Skip to Main Content

Policy Title: Graduate Assistantships

Boise State University Policy #7170
Effective Date: July 1, 1978
Rev: October, 2014
September 1, 2009
March 4, 1996

Purpose:
To establish the guiding principles, basic terms, and administrative authority for graduate assistantships.

Additional Authority:
BSU Policy 4200, Procedures and Guidelines for Approval of Special Course and Program Fees
BSU Policy 7000, Position Definitions
CFR, Title 8, Aliens and Nationality, 214.2(f) Students in colleges, universities, …
IRS 3121(b)(10) Student FICA Exception
ISBOE II.D.2.d.ii Student Employees
ISBOE II.F.1.b Employment Contracts
ISBOE III.P.7 Full-Time Students
ISBOE III.P.11 Student Employees
ISBOE III.P.16 Student Health Insurance
ISBOE V.T Fee Waivers
NCAA Bylaws, Article 11, Conduct and Employment of Athletics Personnel

Scope:
This policy applies to all graduate assistantships.

Responsible Party:
Dean of the Graduate College, 208-426-3647

Definitions:
Appointment – Appointment of a student to a graduate assistantship is the process by which a student is offered and accepts a graduate assistantship.

Exempt Employee – An employee who meets Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements to be exempt from overtime pay and occupies an executive, administrative, or professional position, as defined under the FLSA. Non-instructional exempt employees are compensated at a minimum salary which meets the requirements set under Idaho Code, and the FLSA. These position categories generally define an exempt employee as one who customarily and regularly exercises discretion and independent judgment in the performance of his/her duties.

Full-Time Graduate Student – A graduate student is a full-time graduate student in a given semester or session if and only if the student is registered for 9 or more credits in that semester or session.

Graduate Degree Program – A graduate degree program is an academic program that results in the award of a master’s, education specialist, or doctoral degree upon successful completion.

Intent to Enroll – Intent to enroll refers to the subsequent semester enrollment status of a student employee during the summer session or interim. A student employee is said to demonstrate “intent to enroll” during the summer session if the student is registered for the subsequent fall semester, and to demonstrate “intent to enroll” during the interim if the student is registered for the subsequent spring semester. New students demonstrate “intent to enroll” during the summer or interim if they are admitted to a degree program to start in the subsequent semester.

Interim – The interim is the period between fall and spring semesters.

International Graduate Student – An international graduate student is a graduate student who holds an F1 or J1 student visa.

Non-Exempt Employee – An employee who does not meet the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements to be exempt from overtime pay and who is paid for all overtime hours worked in any work week. An employee who has been delegated support staff and/or operational functions, such as routine clerical duties, maintenance work, and other duties which are performed under the general supervision of others, and may not require special training, experience or knowledge.

Semester or Session – Semester or session refers to any of the three basic academic intervals defined by the university: fall semester, spring semester, or summer session.

Stipend – A stipend is the total taxable compensation that a graduate assistant is to receive from the university over the contract period of a graduate assistantship. The stipend payment method depends on the exempt or non-exempt classification of the graduate assistantship. Payment of tuition and fees and/or waiver of tuition and fees are not included in the stipend.

Student Account – A student account is the university billing statement assigned to a student and maintained by student financial services.

Termination Date – If a graduate assistantship is terminated prior to the last day of the contract period, the termination date is the last day that the terms of the graduate assistantship are in effect.


Policy

  • I. Policy Statement
  • Graduate assistantships support the university in its teaching, research, and service missions, help establish a graduate culture within academic units, and provide financial assistance and enhanced educational and developmental opportunities for graduate students. This policy explains the guiding principles, states the basic terms, and establishes the administrative authority for all graduate assistantships.
  • II. Guiding Principles
    • A. Description: A graduate assistantship provides financial assistance to a degree-seeking graduate student through a mentored university employment experience. The general nature of a graduate assistantship is best described as an apprenticeship that consists of a work obligation and educational and developmental activities, all of which are integrated with the graduate degree program of the student.
      B. Guidance: Every graduate assistant must be under the guidance of a supervisor and an advisor.
      • 1. The supervisor is an employee of the university with responsibility for assignment, direction, and evaluation of the work for which the graduate assistant receives compensation.
      • 2. The advisor is a member of the graduate faculty with responsibility for advising the student on academic matters.
      • 3. The primary mentors for the graduate assistant are the supervisor and the advisor. Under the mentoring of the supervisor and advisor, a graduate assistant gains experience and learns scholarly, professional, and ethical behaviors appropriate to a field of study.
      • 4. The supervisor and advisor may be different people or the same person. If the supervisor and advisor are different people, it is essential that they work together to provide consistent guidance to the graduate assistant.
    • C. Total Effort: The total effort of a graduate assistant consists of a work obligation and educational and developmental activities.
      • 1. Work Obligation: The work obligation is work for the university that is assigned by the supervisor and for which the graduate assistant receives compensation in the form of a stipend. The work done by the graduate assistant under the work obligation may be any combination of teaching, research, and service duties; this combination of duties may vary over the contract period.
      • 2. Educational and Developmental Activities: Educational and developmental activities are non-compensated activities in which the graduate assistant participates to meet degree requirements or enhance knowledge, skills, and scholarly or professional preparation. Such activities involve any form of course work, learning, study, instruction, training, research, creation, scholarship, or professional practice, are integrated with the graduate degree program of the student, may vary from graduate assistant to graduate assistant in a given program, and may or may not earn academic credit.
      • 3. Limits: The university places limits on the number of hours assigned by the supervisor to the graduate assistant to satisfy the work obligation (see section III.E). The university places no limits on the time spent by the graduate assistant on educational and developmental activities. The supervisor and advisor must ensure that the combined demands of the work obligation and the educational and developmental activities are reasonable and do not impede progress by the student toward the degree.
  • III. Basic Terms of an Appointment to a Graduate Assistantship
    • A. Contract Period: Each contract period of a graduate assistantship must include at least one full semester or session but cannot exceed 12 months in duration. (See section III.K for multi-year graduate assistantship offers.)
    • B. Admission: A graduate assistant must be admitted to a graduate degree program prior to the start of the contract period and must remain in an admitted status to a graduate degree program during the contract period.
    • C. Funding Source(s): The source or sources used to fund a graduate assistantship must be under the control of the university and judged by the university to be appropriate for assistantship support.
    • D. Budgeted Components: The budgeted components of a graduate assistantship must include a stipend, payment of tuition and fees, and fringe costs.
      • 1. Stipend: The stipend provides the total taxable compensation to the graduate assistant for the work assigned by the supervisor and must meet or exceed minimum stipend requirements set by the university. If the graduate assistantship is classified by the university as exempt, then the stipend is paid in uniform biweekly payments. If the graduate assistantship is classified by the university as non-exempt, then the stipend is paid through hourly reporting to the university time and labor system.
      • 2. Payment of Tuition and Fees: The payment of tuition and fees is a scholarship that completely offsets all of the following costs charged to the student account during the contract period of the assistantship:
        • a. Resident tuition and fees
        • b. Special course and program fees authorized under BSU policy 4200
        • c. Student health insurance fee
        • d. Tuition and fees for self-support courses if allowed by the funding source(s) as described in section III.C
          If the graduate assistant is classified by the university as a non-resident of Idaho, the total amount of all non-resident tuition and fees is waived by the university as a scholarship.
      • 3. Fringe Costs: A graduate assistant is not a benefit-eligible employee. Fringe costs for a graduate assistantship are therefore the non-benefit-eligible fringe costs for student employees as determined by the university.
    • E. Maximum Average Weekly Time Commitment: The number of standard hours assigned by the supervisor as the work obligation of the graduate assistant cannot exceed a maximum set by the university as follows:
      • 1. Fall or spring semester: 20 hours per week on average (except for spring break)
      • 2. Spring break and interim: 40 hours per week on average
      • 3. Summer session: 40 hours per week on average
    • F. Registration: A graduate assistant is required to register for enough credit during the contract period to ensure satisfactory degree progress and meet applicable state and federal regulations as interpreted by the university.
      • 1. Fall or Spring Semester: The following registration requirements apply to any fall or spring semester that is included completely or partially in the contract period of the graduate assistantship.
        • a. International Graduate Student: A graduate assistant who is also an international graduate student must register as a full-time graduate student (at least nine (9) credits), regardless of the funding source(s) supporting the graduate assistantship, unless authorized to be less than full time by International Student Services. If the graduate assistantship is partially or completely funded by state appropriations, full-time tuition and fees are charged to the student account regardless of the number of registered credits (by policy of the Idaho State Board of Education).
        • b. Not an International Graduate Student: A graduate assistant who is not an international graduate student must register for at least five (5) credits, except that a graduate assistant who will complete all degree requirements by the end of the semester need only register for the credits required to graduate (but not fewer than 1 credit). If the graduate assistantship is partially or completely funded by state appropriations, full-time tuition and fees are charged to the student account regardless of the number of registered credits (by policy of the Idaho State Board of Education).
      • 2. Summer Session and Interim: The following registration requirements apply to any summer session or interim that is included at least partially in the contract period of the graduate assistantship.
        • a. Meets Intent to Enroll Criteria: A graduate assistant who meets intent to enroll criteria is not required to register unless compelled to do so by a requirement set by their graduate degree program or by an applicable regulation of the university.
        • b. Does Not Meet Intent to Enroll Criteria: If a graduate student does not meet the intent to enroll criteria, the following stipulations apply:
          • 1) International Graduate Student: If the graduate assistant is an international graduate student, the registration requirement is prescribed by International Student Services.
          • 2) Not an International Graduate Student: A graduate assistant who is not an international graduate student must register for at least 5 credits, except that a graduate assistant who will complete all degree requirements by the end of the session or interim need only register for the credits required to graduate (but not fewer than 1 credit).
      • 3. Composition of Credits: Registration requirements can be met by any combination of undergraduate and/or graduate courses that are offered by the university, subject to the following provisions:
        • a. The courses are approved for the graduate assistant by the supervisor and advisor.
        • b. The courses are not subject to restrictions imposed by the university or state or federal regulations that preclude enrollment by the graduate assistant.
      • 4. Registration Compliance: The Graduate College monitors and reviews the registration of graduate assistants for compliance with registration requirements, and has the authority to grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
    • G. Student Health Insurance: Every graduate assistant must be covered by the university student health insurance plan throughout the contract period, unless the assistant opts out of the plan by presenting evidence for equivalent health insurance coverage using procedures specified by the university. A graduate assistant with equivalent health insurance coverage is not required to opt out of the university student health insurance plan.
    • H. Worker’s Compensation: Every graduate assistant must be covered by appropriate insurance for work-related illness or injury in accordance with university procedures.
    • I. Other Employment: A graduate assistant cannot work for the university under any compensable arrangement other than the graduate assistantship during the contract period.
    • J. Reappointment: A student who has successfully completed a graduate assistantship may be appointed to a new graduate assistantship at the sole discretion of the university.
    • K. Multiple-Year Offers: Although a contract period for a graduate assistantship cannot exceed 12 months, a multiple-year graduate assistantship offer can be made to a prospective student with the understanding that the assistantship contract can be renewed annually pending satisfactory performance, adequate degree progress, and the availability of funding.
    • L. Termination of a Graduate Assistantship:
      • 1. Automatic Termination: A graduate assistantship is automatically terminated by the university in any of the following circumstances: the graduate assistant completes the degree, the graduate assistant voluntarily withdraws or is administratively withdrawn from the degree program, or the graduate assistant resigns the graduate assistantship.
      • 2. Termination for Cause: A graduate assistantship can be terminated by the university at any time for cause such as unsatisfactory performance of the work obligation, unsatisfactory academic performance, unsatisfactory degree progress, violation of the student code of conduct, or any other cause of similar magnitude as determined by the Dean of the Graduate College. A graduate assistant has the right to appeal termination for cause using procedures established by the university.
      • 3. Effect of Termination on Stipend and Tuition and Fee Payments: The stipend is paid through the termination date. Payments and waivers of tuition and fees made through the termination date remain credited to the student account.
  • IV. Administrative Authority
    • A. Basic Terms and General Management Procedures
      • 1. Basic Terms: The Graduate College and Division of Finance and Administration have the authority to establish and modify the basic terms for graduate assistantships, including the authority to create different categories of graduate assistantships that provide greater diversity in the definition of basic terms (such as half-time graduate assistantships). All such actions by the Graduate College and Division of Finance and Administration are subject to review and approval by the Graduate Council.
      • 2. General Management Procedures: The Graduate College and the Division of Finance and Administration have the authority to develop and maintain general management procedures for graduate assistantships, such as but not limited to general appointment procedures, payment of stipends and tuition and fees, performance evaluation and termination, and appeal of terminations for cause.
    • B. Local Terms and Management Procedures
      • 1. Local Considerations: An academic or administrative unit of the university with budgetary and management responsibility for one or more graduate assistantships has the authority to develop local terms and management procedures for these graduate assistantships only.
      • 2. Consistency: Local terms and management procedures must be consistent with the guiding principles, basic terms, and general management procedures that apply to all graduate assistantships. Consistency is judged by the Graduate College in consultation with the Division of Finance and Administration and the Graduate Council as appropriate.
    • C. Exceptions for a Graduate Assistantship Awarded to a Specific Student
    • The Graduate College, in consultation with the Division of Finance and Administration and the Graduate Council as appropriate, has the authority to evaluate and respond to requests for exceptions to one or more elements of this policy for a graduate assistantship that is awarded to a specific student.