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Postdocs' FAQs

What Postdoctoral Research Associates on fellowship appointments should know:

Postdocs on an agency fellowship appointment, i.e., PHS, NSF, Heart Association, etc. do not automatically pay into the State University Retirement System, SURS. Arrangements can be made with SURS to have deductions taken out on a volunteer basis.

Any institutional allowances that are included with the fellowship must be spent according to the rules and regulations of the issuing agency. For further information concerning your fellowship and institutional allowances please contact please contact the SCS Business Office at scsgrants [at] scs [dot] illinois [dot] edu.

Fellowships are not taxed. They cannot be taxed according to state and federal tax rules, but be aware that postdoctoral associates do pay taxes on their salaries. Postdocs need to make sure that they have enough funds saved to pay their tax bill when it is due.

Postdocs on fellowships must provide their own health insurance. Non-endorsed health insurance suggestions (pdf)

Postdocs who might be changing from a regular Postdoctoral Research Associate appointment to a fellowship appointment and already have insurance through the university must fill out a Faculty and Academic Professional Leave of Absence Without Pay Form for an Educational Leave and receive approval in order to keep their health insurance at the same rate.

If a fellowship covers more than one year, a new leave form must be filled out each year.

Postdocs who are taking a leave of absence to take a fellowship appointment can, if they choose to, continue to pay into SURS on a voluntary basis, but they can't receive service credit.

How do I get health insurance?

The University of Illinois may not offer health insurance coverage to individuals who have less than a 50 percent appointment for less than nine months and who are not participants in the State Universities Retirement System (SURS). The following categories of international scholars may not be eligible to participate in SURS, and therefore cannot be offered university health insurance:
  • Employees who hold J-1 visas and their dependents, who hold J-2 visas
  • F-1 visa holders in practical training and their dependents, who hold F-2 visa
Some J and F visa holders may be eligible for participation in SURS, and thus can have university health insurance coverage. A "Substantial Presence Test" determines whether an individual qualifies as a resident and therefore can participate in SURS. Calculations are based on the length of time(approximately two years) that an individual has been in this country.

Domestic postdocs will have to attend an orientation session once they arrive on campus where they will be able to choose their health insurance provider.

Other benefits:

Postdocs are paid once-a-month, on the 16th of the month. There are 1.083 sick days available for each month’s work during a 12 month period. Vacation is earned by eligible employees at the rate of 2 days per month. During a 12-month appointment year the employee is encouraged to use all of the vacation earned during that period.

How does an international employee receive a Social Security Number?

Once an international employee arrives on campus he/she will be brought by the department sponsoring them to the SCS Human Resources Office in Room 312 Noyes Lab. The staff in the HR Office will instruct the employee to go to the Social Security Office in Champaign where he/she will apply for a Social Security Number. After the application is completed, the employee will receive a receipt of application from the Social Security Office. The receipt must be given to the Payroll Office in Room 100 in the Henry Administration building, so they can issue a temporary control number and start the payroll process. It takes several weeks for the employee to receive their Social Security card.

How does the employee receive a Staff ID Card?

The employee’s appointment will be set up in the SCS HR Office.A copy of the appointment will be given to the new employee who can then take it to the second floor of the Illini Union Bookstore and receive their ID Card. The ID Card allows the employee to use the campus library system, ride the MTD buses, among other things.

Staff versus student positions:

Postdoctoral positions are considered staff and not student positions and follow the staff hours of work. Postdocs/staff do not take the same holidays as the students do. Holiday Schedule


Human Resources
School of Chemical Sciences
312 Noyes Lab
MC-712 Box 45-1
505 S. Mathews
Urbana, IL  61801
Jennifer Russell
Assistant Director of Human Resources

(217) 300-1637
SCS_HR_Office [at] scs [dot] illinois [dot] edu
Appointments: 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Walk-In Hours: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Monday - Friday

Webmaster:
scs-webmaster [at] illinois [dot] edu