FROM:  Jim Guikema
DATE: 3/5/2000

We have gotten a number of inquiries recently about the minimum enrollment thresholds for graduate students. This is a complex issue and our answer depends upon exactly how the question was asked. Unfortunately, in one or two instances recently, the wrong question resulted in the wrong answer for the right situation.

Doctoral students who have passed their prelims are required to maintain continuous enrollment thereafter. The minimum enrollment for this is 1 credit hour for the fall and spring semesters. Students enrolling at these levels are not considered full-time.

For masters and doctoral students who have assistantships, special regulations apply for the purposes of 1) student status to exempt the withholding of Social Security tax, 2) waivers of out-of-state tuition for non-resident students, 3) tuition waivers for students on GTA appointments, and 4) health insurance benefits for GRAs and GTAs.

Students are eligible for tuition benefits for each term in which they hold an appointment of at least 0.4 time.  GRAs pay tuition at the staff rate which is really the in-state, resident, rate.  Those who have been on appointments for at least 0.4 time during the spring term are eligible for staff fees during the following summer term, even though they may not hold assistantships.

Graduate teaching assistants receive a full tuition waiver for spring and fall semesters in which they hold at least a 0.4 appointment.  These waivers may or may not be available in the summer.  If not, teaching assistants, like research assistants, pay resident fees for the summer term if they have held a 0.4 appointment in the previous spring.

Funds are provided for tuition benefits only; students are still responsible for campus privilege fees.

To be eligible for these tuition benefits, students must be enrolled for a minimum of 6 graduate credit hours in a fall and spring semester.  (Individual departments MAY also require minimum enrollment in the summer of 3 graduate credit hours.)  The requirement to be enrolled in 6 hours is not a Graduate School requirement, nor even a University requirement.  It is required by the State.  Therefore, it cannot be waived by the Graduate School.

Graduate teaching assistants must be on appointment from September 1 through November 17 for the fall semester and February 1 through April 17 for the spring semester.  (Actual dates are subject to change.)  If a graduate appointment does not begin by these dates or terminates before these ending dates, all tuition benefits will be lost, and the student then is responsible for the total tuition payment.

Students who are on appointments and do not enroll in 6 hours do not receive tuition benefits.  Therefore, if they are classified as non-residents, they will pay non-resident tuition.  (They will also have Social Security withheld from their paychecks and the department will have to pay their share of these taxes.  This amounts to about 8% for the student and 8% for the department.)  They are also not in compliance with the stated requirements and should not hold an appointment.  This is why the Graduate School notifies the departments when students are not enrolled in 6 hours.

As stated before, if a student is not on appointment for the required time period, he/she does not receive tuition benefits.  Therefore, he/she would not have to enroll for 6 hours, but the withholding taxes will be withheld and those taxes will be charged to the department.  Also as stated before, the student will pay non-resident tuition if classified as a non-resident.

To many students who no longer have an appointment it comes as a surprise when they have to pay non-resident tuition.  Because they have been paying resident tuition, they think they are residents for tuition purposes.  If a student was classified as a non-resident when admitted to K-State and remained continuously enrolled, their classification does not change.  They are just given the privilege of resident tuition as a benefit of their appointments.

What if a student has a graduate appointment for a short period of time in the semester of graduation?  The University does have a written policy that an employee of the University will be given resident tuition the semester of graduation.  (This would impact only those who are classified as non-residents, of course.)  The key here is they must be an employee for some period of time during the semester of graduation.  If that situation exists, the Graduate School needs to receive a request from the major professor or graduate program director to allow resident tuition.  That letter needs to include the statement that the student will graduate that semester and the date when the appointment will terminate.

What is the appropriate number of hours to be enrolled when an appointment ends before mid-April?  Enrollment should reflect the amount of time and effort given by faculty, facilities used by the student, and the length of time the student is being supported.   For example, if an appointment ends by mid-February, one hour may be sufficient.  If it ends by mid-March, three hours seems more appropriate.

I hope this clears up any confusion about what is required and why.  If you still have questions, you may want to contact the Graduate School.   I am available for questions/concerns.

James A. Guikema
Associate Dean (Interim) and Professor of Biology
Graduate School
Kansas State University
103 Fairchild Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506
voice: 785 - 532 - 7927
fax:   785 - 532 - 2983

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