Graduate Assistant Appointments Policies -Guide

A guide to GA appointments

Explore below for guidelines and policies for appointing graduate assistants. The process page provides more details on the appointment process. The Graduate and Professional Bulletin reflects the most up-to-date policies regarding assistant appointments. Find information about financial support here

Appointment Policies

To be eligible to hold a graduate assistant appointment, all of the following must be met: 

  • Student admitted to a graduate degree program and the Graduate School, registering for and completing at least 1 Residential Instruction credit during each fall and spring semester, and such credits as the appointing department may require each summer term during which the appointment is in effect.
  • Student’s conformance to each of the following: maintaining good academic standing at Colorado State University; maintaining at least a 3.0 grade point average in each of the various categories (regular courses and overall) specified in the “Scholastic Standards” section of the Graduate and Professional Bulletin after having attained 12 credits of regular coursework or two semesters of graduate work, whichever comes first; not being placed on academic probation; and for non-native speakers of English, taking and obtaining a satisfactory score on prescribed language competency tests.
  • Continued association with and enrollment in an academic department and the absence of suspension, dismissal, expulsion, or withdrawal from the University, Graduate School or department. Students having the appropriate visa status and work permissions to allow employment as a Graduate Assistant. 
  • Student’s performance of assigned duties and functions in a timely and competent fashion.
  • A routine background check, if applicable, is completed and reviewed in compliance with the Colorado State University Policy Regarding Background Checks.

To be eligible for tuition remission, appointments must be made by University Census date (12 days into the semester).  At Census, a Graduate Assistant Appointment Report (GAAR) will be generated (review University Critical Dates). Appointments made after Census typically do not qualify for the payment of tuition from Central accounts. If extenuating circumstances exist, appointments and the payment of tuition may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

After the GAAR is finalized and submitted to the Graduate School, Job Title changes (e.g.,  GTA to GRA) that affect tuition paid or a request to pay tuition from Central Accounts require written justification from the Chair of the department and may be considered on a case-by-case basis.  If tuition has been paid from a Central Account and the Job Title change causes the student to be ineligible for tuition payment from a Central Account, departments will be responsible for the tuition payment.  For all changes, include written justification in HR Oracle – click on the Add Comments button which is located on the last page prior to submitting into the approval process.

Length of appointment:  Appointments made after the University Census date or are for less than 4 months typically do not qualify for tuition remission from Central Funds. If extenuating circumstances exist, appointments and the payment of tuition may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Concurrent appointments within the same department require two Graduate Assistant Appointment and Certification Forms (GAACs), one for each appointment type.  Concurrent appointments with two departments also require two GAACs.

Minimum stipend as set by the University is met for each graduate assistant appointment.

Students terminated for not performing assigned duties and functions in a timely and competent fashion must be given due process (review #5 in the Graduate Assistantship – Terms and Conditions of Appointment found in the Graduate &  Professional Bulletin). These actions require Provost approval.

The University reserves the right to terminate the student’s appointment due to lack of funds; this action requires 30 day written notice to the student (review #4 in the Graduate Assistantship – Terms and Conditions of Appointment found in the Graduate & Professional Bulletin).

A new signed GAAC Form is required if there is a change:

  • in appointing department,
  • in the type of assistantship (GTA, GSA, GRA),
  • in the level of service (half-time, quarter-time),
  • there is a decrease in the student’s stipend, or in tuition payment arrangements

Tuition Premiums

Graduate Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Research Assistantships may be eligible for tuition remission or tuition premiums. Learn more about Assistantship Resources and Policies.

Process Overview for Appointments

Please review this page for more details of the process for Academic Departments, the Graduate School, and Accounts Receivable. Below is an at-a-glance view of the process.

  1. Department makes offer to student; student accepts.
  2. Department initiates the appointment through HR Oracle, and submits the appointment through the HR Oracle approval hierarchy.
  3. Department prints Graduate Assistant Appointment and Certification Form (GAAC).
  4. Department obtains department head and student signature.
  5. Department gives copy of signed GAAC Form to student and files original signed GAAC Form at department.
  6. ARO requests names of students who will have base tuition paid on their behalf to establish Sponsor Invoices and remove tuition charge from student’s account.
  7. Graduate School verifies Oracle appointments for minimum requirements and approves or rejects appointments.
  8. Approved appointments are routed to HR for final approval.
  9. Graduate School generates Graduate Assistant Appointment Report (GAAR) and sends to departments for department head signature.
  10. Departments send the signed GAAR back to the Graduate School.
  11. Mid-semester, ARO sends Sponsor Invoices to departments for the payment of tuition.
  12. Graduate School receives uploaded Sponsor Invoices from the departments, verifies student eligibility using the signed GAARs, and approves Invoices.
  13. Graduate School routes Invoices to ARO and tuition charges are reflected on accounting reports.

Term Definitions

Below are some relevant terms for reference. 

  • Assistantships provide a stipend to the student in return for specified services to the University. The stipend is treated as income and subject to withholding taxes) both the University and the student agree to a formal contract when an assistantship is arranged (the Graduate Assistant Appointment and Certification Form, GAAC).
  • Census Date – a University established date that is used to record enrollment statistics. This date is typically the 12th day of the semester.
  • Central Funds are provided by the Administration for the payment of teaching assistant tuition and tuition premiums. Only available for Resident Instruction credits when funding is provided by the Graduate School.
  • CR stands for Continuous Registration. All graduate students are required to be continuously registered in the fall and spring semester throughout their degree programs either by registering for any graduate credit-bearing course or by registering for CR status.To hold a graduate assistantship, registration of at least one on-campus credit is required during the fall and spring semesters and such credits as the appointing department may require each summer term during which the appointment is in effect. CR is not a valid form of registration if a student is holding a graduate assistantship during the fall and spring semesters.
  • DPSA stands for Department Payment to Student Account Form. This form is used to deposit a graduate assistant payment, a discretionary scholarship, or a sponsor designated scholarship into student accounts. Funds are typically for the payment of tuition, but departments can also pay fees, health insurance, and other incidentals in the form of a scholarship.
  • GAAC stands for Graduate Assistant Appointment and Certification Form. This is a document generated by the department from HR Oracle. Once it is printed and signed by all parties (the student and department), it becomes a legally binding contract. The department is required to maintain this documentation.
  • GAAR stands for Graduate Assistant Appointment Report. Using HR Payroll information, this report is generated each fall and spring semester and includes all graduate assistants on record appointed through Human Resources by the department. This report is sent to the department heads for certification of all of the current graduate assistants.
  • GRA stands for Graduate Research Assistantships. They are similar to teaching assistantships except that recipients are given basic research assignments. The precise nature of the duties will vary depending on the nature of the discipline, the particular projects under way in the department, and the interests and skills of the students. Research assistantships are typically funded through external research grants obtained by members of the faculty. A research assistantship contract may provide for payment of base tuition.
  • GSA stands for Graduate Support Assistant. GSAs provide administrative services and are typically employed in a dormitory, counseling center, athletic department, or administrative offices.
  • GTA stands for Graduate Teaching Assistantships. GTAs receive payment for services related to undergraduate instruction. The duties typically involve grading papers, compiling biographies, monitoring laboratories, conducting discussion sections, or teaching an entire class. Teaching assistantships are funded by the state of Colorado as part of the resident instruction budget. Teaching assistantships include payment of base tuition on behalf of the student as an added benefit. The level of tuition support is relative to the fraction of the appointment.
  • Half-Time Appointments – if a GTA works 20 or more hours per week, the GTA receives the full cost of base tuition (for RI credits). If a GTA works 10 hours per week, the GTA receives 50% of base tuition (for RI credits) which is provided when utilizing college FTE allotment. Base tuition does not include payment of differential tuition or other fees.
  • HR Oracle is the Human Resources system used to appoint graduate assistants.
  • Minimum Stipend is a University established monthly minimum amount that graduate assistants must be paid.
  • Quarter-Time Appointments – if a GTA works 10 hours per week, their (for RI credits) the level of base tuition support is relative to the level of appointment: Half-time assistantship = full base tuition; quarter-time assistantship = ½ base tuition. Base tuition does not include payment of differential tuition or other fees.
  • Sponsor Invoices are billing statements generated by Accounts Receivable Operations. All graduate assistants who will receive payment of base tuition receive Sponsor Invoices.
  • Suspend – this status is used for anyone who is not eligible for Leave Without Pay and who will not be working for a short period of time, but who is still employed by the University without pay — salary has been suspended.
  • Terminate – the ‘Initiate Assignment Termination’ status in HR Oracle is used to end an assignment for an employee that will no longer be employed in that job. Because all graduate assistants are “employees at will,” there is specific policy that must be adhered to as noted on the Graduate Assistantship – Terms and Conditions of Appointment are found in the Graduate & Professional Bulletin.
  • Tuition Premiums – Graduate Research Assistantship, Fellowship Grant Trainee, and Graduate Veterinary Resident Tuition Premium payments of the difference between resident and non-resident tuition are designed to assist new nonresident graduate students with GRA, FGT, or GVR appointments. Please contact the Graduate School for current Tuition Premium policies. Tuition Premiums remove any financial disincentive for researchers to give support to non-residents.