Trainee Appointments

2018 MSTP graduate Layla Barkal in David Beebe’s lab (BME graduate program). (Photo by UW Health communications)

A significant responsibility of training grant award management involves the administration of trainee appointments. Below are resources to help in the implementation and management of your trainee appointments and related expenses (stipend, tuition and travel).

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NIH xTrain

xTrain is a module in eRA Commons that allows PD/PIs, administrators and trainees to:

  • Create, route and submit electronic Appointment forms, Re-appointments, Amendments and Termination Notices
  • Track the status and timing of actions taken by xTrain users.

To utilize xTrain, training grant administrators will need to have the following:

  • eRA Commons Account (No account? Request one from your Dean’s Research Administration office.)
  • ASST Role in eRA Commons
  • PD/PI needs to delegate xTrain authority to you (Delegate Authority Instructions)

NIH xTrain Resources

Before Appointing Trainees in xTrain

To ensure a smooth appointing process in xTrain, make sure your trainees have the following before appointing them to a training grant in xTrain:

1.     Commons ID

Some trainees may have an established account from their prior institution. Search the trainee’s name in eRA Commons before creating an account for the trainee. When creating the account, be sure to assign them the Trainee role. If you are unable to create an account, please email the Office of Training Grant Support at to have an account set up. Please provide their full name and email address in the request.

2.     In eRA Commons, verify they have the Trainee role and UW–Madison assigned to their profile.

3.     Require your trainee to complete their Personal Profile in eRA Commons. Information from the Personal Profile will prepopulate in the appointment form (PHS 2271) and termination notice (PHS 416-7). Provide trainees with the xTrain quick reference guide for trainees.

4.     ORCID iD

Trainees a required to have an ORCID iD at time of appointment. The ORCID iD also needs to be linked to the trainee’s eRA Commons Personal Profile.

ORCID iD Resources

UW Library ORCID iD Resources

Appointing Trainees in xTrain

Appointment Forms in xTrain

Appointment forms are due on or before the start of the appointment period. To set up an appointment in xTrain, training grant administrators serving as the PD/PI delegate can initiate the appointment form (PHS 2271) in xTrain. The PD/PI must submit the appointment form to NIH (Agency). For details on how to initiate, route and process the appointment form, please see the xTrain guide on initiating appointments. Also available is the xTrain document on appointment errors and warnings.

Appointed trainees who are Permanent U.S. Residents must submit a notary’s signed statement (ON PAPER) certifying that they have:

  1. a Permanent Resident Card (USCIS Form I-551),
  2. other legal verification of Permanent Resident status

Payback Agreement

A signed Payback Agreement must be submitted for each postdoctoral trainee who is in their first 12 months of Kirchstein-NRSA postdoctoral support. The Payback Agreement is processed on paper.  Once completed, the form should be mailed to the awarding Federal Agency Grants Management Office named in the Notice of Award (NoA). Keep a copy of the signed Payback Agreement for your own files. For more details on payback requirements, please see NIH Grants Policy.


Trainees can be reappointed on the training grant in future award years. To reappoint trainees in xTrain, please refer to the guidance document on reappointments.


  • If you are reappointing someone from previous year, then you reappoint from within that year (do not add a new appointment in current year).
  • If there is a break of at least one grant period, the trainee must be appointed as a new appointment.
  • If reappointing, old stipend amount shows until appointment form is saved. Once saved, you can set the current stipend amount.
  • If trainee corrects or adds information in their profile after an appointment form is created, it will not be visible to you until the appointment form is accepted by NIH/Agency.
  • Appointments can start on any date. It is strongly recommended that you start an appointment on the first of the month.
  • Watch for auto forwards.  After 14 days appointment forms with the trainee will forward back to the PD/PI.  It is best to tell PD/PI to ignore xTrain e-mails until administrator tells PD/PI to sign and route to NIH/Agency.
  • Call eRA Commons Help Desk for missing links and routing problems.
  • Call NIH Institute for errors from paper forms that were hand entered, problems with forms either submitted or accepted by NIH/Agency, forms need to be accepted by NIH/Agency.

Payroll, Appointment Letters and Supplement Appointments


In addition to adding appointments in xTrain, trainees will need to have their appointment set up in the UW–Madison payroll system. When adding appointments to the payroll system, please ensure the following:

  • Start and end dates must match appointment start and end dates in xTrain.
  • Predoctoral Trainees must have the following designation: Trainee (Y23NN), account code 5712, program code 9, paid “A” annual pay basis
  • Postdoctoral Trainees must have the following designation: Postdoctoral Trainees (X30NN), account code 2720, program code 4, paid “A” annual pay basis
  • Trainee stipends must be at NIH rate associated with the budget year they were appointed.

Note special instructions for Short-Term Trainees: Appointing Short-Term Trainees on NRSA training grants at UW–Madison

Appointment Letters

The appointment letter must provide the appointment type, start and end dates, stipend amount, language on tuition, benefits (e.g. health insurance and NIH NRSA leave allowances), payback agreement requirement (if applicable) and travel allocation per the training grant award. Appointment letters should clarify trainee expectations for completing training grant program requirements. For example, this could include requirements in the following areas: Responsible Conduct of Research training, Individual Development Plans, Public Access Compliance, annual meetings with PD/PI, progress reports, participation in program activities, etc.

Suggested language for the payback agreement requirement in appointment letters (postdoc trainees only):

“Service Payback: Acceptance of this appointment incurs a 12-month service payback agreement. NIH requires completion form PHS 6031 to confirm this payback agreement. This form needs to be completed and returned to (Administrator) as soon as possible. This payback agreement is in addition to the electronic Xtrain appointment system that NIH requires via the eRA commons.”

Appointment Letter Templates

CALS templates:

L&S templates:

SMPH templates:

For templates from other schools/colleges, please reach out to your HR point of contact.

Supplement Appointments

Supplement Appointments are allowable but do come with some restrictions.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition and fees are covered by the training grant. For 12-month appointments, tuition is covered for three semesters (fall, spring and summer).

Trainee Tuition and fees are paid though the Internal Third Party Deferral Process.

Internal Third Party Deferral Payment Process:

  • Submit your third-party deferral authorization form to the Bursar’s Office Secure Upload Website (online)
  • Bursar’s Office will send you invoice
  • Double-check the invoice carefully to make sure you are paying the proper amount for each trainee.
  • Enter the funding string for trainees on invoice.
  • UW–Madison Account Codes:
    • 5713: predocs and degree-seeking postdocs (use Program Code 9)
    • 5709: non-degree seeking postdocs (use Program Code 4)
  • Send completed invoice to RSP (

*No more than 3 semesters of tuition and fees per trainee should be charged to each grant year

For complete details on submitting an authorization form, understanding invoices, and submitting payment, please visit Internal Third Party Payments.


NIH Grants Policy- Trainee Travel Costs

  • It is strongly recommended that training grant directors and/or administrators approve dates of trainee travel to conferences/meetings.
  • Travel for additional research training outside of institution requires prior approval
  • Use Concur to book travel and university approved vendors
  • Use P-card for purchasing trainee airfare in advance of travel
  • Reimburse trainee for remaining travel expenses via E-Reimbursement tool if there are remaining funds from training grant travel allocation. Must submit expenses within 90 days from travel end-date

Terminating Trainee Appointments in xTrain

Termination Notice in xTrain

Within 30 days of the effective date of termination of an appointment, training grant administrators serving as the PD/PI delegate can initiate the termination notice (PHS 416-7) form in xTrain. Before initiating the termination notice, make sure the trainee has updated information in their eRA Commons Personal Profile. The Business Official (BO) at UW–Madison must submit the termination notice to NIH (Agency). For details on how to initiate, route and process the termination notice, please see the xTrain termination of appointments document and/or xTrain termination video tutorial.

UW–Madison Business Official (BO): Brenda Egan


  • If terminating early, no amended appointment form is required. In the termination notice all you need to do is modify the end date to the revised termination date.
  • For early terminations, only the PI can modify the stipend.
  • Watch for auto-forwards. After 14 days termination notices with the trainee will forward back to the PI and will forward to BO from PI (if missing signature). It is best to tell PI to ignore xTrain until administrator tells PI to sign and route to BO.
  • Call eRA Commons Help Desk for missing links, routing problems and previous support information missing.

Effort Reporting and Certification

Trainees are paid a stipend while supported on a training grant and are therefore excluded from the effort certification process. For more details, please see UW­–Madison’s Research and Sponsored Programs webpage: Effort for Trainees on Training Grants.