, as defined by the IRS, or a training grant that prohibits the postdoc from being in an employee-employer relationship with the university. Does not perform a service in return for compensation.
    • Common funding examples are the NIH Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Postdoctoral Fellowships (F32s) and NRSA Institutional Research Training Grants (T32s) and certain other individual postdoctoral fellowships.


General information: The university's benefit eligibility chart is a useful tool for determining available benefits at a quick glance across all types of appointment classifications (employee groups). See http://hr.osu.edu/benefits/ for details about particular categories of benefits.

  • Postdoctoral Researcher (job code 6504)
    • Table outlining benefits available at http://hr.osu.edu/Policy/empben/bluebook.pdf#postdocres
    • Note about retirement: Postdocs with a 75%-100% appointment (100% equaling full-time employment) have 120 days to select a retirement plan. The plans are discussed at the new employee medical center orientation. In addition, the OSU Office of Human Resources hosts information sessions that can help you select the plan that best fits your particular situation. Visit their site for more information. Each postdoc will have personal considerations and preferences that will factor into this decision. The postdoc office does not recommend one plan over another but does suggest that postdocs take note of the time it takes to become vested in the various plans since postdoctoral positions are by definition temporary, limited to a maximum of 5 years at Ohio State for postdocs in the College of Medicine.
  • Postdoctoral Fellow (job code 6500)

Compensation and Taxes

Disclaimer: The information below is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered tax or legal advice. For tax or legal advice, please contact a qualified professional. Basic tax information and commonly used forms are available from the Ohio State Office of Human Resources Tax Office (Payroll Services). Payroll Services, however, cannot provide personalized tax guidance and encourages individuals to contact a tax advisor or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), 1-800-829-1040, http://www.irs.gov/, for specific information and advice about your tax obligations.  

International Postdocs
Postdocs who are foreign nationals may want to review the materials posted in the Nonresident Aliens section of the Payroll Services site. Postdocs who are nonresident aliens for tax purposes (excluding permanent residents with green cards) must use Glacier software, which will determine the correct amount of federal tax to be withheld from their paychecks. An email with a password and information about Glacier should arrive two to three weeks after you begin your postdoctoral position. If you are a nonresident alien and you have not received Glacier information, please contact the Tax Office at taxoffice@osu.edu. It is important to establish a record in the Glacier system because you may qualify for the benefit of a tax treaty if one exists between your home country and the United States. More information about U.S. taxes and CINTAX, a tax return preparation software program available for your free use, is available from the Office of International Affairs.

Multiple appointments, supplementation, and additional compensation
Because many funding sources have specific guidelines and restrictions concerning supplementation of stipends, additional compensation, and multiple job appointments, faculty and administrators should contact their COM Compensation Consultant, and their sponsored program officer with any questions about these matters. The postdoctoral appointment decision guide may also be of use, and you are welcome to include the postdoc office in such conversations and decisions.  

  • Postdoctoral Researchers
    • Compensation: Starting and subsequent salaries are determined by the advisor (the PI who is supervising the postdoc). All salary changes thereafter must be submitted to COM Compensation for review and approval, including annual salary increases and increases based on years of postdoctoral experience. In accordance with The College of Medicine/Office of Health Sciences’ Compensation Office policy, the minimum salary allowable for a postdoctoral researcher is $30,000/year. However, The Office of Postdoctoral Research strongly recommends that faculty and administrators consult the NIH NRSA stipend levels​ for guidance on minimum compensation based on years of experience.
    • Taxes: Withheld from salaries.
  • Postdoctoral Fellows
    • Compensation: Usually, the grantor specifies the stipend.
      • See NIH NRSA stipend levels​ for the NIH stipend scale for postdoc fellows on NRSA training grants (T32s) or individual F32 fellowships.
    • Taxes: Per government guidelines, the university does not withhold taxes from the stipends received by postdoctoral fellows who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The stipends are not considered wages, but they are taxable as income. Fellows are responsible for paying local, state, and federal estimated quarterly income tax as needed to meet their tax obligations. Some helpful links: