This Guide Memo summarizes the regulations regarding Graduate Student Assistantship appointments at Stanford University. Definition of the Graduate Student Assistantship is followed by the criteria for eligibility to hold an assistantship, a brief description of each type of assistantship, the rules governing Tuition Allowance, and other policy matters. For questions regarding this subject, please contact the Financial Aid Office.
Applies to the appointment of graduate students to Graduate Student Assistantships.
a. Graduate Student Assistantships are a form of student employment, earning a compensation package including both salary and tuition allowance (TAL) for the performance of research or teaching services to the University as part of the student's academic and professional training and development.
Distinctions from Assistantships:
b. The Graduate Financial Support (GFS) system is the online application used to enter all graduate student research and teaching assistantship appointments and fellowships. Although they are not matriculated Stanford graduate students, Postdoctoral Scholars' appointments also are entered in GFS. GFS also handles financial support for other non-matriculated graduate students, e.g., Visiting Student Researchers. Non-matriculated students are, however, in general not eligible for assistantships.
a. Matriculation at Stanford with an active authorization to enroll and an active graduate degree program, or, for Research Assistantships only, enrollment in non-matriculated graduate status as a Student of New Faculty. Coterminal students in both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree program are eligible for assistantships after completion of 12 quarters or, upon request, after completion of 180 units of undergraduate work.
All students holding assistantships must be enrolled in each quarter in which the assistantship appointment is held. For autumn, winter and spring quarters, unless the student is on TGR status, the student must be enrolled for 8-9-10 units. Except for Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) students, the GFS System will not allow payment of TAL unless the graduate student is enrolled full-time during autumn, winter and spring quarters. Exceptions to this enrollment requirement are allowed for Honor Co-op students, for students with disabilities, and for a childbirth accommodation.
The service performed (teaching or research) must be related to the student's academic program in order to qualify for the assistantship appointment.
Note: Entering and approving the assistantship appointment in Graduate Financial Support (GFS)/Worklist Manager constitutes a statement that the work involved is relevant to the student's academic program.
d. English proficiency for teaching assistantships
All international students must be approved for English proficiency before being appointed to any teaching position.
e. I-9 eligibility to work in the U.S.A.
By federal regulation, all individuals receiving salary through Payroll must demonstrate eligibility to work in the U.S.A. by filing Federal Form I-9. Departments must forward necessary paperwork to Payroll in advance of the student's first paycheck. For more information, see Student Specific Payroll Administration.
f. Social Security Number must be on file with Payroll.
In the case where no matriculated graduate student is available to fill a need for a Research or Teaching Assistantship, an undergraduate or non-matriculated person may be hired in the categories of Teaching Aide or Research Aide. These are hourly-paid positions, processed through the Human Resources Management System (HRMS), not the GFS system. Individuals appointed to these positions are never eligible for a Tuition Allowance. The appropriate department chair (or program director) and school dean's office should confirm that no matriculated graduate student is available before these alternative appointments are processed.
Graduate student teaching responsibilities are categorized into the following four appointment levels.
Stanford University establishes annually a minimum salary rate for each of these levels. (Mentor Teaching Affiliate and Graduate Teaching Affiliate positions have the same minimum salary.)
Note: No student may be appointed to any of the following positions for a course in which the student is simultaneously enrolled.
a. Course Assistant
Assists a faculty member who has primary responsibility for a course. Duties vary but do not include classroom teaching. Duties may include:
b. Teaching Assistant
Has significantly more independence than a Course Assistant. The Teaching Assistant works with a faculty member who has primary responsibility for a course, or assists a group of students in several courses. Duties vary and may include:
c. Graduate Teaching Affiliate
This teaching appointment is limited to graduate students who have had substantial teaching experience. The Graduate Teaching Affiliate will typically be identified as the Instructor in Stanford publications, and will have primary charge and responsibility for the course (with the mentorship of a faculty member). Responsibilities for the class typically include:
d. Mentor Teaching Assistant
This teaching appointment is limited to graduate students who have had substantial teaching experience. In addition to the responsibilities of a Teaching Assistant, this student:
The following research appointments are listed in ascending order of qualifications, responsibility, and compensation.
a. Research Assistant
Works on a research project under the supervision of a faculty member.
b. Predoctoral Research Affiliate
An advanced Ph.D. student in one of these appointment categories:
(1) Engineering and Natural Sciences
(2) Humanities and Social Sciences
a. Full-quarter Appointments
Assistantship appointments are made for a full quarter (3 months of either teaching or research work). Standard appointment periods are: October 1–December 31, January 1–March 31, April 1–June 30, and July 1–September 30. An alternate quarter schedule is available for students whose work begins before the start of a standard quarter. Students on an alternate schedule must remain on that schedule throughout the academic year.
b. Autumn, Winter and Spring Assistantship Appointments
(1) The minimum assistantship is 10% time. Percentage of appointments must be in increments of 5% time.
(2) 50% Maximum — The typical assistantship appointment is for a maximum of 50% time, to allow students to make expeditious progress toward their degree. Assistantships totaling more than 50% can impede that progress.
(3) An appointment of 40% may be combined with a 10% appointment to total 50%. Appointments of 45% are not allowed.
(4) Approval for Exceptions — Assistantships for more than 50% time during the academic year, two concurrent assistantships totaling more than 50% time, or enrollment in more than 10 units while holding a 50% appointment, require the prior approval of the student's advisor, the Department Chair, and School Dean's office.
c. Summer Assistantship Appointments
(1) Percentage of Time—In summer quarter, in addition to the standard 10-50% assistantships, appointments at 60-90% time are permitted (see section 5.d).
(2) Number of Units—In summer quarter, graduate students must be enrolled in at least one unit or TGR (Terminal Graduate Registration) to have any size assistantship appointment. Students with appointments totaling more than 50% will have their Tuition Allowance reduced proportionately (see TAL tables) in order to accommodate additional employment. (For example: A student's 70% appointment(s) earns the same TAL as a 30% appointment. Appointments of 90% provide TAL equal to the value of 1-3 units of tuition.) Students combining an assistantship with more than 8 hours of hourly employment during the summer should reduce their enrollment in proportion to their total Summer Quarter employment. Students registered TGR must enroll in the TGR course (801 or 802).
For additional information regarding TAL in Summer, see Section 7.d(4).
d. Assistantships Totaling More Than 50%
(1) Whether approved as an exception (5.b.4 above) or permitted as summer employment, the maximum combined assistantships for any student during any quarter is 90%. Appointments totaling more than 36 hours/week may not be processed in GFS, are not considered assistantships, and do not include a tuition allowance; they should instead be processed through HRMS.
(2) Whenever possible, graduate student assistantship appointments totaling more than 50% should be established as a single appointment, rather than a combination of smaller appointments. (This allows GFS to calculate the appropriate TAL; if entered separately, administrators must determine the appropriate TAL cost and split, and coordinate adjustments to GFS.)
e. Shortened Summer Assistantships
During Summer quarter, when many courses are shorter and the between-quarters period is longer than in Autumn/Winter/Spring quarters, a teaching or research assistantship may be offered for less than the full three-month period, but must be at least two months in duration. Summer assistantships must begin on the quarterly start-date (July 1, unless the student is on the alternate calendar), but the end date may be set at two months or later, rather than the full 3-month period. This should be done only in the Summer Quarter, and only where the research or teaching effort is significantly less than expected in a normal quarter-long appointment. In these cases, the student will earn the full tuition allowance and a specific salary per pay period (often, the department's standard semi-monthly salary). The student should be advised that the shorter work period will generate less total salary.
Stanford University establishes annually the minimum salary levels for Graduate Student Assistantships. No maximum salary level is specified by the University, although individual schools may do so. (The minimum salary rates for TAs, RAs, and the TAL Tables can be found at http://gfs.stanford.edu/tables.)
Source of Funding
a. Salary for RAs may be paid by an external/sponsored source of funds or school/ departmental funds.
b. Salary for TAs may be paid by a University budget allocation to the schools/departments or by school/departmental funds.
TAL represents a commitment to support a student's educational program through the payment of a portion of the student's tuition bill.
All eligibility requirements for assistantship appointments must be met. (See section 2.)
c. Source of Funding
The value of TAL for a 50% assistantship appointment is established as the tuition value for 8-10 units (8-9 units in the Law School, and 8 units in the MED MD program). The value of TAL for assistantship appointments of between 10% and 50% is a proportional amount defined by TAL Tables published each year.
Tuition charges and TAL are based on the student's home school tuition rate, regardless of the location of the assistantship. The school/department where the student holds the assistantship appointment is responsible for the salary, as well as the tuition based on the student's home school tuition rate.
The University requires that any outside tuition support to which students have access will be used to the full extent before TAL is claimed. Acceptance of a Stanford assistantship appointment obliges a student to inform the department of any other aid received.
The cost of the TAL is shared among Stanford University funds and school, department, and/or sponsored project funds supporting the assistantship.
(1) TAL Funding for Research Assistants
TAL for Research Assistants is divided and funded as follows:
(2) TAL Funding for Teaching Assistants
(3) Federal Work Study (FWS)
(4) TAL Funding for Military Personnel
Stanford Principal Investigators may use research project funding to pay the tuition for graduate students on military scholarships where the provision of their military support includes a prohibition of salary payment from Stanford in certain limited circumstances:
In the case where the student is working on a faculty member's research project and meets all eligibility requirements, the student may be appointed as an RA. The salary line may then be cancelled, leaving the remaining TAL payment in compensation for the work performed.
(5) Students Working in Schools Other Than Where They Are Enrolled
When graduate students are appointed as Teaching or Research Assistants in a school other than the one in which they are enrolled, the school in which the student works is responsible for paying the TAL at the student's home school tuition rate. In the case of Research Assistants, splitting tuition between the sponsored source and the University (either 60%/40% or 81%/19%) is controlled by the school paying the student.
(6) Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR), Terminal Medical Registration (TMR) and Medical School Research Rate (MSRR)
d. Amount of TAL
(1) Percent Time
The amount of TAL earned depends on the percentage of time of the graduate student assistantship appointment(s). See the Tuition Allowance Tables.
(2) Length of Assistantships
Appointments are made for a full quarter (see "Percentage and Period of Appointment," Section 5 of this document). Appointments will earn the designated amount of TAL for the full quarter in which the student is appointed.
(3) Multiple Assistantships
Students may hold multiple assistantship appointments, including both RA and TA appointments, simultaneously. At most, the 8-10 unit TAL value may be earned when combining multiple assistantships.
(4) Summer Appointments
e. Use of TAL
(1) TAL can be used only in the quarter in which it was generated by an appointment.
(2) TAL may be used only as a credit against tuition charges. It is:
To preserve the focus on the student's academic progress, Stanford University formally limits the number of hours a student may be employed while also holding an assistantship appointment. Graduate students are expected to coordinate additional hourly employment with the assistantship appointment, and with their academic obligations, including course load, number of registered units, and the academic expectations of their program. Academic departments/programs, offices employing students, and funding sources may also impose employment limitations. Graduate student hourly employment is described in Administrative Guide Memo 10.2.2: Graduate Student Hourly Employment.
During break periods between quarters--the period between the last day of final examinations and the first day of classes the subsequent quarter--graduate students may be employed full time. Thanksgiving recess is not a break between quarters. Note: The quarter period is different from the assistantship pay periods, as the standard "start" and "stop" dates for assistantships are intended to pay the student continuously including break periods between quarters.
a. Limit on Hours for U.S. Students
During Autumn, Winter and Spring quarters, students on 50% time assistantships may not be employed more than an additional eight hours a week inside Stanford and/or outside of Stanford; those eight hours cannot be in other assistantship positions. During Summer quarter, enrolled graduate students are limited to 36 hours of student employment, combining hourly employment and assistantship appointments.
b. Limit on Hours for International students
International students on F-1 or J-1 visas are subject to both University policies on employment and visa requirements that limit employment; in all cases, the more restrictive limitation will apply. International students are eligible for on-campus employment if they are maintaining their F-1 or J-1 status. During the academic year (Autumn, Winter and Spring quarters), students on F-1 or J-1 visas are limited to a total of 20 hours of employment per week (except the break periods between quarters), including both hourly jobs and assistantship appointments), and including any off-campus employment that they may have been authorized to perform. For further information regarding regulations for students with F-1 and J-1 visas, contact Bechtel International Center.
a. Cancellation as of the Start Date of the Assistantship
If an appointment is cancelled on or before the start date of the assistantship:
(1) No salary is paid.
(2) No Tuition Allowance is provided.
(3) If Tuition Allowance has been applied to the student's bill, it will be withdrawn.
(4) The student is responsible for any tuition charges for the quarter.
b. Cancellation of Appointment During the Quarter of the Assistantship
(1) If the school or department terminates the assistantship for any reason during the quarter, other than for cause, salary will end but the student will receive the full quarter TAL. This includes circumstances where sponsored funding for an assistantship ends.
(2) If a graduate student voluntarily terminates an assistantship appointment or is removed for cause during the quarter, salary ends and TAL is withdrawn for the quarter.
(3) Salary ends and TAL will be applied as needed to pay the student's bill for the quarter when an assistantship appointment is terminated because a student has:
a. Salaries and Tuition Allowance
b. Exemption from FICA and VDI Taxes
Enrollment and regular attendance in courses or fulfillment of other requirements associated with a degree program are required for all students in each quarter of their appointment(s), including summer, in order to qualify for exemption from FICA (Social Security) and VDI (Voluntary Disability Insurance) taxes.
The graduate appointments described in this Guide Memo are designed for and available only to Stanford students.
a. Time Off
Assistantship appointments do not accrue vacation leave.
Students with research or teaching assistantship appointments will receive a lump sum of 24 hours of paid sick time per calendar year, which is available for use during any period of assistantship appointment during the year. Sick time does not carry over from one calendar year to the next.
Arrangements for any variations in work hours, including time off for vacation, jury duty, illness, or related use of sick time should be made individually with the faculty sponsor. To the extent possible, students are encouraged to make arrangements outside of their working hours and faculty sponsors are encouraged to offer flexibility in work hours.
Regular semi-monthly salary is paid during periods when sick time is used. When sick time is used, the student notifies Payroll via Help Ticket. Sick time accrued for an assistantship appointment is paid only when used to replace work hours during the course of employment as a research or teaching assistant. Otherwise, sick balances are not paid out. Graduate students who have student hourly employment, either concurrently or at different times of the year, will see a separate accounting of sick time accrued for the student hourly employment (see Administrative Guide Memo 10.3.1: Sick Time for Student Hourly Employees).
Students with research or teaching assistantship appointments may use sick time for themselves or a family member: for absences due to illness; for preventive care or diagnoses, care, or treatment of an existing health condition; or for purposes related to domestic violence, sexual assaults, or stalking.
b. Health Insurance
Eligibility for a health insurance benefit is determined quarterly on the basis of assistantship and fellowship appointments approved as of the payroll deadline of each quarter. Graduate students are eligible for a health insurance subsidy as long as they do not waive Cardinal Care insurance or have their insurance paid fully by an outside source of funds. The Health Insurance subsidy will be paid as follows: