University of Minnesota  Administrative Policy

Graduate Assistant Employment

Policy Statement

A system of graduate assistant employment provides graduate students academic employment in teaching, research, and administrative appointments. Graduate assistantships include the provision of tuition benefits, with the exception of summer sessions/terms where the provision of tuition benefits is at the option of the hiring department.


This policy governs the employment of graduate students in graduate assistant (GA) appointments at the University, and those employed in the Medical School in fellowship or resident graduate program appointments (job codes 9554 and 9559), as well as Dental Fellows (9553) and Legal Project assistants (9538, 9539). Excluded from coverage are professionals-in-training (certain 95xx job codes) and students employed under the Student Employment System.

Eligibility for Graduate Assistant Employment

Graduate students are eligible to hold a graduate assistantship if they are admitted to a graduate school degree program or post-baccalaureate professional degree program and are registered for the minimum number of required credits for an assistantship held during Fall or Spring terms.

Refer to Appendix: Eligibility for Graduate Assistant Employment for detailed information.

Graduate Assistant Tuition Benefits

Graduate assistant tuition benefits cover tuition and all or a portion of the University fee, according to the appointment percentage and the number of registered credits. Eligibility requirements and detailed provisions for graduate tuition benefits are found in Appendix: Graduate Assistant Tuition Benefits. Graduate assistants are responsible for payment of charges not covered by the GA tuition benefit, such as lab, installment, late charge, or late registration fees that are assessed and charged to the students' account.

Resident Tuition Rate

In addition to tuition benefits, both current and former graduate assistants may be eligible to receive a non-resident tuition waiver. Retroactive requests for resident tuition rate reductions will not be considered beyond one academic year from the date of the semester in which the request is made. Graduate assistants whose appointment equals a minimum of 195 hours each semester are eligible to receive a non-resident tuition waiver (if applicable). Please note: Residency is determined at the time of admission. Refer to Appendix: Resident Tuition Rate for detailed information.

Classification and Pay


See Job Classification Descriptions for generic job descriptions of specific Graduate Assistant classifications. For a complete listing of Graduate Assistant Classifications refer to Academic Job Codes and Titles at Job Families and Salary Ranges (Expand Job Family Structure).

For eligibility criteria and additional information for Advanced Masters, Ph.D. Candidate, and Graduate School Fellowship classifications, refer to Appendix: Criteria for Classification Series: Advanced Masters, Ph.D. Candidate, and Graduate School Fellowships.

Wage and Compensation

Graduate assistant appointments require monetary compensation. Neither course credit nor resident-rate tuition can be provided in lieu of paid work time. Graduate assistants are exempt from time-and-one-half overtime pay. In general, the title, rate of pay, percentage of time, and length of appointment may not be changed within a contract period. Refer to Appendix: Graduate Assistant Payroll and Taxes for specific information regarding time cards, paychecks, and taxability of GA tuition benefit.

Pay Ranges

Graduate assistant pay ranges are established each fiscal year by the University's central administration and approved by Board of Regents. Each GA is appointed to a rate of pay within this range. Compensation paid to GAs employed in the same or different departments may vary according to departmental criteria and must be monetary - neither course credit, resident-rate tuition, nor in-state tuition benefits can be substituted for GA pay. Refer to the current years Academic Salary Floors for pay range information.

Fellowship Stipends

Ranges for graduate fellowship stipends are established each fiscal year by the awarding collegiate unit, department, or academic program.

FICA Information

For a FICA exemption, a graduate student must register for a minimum of three credits OR one credit for Advanced Masters (8333) or PhD candidates (8444).

Refer to FICA Graduate Rules for more information.

Medical and Dental Coverage

The Graduate Assistant Health Insurance Plan, through Boynton Health Service, provides medical and dental coverage to eligible GAs working 195 hours during the official semester payroll dates. For information about eligibility or coverage, contact the Graduate Assistant Insurance Office at Boynton Health Service, 612-624-0627 or [email protected].

Performance in a Graduate Assistantship

At the time of hire, GAs should be provided with an appointment letter that includes performance expectations. Annual performance evaluations should be conducted prior to the end of the appointment period. Substandard performance must be well documented and files relating to the substandard performance must be kept in the departmental office. Refer to the procedure, Handling Graduate Assistant Performance Issues.

Paid and Unpaid Leaves of Absence

Graduate assistants are eligible for paid and unpaid leaves of absence. Refer to Appendix: Paid and Unpaid Leaves of Absence for Graduate Assistants covering the types and provisions of leaves available.

Nonreappointment and Termination

A department may decide not to reappoint a GA on the basis of performance, lack of progress toward degree, budgetary constraints, or lack of need for the position. Where external funding is lost, the position may be terminated at the end of the current appointment, but not earlier.

A department may not terminate prior to the end of a current appointment for reason other than non-registration, fiscal emergency, just cause, or in accordance with non-reappointment terms of a Conditional Annual appointment.

Conflict Resolution

Refer to Board of Regents Policy: Conflict Resolution Process for Employees (PDF) and the corresponding Administrative Policy: Implementing the Conflict Resolution Process.

Employment Work Rules

Refer to Appendix: Graduate Assistant Employment Work Rules for information covering (1) assignment and reassignment of duties, (2) non-native English speaking teaching assistants, (3) work hours, (4) work limitations, (5) breaks, (6) University holidays, and (7) official University closing.

Reason for Policy

This policy implements Board of Regents Policy: Employee Group Definitions (PDF). A system of graduate assistant employment is provided by the University for the primary purpose of providing financial assistance to graduate students and secondarily, to offer academic and career development opportunities. Conversely, employment of graduate students in assistantships supports the University in providing assistance to departments in carrying out certain tasks for which they are responsible.


Graduate Assistant EmploymentGraduate Assistant Employment and Services (GAES)
660 WBOB
1300 South 2nd Street
Minneapolis, MN 55454
612-624-7070612-625-9801 (fax)
[email protected]
Document ProcessingOffice of Human Resources Call Center612-624-UOHR (8647)[email protected]
Responsible Individuals
Responsible Officer Policy Owner Primary Contact
  • Vice President, Office of Human Resources
  • Director - Leadership and Talent Development
  • Andrea Yanego
    Senior Director, Talent Strategy



A descriptive title given to a position or a group of positions of sufficiently similar mix or range of responsibilities or job duties.

Dependent Child

The employee's biological, adoptive, or foster son or daughter, a stepchild, or a legal ward of the employee or a child of a person standing in loco parentis who is under the age of 18, or 18 and older and incapable of self care because of a mental or physical disability as covered by their medical plan. 

Fiscal Emergency

A drastic reduction in the University budget that has been officially recognized and declared by Board of Regents.

Just Cause

A ground for discipline and takes into account reasonableness, evidence of forewarning, investigation, proof, consistency, and equity.

Immediate Family Member - Bereavement Leave

(1) the spouse, (2) the employee's: (a) biological, adoptive, step, or foster child or ward; (b) parent or parental equivalent; or (c) sibling, and (3) the employee's spouse's: (a) biological, adoptive, step, or foster child or ward; (b) parent or parental equivalent; or (c) sibling.

Immediate Family Member - Resident Tuition Rate

Spouse, children, or legal ward living in the household.


Responsible Administrator/Supervisor

  • Classifies the work responsibilities appropriately.
  • Has knowledge of the policies and procedures governing the Graduate Assistant employee group.
  • Provides the GA details of the appointment (refer to the Human Resources Template Letter Library).
  • Ensures appropriate documentation of approved leaves.
  • Provides regular performance reviews.

GA Employee

  • Is aware of the policies governing GA employment at the University.
  • Understands expected performance standards.



August 2009 - Language added covering early termination of appointment for reason of fiscal emergency. Information regarding eligibility for graduate assistant employment, graduate assistant tuition benefits, resident tuition rate, and paid and unpaid leaves was moved to Appendices. General edits made for clarification and readability.


March 2008 - Policy converted to the new University-wide format for administrative policies. The Administrative Policy: Graduate Assistant Employment supersedes any previous graduate assistant policies/handbooks. Language specific to bereavement leave was added.


August 1984 - Handbook for Graduate Assistants


August 1984