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. The Graduate School only funds this benefit in the Fall and Spring semesters. 

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

Mandatory Fee Coverage Plan

Mandatory fee coverage is being phased in for mandatory fees paid  by graduate assistants.  Mandatory fees include General Fees, University Technology Fee, University Facility Fee, and the University Alternative Transportation Fee. The internal CSU SEVIS fee charged each semester (including summer) for international GAs will also be covered. Some partial-fee paying GAs (5 credits or fewer) are also charged the Health Network Fee and the Counseling Fee. These two fees will be covered for partial-fee paying students when relevant. GAs with less than a 0.5 FTE will receive the same level of coverage available to 0.5 FTE GAs (e.g. 50%, 75%, 100% depending on year). Partial mandatory fee coverage will begin in Spring 2023 with increases every academic year as follows:

  •  Spring 2023: 50% mandatory fee coverage
  •  AY 2023-24: 50% mandatory fee coverage
  •  AY 2024-25: 75% mandatory fee coverage
  • AY 2025-26: 100% mandatory fee coverage

Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program (FAMLI)

All CSU employees, including GAs, who work and live in Colorado are eligible for the program including Graduate Assistants. FAMLI has similar but not identical qualifying reasons as the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. Income replacement under FAMLI is not 100% of an employee’s salary, but other leave-related programs can supplement what FAMLI provides, “topping off” the FAMLI wage reimbursement if eligible. FAMLI leave must be used before other leave program options and runs concurrently with FMLA. CSU employees should not turn to the state’s FAMLI program for assistance, but to the University’s HR division instead.

Qualifying reasons for leave: Beginning in January 2024, eligible employees may apply for up to 12 weeks of paid FAMLI leave for eligible qualifying reasons, and an additional four weeks is available for pregnancy complications. Qualifying reasons include:

  • Care for their own serious health condition
  • Care for a family member’s serious health condition
  • Care for a new child, including adopted and fostered children
  • Arranging for a family member’s military deployment
  • Addressing immediate safety needs and impact of domestic violence or sexual assault

FAMLI leave claims must be applied for within 30 days of the first date of absence. Job protection is also offered through FAMLI for those who have more than 180 days of employment. Benefits are calculated on a sliding scale, up to a weekly maximum benefit currently set at $1,100. 

Additional details and a summary of CSU’s FAMLI plan can be found on the Human Resources website as well as specific required notices in English and Spanish. Human Resources is also available to answer questions via email or at 970-491-6947.

Assistantship Health Insurance Contribution

The Graduate School partially 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.  

Volunteer Service Hours

This new program allows graduate assistance and CSU employees eight hours of paid administrative leave each fiscal year to perform volunteer work at a broad range of designated community organizations..

  • Flexibility: Employees may use hours to volunteer in a single day or over multiple days. Hours can be used at more than one designated organization. Participation is optional. Unused hours expire at the end of the fiscal year and are not eligible for payout.
  • Participation: Eligible CSU employees will receive paid leave – pro-rated based on their position’s full-time-equivalent (FTE) percentage – for volunteer service at one or more of the organizations designated by the university. Leave must be preapproved by the employee’s supervisor.

Volunteer Opportunities: The program is being piloted regionally in partnership with community organizations in Northern Colorado. For more information about the program, including the list of designated community organizations, visit the Volunteer Service Hours program webpage.

Employee Assistance Program

Graduate Assistants are eligible to utilize the CSU Employee Assistance Program / ComPsych.  Complete Program details are available at 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).

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. 

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning — an on-demand video library and online educational tool — is now a free resource available to all Colorado State University students, faculty and staff.

The Office of the Provost launched a campuswide LinkedIn Learning license at Colorado State University in early March 2023. Students and employees now have access to the learning service containing more than 18,000 instructional and educational videos.

Instructions for account activation — which is necessary for users with and without preexisting Learning accounts — are available on the Provost Office website. As an educational technology company, LinkedIn Learning offers courses in four key categories: business, creative, technology and certifications.  

Use this link for instructions for account activation. 

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.