Getting started in your assistantship
This tutorial provides training and guidance to prepare you for the start of your appointment as a graduate assistant (GA), graduate research assistant (GRA), or graduate teaching assistant (GTA).
Understanding responsibilities and expectations
When offered an assistantship, the employing unit should provide you with a contract that clearly states your appointment type (GTA, GRA, GA, or combination), the full-time equivalency (FTE), duration (e.g., nine or twelve month), stipend amount, and other benefits (e.g., tuition remission or support). If these or other terms of the appointment are not provided or are not clear, ask for clarification before agreeing to the appointment
If you accept an assistantship, you will need to complete paperwork to be placed on payroll. Make sure that the employment details on this paperwork aligns with the terms outlined in your contract.
At the start of your appointment
Meet with your supervisor to discuss
- The responsibilities and expectations of your appointment
- Any special training you need to complete before starting your appointment
- What your work schedule will be and if you will have standard work hours or if work time will vary throughout the semester
- Whether or not you are expected to work during student and university holidays (more on this in the "Work hours and pay" section below)
Throughout your appointment
Having regular discussions about expectations with your supervisor helps you be successful in your assistantship. Ask questions or request clarification if you are ever unsure what is expected of you.
As a GTA, GRA, or GA, you are a K-State employee and play an important role in making K-State a safe and inclusive community. All K-State employees are required to report violations of PPM Chapter 3010, Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Violence, Domestic and Dating Violence, and Stalking, and Procedure for Reviewing Complaints to the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE). Kansas State University fosters an environment of open communication and is committed to protecting individuals from retaliation who participate or engage in protected activities.
In the following video, you will learn:
- What types of behavior your are required to report in your role as a K-State employee
- How to report
- How to offer support to those who may have experienced harassment or violence
Work hours and pay
HRIS is K-State's web-based Human Resources Information System used to maintain all K-State employee information. The video below provides an overview of how to access and use HRIS for actions such as reporting work time (if you are a GA or hourly employee) and viewing your paycheck.
Work hours requirements and limitations
The video below explains the following:
- Requirements for recording work hours
- Limitations to student work hours
Do I have to report work hours?
Per requirements of the Affordable Care Act:
- GTAs and GRAs do not record work hours and are paid a bi-weekly rate
- GAs and hourly student employees record hours worked and are paid based on recorded work hours
Maximum hours allowed to work
Per K-State's Policy and Procedure Manual, the following limitations are in place for student work hours:
- You may not work more than the hours associated with the FTE of your appointment
- When classes or finals are in session
- Domestic students may work a maximum of 30 hours per week IF concurrently employed on an assistantship and an hourly student appointment
- International students on F1 or J1 visas may work a maximum of 20 hours per week
- During the summer semester and when classes are not in session
- All students (including F-1 and J-1 students) are limited to 30 hours per week while enrolled in four or more credit hours and up to 40 hours during other weeks.
Your first paycheck
Because paychecks are disbursed two weeks after the end of a pay period, your first paycheck will be disbursed four weeks after you begin your assistantship. However, if there was a delay in processing your assistantship paperwork for payroll, it's possible that your first paycheck will be disbursed more than four weeks after you begin your assistantship. If you have questions about when you will receive your first paycheck, discuss with the HR liaison in your employing unit.
The video below explains when student employees are exempt from payroll taxes based on your citizenship status and based on the number of hours you are enrolled.
Depending on your appointment, you may be required to work on campus, or complete work remotely, during student and university holidays. For example, some research experiments must continue through holidays and weekends, and animals involved in research need daily care. Also, while GTAs will have a break from the classroom during holidays, they likely will still have grading or class prepping to complete. It is important to consult with your assistantship supervisor at the start of your appointment regarding expectations for work time and responsibilities during holidays and ask questions at any time that expectations are unclear.
Although, GTAs, GRAs, and GAs, are not eligible to earn paid vacation and sick leave, this does not mean that you are expected to work when sick or that you will never be permitted personal vacation time.
- At the start of your appointment, discuss expectations and procedures with your supervisor regarding personal vacation time, as well as how to make up time and work that is missed due to illness
- Notify your supervisor as soon as possible if you are ill or have unexpected emergencies during your work time
- Always seek approval from your supervisor in advance of making personal vacation plans
Resident rate tuition
Students holding a 0.4 FTE appointment as a GRA, GTA, GA, or any combination of these, are assessed tuition at the resident rate.
Graduate students appointed on full-time GTA appointments (0.5 FTE) receive tuition remission for a maximum of 10 hours in the fall and spring semesters and 6 hours in the summer semester. GTAs appointed less than 0.5 FTE are eligible to receive partial tuition remission based on the proportion of the teaching appointments. GTA tuition waivers are provided for tuition benefits only; students will be responsible for privilege fees and other fees associated with enrollment. More information is available in Chapter 1, section G.4 of the Graduate Handbook.
GRAs and GAs
K-State does not have an official tuition remission program for GRAs and GAs. However, faculty who hire GRAs through a research grant might provide tuition assistance in addition to the stipend. If you are appointed as a GRA, your appointment offer letter and contract should have indicated whether tuition support is included with your appointment. Most GA appointments do not include tuition support. If your employing unit offers tuition support, this should have been stated in your appointment offer letter and contract.
Tuition payment deferral
GTAs and GRAs receive an automatic tuition deferment in their first semester of employment. This deferment delays the due date of your tuition payment.
- Other charges (e.g., parking permit, athletic tickets, housing) are not included in the deferment, so you will be expected to pay those charges by the due date stated in your bill.
- The deferment is not applied until your appointment paperwork is processed and you are placed on payroll. If the initial tuition payment due date arrives before your appointment paperwork is processed, you will be charged a late fee, but the late fee will be removed or credited once your appointment paperwork is processed. If you have concerns that the tuition deferral has not been applied, consult with your hiring unit to make sure your appointment paperwork has been processed, or contact the Cashiers Office.
GTAs, GRAs, and GAs who meet eligibility requirements may enroll in the Kansas Board of Regents Injury and Sickness Insurance Plan for a reduced premium. This health insurance is available to any K-State student. The benefit for eligible GTAs, GRAs, and GAs is that you pay only 25% of the premium (enroll in Plan 3 of this policy).
Eligibility for the GRA/GTA/GA insurance is determined at the beginning of each semester.
- You must be appointed as a .5 GTA/GRA/GA (or any combination of the three to equal .5 FTE)
- Fall and spring: for a minimum of eight consecutive workweeks during the semester
- Summer: for a minimum of four consecutive workweeks from June 1 through July 31
Important notes about enrollment procedures
Access the online enrollment form, find enrollment deadlines, coverage dates, and premium costs on K-State's GRA/GTA/GA Student Employee Health Insurance webpage
- Must enroll each fall, spring, and summer term that you wish to have coverage, and must meet eligibility requirements listed above
- Enrollment is completed in the UnitedHealthcare Student Resources (UHCSR) website
- After you complete the enrollment form, K-State's Division of Human Resources (HR) is prompted to verify that you are appointed to a .5 FTE assistantship for the relevant semester. This process will be delayed if you enroll in health insurance before completing payroll paperwork with your employing unit.
- Once UHCSR has confirmation of your eligibility, they send you a secure email to submit payment, which must be submitted within 5 days.
Dental and vision coverage
Dental and vision insurance is not included in the Injury and Sickness Plan. There are options to enroll in vision and dental coverage in the UHCSR enrollment page. Enrollment for dental and vision insurance is available only in the fall semester, unless if you begin your graduate program in the spring semester.
Information for international students who are GTAs, GRAs, or GAs
Please read the important information on the mandatory health insurance and the waiver process from International Student and Scholar Services.
Once you are enrolled, if you have questions about health insurance coverage, please direct those questions to UHCSR. K-State staff cannot answer questions about health insurance coverage.
Graduate students who welcome a new child (whether through childbirth, adoption, or foster care) are eligible to request academic leave and if employed as a GTA, GRA, or GA, may be eligible for paid employment leave. Interested students should review the full policy in the Graduate Handbook and will need to complete an accommodation application form.
Parental leave materials and resources:
All graduate students who purchase a campus parking permit will purchase a student permit. GTAs and GRAs on at least a 0.4 FTE appointment may request a Faculty/Staff overlay that makes the permit valid for W, T, and Z lots. Student parking permits are valid for O, T, and Z lots.
Factors to consider
- If you are eligible and chose the Faculty/Staff overlay, you will not be able to park in O lots. Depending on where you are primarily working on campus, a Faculty/Staff permit may or may not give you access to better parking. Reference campus parking maps to see parking available near specific buildings and the types of permits that are valid in specific lots.
- Garage access - If you wish to park in the parking garage, simply having a student parking permit may be a more economical option. If you have the Faculty/Staff overlay, you will have to pay the standard hourly rate to park in the garage ($1.50 per hour, maximum of $12 per day). With a student permit, in addition to the base cost for the permit, you will pay one fee of $30 for daytime garage access or $20 for after-hours garage access. Learn more on the Parking Services website.