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, 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 the instructor of record.  The 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.

Fellowship/Pre-Doc Trainee Appointments

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.

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

  • Graduate student appointees must be enrolled 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 enrolled in a dual-degree program with a traditional 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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

6

3 credit hours

15%

8

4 credit hours

20%

10

5 credit hours

25%

12

6 credit hours

30%

14

7 credit hours

35%

16

8 credit hours

40%

18-20

9-18 credit hours

45-50%

  • All domestic non-resident graduate students (including permanent residents) must obtain Colorado in-state tuition classification prior to the start of their second year of employment as a graduate student.  Instructions on how to apply for residency can be found on the Registrar’s website.  Failure to do so will result in ineligibility for tuition coverage, starting with the following semester.
  • Courses taken through Continuing Education, Extended Studies or Outreach programs do not qualify for tuition coverage.
  • Courses taken for no credit are not eligible for tuition remission.
  • Withdrawal from a course after the add/drop deadline will result in loss of tuition coverage for that course.
  • Fee Waiver and Salary Increase 2022 FAQ 
    All students employed as Graduate Assistants, Teaching Assistants, Research Assistants, or Graduate Part-Time Instructors, who work at least 12 weeks during a semester at 20% time or greater.
    All mandatory student fees that are paid by all traditional degree-seeking graduate students. Exact fees are determined by enrollment level and grad status. See the full list here: https://www.colorado.edu/bursar/costs/mandatory-student-fees
    The one-time new student fee, the immigration compliance fee, the Law Graduate Fee, Law Student SVCS/Activity Fee, and any voluntary fees are not covered.
    The campus will be covering the cost of fees for all general-funded positions. Starting with Fall 2022 any positions funded by gift or auxiliary funds will be expected to cover fees from those sources. For all RAs supported by fund 30 or fund 12s the campus will cover the cost of fees until Fall 2023 term and then will be covered by the funding source.
    The mandatory fees that are associated with your enrollment level and grad status will be covered. If you choose to add on fees, those are considered voluntary and will not be covered.

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 graduate.school@colorado.edu  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

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 graduate.fundadmin@colorado.edu

  • 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 vs. 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 graduate.fundadmin@colorado.edu.

  • Taxes on the stipend are not withheld by the university (except for International students) but may be considered taxable income. You will not receive any tax documentation from the university. It may be helpful to consult the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Tax Topic 421: Scholarship and Fellowship Grants and Publication 970: Tax Benefits for Education. These are available at http://www.irs.gov. Specific questions regarding the taxation of Fellowship funding and personal tax liability should be referred to the IRS.