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Colleges, graduate programs, administrative offices, and research centers appoint graduate students as teaching (TA), research (RA), or graduate assistants (GA). Students apply for and obtain most assistantships through their graduate programs. The Human Resources Job Board has listings for assistantships that are open to the general graduate student population (see listings towards bottom of the above link).
Comprehensive information about assistantships is found at the UIC 101 Graduate Assistants page. That page includes a Graduate Assistantship HR Resource Guide.
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The weekly clock hours of service are based on a forty-hour work-week. Thus, a half-time (50% FTE) appointment requires twenty hours weekly; a 25% appointment requires ten hours weekly; etc. Federal law restricts international employee appointments to 50% FTE (twenty hours per week) during the academic term, regardless of the number of positions held, e.g., a 25% RA can also hold a 25% TA. International students can exceed twenty hours weekly during academic breaks. And, work authorization is impacted by the graduation date.
Minimum stipend amounts are established through collective bargaining. Departments may offer higher than the minimum. See Salary for Graduate Assistantships (includes eligibility criteria for the appointment to be qualified for a waiver of tuition and certain fees) for the current year. Specifications for upcoming years may be viewed in the contract – see the link in the Teaching (TA) and Graduate (GA) Assistantship Labor Agreement section below. Even though Research Assistantship (RA) appointments are not under the contract, the minimum stipend applies to those positions as well. The current hourly graduate minimum wage is $26.43.
Application for Graduate Appointment
Verify with the unit or academic program from which you are seeking an appointment if they require the Application for Graduate Appointment form. Many units and academic programs use their own form. The Graduate College no longer uses this form; it is provided for those programs who still use it.
Tuition and some fees are waived for assistants if the appointment is between 25 and 67 percent for at least three-quarters of the term (91 calendar days in fall or spring semester, 41 calendar days during the summer session). To determine if an appointment meets the calendar-day requirement, see appointment duration ranges. The waiver does not cover any tuition differential that may be assessed, except for students registered in the following programs: Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Physics, and Psychology.
See the tuition schedule for information on specific tuition rates. Graduate students who hold academic appointments as assistants for the spring semester and for whom tuition and service fees were waived in the spring are entitled to a waiver for the summer term immediately following if they do not hold a summer assistantship, provided they are registered for at least three hours during that summer term. Graduate students holding a summer assistantship must satisfy eligibility requirements for a waiver, as described in the previous paragraph, as well as the registration requirements specified below. The current labor contract has expired; however, its terms remain in effect while the new contract is negotiated. Assistantship waivers cover the following charges:
- Full tuition, but note:
- does not cover tuition differential, if applicable
- disciplines under Liberal Arts and Sciences that have a differential will have it waived (Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Physics, and Psychology)
- Service fee
- Health service fee
- Academic facilities maintenance fund assessment (AFMFA)
- Library and Information Technology Assessment (LITA)
- A portion of CampusCare Health Insurance, if the student chooses to be covered by the plan. This applies to Fall and Spring Semesters only (not in Summer terms).
- $437.00 waived
- 20% of the cost of the employee’s first dependent (spouse or child) covered under CampusCare
- 10% of the cost of additional dependents covered under CampusCare
Assistantship waivers do not cover the following charges:
- Tuition differential (if applicable)
- General fee
- CTA transportation fee
- Student-to-student fee
- Sustainability fee
- Office of International Services student fees (international students only)
- The remainder of the cost of CampusCare coverage
For a complete tuition and fee schedule, please refer to the Office of Registration and Records. For full waiver information, please see the current GEO contract.
Dental and Vision Insurance:
Dental and vision benefits are provided by the University for all assistantship recipients with at least a 25% appointment. See the Grad Assistant Dental and Vision Benefits page on the UIC HR website for full details about eligibility and enrollment in these plans. In addition, Assistants who utilize CampusCare should consult the “Benefits” tab on the top of the CampusCare site.
- Full tuition, but note:
For more information:
registering for classes
Registration requirements vary depending on the full-time equivalency (FTE) of the appointment and the term of registration. Some programs may require registration for more than eight hours per term and/or summer registration. Although the Graduate College does not require summer registration to hold a summer assistantship, a minimum of three hours registration is required to receive a summer tuition and partial fee waiver. Students receiving an assistantship must maintain a minimum registration through the end of the term in order to retain the waiver. A minimum of eight (8) hours in fall and spring is required to hold a waiver attached to a 50% FTE assistantship; however, nine (9) credit hours are required to be eligible for a CTA pass. Summer registration is optional for students with summer appointments, but a minimum three (3) hours in summer is required to receive the waiver. International students may have additional registration requirements. Generally:
- assistantship appointments of 50% require 8 hours in Fall and Spring semesters;
- international students may be required to register for a greater number of hours in the Fall and Spring semesters if their appointment is less than 50% FTE.
Summer registration is not required (see above). International students should confer with the Office of International Services for additional information.
templates of offer letters for assistantships
Assistantship Offer Letter Templates: Hiring units must follow the assistantship offer letter template provided by HR for the offer letters sent to teaching assistants (TAs), research assistants (RAs); and graduate assistants (GAs). Note that there are separate templates within the Word document for TAs and GAs, and the templates are by academic year (must be followed, as the tuition differential listings change by academic year). RAs are not part of the GEO union, so information about the union should not be included in the RA offer letter.
Effective August 16, 2006, Teaching and Graduate Assistants at UIC have entered into an agreement by and between the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois and the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO). Administration of the agreement is handled by Office of Human Resources. Please refer to the current agreement (August 16, 2018 – August 15, 2021) to learn more about the rights and responsibilities contained therein. Please refer to the Human Resources web site for contact information.
Assistantships and Student Loans
An assistantship plus any loan or federal work-study eligibility cannot exceed the cost of attendance for the academic year. If applying for loans and/or work-study a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be completed. Consult the Office of Student Financial Aid website for more information, or make an appointment to speak with a Financial Aid Counselor.
Voluntarily saving for retirement
Graduate Assistants may contribute to the 403(b) and/or 457 Deferred Compensation plans. (The former is the non-profit version of the corporate 401(k).) Both optional investment plans are available to all employees receiving compensation from the University. Pre-tax and/or Roth post-tax contributions may be started, changed, or stopped at any time during employment. Annual contribution minima: $200 (or $16.67 per month) for a 403(b); $10 per pay period or 1% of your gross for a 457. The university does not match contributions.
Participating in one or both of these can help supplement retirement planning, and will not reduce any other University benefits. Why bother? A $200 investment at age 30 could grow to over $2000. (Yes, there are a number of variables, but the point is that a small set-aside now can help you in retirement.)
What is the difference between the two? See the chart below. The major differences lie under “Hardship Withdrawals” (pp. 4-5).
Currently, UIC contracts with TIAA and Fidelity for 403(b) plans and T. Rowe Price for 457 plans.
The Graduate College does not handle waivers attached to employment; however, here are some suggestions. First, are you registered for the correct number of hours? If yes: Did your department’s HR person enter your appointment correctly? If yes: Contact Financial Aid. Please note that summer “roll-over” waivers must be entered manually and may not post until the second week of the Summer 2 session.