Postdoctoral Associate (PDA) to Postdoctoral Fellow (PDF) Transition Guide

Congratulations on your appointment as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale! While status as a Postdoctoral Fellow (PDF) carries advantages, it is also significantly different than the position of Postdoctoral Associate (PDA) or other more traditional employment classifications. The distinctions between Postdoctoral Associates and Postdoctoral Fellows are important, yet the University provides little guidance or support to Yale postdocs making the transition. In the present absence of University-provided resources, this document is intended to be an unofficial, but hopefully useful, resource to postdocs making the transition. This document has been assembled by postdocs using our own experiences and information we’ve found on university websites. This information is accurate to the best of our knowledge, but we are not HR specialists or accountants so there may be inaccuracies present. If you find any inaccuracies or broken links in this document please contact the YPA at so we can make sure the content is as up-to-date as possible. For the most recent guide, please click here. Similarly, if you feel this document is missing important topics please let us know. Good luck!

1. Salary

Unlike most PDAs and most other workers at Yale, PDFs are not officially considered Yale employees. This has important implications for your benefits but also affects your salary since it is not officially provided by Yale, but rather by your funding agency. Your salary is likely to be nominally the same as your salary as a PDA, but it is subject to significant complications arising from taxes and the cost of health care. It’s important to note that the inclusion of a subsidy to cover your health insurance premium, if your PI agrees to cover it, will be lumped into your monthly salary (“PDF sub” on your payslip). This will likely inflate your salary, even though you will ultimately not take home this money (it will be applied towards your health insurance). This may affect your tax situation so be sure to pay attention to your payslips and tax forms.

2. Taxes

The information below is applicable, to the best of our knowledge, to resident citizens of the United States. If you are an international postdoc, your tax situation may differ and we recommend consulting a professional accountant and/or OISS (The Office of International Students and Scholars) for help with your specific tax situation.

Your salary as a PDF is not technically paid by Yale. Therefore, the University will not issue you a Form W-2 to report your wages. Instead your fellowship income most likely will be reported in box 3 of the “Form 1099-MISC” tax document provided by Yale (If your paystub lists “PDF Sub” and/or “Post Doc Fellowships” you should receive a 1099-MISC). This has two important implications that require you to do more tax-related work than you would have to as a PDA. Specifically, you will have to (1) pay quarterly estimated taxes since Yale is not withholding these taxes from your monthly salary, and (2) if Yale does not issue you a Form 1099-MISC, you may have to prepare a U.S. IRS 1099 income form yourself. It is also important to note that your fellowship income is not considered wages, and is therefore not subject to FICA taxes. Lastly, due to changes in the way your income is taxed, your income may no longer be eligible for contribution to a Roth IRA. Make sure to check with a financial advisor.  Because of these changes, it may be most helpful to consult a professional, especially for your first tax season on fellowship.

  • You need to pay quarterly estimated taxes as a PDF.  Because Yale is not withholding taxes from your salary, you will need to estimate the amount of taxes you owe and send these payments to the state and federal government.

  • How to calculate your estimated tax. Estimated quarterly payments can be calculated using the federal and CT 1040-ES forms linked below:

How to submit estimated tax payments

Estimated tax payments are made four times each year. The dates should be verified on the IRS website but are typically on or near the following dates: April 15th, June 15th, September 15th, and January 15th (of the next year). If you miss these due dates, you could be subject to a penalty payment.

Payments can be submitted online or paid through the mail (include the voucher prepared through the 1040-ES form). The links to online payment portals for federal and connecticut state taxes are below. If directed to select a reason for payment, select “estimated tax”.

Differences in filing taxes

  • If your fellowship started partially through the tax year, you can expect to receive a Form W-2  for the portion of your income received pre-fellowship. Your fellowship income will most likely be reported via the Form 1099-MISC  issued by Yale. However, this seems to vary by department, and it is possible you will need to prepare the form yourself. Unlike the Form W-2, you cannot opt in to online delivery of the 1099-MISC form, so it will instead be mailed to you. Make sure your current address is accurate in WorkDay so that your Form 1099-MISC arrives in a timely manner. Form 1099-MISC will be postmarked by January 31st. If your paystub lists “PDF Sub” and/or “Post Doc Fellowships” you should receive a 1099-MISC. However, It may help to consult with your department’s business office to determine whether you should expect at 1099-MISC, or whether you will need to prepare it yourself.

  • Questions regarding your Form 1099-MISC can be directed to Yale’s Finance Support Center at 203-432-5394 or at

International PDFs:

Tax situations for international scholars are often complex and based on specific scenarios including country of origin and funding source. We suggest you consult with OISS and the Yale Tax office to understand your tax obligations. We provide links to these resources below. You may email the tax office to ask for more specifics about your particular situation at

3. Healthcare

Yale does not automatically cover the cost of PDF health plans. As a PDA, your taxable salary and the total annual cost (i.e. “premium”) of your “Yale Health Plan” health insurance are separate. As Yale employees, Yale covers a majority of the total premium cost for its PDAs. The remaining proportion of the premium is covered by the individual employee. The contribution that you make each month to your health insurance premium is deducted from your monthly income pre-tax. Therefore, Yale reports the value of your health plan to the government, but this value is non-taxable and is separate from your salary.

The situation is different for PDFs because you are not considered Yale employees and therefore cannot benefit from the employer contribution to your health insurance premium. Therefore, Yale may deduct the full cost of your Yale Health Plan premium from your salary. This effectively lowers your monthly take-home pay by several hundred dollars per month. Upon your request, Yale, your department, or your PI may elect to augment your salary by the cost of the Yale Health Plan so that the net cost to you is zero. However, you need to check with Yale, your department, or your PI to make certain that a salary augmentation is available to you. Even in the case that your salary can be augmented, be aware that you will still have a higher effective tax burden than a PDA (see below).

Higher tax burden for PDFs

If Yale, your department, or your advisor augments your salary to offset the cost of the Yale Health Plan, the net cost of the health plan will be the same or similar to the net cost if you were a PDA. However, you will have a higher tax burden as a PDF because the salary increase Yale may provide to cover health care is not separate from your taxable salary anymore.

Higher cost for health care of dependents of PDFs

PDFs who wish to add partners or dependents to their Yale health plan may have to pay much higher additional monthly premiums than do PDAs if their advisor does not choose to supplement for dependents. Oftentimes, advisors will supplement for the individual PDF, but not for dependents/spouses. This results in a large increase in financial burden for those with dependents and spouses on their insurance. As of 2019, for PDAs, the additional monthly premium for a spouse, for example, is $45. For PDFs, the additional monthly premium for a spouse is $768 (17-fold higher than a PDA’s payroll cost). Please speak to your advisor and your department to make sure you’re able to get the best supplement possible!

Monthly health plan premiums


Health plan for PDA

Health plan for PDF*

Postdoc only

$50 (PDA only + $0)

$0 (PDF only + $0)

Postdoc + child(ren)

$70 (PDA only + $20)

$629 (PDF only + $629)

Postdoc + spouse

$95 (PDA only + $45)

$768 (PDF only + $768)


$120 (PDA only + $70)

$1397 (PDF only + $1397)

*Please note that this table only considers the best case scenario where Yale supplements the PDF’s monthly paycheck by $699 to offset the cost of the health plan. This is not guaranteed. For cases where Yale does not offset PDF health care costs, add $699 to each row.

  • Dental insurance is available for PDFs but Yale does not provide a subsidy.

  • Vision insurance is not available to PDFs.

A clear way to visualize and better understand the impact of your fellowship on the structure of your benefits payments is to compare your pre-fellowship and fellowship paystubs on Yale WorkDay.

4. Vacation and Leave

You will need to check with your funding source and your advisor to determine policy around vacation and leave for your specific fellowship and situation. We hope to update this section in the future, so if you have experience with vacation and leave (ie: parental leave) as a PDF, please contact us at the YPA (

5. Other Changes to Venefits

Given that PDFs are not considered Yale employees, they unfortunately lose access to the majority of benefits offered to PDAs at Yale. For the full list of benefits available to PDFs, use the dropdown menu at the following link, and select “Postdoctoral Fellows”. If you would like further clarification on the availability of any particular benefit for PDFs, contact the benefits office at Benefits by Job Classification

6. Additional Considerations for International PDFs 

Because your title and funding source are changing, you may need to obtain an updated DS-2019 form. Make sure to contact OISS to determine whether you need this updated form, and how to obtain it.

7. Additional Resources