Below are some tips for managing finances as a graduate assistant (GA) at Colorado State University. GAs include Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs), Graduate Support Assistantships (GSAs), or Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs). Students on fellowships, self-pay, or on other types of support are not GAs, and this information may not apply. Students with a GRA Predoc designation who are on fellowship may be eligible for the health insurance contribution. Please check with the department or program your GA is through for further information.
Graduate Assistant Finances 101 is part of the Personal Development Competence in the Competencies Road Map. To start on your Personal Development, download this Competencies Road Map reminder with a Graduate Assistant Finances 101 checklist.
Be Aware of Your Stipend
- GAs receive payment on the last business day of the month.
- Paychecks are sometimes different month to month, for example, due to changes to the appointment at the end of the term or taxes on the health insurance contribution.
- Keep track of your payments, and ask questions when finances look different than you expected. Mistakes can happen. The accounting person for the program your graduate assistantship is through is a good place to start.
- Locating your pay advice (or paystub) is necessary for residency petition and useful for personal finance.
Manage Your Health Insurance
- Many GAs access healthcare through the CSU Health Network. Information on eligibility, fees, and service charges to access these services with the Student Health Insurance Plan or other plans is available here.
- Many GAs are insured by the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP).
- GAs with at least a 10 hour assistantship and who registered for 5 or more resident instruction credits are eligible for the Assistantship Health Insurance Contribution, which covers 100% of the SHIP policy cost per semester. The student must enroll for SHIP, and the contribution is an automatic credit for eligible students. This contribution is taxable and appears in the student’s CSU account approximately one week after the regular add/drop date.
- If you have GA appointments and SHIP in the fall and spring, SHIP will cover the summer.
- In addition to services provided through the Student Health Insurance Plan, GAs have access to the CSU Employee Assistance Program.
Account for Taxes
- GA stipends and the health insurance contribution are taxable. Tuition payments made on behalf of GAs are usually not. You can find more details here.
- Tax help for international students can be found here.
- Tax help for domestic students can be received through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) run through the Department of Accounting usually beginning in February each year.
- The IRS offers a tool that may help with planning — CSU employees are not permitted to provide personal income tax advice. The Interactive Tax Assistant is a tool that provides answers to several tax law questions specific to individual circumstances.
Remember Student Fees
- Students with 6 credits or more are considered full-fee paying students and pay General Fees.
- Students with 5 credits or less are considered partial-fee paying, do not pay General Fees, and hence have access to fewer services.
- Partial-fee paying students with SHIP are charged the CSU Health Network Fee and Counseling Fee at mid-semester.
- Partial-fee paying students with private insurance are charged the CSU Health Network Fee and Counseling Fee at end-of-semester if services were used.
- More information is here.
- Learn more about tuition and fees here.
- Differential tuition or other fees may also apply to you.
- Information on when student fees show on student accounts is here.
- Graduate student late fees are waived for the first billing cycle of each fall and spring semester. This gives you an extra month to pay your fees.
- Learn more about the Graduate Assistant Mandatory Fee Coverage Plan
Understand Tuition for GAs
- GAs can receive tuition remission.
- Tuition information will be specific to your contract.
- After one year, domestic graduate students need to establish residency to qualify for in state tuition.
- As soon as you move to Colorado, register to vote, register your car, and get an in state license.
- Petition for residency occurs after one year of living in Colorado.
- Generally 20-hour assignment GTAs will receive tuition remission, but not always – check your contract.
- International students who are GRAs can qualify for the Tuition Premium program for their tenure at CSU.
- Domestic 1st year non-resident students who are GRAs can qualify for the Tuition Premium program for their first year.