The base salary for a 50% position (20 hrs. a week) for AY23/24 is $12,567 per semester. Some departments may pay above this rate based on availability of funds. Please check with your home department regarding exact salary.

Graduate Student Appointment Definitions:

Graduate Assistants - The term graduate assistant is used generically to cover all 4 types of graduate assistants: general graduate assistants, teaching assistants, graduate part-time instructors and research assistants.

Graduate Assistant (GA) - Graduate students who have assignments within the department but are not directly involved in instruction; these appointments are often administrative in nature.

Teaching Assistant (TA) - Graduate students who supervise and lead quiz sections, discussion sections, recitations or laboratory sections, serve as class assistants, or perform comparable activities. Each TA must be under the guidance of a particular professor(s) designated by the department chair or his/her delegate. TAs are not placed in overall charge of courses.

Graduate Part-Time Instructor (GPTI) - Graduate students who must have master's degree or equivalent, and have demonstrated competence in classroom teaching. GPTIs generally are given full responsibility for an undergraduate class and designated as the instructor of record. Their activities may include preparing the course syllabus, instructing their class, holding office hours, determining of grades, etc.

Research Assistant (RA) - Graduate students assisting with and performing research, writing up results of experiments, presenting findings at conferences, etc.

Information for students appointed as TAs, GAs, RAs, and GPTIs:

  • Graduate student appointees must be enrolled at CU Boulder as full-time, degree seeking graduate students each semester, with no grade of “incomplete” in any course (with the exception of thesis or dissertation hours), and with at least a B (3.0) grade point average. In many cases, if a student is enrolled for less than 3 credit hours they may be subject to mandatory student retirement deductions.
  • A student enrolled in a professional program is not eligible to hold an appointment, unless they are also enrolled in a traditional graduate degree program.
  • Full-time status information may be found on the Enrollment Verification Grid.
  • The Academic Year (AY) begins with the first day of fall classes and ends with spring commencement. View current and future dates on the Academic Calendar
  • Appointees are paid on a monthly basis, on the last working day of each month. Students who are on academic year appointments will receive the first paycheck on the last working day in August and the last paycheck on the last working day of May. Both August and May paychecks are approximately ½ month’s salary. Students employed for fall semester receive the first paycheck on the last working day of August and the last paycheck on the last working day of December. Students employed for the spring semester receive the first paycheck on the last working day of January and the last paycheck on the last working day of May. 
  • All students on graduate student assistant appointments of 20% or greater will receive full coverage of mandatory student fees. Exact amount of fees are determined by enrollment level and graduate status.
  • The percentage of appointment must be equated to the number of hours the graduate student is expected to work. For example, a student who is appointed for 50% time cannot be expected to work more than 20 hours per week. If assigned as a TA, these 20 hours must include all duties necessary for the completion of the student's teaching assignment, i.e., office hours, in-class time, grading, and preparation time.
  • Graduate students may not work over 50% time (20 hrs. /week) during the academic year. In limited cases, students may request to work over the 50% limit with their advisor's approval.
  • A department may require RAs to work during semester breaks. However, the department should notify the student as part of the terms of appointment if it intends to do so.
  • Graduate student appointees are ineligible for paid vacation leave. A student may make personal arrangements with the department for such leave without pay if needed. Appointees receive all legal university holidays as paid leave as well as sick leave and/or FAMLI leave.
  • All students on graduate student assistant appointments of 20% or greater who enroll in the student health insurance program receive a subsidy of approximately 90% of the cost of the insurance which is automatically applied to the student's account. In addition, dental insurance is provided at no cost to the student. Graduate Assistants are responsible for paying the remainder of the cost of student health insurance.
  • Graduate students on qualifying appointments may be eligible for paid parental leave and/or FAMLI leave.
  • All students on graduate appointments of at least 15% who work a minimum of 12 weeks in a semester receive tuition coverage as part of their compensation package. The amount of tuition coverage* will be calculated based on the percent time of the appointment:

Hours Employed per Week

Tuition Coverage 

Appointment Percentage


3 credit hours



4 credit hours



5 credit hours



6 credit hours



7 credit hours



8 credit hours



9-18 credit hours


Conflict Resolution

Whenever possible, graduate students and faculty in graduate programs should seek informal resolution of appointment conflicts. A list of campus resources that may be helpful in identifying and achieving resolutions can be found on the Graduate School website.

 If a student has concerns about appointment duties, time commitment, compensation, etc., these should first be addressed to the employment supervisor. If that is not feasible, or the graduate student is unsatisfied with the outcome they should speak to the employing department’s Director of Graduate Studies (also commonly referred to as the Associate Chair). Graduate director’s responsibilities include ensuring fair and equitable treatment of graduate students and adjudicating any inconsistences between the employment contract (e.g., employment offer letter) and actual scope of work. The graduate director will advocate on behalf of the student with the employment supervisor or other faculty if appropriate.

 After working with the graduate director, if the student still feels that they have not obtained a successful resolution they may contact the Graduate School at to discuss further options. 

 If the issue is not resolved through informal avenues, a student may choose to file a formal grievance with their employing program. If the student is dissatisfied with the program level grievance decision, then the student may subsequently submit a formal grievance to the Graduate School.

Information for students appointed as Pre-Doc Trainees/Fellows

Pre-Doc Trainee (Fellowship) - Graduate students on training grants or fellowships– no service to the university is expected. Payment allows for student to continue their own scholarly and research pursuits. There is no employer/employee relationship between the university and students on these appointments.

There are many types of fellowships/pre-doc trainees, so always check with the funding agency regarding your particular situation. 

  • These appointments are not eligible for tuition and fee remission; however, in most cases these expenses are already covered by the fellowship and/or university. If you are on a national fellowship that provides a monthly stipend and tuition and fees are not already being covered in some manner, please email

  • There is no expectation of services (job duties) to the University that the person must perform in exchange for the payment. The University is acting as an educational or training advisor (not a personnel supervisor) providing guidance or educational oversight to an individual performing an activity.

  • These appointments do not receive the summer bus pass free of charge as that is considered an employment benefit.

  • These appointments receive payroll stipends rather than a salary. A payroll stipend is any amount paid to an individual to defray expenses, typically educational or in the pursuit of study or research. Payroll stipends are not subject to withholdings (i.e. FICA and Medicare taxes).

  • A select number of full-ride, multi-year fellowships are eligible for coverage under the dental insurance plan. Questions concerning eligibility may be directed to

Tax Information for Scholarships and Fellowships/Traineeships

The following general information is offered as a resource and should not be considered tax advice. Your individual situation may not be covered by this information.

The general rule is that any income is subject to federal taxation, but scholarships and fellowships are excluded from taxation when the award is a qualified scholarship given to the degree-seeking recipient for the purpose of studying or conducting research at an educational institution.

Qualified scholarships and fellowships are defined to include tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance at the educational institution and fees, books, supplies, or equipment required for courses of instruction at the institution. Expenses that are NOT tax exempt include room and board, travel, research costs, and equipment and supplies not required for enrollment. For tax purposes you must keep copies of all award notices and announcements. For items you wish to deduct you must have receipts.

In general, students bear the tax burden; federal government agencies require students to determine taxation of scholarships and fellowships when filing annual income tax returns. The University of Colorado does not issue 1099 forms to scholarship holders.

Taxable Income

Besides direct payment funds of tuition, fees, and benefits, all income is subject to taxation and must be reported on federal and Colorado state tax forms, as well as any other forms according to your individual situation. This includes stipends, debit funds, and any other funding you receive from the university that isn’t considered a qualified scholarship.


For stipends and other funds not tied to employment (e.g., stipends received as part of a fellowship or other funding package), the university does not report the stipend on a federal or state form and does not withhold any taxes. This does NOT relieve the recipient from the obligation of reporting these amounts on his/her individual income tax returns and paying the tax liability on the taxable portion of the stipend.