Administrative Manual — Offers of Graduate Assistantships

Offer Letters

Both new and continuing graduate assistants must receive a letter making the offer of appointment (see the collegiate forms section of the College’s website). The letter must specify the position title, the level of appointment (percentage time), the effective dates of appointment, salary, teaching or work schedule (if known), and the departmental representative to be contacted for information regarding the appointment and associated benefits (see the UE/COGS agreement, Article VI.1). The letter must inform the candidate that the terms and conditions of the appointment are governed by a collective bargaining agreement between the Board of Regents and UE/COGS.

Continuing graduate assistants must receive the offer of appointment by April 15 for summer session or for appointments beginning in the fall semester and by November 1 for appointments beginning in the spring semester. Departments must make a good faith effort to offer appointments by these deadlines. If a position becomes available after a deadline, the offer should be made as soon as possible.

Departments must inform teaching assistants of their specific course assignment once it has been determined. The course assignment does not have to be included in the letter of appointment, but it should be communicated to the TA by the department as soon as a determination is made (see the UE/COGS agreement, Article VI.1d).

The Council of Graduate Schools, in its 1990 “Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees, and Assistants,” states that students “are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15.” Departments must not set earlier deadlines for acceptance. The DEO should obtain copies of this Resolution from the Graduate College and enclose one with each offer of an assistantship, scholarship, fellowship, or traineeship.

Levels of Appointment

The normal graduate appointment is one half-time equivalent (HTE) and is expected to require an average of about 20 hours of work per week over the semester or academic year. Appointments of less than one HTE entail a proportionate reduction in work hours and in stipend. The amount of effort required of the graduate assistant must not exceed the level of appointment. View a chart showing the percentage time appointment and standard hours of work at each HTE level.

The UE/COGS agreement recognizes specific levels of appointment, called standard appointments (quarter-time, third-time, three-eighths-time, and half-time equivalents, as well as five-eighths, two-thirds, and three-quarters time—see the UE/COGS agreement, Article VII.1c).

If the graduate appointment is for a percentage-time that is greater than one half-time equivalent, the request for permission to appoint at greater than half time should be addressed to both Interim Associate Dean Shelly Campo of the Graduate College and Dean Getz. It should include a justification for the off-standard appointment as well as an explanation of why the additional percentage of effort would not negatively influence the graduate student’s progress toward the degree.

Minimum Stipends

The UE/COGS collective bargaining agreement sets minimum stipend levels for graduate assistants and minimum salary increments for graduate assistants reappointed from the previous year (see the UE/COGS agreement, Article IX). The stipend amount must be specified in the offer of appointment.

A department may pay more than the minimum stipend and may increase a continuing graduate assistant’s stipend by more than the minimum increment, if the department has the necessary funds. The department may also apply a salary differential that reflects differences in job duties between groups of graduate assistants.

The minimum stipend for graduate fellows is not established under the collective bargaining agreement.

Medical and Dental Insurance for Graduate Assistants

Under the UE/COGS collective bargaining agreement, the University will make monthly contributions for eligible graduate assistants’ health and dental insurance to specified insurance plans. The University will also make contributions for medical and dental insurance for eligible dependents and domestic partners of graduate assistants. (For the amounts of the University contribution, see Article X of the UE/COGS agreement.)

To receive the University’s contribution, a graduate assistant must be appointed at least quarter-time (.5 HTE) for at least one semester. Graduate assistants appointed for one semester will receive one-half of the University’s contribution each semester.

Tuition Rates

Non-resident graduate students with at least quarter-time assistantships (.5 HTE) will be assessed resident tuition and fees for the terms during which the appointment is held and for any adjacent summer session. (Spouses of graduate assistants may request the resident tuition rate at the Office of the Registrar.)

This policy applies to those appointed to Graduate College fellowships, but not to those who hold traineeships under training grants.

Verification of Oral Communication Skills for New TAs

Before offering a teaching assistantship, the DEO is responsible for verifying the oral communication skills of the candidate, whether or not the candidate’s first language is English. This verification may take place through letters of recommendation, a telephone interview, or an interview in person. For new graduate students whose first language is not English, the College recommends that teaching assistantships be offered only to those whose scores on the written TOEFL test are 600 or (preferably) higher. (A score of 250 on the computer-based test is equivalent to a score of 600 on the written test.) For more information, view the flowchart describing the process.

Commitments to New Teaching Assistants

Offers to new TAs should either specify a guaranteed commitment for fall semester, renewable for spring pending the mid-term review of oral communication competence and other competencies, or should indicate that a negative review at mid-term would result in reassignment (perhaps at a lower stipend), a reduced level of appointment, or even cancellation of the commitment (particularly if the assistant is not a graduate student in the department of appointment). (See the model offer letter.)

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences or the Graduate College will find replacement duties and provide for continuation of the contract only if such language is included in the offer letter. Otherwise, the department will be responsible for making the alternative arrangements.

Written Acceptance of Offer

The department obtains a written acceptance by asking the candidate for a signed and dated copy of the offer letter (see the model offer letter).