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Managing Benefits Costs for Postdocs on External Pay

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A small percentage of Postdoctoral Researchers and Postdoctoral Fellows receive compensation directly from an external funding source. These funds are not managed by Penn. This document explains how these postdocs are eligible for Penn benefits, and what actions Penn HR, schools/departments, and postdocs are responsible for.

  1. Postdocs compensation:
    1. External Allowance Plan: These postdocs must be set up with an external pay allowance in Workday equivalent to the amount they are receiving from the external sponsor, regardless of any compensation provided by Penn.
    2. Penn Compensation Plan: For any additional compensation, a salary plan must be included. This includes both Penn and external compensation to ensure that the postdoc’s compensation from all sources (Penn and external sponsor) meets the Penn minimum stipend based on years of service.
  2. Benefits – HR and departmental management of benefits costs for externally paid postdocs fall into two categories.
    1. University 21% EB rate
    2. The postdoc’s contribution towards any elected health insurance and/or dependent life insurance.

University 21% EB rate

  • The University (HR) will charge the 21% EB rate to the default costing allocation or organizational assignments in Workday based on the compensation amount the postdoc is receiving internally and externally, up to the Penn minimum salary for year one.
  • The department is responsible for recovering these costs from the postdoc if the external sponsor provides funding to the postdoc to cover the employer cost of benefits.

Postdoc Contribution towards benefits:

  • If the postdoc doesn’t have Penn compensation or if the Penn compensation doesn’t fully cover the cost of the postdoc’s benefit contribution, the outstanding postdoc benefit contribution amount will be charged to the default costing allocation or organizational assignments in Workday. The department is responsible for collecting the amount from the postdoc and applying these funds to the appropriate account.
  • For postdocs that receive both internal and external pay, if the compensation paid by Penn covers the total cost of the postdoc benefits contribution, there will be NO charges applied to costing allocations or organizational assignments in Workday to cover the postdoc’s contribution towards their benefits costs.

HR Benefits will contact departments with postdocs whose EB rate has been charged to the default costing allocation or organizational assignment. It is up to the department to determine if the funding agency provides the postdoc with funds to cover the University’s contribution toward the benefits (21% EB Rate). Once the charge has been processed, the department will be responsible for recovering the postdoc’s contribution from the postdoc for their benefits.

For questions regarding the benefits charges outlined above, please contact the Penn Employee Solution Center –, 215-898-7372

Examples – 21% EB Rate

Penn Annual Compensation PlanAnnual External Allowance Plan21% EB Rate Cost
Postdoc A$0.00$65,000$13,650/year or $1,137.50/month
Postdoc B$11,699$54,800$11,193/year or $932.76/month
Postdoc C$2,000$75,000$13,230/year or $1,102.50/month

Examples – Postdoc contribution

Penn Annual Compensation PlanAnnual External Allowance PlanPostdoc Contribution needed to be reimbursed by Postdoc to Department
Postdoc A elects single Keystone/HMO medical only$0.00$65,000$600/year or $50/month owed by the postdoc
Postdoc B elects family coverage – Aetna POS medical and VSP$11,699/year or $974/month$54,800$0 needed (Penn compensation plan covers the benefits of $534.55/month)
Postdoc C elects single PennCare/Personal Choice and Dental$2,000/year or $166/month$75,000$1,144.08/year or $95.34/month owed by the postdoc (Penn compensation plan cover $2,000/year or $166/month)

FY24 enrollment rates for medical, dental, vision, and dependent life insurance are below.

  Postdoc Benefit enrollment rates FY2024
MedicalEmployeeEmployee + SpouseEmployee + ChildrenEmployee + Family
Keystone/AmeriHealth HMO$50.00$296.00$186.00$365.00
Aetna Choice POS II$65.00$414.00$273.00$515.00
PennCare/Personal Choice$234.00$586.00$394.00$728.00
Vision Plans
VSP Plan$7.10$15.33$11.53$19.55
VSP Choice Plan$10.71$23.13$17.40$29.50
Dental Plan
MetLife Dental$27.34$54.62$60.18$82.03