Assistantship Benefits, Resources, and Policies

An overview for Graduate Assistants

Your department is responsible for determining whether you qualify for any graduate assistantships. All Graduate Assistants must meet the Graduate Assistantship – Terms and Conditions of Appointment as detailed in the Graduate and Professional Bulletin. 

For each fall and spring semester that a graduate assistantship appointment is in effect, you must be registered for at least one resident-instruction credit. 

There are three types of graduate assistantships:

  • Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) help in the provision of education services to undergraduates. Responsibilities may include grading papers, leading discussions/lab sessions, or independent teaching of a class.
  • Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs) typically work with a professor on a project of importance to scholarship.
  • Graduate Support Assistants (GSAs) provide administrative services. The assistantships are typically located in non-academic units such as Housing and Dining, or Athletics. 

Graduate Assistant Benefits

Stipends

Assistantship awards offer a stipend to the student in return for certain specified services to Colorado State University. The stipend is treated as income (subject to withholding taxes) and both the University and the student agree to a formal appointment when an assistantship is arranged. Graduate Assistant Minimum Stipends are published each spring. 

Tuition Benefit

If specified on a Graduate Assistant Appointment and Certification Form, this benefit is provided in the form of financial aid, independently of the stipend, as a qualified base tuition reduction given for educational purposes under Section 117 of the Internal Revenue Code.

To be eligible for the tuition benefits, appointments must typically be made by the University Census date (12 days into the semester).

Base tuition amounts are published on the Office of Financial Aid’s Tuition and Fee webpage in the Graduate Tuition and Fees section. Tuition Remission does not cover the Graduate Differential Tuition amounts published in this section.

Tuition Benefit for Graduate Teaching and Support Assistants

Tuition for Graduate Teaching Assistant and Graduate Support Assistant appointments is funded through a full-time equivalent model provided by the Graduate School to each college. Tuition contracted through this allotment will cover 100 percent of base tuition at 20 hours per week and 50 percent of base tuition at 10 hours per week. Full non-resident tuition is covered for domestic students in their first year while international students will receive non-resident coverage through their tenure.

Tuition Premium Program for Graduate Research Assistants

The Tuition Premium Program, provides financial support for the difference between resident and non-resident tuition for non-resident domestic Graduate Research Assistants during their first year of enrollment at CSU and for non-resident and international GRAs during their tenure in their graduate degree programs. Reference eligibility and requirements on the GRA Tuition Premiums webpage

Assistantship Health Insurance Contribution

The Graduate School funds this benefit as a way of helping you protect your educational investment. Even a relatively minor health event, such as a knee injury, could create a situation where medical debt precludes the ability to continue in your program. Criteria for the benefit is detailed on the Assistantship Health Insurance Contribution webpage.  

Employee Assistance Program

Graduate Assistants are eligible to utilize the CSU Employee Assistance Program / ComPsych.  Complete Program details are available at https://eap.colostate.edu/

Graduate Assistants must currently be enrolled in at least 1 credit (resident-instruction) with a minimum 0.25 full-time employment assistantship. GAs must be in good academic standing and making satisfactory progress toward degree completion.

  • GAs and dependents are offered six free sessions per family member, per issue, per calendar year from a licensed mental health provider in the community.
  • Telemedicine virtual counseling sessions are also now available.
  • Employee Assistantship Program benefits also include access to legal, financial, and work-life guided resources within the community.
  • Program details are available at eap.colostate.edu

Benefits are available to GAs in addition to student services provided by the CSU Health Network and through the Student Health Insurance Plan (as opposed to being a replacement or substitute).

Family Medical Leave

Graduate Assistant eligibility is based on having at least 12 months of CSU service and working 1040 hours in the 12 months prior to the need for leave.

CSU provides job-protected leave to eligible GAs who are unable to work due to their own serious health condition or because of the need to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition. Family Medical Leave allows for up to 12 workweeks (480 hours for 100 percent full-time employment) of leave during a 12-month period based on certain qualifying events.

FML is unpaid leave; however, your available paid leave balance (e.g. sick, parental leave) will be used concurrent with FML. Likewise, FML also runs concurrent with other types of paid and unpaid leave (e.g. workers compensation and leave without pay).

Sick Leave

The State of Colorado implemented a new leave option (Health Families & Workplaces Act)  for State employees, including GAs, effective January 1, 2021. 

  • Sick leave is accrued at one hour for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours per year.
  • The leave my be kept for 6 months after separation and can then be reinstated.
  • Leave must be requested from supervisor or HR liaison in order to apply sick leave to correct assignment (as some people have multiple).

Parental Leave 

It is the policy of the University to provide Parental Leave to new parents to support academic success and caring and bonding with a new child. Benefits are available to eligible Graduate Assistant Caregivers (the one Parent who has primary responsibility for the care of a child immediately following the birth or the adoption of the child into the custody, care and control of the parent for the first time as well as Non-Primary Caregivers (the one Parent who doesn’t have the primary responsibility for the care of a child immediately following the birth or the adoption of the child into the custody, care and control of the parent for the first time).

Reference the Policy for benefit, eligibility, and application form details. Additional information is located on the HR websiteIf you have any questions regarding the policy, contact the Graduate School at (970) 491-6817. Human Resources can assist with administrative procedural questions related to completing the Parental Leave Application at MyHR@colostate.edu or 970.491.MyHR (6947)

Workers’ Compensation

Graduate Assistants performing work for which they are hired through and paid by CSU are eligible for Workers’ Compensation. Workers’ Compensation is an exclusive remedy for workplace injuries or illnesses. It provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course and scope of employment.

Public Health Emergency Leave

During COVID and similar emergencies, GAs are eligible for Public Health Emergency Leave immediately upon hire.

Student Employee Retirement Plan 

SERP is an alternative to Social Security for student employees at Colorado Public Higher Education Institutions who would have been required to participate in Social Security. 

  • The Student Employment Retirement Plan is a state-mandated plan in lieu of Social Security for all higher education students. A 403(b) retirement savings account will be established in the student’s name at TIAA/CREF for contributions made to the SERP. The contribution amounts assessed against wages are 7.5% for the SERP and 1.45% for Medicare.
  • Participation in the SERP/Medicare is mandatory if students do not meet one of the following conditions for exemption:
    • During summer semesters:
      • Graduate students must be officially admitted as degree-seeking students and enrolled at least half-time (3 credits for summer) for a summer term running concurrently with a student’s work schedule.
    • During fall and spring semesters:
      • Graduate students must be officially admitted as a degree-seeking student and enrolled at least half-time (5 credits).

Voluntary Retirement Plans, 401 (k) and 457 

Graduate Assistants may contribute to voluntary tax-deferred investment accounts. These accounts can supplement your SERP retirement plan.

  • CSU is a public education institution eligible to offer a voluntary retirement savings program as described under section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code (also referred to as a “403(b) Plan”). Colorado PERA also provides two voluntary retirement savings programs: a 457 plan and a 401(k) plan.
  • All employees can participate in PERA’S 457 Plan and/or PERA’s 401(k) Plan. (For more information, visit the PERA website or call 800-759-7372.)

Reference the Voluntary Retirement Plans – 401(k) and 457 webpage for additional details. 

Waived Student Late Fee for First Billing Cycle

The Graduate School, in partnership with Business and Financial Services, implemented a program to waive late fees for Graduate Assistants in the first billing cycle of each fall and spring semester. The program was implemented because we understand many GAs do not receive their first paycheck until after the first billing cycle due to processing delays in the student’s department or other units involved in processing appointments.

GAs may disregard the first eBilling notification of each semester indicating that you will receive a late charge if your balance is not paid by the first billing date of the semester. 

Employee DEI Trainings

The Office of Inclusive Excellence provides a variety of diversity, equity, and inclusion training opportunities for CSU employees including Graduate Assistants. The Creating Inclusive Excellence Program is a certification for GAs who complete all six Creating Inclusive Excellence Program courses to complete CIEP Certificate. 

Policy

Graduate Assistantship – Terms and Conditions of Appointment

All Graduate Assistants must meet the Graduate Assistantship – Terms and Conditions of Appointment as detailed in the Graduate and Professional Bulletin.  

Required Training for New Graduate Teaching Assistants

All new Graduate Teaching Assistants are required to complete GTA Training. Completing the training course in Canvas will both introduce you to best teaching practices and help you learn to use the Learning Management System (LMS) effectively. Reference details on TILT’s GTA Training webpage

Required Responsible Conduct of Research Training Requirements 

Graduate students and post-doctoral fellows funded by NIH, NSF or USDA-NIFA are required to take both online RCR training and an approved face-to-face research ethics course. Details are provided on the Research Integrity and Compliance Review Office webpages  (scroll down to the Training Requirements section). 

Termination of Graduate Assistants

Pursuant to State Statute, C.R.S. 24-19-104, all graduate assistants are “employees at will.” Their employment is subject to such administrative termination procedures as may be appropriate under the circumstances of each case. Reference the Graduate and Professional Bulletin for details. 
 
 

Additional Policies

Faculty, Graduate Program Directors, and Graduate Admission Directors can reference policies related to appointing assistants, processing GAs appoints, GTA/GSA Base Tuition Requests, and more on the Assistantship Appointment Policies webpage of the Faculty and Staff section of this website.