Graduate Assistant Appointments Policies -Guide

A guide to GA appointments

Terminology for Graduate Assistant Appointments

The Graduate Assistant Appointment resources provide guidelines, policies, and procedures for appointing graduate assistants. Below are some terms for reference. 


Assistantship provides 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 through 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:

Funds provided by the University’s Administration to pay for teaching assistant tuition and tuition premiums. Only available for Resident Instruction credits when funding is provided by the Graduate School. 

Continuous Registration (CR): 

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. 

Registration of at least one on-campus credit is required during the fall and spring semesters to hold a graduate assistantship.  Additional credits may be required during the summer term by the appointing department.. CR is not a valid form of registration if a student is holding a graduate assistantship during the fall and spring semesters. 

Department Payment to Student Account (DPSA) 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. 

Graduate Assistant Appointment and Certification (GAAC) 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. 

Graduate Assistant Appointment Report (GAAR): 

Using HR Payroll information, the GARR 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. 

Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA): 

GRAs are similar to teaching assistantships except that recipients are given basic research assignments. The precise nature of GRA  duties vary depending on the  discipline, ongoing department projects, 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. 

Graduate Support Assistant (GSA): 

 GSAs provide administrative services and are typically employed in a dormitory, counseling center, athletic department, or administrative office. 

Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA): 

GTAs receive payment for services related to undergraduate instruction. The duties typically involve grading papers, compiling biographies, monitoring laboratories, conducting discussion sections, and/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 (see half-time appointment and other definitions below).

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). Base tuition does not include payment of differential tuition or other fees outside of the fee benefit program.

HR Oracle: 

The Human Resources system used to appoint graduate assistants. 

Minimum Stipend: 

A University established monthly minimum amount that graduate assistants must be paid. 

Quarter-Time Appointments: 

 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 outside of the fee benefit program.

Sponsor Invoices: 

Billing statement generated by Accounts Receivable Operations. All graduate assistants who will receive payment of base tuition receive sponsor invoices. 


 Employees who are not eligible for Leave Without Pay and who take time off for a short period of time will be placed on a “suspended” status. This employee’s salary will be suspended during the time they do not work.  


The ‘Initiate Assignment Termination’ status in HR Oracle is used to end an employee’s job. All graduate assistants are “employees at will” and so there are specific policies that must be adhered to. These policies can be found in the Graduate Assistantship – Terms and Conditions of Appointment document.

Tuition Premiums:

The difference between resident and non-resident tuition is referred to as a Tuition Premium. It is designed to assist new nonresident graduate students with a Graduate Research Assistantship, a Fellowship Grant Trainee, or a Graduate Veterinary Resident appointment. Tuition Premiums help remove any financial disincentive for researchers to give support to non-residents. Please contact the Graduate School for current Tuition Premium policies.  

Graduate School Approval Process – Graduate School Verifies and Approves Appointments

Graduate School verifies the following information:

  1. Appointments are made by University Census date (review University Critical Dates.) Base Tuition will not be paid from Central Accounts if appointments are made after Census date.
  2. Students have secured admission to a graduate program and the Graduate School.
  3. Students are registered for at least one on-campus 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.
  4. Students maintain 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, and not being placed on academic probation.
  5. Continued association with and enrollment in an academic program of study and the absence of suspension, dismissal, expulsion, or withdrawal from the University, Graduate School, or department.
  6. Students receive a minimum stipend as set by the University.
  7. Length of appointment.
Graduate School rejects or suspends appointments if: 
  • The student is not registered for the minimum credits required (review #3 above.)
  • The student’s grade point average is less than 3.0 after having attained 12 credits of regular coursework or two semesters of graduate work, whichever comes first; or the student is on probation or is dismissed (review #4 and #5 above.)
  • When changes are made to a student’s appointment and a detailed justification is not listed in the comments section in HR Oracle, the appointment will be disapproved. Comments must be included to verify that the student is aware of and approves the change in appointment, and that there is a newly signed Graduate Assistant Appointment and Certification Form (GAAC) on file at the department.
  • The student has not yet secured admission into a graduate degree program and the Graduate School (review #2 above.)
  • Detailed justification and/or comment regarding why a student is being terminated has not been recorded in HR Oracle by the department.
    • Appointments being terminated and/or suspended before the end of the contract period require a very clear statement regarding the reason for termination. In some cases, documentation will be required to substantiate the termination or suspension that will ultimately convert to a termination after three months.
      • Lack of funds – contract states that the University (or the appointing department) reserves the right to terminate the Appointment because of unavailability of funds or other conditions beyond its control upon thirty days written notice to the student. In such cases, documentation must be available to verify that student was given proper notice (review #4 in the Graduate Assistantship – Terms and Conditions of Appointment found in the Graduate & Professional Bulletin).
      • The Provost/Academic Vice President must review and approve any recommendations concerning the termination of a graduate assistant appointment, except for non-renewals of employment following the end of a stated employment period or election to void an Appointment due to failure of conditions A-D (review Graduate Assistantship 11 – Terms and Conditions of Appointment found in the Graduate & Professional Bulletin).
      • The Graduate School must have sufficient information to be able to distinguish whether this is an action that requires Provost approval or whether there is a legitimate reason to “terminate” the appointment, such as in the case of graduation, student’s GPA being below 3.0, student left the University, or student changes major/department.
      • 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.

Graduate School approves appointments: 

  1. Once items one through six (listed above) are verified, the Graduate School approves the appointments through HR Oracle.
  2. Graduate School creates a Graduate Assistant Appointment Report (GAAR) using HR data.
  3. Graduate School sends the GAAR to each department for verification and for the department head’s signature certifying that:
    • Each student has read the Graduate Assistantship – Terms & Conditions of Appointment found in the Graduate & Professional Bulletin, 
    • A copy of the GAAC Form, signed by both the student and department is given to the student, and
    • The original GAAC Form, signed by both the student and department is filed at the department.
  4.  Graduate School will use the GAAR to verify and pay tuition as submitted on Sponsor Invoices. 

If you have additional questions about GA appointments, please contact