Continuous Enrollment Policy

A Continuous Enrollment Policy for students in Rackham Ph.D. programs became effective Fall Term 2010.  The policy requires that all doctoral students will register each Fall and Winter semester until they have completed their degree, unless they are taking an official leave of absence.   Spring/Summer registration is required only for students who are taking or auditing courses, taking preliminary examinations, or defending the dissertation; the same activities that require a spring/summer registration under current practice.

The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) supported this change in enrollment policy because of the many benefits it provides to students, including keeping students engaged with faculty advisors and dissertation committees, increasing the number of doctoral degree completions, and offering year-round access to services for graduate students.

LSA Fellowship Program to Cover Tuition Costs +

The College created a new financial aid program to award tuition-only fellowships that will be used to cover the tuition costs at UM associated with the increased terms of registration for students in our programs--including students in Rackham Interdepartmental Programs (IDP’s)  and Student Initiated Degree Programs (SIDP’s or IIDP’s ) where an LSA program is one of the participating units.  Students in IDPs and IIDPs will be funded in proportion to their affiliation with LSA.  The allocation of fellowships to each graduate program will be sufficient to provide tuition-only fellowships to candidates requiring them, since the allocation is based on the historical pattern of registration of students in each program.  Programs will be responsible for awarding the tuition fellowships to candidates in a manner consistent with need and their historical practices, and for coordinating with partner units for the support of students in an IDP or IIDP.

Graduate programs and students are strongly encouraged to pursue all employment and fellowship opportunities that would provide students with a stipend and health insurance benefits along with tuition coverage, before determining that a student should be awarded an LSA tuition fellowship.  Students should be making satisfactory progress toward degree to be eligible for a tuition-only fellowship.

Funding for the tuition-only fellowships is held centrally by the College and managed in a manner similar to tuition support for GSIs.  Tuition-only fellowships do not count toward the LSA Ten-Term Rule.

Departments should keep in mind the following when allocating tuition-only fellowships to students:

  • Funds are intended to be used when a student is pursuing work on the dissertation, such as research and/or writing and typical funding sources are not available (student is not in Ann Arbor so cannot teach or do research, is not in a fellowship year, etc.).  These are students who traditionally did not register prior to the policy's effective date of Fall 2010.
  • Tuition-only fellowships can only be used by candidates.  Students must be candidates at the beginning of the semester in which they use a tuition-only fellowship.
  • Fellowships cannot be used during semesters when candidates hold a GSI/GSSA/GSRA appointment.  The University and the UM/GEO Contract specify that students in these employment categories be registered for at least 6 credit hours while they hold these appointments, and the associated tuition waiver pays for the student's tuition.
  • Students may not use them in Spring, Spring/Summer, or Summer term because registration is not required during the term or half-terms according to the policy.
  • Candidates may not use a tuition-only fellowship in the term a candidate defends the dissertation, as students have historically been required by Rackham to register during the semester in which they defend the dissertation.
  • During semesters when candidates enroll in 995 and take more than the free course(s) allowed, the tuition-only fellowships will pay only for the 995 registration and not the augmented tuition that results from taking additional courses.
  • Students on approved leaves of absence or on extramural study are not eligible for tuition-only fellowships.
  • Tuition-only fellowships do not include registration fees.  Departments wishing to pay these fees on behalf of students should use a different program or departmental account.
  • Departments should not combine a stipend from any source (general fund or otherwise) when allocating a tuition-only fellowship.
  • GradCare and dental insurance may be given along with a tuition-only fellowship.  Continuation of benefits may also occur over the Spring/Summer if a student has a Winter term allocation.

Tuition-only Fellowships for Students Longer Than 7 Years in Program +

The College of LSA is interested in assisting students with the completion of degree requirements and recognizes that there are times when delays occur in the graduate education process. By mapping out a financial plan, assuring a state-of-the-art degree, and developing a timeline of study, the student can have a more focused path during the final stages of degree completion.

When a student has spent more than seven years in their degree program, LSA departments should provide information to the LSA Dean’s Office with the information below when planning to allocate a tuition-only fellowship to the student.  Please send requests via email to Paula Hathaway (

Content of the Request:

  1. A timeline must be included.
  2. A funding plan for the remainder of the student's time in the program must be included.
  3. An additional memo from the department chair supporting this request and stating that the degree will still be "state-of-the-art" is also required.

LSA Frequently Asked Questions About Continuous Enrollment

LSA Funding Plan for Continuous Enrollment (PDF)

Any information and frequently asked questions regarding the Continuous Enrollment Policy and Continuous Enrollment Funding Plan can be found above. The questions have been collected from LSA departments and if you have any further questions for LSA about Continuous enrollment, please submit them to Paula Trail via email.

College of Literature, Science, and the Arts 500 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, MI  48109-1382 © 2016 Regents of the University of Michigan