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A stipend is a form of monetary payment or salary, such as for an internship or apprenticeship. It is often distinct from a wage or a salary because it does not necessarily represent payment for work performed, instead it represents a payment that enables somebody to be exempt partly or wholly from waged or salaried employment in order to undertake a role that is normally unpaid, (e.g. a magistrate in Englandmarker), or voluntary, or which cannot be measured in terms of a task (e.g. members of the clergy).

Stipends are usually lower than what would be expected as a permanent salary for similar work. This is because the stipend is complemented by other benefits such as accreditation, instruction, food and/ or accommodation. Universities usually refer to money paid to graduate students as a stipend, rather than as wages, to reflect complementary benefits.


Stipends may be utilized by non-profits or organizations working with oppressed, or other less-represented groups of people such as youth. These organizations may stipend youth at a higher than local minimum wage rate, or living wage, to empower them to enter the workforce. This type of stipend normally last for less than a year.

In some Catholic circles, a Mass stipend is the payment, which is generally nominal, to a priest for saying a Divine Liturgy or Mass . Usually a small donation, depending on the size of the parish. Weddings and funerals typically have much larger donations given, but that is usually at the discretion of the family or individual in question. However, it is considered immoral to demand payment for a sacrament (which is known as 'simony'), and stipends are seen as gifts.

The term also has a specific use in the Church of England, meaning the salary of a stipendiary minister, one who receives payment directly from the diocese (as opposed to other forms of disbursement such as free use of a house in return for clerical duties, known as house-for-duty). A non-stipendiary minister is therefore one who is licensed to perform clerical duties but without receiving any kind of payment from the diocese - although non-stipendiary ministers often receive reimbursement of expenses incurred in pursuit of their duties, e.g. travel, postage, and telephone costs. Non-stipendiary ministers normally depend on secular employment for their income and are often unavailable for pastoral duties when they are fulfilling their obligations to their employer. These clergy are also sometimes known as ministers in secular employment.

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