Graduate Assistantship Policy
Proposed Graduate Assistantship Policy and Procedures
ECS/UAS Approved May, 2007
The Graduate Assistantship (GA) Policy and Procedures distinguishes Graduate level policies and procedures from those that currently govern Undergraduate Assistantships (section 1.07).
Graduate Assistantships serve a dual purpose: (1) they provide graduate students with part-time, paid work experiences in their field of study, and allow them to expand and/or apply their discipline knowledge and skills under supervision; and (2) they provide GVSU faculty and/or university staff assistance in carrying out special projects or other assignments that require the advanced discipline skills of graduate students, and where appropriate, serve in an instructional role under the supervision of a regular faculty member.The activities assigned are to have educational value for the graduate student and are not to be used in lieu of hiring student employees for clerical and office support.
Grand Valley is committed to an open, well-advertised process of announcing positions and hiring graduate assistants. Each department with approved GA positions will publicize them, and ensure that qualified applicants for these positions are offered an opportunity to apply. Available Graduate Assistantships should be advertised in recruitment materials, on the web site of the department offering the GA, and on the Student Employment electronic job board (hyperlink to webpage). In addition, the Graduate Studies Office will either post or provide a web-link for every Graduate Assistantship.
In recognition that many GAs are used to recruit students to specific graduate programs, and that many students may not have ready access to the web site, departments may use positions to recruit students to their own graduate program, without posting to the wider student community. However, special positions funded through grants or from other sources that arise during the academic year should be fully advertised as noted above.
To qualify for a Graduate Assistantship at GVSU, the student must:
- Be fully admitted as a degree-seeking student in a Grand Valley graduate program at the time of appointment,
- Be in good academic standing (3.0 GPA or better),
- Successfully maintain a minimum course load of 9 graduate credit hours per semester for a full-time Graduate Assistantship (up to 24 credits per year, see section C.2), OR
- Carry a minimum course load of 5 graduate credit hours per semester for a half-time GA (see section C.3).
- The unit offering the GA must have a written position description, approved by the Academic Dean of the College or the Appointing Officer of non-academic units, and by the Graduate Dean. The position description outlines the educational and/or research activities to be carried out by the graduate assistant. The position description must be approved before issuance of an appointment letter. Approved positions will be assigned a unique identifier number, which can be used in future offers of the same position.
A typical full-time GA includes the following responsibilities and benefits during the appointment:
- a. A 20-hour per week work assignment for 15 weeks per semester, corresponding to the beginning and ending dates for a semester as published in the university schedule of classes and Bulletin
b. Support from GVSU which includes:
- A minimum stipend as specified on the GA appointment form
- Tuition credit for up to 24 graduate credits per fiscal year, unless the student is eligible for reimbursement of tuition from another source.
A typical half-time GA includes the following responsibilities and benefits during the appointment
- A 10-hour per week work assignment for 15 weeks per semester
Support from GVSU which includes:
- A minimum stipend as specified on the GA appointment form
Tuition credit for up to 12 graduate credits per fiscal year, unless the student is eligible for reimbursement of tuition from another source.
- Appointments may vary from above levels (C2, C3). For example, prorating stipends or tuition for longer or shorter appointments may be appropriate during Spring/Summer. All prorated appointments require prior approval of the Graduate Dean.
- If the student fails to maintain GPA eligibility or carry out the assigned work in a satisfactory manner in a multi-semester GA, he or she may forfeit continuation of an GA position for future semesters, thereby forfeiting both stipend and tuition grant.
- If a student drops below the minimum hours required for the GA or withdraws from the program, he/she may forfeit the tuition grant and may not be able to continue work for that semester. Students that are dismissed from the University for any reason will forfeit the tuition grant and stipend.
- Departments should notify GSGA when a student leaves the degree program. GSGA will then notify Student Employment to stop the stipend, and Financial Aid to prorate the tuition to the last date of employment. Student is responsible for paying any remaining tuition
- Graduate Assistant appointments may not exceed 20 hours per week.
Any deviation from these terms requires prior approval by the Graduate Dean.
D. Assistantship Procedures:
The Appointing Dean will forward all of the required information to the Graduate Dean on a current Graduate Assistantship Appointment Form. All Graduate Assistantship procedures and forms are available at the Graduate Studies webpage (hyperlink to webpage). The Graduate Dean is charged with administering Graduate Assistantship policies and procedures, and has final authority to approve Graduate Assistantship appointments.
The following information shall be forwarded to the Graduate Dean on a Graduate Assistantship Appointment Form (available on-line at www.gvsu.edu/gsga).
- Student Name
- Student G-number
- Student Degree Program/Admission Status/Date of Admission (to be checked prior to offering assistantship to student).
- Student Address
- Student Phone Number
- Student E-mail address
- Brief description of assignment (may attach the approved detailed position description, too, not instead of)
- Name, department name and address, phone number and e-mail of faculty/staff member who will supervise the assistantship
- Terms of the appointment:
- Semester(s) and year. The timeframe for the assistantship should be consistent with the assistantship policy.
- Full Assistantship or Half Assistantship
- Stipend Amount: A minimum stipend for full-time or half- appointments will be awarded as specified on the GA appointment form. Assistantship stipends should be pro-rated for any appointment that differs from the 15-week per semester.
- Minimum Enrollment, Work hours or Approved Alternative
- FOAP to which the stipend amount is to be charged (should correspond to position number) and FOAP department
- FOAP (account code) for Tuition if not base-funded or grant list-funded, Indicate whether the student is eligible for a tuition grant from some other source.
- Signatures from Department Chair/Division Director; and/or Dean of the College and Student’s signature on second page. Submit to Graduate Dean after obtaining all signatures.
Award Approval Procedures
- The Graduate Dean will review each Appointment Form for completeness. Thus, the Graduate Office will determine whether the student is an admitted graduate student or qualifies for admission, is enrolled in the minimum number of hours, and whether the appointment complies with the authorized terms (start and end dates, stipend levels, fully completed form, and appropriate tuition support levels and so on). If the Appointment Form is approved, it will be signed and authenticated.
After approval, GSGA will distribute copies of the Appointment Forms as follows:
- Financial Aid Office
- Student Employment Office (Student and hiring Department are responsible for submitting payroll forms, including W-4, I-9, bank deposit forms, etc.)
- Supervisor and/or Department Contacts. Also responsible for issuing a copy to their GA.
- Dean of Graduate Studies and Grants Administration
E. International GA Appointments:
Offers of GAs to international students must be coordinated with the Director of International Student and Scholar Services, in the Padnos International Center. The Padnos International Center will advise international students with Graduate Assistantship appointments on employment issues related to visa status.
F. Appeals and Exceptions to the policy:
The appointing officer shall submit in writing any appeals to request exceptions to any terms of the Graduate Assistantship Policy to the Graduate Dean.
G. Grant-Funded or Other (non-base funded) Graduate Assistantships:
Grant-funded and other non-base funded GAs must follow the prevailing procedures, as detailed on the Graduate Studies webpage (hyperlink webpage), and must provide support for both stipend and tuition. When Graduate Assistantship positions are to be funded by a grant, the grant writer/Principal Investigator (PI) should make every effort to obtain funding for the tuition grant from the funding source as well as for the stipend for any GA. If the grant source does not or will not provide tuition support, the PI must request approval at the time of grant submission for the tuition to be paid by GVSU and count that tuition support as a cash match in the grant budget. Requests will be made to the Graduate Dean for tuition match on each separate grand and GA position, as applicable.
H. Graduate Assistantships Assigned to Assist Faculty in Instructional Duties:
Graduate Assistants assigned to assist faculty in an instructional role are those graduate students who are involved in supervised instruction in a variety of educational settings. Supervised instruction means that the graduate student works under the direct supervision of a tenure track faculty member. Qualified GAs perform instructional duties in an area of their particular expertise, most often within their home department. In rare cases, a graduate student may possess qualifications that make them uniquely qualified for a particular instructional role. For example, an attorney holding a JD degree may decide to work toward an MBA. Because they hold a JD, the graduate student may be highly qualified to teach a business law course. In these unique circumstances, a department may petition the Graduate Dean to permit a GA to formally teach a course.
GVSU, the Graduate Studies Office, and departments appointing Graduate Assistants are responsible for ensuring that those students are capable and prepared to complete their assigned duties. Departments will have primary responsibility for evaluating an appointee, and may choose to evaluate the ability of a potential appointee in any way the department deems appropriate. Additionally, academic departments are responsible for reviewing the instructional performance of each GA, similar to the review of faculty teaching performance. Departments are required to submit a clearly articulated plan outlining faculty oversight and evaluation of GAs to the Office of Graduate Studies prior to any GA appointments.
GVSU faculty members oversee all GA instructional duties. Duties may include:
- faculty supervised instruction in a laboratory course setting
- conducting discussion or studio sections
- conducting help sessions and holding office hours to advise students on course assignments
- assisting with laboratory setup
- assisting with grading papers, objective exams, laboratory reports, and homework
- other duties pertaining to the instructional mission of GVSU excluding being listed as the instructor of record with the exception noted in H.
To be eligible to serve as a GA with instructional responsibilities, the student must attend a departmental orientation/training session. The orientation/training will focus on helping the GAs develop the skills that are relevant to their instructional duties. The orientation/training program is to be filed with the Graduate Dean for review.
I. Graduate Assistant Orientation:
All graduate students assigned a Graduate Assistantship must attend an orientation coordinated by the Graduate Dean’s office.
J. Graduate Assistant Complaints:
At times, it may be necessary for a Graduate Assistant to file an appeal related to their position. Assistantship-related disputes or concerns should be directed first to the appointing Dean who will intervene or refer the issue to the appropriate University office. Complaints may include but are not limited to issues such as termination of their GA, arbitrary or capricious behavior of the supervisor, or expectations not outlined in the position description. Unresolved complaints may be appealed to the Graduate Dean.
Page last modified June 26, 2012