A student awarded a graduate assistantship receives a financial stipend for services rendered in addition to a full or partial tuition scholarship. These stipend funds are called UGA (university graduate assistantship) awards. Graduate assistants are also entitled to a discount at the UC Bookstores and may be eligible for the Graduate Assistant/Fellow Health Insurance Award.
UGA awardees devote effort to a combined program of formal study and assigned duties of teaching, research or administrative service that is designed to enhance their university education. The stipend received by the graduate assistant is in recognition of these services. Those with teaching duties are teaching assistants (TAs) and those with research duties are research assistants (RAs). During the appointment, the goal is to help a graduate student become a more learned, creative, and professional individual through formal instruction, interaction with faculty, research, and administrative experience. Any such service assignments should be consistent with the student’s academic pursuits.
UGA funds are awarded for designated periods of time by the graduate programs. Graduate Assistants are considered exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements, and they are paid on a salaried basis. Minimum stipends are set by the Dean of the Graduate College. The minimum stipend for a graduate assistant, as set in July 2023, must be the equivalent of a minimum of $16.98 per hour for all master’s and doctoral students except those in PhD programs. Graduate assistants enrolled in PhD programs have a minimum of $22.28 per hour.
The appointing academic program, college, or area of responsibility determines service requirements of students who hold assistantships. If awarded an assistantship outside their program, graduate assistants’ duties are governed by the academic program, college, or the area of responsibility that made the award. In all cases, the award obligates awardees to no more than 20 hours per week of services, and those services must make a substantive contribution to the student’s academic and professional development. Students must be appointed to a position that is consistent with their field of academic study. If the student determines that they cannot meet the requirements of the award, it is imperative that they notify the program to initiate renegotiation or reassignment of the award with correspondingly less support. A student’s hours are prorated for weeks with a holiday or school closure and students are not required to be available during break periods unless given additional compensation.
UGA awardees must be registered for 12 graduate credit hours or more, exclusive of audit credits, for each semester they receive the assistantship. University assistantships will be cancelled if the awardee does not meet their enrollment obligation. The exception to this rule is summer semester. See Summer Employment without Full-time Enrollment section. Students lose eligibility for the UGA stipend funding if they accumulate more than 174 graduate credit hours. (See 174 Graduate Credit Rule.)
Assistantship awards are contingent upon student status, satisfactory degree progress, and performance of service as assigned, and can be terminated at any time. Each year the assistantship is in effect, the appointing program, college, or area must notify the awardee in writing of any significant change to the services or conditions of the appointment. Such changes include, but are not limited to:
- the amount and duration of the award
- any tuition and/or fee not paid by the program
- the average expected time per week or per semester of required duties
- description of the duties assigned to the student
- description of the conditions under which either the student or unit may terminate the award prior to its end-date
- criteria for reappointment of the award
- criteria for determining variations in stipend levels where such variations exist
- information on current IRS guidelines, Medicare, and the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS)
- graduate appointment procedures if any of the documents have been modified since the student’s initial appointment.