General Conditions of Employment for Graduate Assistants
Graduate Assistantships and Associateships are required to carry a stipend at a rate that is no less than the established minimum set for the campus. This amount may vary from year to year, depending on budgetary and contract considerations. The current (Fall 22) minimum stipend necessary to qualify for tuition credit is $6,205.40 for a single semester and $12,410.80 for the full academic year. For a complete list of these rates please see the 2022-2023 Assistantship Information sheet. Minimum earnings needed for a tuition credit in a given semester may be met by combining any number of eligible appointments - see below "Minimum Earnings." Stipends are paid in bi-weekly installments over the length of the appointment.
Period of Appointment
Most commonly, graduate assistants and associates (GA's) are appointed from September through May. GA's may also be appointed for as long as 12 months from June through May or for periods of less than a semester with the exception of TAs and TOs. A GA may be re-appointed and serve for a second, a third, or even a fourth year. All graduate appointments shall automatically terminate at the end of the specified appointment period. No appointment or reappointment of a graduate student to an assistantship or associateship position commits the university to reappoint that same student at some later time.
To insure the timely receipt of the first bi-weekly paycheck, appointments of GA's should be made, and the completed fully signed appointment forms received by the Graduate School, at least one week before the appointment is scheduled to begin. Retroactive appointments are not generally permitted and no graduate student employee should begin work until he or she has signed their Graduate Fellowship/Assistantship Form (GFAF).
There are two policies governing the number of hours per week that a student may work on campus. The Human Resources and state regulations impose a maximum of 40 hours per week that a student may work for compensation on the campus. This includes the total from all job types: Assistantships, student hourly, Work-Study, etc. The second policy requires institutional responsibility to limit the pressure on students who hold multiple appointments and maintain a significant credit load. The student's academic progress and the quality of their classroom lecture delivery are both jeopardized under overload conditions. The Graduate School, therefore, also includes the course credit hours in the total permissible workload of 40 hours. A student, who, with the addition of credit hours, slightly exceeds the 40-hour maximum, can have the limit lifted with a letter from the Graduate Program Director or Department Head attesting to the student's capacity to handle the overload. Thesis and dissertation credits are not included in the total. Note that International students with F1 or J1 Visas may not work more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session. These students may work up to 40 hours in a week during Intersession and the through the summer.
It is the responsibility of each academic department to determine that each graduate student who is employed in a GEO bargaining unit position with instructional responsibilities has appropriate oral proficiency in English. Instructional responsibilities extend to both classroom and laboratory settings. GAs shall be deemed to have the appropriate oral proficiency in English by meeting one of the following criteria:
- S/he speaks English as a first language;
- S/he has an undergraduate degree from a U.S. university;
- S/he has submitted a Test of Spoken English (TSE) or a SPEAK test score of 50 or above.
GAs with instructional responsibilities and who have not met any of the above criteria are required to take the SPEAK test upon arrival on campus.
The SPEAK test is administered by the Graduate School at no cost to graduate students. It is given three times a year: Fall, Spring, and Summer.
Graduate student employees who are required to take the SPEAK test and who do not pass the test are required to either participate in the Communication Instruction classes offered by the Graduate School (at no cost to the student) or enroll in another program recommended by their Graduate Program Director. If the assistantship with instructional responsibilities has already begun, the test result will have no bearing on the funding for the duration of that appointment. However, graduate student employees may be reassigned responsibilities corresponding to their level of proficiency. Reappointment to an instructional position will not be made unless the SPEAK test has been passed.
International students should be advised that, because they will not be eligible to teach in the summer or winter session in Continuing and Professional Education until they have passed the SPEAK test, they should complete all testing requirements immediately after arrival on campus.
Any time a graduate student employee spends in training required by his or her department before the semester begins, whether provided by the department or the university, shall be counted towards the total number of contracted hours for the employee for the subsequent contract period.
Summer Session Appointments
In addition to regular academic year appointments, graduate students, who have begun their academic course of study, may be appointed to assistantships in the summer. The rate of pay must meet the same minimum requirement established for the academic year and prorated for the length of the summer appointment.
A full or part-time Graduate Assistant or Associate may receive additional compensation from university sources in the form of other assistantships, student hourly, or fellowships as long as the hours worked are within the limits described under "Workload" above.
Non-degree students may NOT receive tuition credit under Board of Higher Education regulations. A non-degree student may be appointed to an assistantship only if the funding department is also willing to pay the student's tuition. Graduate assistants may not pay their own tuition.
Vacation, Additional Time Off, and Holidays
Graduate student employees in the GEO bargaining unit shall receive the following vacation, additional time off, and holiday benefits:
Vacation = One day per month (pro rated if less or more than one FTE) Example: For a 20-hour per week appointment, vacation time equals 4 hours per month. You can use the multiplier .0473 times the total number of hours to determine vacation time. TAs and TOs must take vacation time during Winter break or Spring break unless agreement is reached with department head that an alternative schedule would be acceptable. RA’s and other graduate student employees may take vacation at any time, provided they obtain prior written approval for the supervisor. Vacation leave cannot be carried over beyond the contract period in which is earned.
Additional Time = 24 hrs. per semester for a FTE (fulltime) position or 17 hours per 14-week summer session. For the academic year use the multiplier 0.063 times the total number of hours to determine additional time during the semester. Example: For a 20 hour per week appointment, additional time equals: 20 hours x 19 weeks X .063 = 24 hours/semester. For the summer session, use the multiplier .061 times the total number of hours to determine additional time during the summer. Example: 20 hours per week appointment during the summer, additional time equals: 20 hours x 14 weeks x .061 =17 hours per summer. Additional time cannot be carried over beyond the academic year or summer session in which it is earned.
Holidays: TAs and TOs who normally work on a day when the university is closed due to a holiday shall not be required to work on that day and shall receive pay for that day. However, when class days are switched (e.g. Monday is on a Wednesday) workdays will be switched as well. RAs and other graduate student employees who are required by his/her supervisor to work on a university holiday shall receive compensatory time off unless such requirement is part of the graduate student employee’s job description. The following days are considered holidays:
- New Year's Day
- Washington's Birthday
- Memorial Day
- Labor Day
- Veteran's Day
- Christmas Day
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- Patriot's Day
- Independence Day
- Columbus Day
- Thanksgiving Day
When university employees are released from work due to emergency conditions, graduate student employees shall also be released - this includes snow or other weather related emergencies.