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What is a Stipend?

Stipend is a form of support paid to individuals to help them meet the living expenses. This allowance is typically paid to individuals involved in fellowship. In addition, interns working for an organization are also awarded with stipend during their apprenticeship.

What is the purpose of providing stipends?

A stipend meaning is that it is like a bonus that companies give to their employees. It is given to the interns to help them meet their expenses related to commute and other expenses. In a nutshell, the purpose of providing stipend is to help employees cover their living and travel expenses like commuting, gym membership, and home internet. However, stipend should not be confused with salary as they are different. A salary is the regular pay given to employees for their work.

Who is eligible for a stipend?

eligible for stipend


Only certain types of job make an individual eligible for a stipend. Individuals working as an intern, researcher, assistant, clergy, junior associate, or trainee are eligible for stipend. However, it does not mean that they cannot earn a full-time salary from these roles. But in most cases, organizations prefer offering a stipend to individuals working in these roles.

How does stipend work? 

While stipends and salaries share the same form – fixed monthly payments – their purpose differs significantly. Unlike salaries earned through regular employment, stipends act more as financial aid, supporting individuals engaged in training or learning experiences. Think of them as “training allowances” rather than compensation for work. This is especially true for interns, who often receive stipends instead of traditional wages. There is significant difference between stipend vs salary

The Department of Labor (DOL) sets specific guidelines for how organizations can utilize stipends. One key rule states that companies can’t use them to replace existing employees with cheaper student labor. The student’s development, not the company’s benefit, must be the primary aim. Given their intended purpose of covering basic living expenses, stipends are typically modest. For example, intern stipends often fall within INR 10,000-15,000 per month range, although exceptions exist in certain situations. A stipend can offer valuable financial support during the learning experiences.

How are stipends calculated?

factors for stipend calculation

The specific method for stipend calculation depends on various factors, including:

Type of stipend:

  • Scholarships:  Often follow predetermined formulas based on academic merit and financial need.
  • Research grants:  May involve proposals and negotiations with funding sources.
  • Training allowances:  Can be fixed amounts based on program duration or living costs.
  • Company stipends:  Might be determined by factors like employee level, company policies, or cost of living.

Source of funding:

  • Government or public institutions:  May have standardized formulas or regulations.
  • Private entities:  Can be more flexible and set their own criteria.
  • Individuals:  Often involve personal agreements and negotiations.

Purpose of the stipend:

  • Covering specific needs:  Stipends might be calculated based on estimated expenses (e.g., gym memberships, research materials).
  • General living expenses:  May consider factors like cost of living in the area.
  • Compensation for services:  Can be calculated based on salary scales or hourly rates.

Here are some general guidelines:

  • Fixed amounts:  Some stipends meaning are simply predetermined, like a set monthly payment.
  • Cost-based calculations:  For needs-based stipends, the recipient might provide estimated expenses, which are then verified and approved.
  • Needs assessment:  Some programs might involve interviews or assessments to determine the appropriate stipend amount.
  • Negotiation:  In some situations, the stipend amount can be negotiated, especially for research grants or private agreements.

What are the types of stipends?

types of stipend

Academic research

Think of these grants as researcher fellowships. They’re like scholarships for experienced scientists, awarded by institutions or external sponsors like corporations or non-profits. These grants provide financial support, freeing researchers from financial worries and allowing them to deep-dive into their projects without the pressure of external funding. This lets them focus on what matters most: advancing knowledge and making groundbreaking discoveries.

Expense related

Stipends can be more than just pocket money. They can be laser-focused tools to tackle specific costs. Think laptops for students, or commuter credits for trainees. These targeted stipends remove financial roadblocks and empower individuals to focus on their academic or professional pursuits without worrying about the bottom line.

Job training:

Offering stipends to students who are fresh graduates or employees who wish to enrich their career through training and development programs comes under this category. It helps the professional development of employees and aids organizational growth.

Wellness programs:

Companies offer wellness stipends to offer holistic wellness to employees. From studio memberships to personal training, these stipends fuel employees’ physical and mental health, reminding them that a healthy workforce is a happy and productive one.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is a stipend considered taxable income?

There is no clear answer to this question as the taxation of stipend income is debatable. The Income Tax Act does not mention the word ‘Stipend’ in any form. However, the salary or wages are taxable under section 17 (1).

2. Is stipend income exempt under which section?

Yes, the stipend income is exempt as the Income Tax Act does not mention anything specifically about stipend. Also, the act further discusses that the scholarship granted to meet the cost of education is exempt under section 10 (16).

3. What is the difference between a stipend and a salary?

A stipend is primarily used to cover living expenses or specific costs associated with education, training, or research. It’s not necessarily considered compensation for work performed. Whereas a salary is a compensation for work performed, reflecting the value of the employee’s skills and experience. There is no comparison of stipend vs salary as both differs in terms of compensation offered and taxation.

4. How often are stipends paid?

Stipends can be paid monthly or bi-weekly depending on the program you are enrolled in. Monthly stipends are offered for research grants, fellowships, internships, and some training programs. Bi-weekly stipends are paid during short-term programs.

5. Why are stipends commonly used in education and how do students benefit from them?

Stipends are frequently used in education for various reasons like supporting research & training, attracting & retaining talent, and promoting diversity & equity. They help offset the cost of living and academic expenses, making education more accessible for students with limited financial resources.

6. Is a stipend the same as a scholarship or fellowship?

No, a stipend is different from a scholarship. A stipend can be part of a scholarship or fellowship, but not all scholarships or fellowships offer a stipend. The main difference lies in the purpose and requirements associated with each term.

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