Benefits Eligibility

Postdoctoral scholars are appointed with the title postdoctoral fellow or postdoctoral associate depending on the type and source of funding. The type of appointment affects the benefits available. 


Postdoctoral Associates

Postdoctoral associates are paid by MIT and are considered employees of the Institute. They are eligible for all MIT employee benefits as described by MIT's Benefits Office. (Note the specific requirements related to length and percent effort of the appointment.)

Postdoctoral Fellows

Because of their funding source and appointment type, postdoctoral fellows are not considered employees of MIT. This status is determined by IRS regulations and the terms of some fellowships, and it impacts eligibility for various benefits and programs. The Vice President for Research strives to mitigate the effect of these differences when possible. 

Equalizing Provisions for Associates and Fellows

Federal and state laws, tax regulations, and the way MIT benefits are funded create distinctions between Associates and Fellows. An MIT salary is a payment for services paid through MIT’s payroll system, typically with sponsored funds awarded to MIT. Every salary is subject to withholding taxes and Social Security deductions. In addition, for each MIT salary paid to the employee, a “fringe benefit rate” is charged to the same source of funds as the salary. This rate is negotiated annually with the federal government. The funds collected through this mechanism are used to support the costs of employee benefits.

In contrast, a Postdoctoral Fellow’s stipend is considered non-salary support, and is not subject to the fringe benefit rate. Different tax regulations also apply. Because fellows do not contribute to the benefits pool and are therefore not eligible for employee benefits, other arrangements are made for comparable provisions whenever possible.

See the current F&A, Employee Benefit and Vacation Accrual rates.

Updated March 18, 2024