Awards & Honorariums


Awards are payments made to students or non-GW employees in recognition of an accomplishment (reportable for tax purposes) or to assist them in further research opportunities (non-reportable for tax purposes).

To process an Award, a Payment Request Form (PDF) is required with supporting documentation (purpose of the award, explanation of the award, etc.).

In the case of a reportable award, the individual tax identification number must be on file with Supplier Maintenance.


The Honorarium Recipient Form is used to register and pay Honorarium Recipients. Please see the Instructions to know how to complete the Honorarium Recipient Form.

Honorarium Guidance

An honorarium is a one‐time nominal payment made to an individual (not a corporation, business or partnership), who is not an employee, student employee and a student of the University, for a special and non‐recurring activity or event with a short duration for which a fee is not legally or customarily required and which fixed business price has not been set.

If the amount or timing of the payment is negotiated and agreed upon, it is considered a contractual agreement, and should be processed as a payment for personal services, not an honorarium.

Honoraria are typically paid to persons of scholarly or professional standing expertise with the intent of showing good will and appreciation for a voluntarily service to the university.

Allowable and Inappropriate Honoraria Payments

Following are allowable honoraria payments. All have a short duration period of service:

  • Payment to a guest speaker. A guest speaker is someone who possesses advance knowledge of a particular subject area and speaks about that subject area to a group or organization with which he or she is normally not involved.  
  • Participation as a judge in a writing or photo contest;
  • Participation in a panel discussion;
  • A special lecture or short series of such lectures;
  • Appraisal of a manuscript or an article to be submitted to a professional publication;
  • Reviewing research findings prior to the final report being published.

An honorarium is not appropriate and must not be used:

  • To pay for services requiring an executed contract and/or a purchase order;
  • To pay faculty, staff, student employees or students for their services;
  • To replace or circumvent procedures for paying consultants;
  • To pay professional motivational speakers who perform such services as a career and charge a fee to participate in the event;
  • To pay a recurring activity or service;
  • To pay for the services of a facilitator in a small group workshop. A facilitator’s job is to get others to assume responsibility and take the lead. This person is a guide or a discussion leader who contributes structure to the workshop;
  • To pay for performances including comedic, dramatic, musical or other similar artistic performances;
  • To pay for personal services provided in the connection of a bona fide business, trade or profession such as reviewing or editing an article by a publisher;
  • To pay a faculty, staff or student employee for their services;
  • To pay expense reimbursements, if applicable, these should be submitted separately on a payment request form;
  • As an award to an individual where the primary intent is to confer distinction on, or to symbolize respect, esteem, or admiration for the recipient;
  • When the services require access to University proprietary information (such services are considered consulting);
  • Solely as a reimbursement in lieu of undocumented expenses.
  • To pay a foreign visitor (nonresident alien) not approved to work in the United States Note, B visa holders may accept an honorarium payment and associated incidental expenses for a usual academic activity or activities (lasting not longer than 9 days at any single institution), if the individual has not accepted such payment or expenses from more than 5 institutions or organizations in the previous 6-month period.

Determining if an Honorarium is Appropriate

Use the following questions as a guide to determine the appropriateness of an honorarium request. If any question is answered “yes”, the payment does not qualify as an honorarium:

  1. Is the payment being made to a business, corporation or partnership?
  2. Was the amount and timing of the payment negotiated between the University and the individual?
  3. Is there a contractual agreement?
  4. Are the individual’s services recurring?
  5. Is the individual an employee or student employee?
  6. Did the individual set the price?


Supporting Documentation and Approval

A completed and approved honorarium form should be submitted to Supplier Maintenance for a new supplier setup. The form must be accompanied by the appropriate tax form, W-9 for domestic recipients or W-8BEN for international recipients who are treated as nonresident aliens for US tax purposes. In addition, for international recipients, the Alien Information Request form is required. The form must clearly identify the purpose of the honorarium and identify the dates in which the service was given to the university.

Follow the instructions on the honorarium form when completing and submitting the form for payment.

Honorariums exceeding $2,000 require the approval of a Department Chair, Dean or Vice President.

Actual travel expenses incurred by the honorarium recipient should be submitted with detailed, itemized receipts on a completed and approved payment request form.   This is a separate transaction from the honorarium

Electronic payment by Automated Clearing House (ACH) is the preferred payment for domestic recipients. Wire transfer is required for international recipients.

Payments will be made in accordance with applicable tax regulations and law.

The University is obligated to report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Form 1099 all U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens receiving cumulative remuneration greater than the annual threshold amount of $600.

The University will report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Form 1042-S all Non-Resident Aliens receiving cumulative remuneration.

For payments to foreign recipient, please refer to the “Tax Issues on Payments to International Individuals & Companies” procedural document.

Specific provisions in sponsored project agreements may govern honorarium payments and supersede this policy to the extent that they are more limiting or require additional documentation. Before incurring expenses, review the sponsored project agreement as well as the general sponsored project guidelines available on the OSP website and/or consult the appropriate Sponsored Project Administrator (SPA).