MSU Human Resources >> Employment >> Graduate-assistants >> Assistantships FAQs


assistantship faqs

Fall: 8/16 - 12/31 
Spring: 1/1 - 5/15 
Summer: 5/16 - 8/15 
For the number of months per semester see Stipend ranges, SI charges, Months per semester.

  • Graduate assistantship appointments should be made for one complete semester only.
  • Undergraduate and professorial assistantship appointments may be made for a single semester, or for the academic year.

New appointments:  An I-9 must be completed in the electronic I-9 system. If an I-9 is not submitted, the form will not be approved. 
In order to be appointed with a three-quarter time assistantship for Fall and/or Spring semester, an international student must have evidence of authorization from the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS). A copy of an Employment Authorization (EAD) card that says "Optional Practical Training" in the Terms and Conditions sections is acceptable. A Curricular Practical Training (CPT) designation on the I-20 form is also acceptable. Note: International students can be appointed with a three-quarter time assistantship during the Summer semester without OISS authorization. 

Reappointments:  If the expiration date of work authorization on the previously submitted I-9 is before the end date of the assistantship, submit a new I-9 with date of work authorization expiration after the end date of the assistantship to the Solutions Center. 
If reappointing an international student to a three-quarter time assistantship for the first time, evidence of authorization from OISS must be abtained as stated above under 'New Appointment'. 

Amendments:  No documentation is required unless the appointment is increasing an international student's assistantship to three-quarter time for Fall or Spring semester. If so, then evidence of authorization from OISS must be obtained as stated above under 'New Appointment'. 

Cancellations:  no attached documentation of any kind.

The GA should first change his/her name with the Registrar's Office. Then bring the Social Security Card with the new name to the Solutions Center, 110 Nisbet, to have Section 3 of the original I-9 completed.
The SSN must be corrected in SIS before it can be corrected in EBS. Fax a copy of the Social Security Card to the Registrar's Office at 353-1935 with a request that the social security number be corrected. Write the incorrect social secrity number and the student's APID number and Person I.D. number on the sheet that is faxed. If the correct number is illegible on the copy of the card, write it out as well. Then fax the sheet that was faxed to the Registrar's Office, to the Payroll Office, attention Char Rogers at 353-1675, as well as to the Solutions Center, attention Graduate Assistants, at 432-3862.
Complete the " Graduate Assistant - Registrar Coding List ". The Registrar's Office depends on receiving your graduate assistant list before the deadline for proper financial aid packaging.
Graduate Assistant normal hours are:
  • Quarter-time appointment - 10 hours per week average per semester
  • Half-time appointment - 20 hours per week average per semester
  • Three-quarter-time appointment - 30 hours per week average per semester
  • Professorial Assistant normal hours are from 8 to 10 hours per week
  • Undergraduate Assistant normal hours are 5 to 10 hours per week
The regulations of the fellowship determine whether or not an assistantship can be held concurrently. It is the student's responsibility to know and communicate any restrictions due to the fellowship.
MSU-Law students are eligible for graduate assistantships if they are in a combined MSU/MSU-Law program (Political Science is one example). They are NOT eligible if they are Lifelong students or soley in MSU-Law.
For current rates see Stipend ranges, SI charges, Months per semester.
During Summer semesters the maximum stipend does not apply.
GAANN Fellowships can pay less than the minimum stipend specified in the stipend range.
All assistantships are paid on a bi-weekly basis. Please refer to the Controller's Office website for a schedule of pay dates.
Under the Pay and Cost Distribution section of the form, type the information for each Account (fund) on separate lines. The computer system will automatically up date the percent on each Account (fund).
Please see the  Main Fringe Benefit  web page for important information about how these charges will be assessed in the HR/Payroll system.
Account numbers with a date that is older than 60 days from start date on form will automatically route to C & G before reaching HR for final approval. After 120 days, C & G will ask the department for written documentation to justify the changes.
All account redirections are handled in KFS on the account, payroll related attributes. For assistance, please contact Sue VanCamp via e-mail at  vancamps@ctlr.msu.edu , or via phone at 884-6866.
A graduate assistant must work at least 53 days during their Fall or Spring appointment, or 46 days during their Summer appointment, to receive benefits. "Working days" are the number of calendar days from the beginning of the appointment through the last day worked.
The appointment End Date may need to be "padded". Once a graduate assistant has worked for 53 calendar days the department is responsible for all of their tuition and fees. For example, if a graduate assistant has worked for 43 days and is quitting, the department can set the appointment end date 10 days later so the student reaches 53 days. However, by "padding" the appointment the department will also be paying the student their stipend for those extra days as well. Yes, this is the only way to do this.
Yes, if the graduate assistant has worked 53 days or more (46 days for Summer Semester). If the GA has worked less than 53 days (less than 46 days for Summer Semester) the graduate assistant will be billed for all of their tuition and fees.
If the graduate assistant has worked less than one month and their appointment is being ended, the department should cancel the entire appointment in the EBS system and pay the student on the student bi-weekly payroll, or on the support staff temporary or on-call payroll, depending on the student's duties. See the list of student Job Classifications and Descriptions or the Support Staff On Call and Temporary Title List for an appropriate job title.
  • Fall Appointment only: August 15th to February 14th of the following year
  • Fall and Spring Appointment: August 15th to August 14th of the following year
  • Spring Appointment only: January 1st to August 14th
  • Summer Appointment only: May 15th to August 14th
The assistantship picks up the cost of the tuition and medical benefits up to the maximum allowed. Any expense beyond the GA maximum will be picked up by the fellowship, if the fellowship covers these costs.
Yes, if other criteria for applying the graduate assistant tuition waiver are met.
Yes, if other criteria for applying the graduate tuition waiver are met, and if the department chair, the college dean, and the dean of the Graduate School approve. However, the Registrar's Office must be informed that the dean of the graduate school has approved the inclusion of visitor credits in the waiver in order for the waiver to be applied to the visitor credits.
The specific identification charge (SI charge) is the charge for the graduate assistant's tuition and matriculation fee waiver benefits plus health care.  See Stipend ranges, SI charges, Months per Semester for the amount of the charge .
If a student is in his/her last semester of appointment and is enrolled in only one credit, a department can get reimbursed for a portion of the tuition fringe by emailing Michele Johnson ( johns11@msu.edu ) with the following information: Students name, students personnel number, the account number (and subaccount, if applicable) where the money should be transfered (do not send the PID). Sue will process the credit in the HR-Payroll system.
 
Semester Appointment Minimum Credits Maximum Credits Excluding 899/999
  Master PhD Pre Comp PhD* Post Comp Master PhD
Fall, Spring Quarter-time 6 3 1 16 16
Half-time 6 3 1 12 12
Three-Quarter time 3 3 1 8 8
Summer All 3 3 1 None None

"Full-time status" for doctoral students is defined as a minimum of 1 credit for those students who: 1) Have successfully completed all comprehensive exams and are actively engaged in dissertation research; OR 2) Are doing department-approved off-campus fieldwork related to preparation of their dissertation (up to a maximum of three semesters). 

For 1) above, College Dean's Offices must notify the Registrar's Office (Monica Klaver, 150 Admin) by sending a copy of the "Record of Comprehensive Examinations" form with all signatures, no later than 30 days (60 days is preferable) prior to the beginning of the semester in which the one-credit minimum will be effective. No back-dating or back-notification will be permitted. The pre-comp minimum will be applied if the Registrar's office is not notified by the above-stated deadline. 

For 2) above, the Dean's Office must notify the Registrar's Office (Monica Klaver, 150 Admin) of the student's name, PID, and department no later than 30 days (60 days is preferable) prior to the beginning of the semester in which the department/school-approved off-campus fieldwork/research related to the dissertation will be effective and in which the one-credit full-time status is requested. No back-dating or back-notification will be permitted. The pre-comp minimum will be applied if the Registrar's office is not notified by the above-stated deadline. 
Visitor credits may count as part of a student's credit load if approved in writing by the student's department chair or unit director, college and the Dean of the Graduate School. 
Any deviation from the maximum requirements must have the written approval of the dean of the college in which the student is enrolled prior to registration.

Deviation from the minimum enrollment requirements is permitted in the following case: In the semester in which the degree is granted, when the student must enroll for at least the number of credits required to complete the degree or if no more credits are needed, at least meet the University minimum registration requirement of one credit.

Graduate assistants may take more than 9 credits. There is no need for a letter to be sent to the Graduate Appointment Office or the Graduate School for approval. However, the graduate assistant tuition waiver will NOT be applied to any credits beyond the first 9 credits. For summer semester, the maximum number of credits covered by the tuition waiver is 5.
Yes, with special permission from the college, the undergraduate class can be included in the total required credits and be covered by the graduate assistant tuition waiver. However, the Registrar's Office must be informed that the college has approved the inclusion of the undergraduate credits.

The "function" of every graduate assistantship must be identified, based on major assignments:

Teaching (T) - teaching, preparing handouts, monitoring examinations, and other instructional duties. Included in the collective bargaining unit (GEU). 

Teaching (TE) - teaching, other instructional duties, but excluded from the collective bargaining unit based on a reason in the following list of "TE" Exclusions.

All graduate assistants appointed as teaching assistants: 
1. Whose responsibilities are as Assistant Hall Directors (formally known as resident hall advisors);
2. Who supervise other graduate teaching assistants where the supervision involves intervention as needed and the taking of action

  • if a recitation section or class is off track and/or
  • when course information is not delivered to the students and/or
  • where it involves the evaluation of the performance of a teaching assistant on behalf of the faculty member of record

3. Whose responsibilities are as graders who do not have direct classroom and/or laboratory instructional responsibilities and/or personal contact in pre-scheduled and posted office hours;
4. Whose responsibilities are to advise or consult and who (a) do not have direct classroom and/or laboratory instructional responsibilities or (b) do not have office hours for purposes other than advising or consulting;
5. Whose responsibilities are to tutor and who are not employed primarily to assist students enrolled in a specific course;
6. Who are GAANN fellows or others on similar state or federal training grants;
7. Who teach courses offered by the MSU College of Law and who are paid by reimbursement funds from MSU-LAW.
Research (R) - all duties directly related to research or other research assistant duties as exemplified by the status quo appointment practices in use as of February 2, 2001. 

Graduate Assistants who hold more than one appointment, one coded as T and one coded as R, are included in the union for the T appointment and excluded from the union for the R appointment.

Levels are determined as follows: (In counting the number of semesters -- percent-time is not a factor, Summer Semesters count the same as Fall and Spring Semesters.) 
Level 1 requires that each of the following 3 criteria be met:
  • admitted MSU graduate student
  • bachelor's degree
  • less than two semester's experience as a graduate assistant or full-support fellow
Level 2 is required when each of the following 3 criteria is met:
  • admitted MSU graduate student
  • master's degree (a JD or LLB is equivalent to masters in determining level); OR 30 or more grad semester credits or equivalent; OR at least two semester's experience as a graduate assistant or full-support fellow
  • level 3 required criteria have not been met
Level 3 is required for Teaching (T) when each of the following 3 criteria is met:
  • admitted MSU graduate student
  • a master's degree or equivalent
  • The graduate assistant experience must be in the employing unit or in a department considered relevant by the chairperson or employing unit. The minimum number of semesters shall be four (4), five (5) or six (6) but in any case no greater than department's current practice as stipulated in 2004
Level 3 is required for Research (R) or Teaching (TE) assistants when each of the following 3 criteria are met:
  • admitted MSU graduate student
  • successful completion of doctoral comprehensive exams, as defined by the department in which the student is enrolled
  • 6 semesters as a graduate Research/Teaching (R/TE) assistant at MSU, or equivalent. The definition of equivalence is left to the discretion of the chairperson of the appointing unit, but it is expected that only experience in research-oriented assignments count toward the 6 semesters of experience as an RA
(Level 3 is not acceptable for Research (R) or Teaching (TE) unless all 3 criteria listed above are met.)
A student can be appointed at level 2 if they had a fully-funded fellowship the previous year. Please write the name of the fellowship on the Relevant Experience line of the form. (For example, "Fully-funded NSF fellowship 2004-5".) The following list of examples is not inclusive:
  • CDEF
  • Distinguished Fellowships
  • IGERT Fellowships
  • NSF
  • Pharmacology Fellowships
  • Plant Science Fellowships
If you are unsure of the grad level for an out-of-country degree, contact Admissions to qualify that degree from that country.
The student will be charged in-state tuition and fees for credits that are not covered by the graduate assistant tuition waiver.
Graduate assistantships for international students are generally for one-quarter-time or one-half time. However, international students can have a three-quarter time assistantship for Fall and/or Spring semesters if they have evidence of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization on their I-20 Form from the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) listing MSU as the employer. Note: International students can be appointed with a three-quarter time assistantship during the Summer semester without additional OISS authorization.
©