Graduate Assistantship Policies
Graduate Assistant – Teaching Assistantships are awarded to students who assist in the education of other students, either undergraduate or graduate, by teaching, tutoring, instructing or lecturing in laboratories or recitations under the direction of a faculty member. It is a school policy that Teaching Assistants are not assigned full responsibility for teaching courses, rather they assist faculty members in course instruction. Teaching Assistantships are supported by Mines as part of its instructional budget. Departments and Divisions select Teaching Assistants on the basis of past teaching experience and academic promise within their respective field. New Teaching Assistants may be required by the Department or Division to which they report, to attend teaching effectiveness workshops that may be offered by the Department, Division or Institution.
Because Teaching Assistants are employed by Mines through academic Departments or Divisions, they are ultimately responsible to the Department or Division Head of the instructional unit responsible for delivering specific courses. As such, Teaching Assistants are subject to not only Institutional requirements, but also additional policies in effect in specific Departments or Divisions. While Mines establishes minimum stipend rates and maximum workload expectations, teaching assignments, workloads, and compensation may vary according to policies specific to each academic unit.
Graduate Assistant – Research Assistantships are supervised by individual faculty members to perform research that is associated with a student’s area of study. The work is technical in nature, requires significant education and experience, is directly related toward meeting the research requirements of a student’s thesis-based degree program, but may also include additional assignments that are peripheral toward meeting degree requirements (e.g., facility management, report preparation, laboratory assistance, etc.). In comparing the workload associated of a Research appointment with the maximum loads allowed by the Institution, only those components of the assignment NOT directly related to a student’s degree requirements are considered. Components associated with meeting degree requirements are considered academic in nature and their workload expectation is associated with the number of research credit hours in which the student registers.
Research Assistantships are often supported or fully subsidized by grants or funds received as sponsored research contracts. As grants are usually awarded with the understanding that specific milestones will be met, Research Assistantships often require students to work closely with individual faculty members responsible to the funding agency to ensure grant milestones are met. Research Assistants are employed by the Institution through individual faculty members. Faculty within specific departments or research units may define policies related to the employment of Research Assistants that extend the policies defined by the Institution. So, while the Institution establishes minimum stipend rates and maximum workload expectations, teaching assignments, workloads, and compensation may vary according to policies specific to each academic or research unit.
Graduate Hourly Appointments are made to students who work part-time on campus to provide assistance in areas that are unrelated to their academic program and that do not involve teaching or research duties of the nature expected of Graduate Research and Graduate Teaching Assistants. Graduate Hourly Appointees are supervised by Mines faculty or staff and may provide clerical, administrative and technical support for academic and administrative units and individual Mines faculty and research units.
Roles and Responsibilities
- Acts as an advocate for graduate students at the institutional, state and national levels.
- Disseminates information on institutional policies related to graduate student employment.
- Monitors academic progress of graduate assistants.
- Coordinates and mediates relevant activities of the Offices of Research Administration, Financial Aid and Human Resources.
Appointee Supervisors: The Appointee Supervisor is the faculty or staff member from whom the Graduate Assistant or Graduate Hourly Appointee receives their formal work assignment and who oversees the performance of this work assignment. Responsibilities of the Appointee Supervisor include
- Meeting with the Appointee early in the semester, and providing the Appointee a clear and concise assignment and expectations to be used for measuring successful completion of the assignment.
- Providing the Appointee with the Supervisor’s travel schedule and emergency contact information as appropriate.
- Providing the Appointee with the appropriate support commensurate with the type and expectations of the appointment.
- Meeting regularly with the Appointee to review Appointee performance.
- Notifying the Appointee and the Institution in a timely manner in the event of difficulties associated with a current appointment.
Graduate Appointees: Graduate Assistant and Graduate Hourly Appointees are engaged in a wide variety of activities that support the teaching and research missions of the Colorado School of Mines. Some of the responsibilities and expectations of a Graduate Appointee are listed below. Many responsibilities and expectations of a Graduate Appointee are specific to their assignment, but all Appointments include the following responsibilities and expectations.
- Schedule a meeting with supervisor within the first week of classes to discuss specifics of your work assignment.
- After this meeting, provide the supervisor with a written schedule of work hours and/or agreed upon tasks at the beginning of each semester and contact information.
- Contact the supervisor immediately if you cannot meet a work assignment.
- Perform tasks assigned by your supervisor professionally and promptly.
- The Graduate School expects supervisors to provide regular oversight of Graduate Appointees. This oversight could be in the form of written or oral performance evaluations. If an Appointee is not receiving regular performance evaluations, he/she should request them from their supervisor.
- Maintain good academic standing and meet the minimum registration requirements of your appointment.
- Mines views Graduate Assistant and Graduate Hourly Appointees as emerging scholars and teachers. Professional deportment should be observed at all times.
- Appointees must be making satisfactory progress toward degree completion as defined in the Graduate Catalog. Briefly, progress toward degree completion may be deemed unsatisfactory if any of the following conditions is true:
- Failure to maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or greater;
- Receipt of an “In-Progress-Unsatisfactory” grade for research; or
- Receipt of an “Unsatisfactory Progress” recommendation from: 1) the head or director of the student’s home department or division, 2) the student’s thesis committee, or 3) a departmental committee charged with the responsibility of monitoring a student’s progress.
- During the regular academic year, appointees must be enrolled as full-time students. Normally, full-time enrollment is defined as 9 credit hours per semester. Students in thesis-based programs who have been Admitted to Candidacy may be eligible for full-time enrollment at a reduced credit hour rate. Full-time enrollment at the reduced credit hour rate is 4 credits. See the Graduate Catalog for conditions that must be met for qualification of reduced enrollment.
- Students on Research Assistantship appointments must register for at least 1 credit hour of Research Credit.
Enrollment requirements for summer appointments are defined below.
- Appointees must meet all eligibility requirements for employment in the United States. See State and Federal Compliance section below.
- Lastly, we expect students to devote an appropriate amount of time and energy to completing their work assignments. As Graduate Appointments require full-time enrollment in their graduate program in addition to the work assigned through the Appointment, it is unlikely that Appointees can successfully meet the expectations of each of these commitments while maintaining additional, outside employment. So that supervisors and advisors may adequately advise a potential appointee and so that they may be aware of any potential conflicts of interest in assigning a specific appointment, Appointees who are, or will be, seeking employment outside of Mines during the term of their Graduate Appointment must make their advisor and supervisor aware of the outside employment and receive permission from both to concurrently hold a Graduate Assistant or Graduate Hourly Appointment while working for an outside employer.
Graduate Assistant Appointments may be made at workloads of up to 100%. Examples of four common assistantship appointments are given below.
- quarter-time (25% or 0.25 FTE)
- half-time (50% or 0.5 FTE)
- three-quarter time (75% or 0.75 FTE)
- full-time (100% or 1 FTE)
A Graduate Assistantship Appointment of 1 FTE (100% or full-time) normally requires a minimum service expectation of about 40 hours per week. Assignments at fractions of an FTE (i.e., 0.25, 0.5 and 0.75) have service expectations that are the equivalent fraction of the full-time expectation (i.e., 0.5 FTE implies a minimum service expectation of 20 hours per week).
During the academic year, Graduate Assistantship appointments are limited to no more than 0.5 FTE (20 hours per week). During the summer, Graduate Assistantship appointments may be made up to 1.0 FTE (40 hours per week). See below for utilization of, and limits imposed on Calendar Year appointment types.
Graduate Hourly Appointments are awarded with an explicit indication of the number of hours per week expected. Students on Graduate Hourly Appointments must submit time sheets indicating the actual hours worked and are compensated on an hourly basis for these.
During the academic year, Graduate Hourly Appointments are limited to no more than 20 hours per week. During the summer, Graduate Hourly appointments may be made up to 40 hours per week.
Students may concurrently hold multiple Graduate Assistant and Graduate Hourly appointments. In the case that a student holds multiple appointments, the student must make all departments, divisions or PIs overseeing the work assignments of each appointment aware of his/her multiple commitments. The sum of the total work commitments may not exceed the institutional limits defined above for a single appointment (i.e., 0.5 FTE or 20 hours during the academic year and 1.0 FTE or 40 hours during the summer).
Terms of Appointment
Fall and Spring Appointments constitute appointments made for any time period during the regular academic year. During the academic year, appointees may not hold Graduate Assistant or Graduate Hourly appointments with a total service expectation in excess of 0.5 FTE or 20 hours per week. Students on Assistantship and Hourly appointments must be full-time registered during the regular academic semester in which they are employed by the Assistantship or Hourly Appointment.
The Fall appointment period runs from September 1 through December 31. Students on Fall appointments are paid eight times during the appointment period as defined below.
|Fall Pay Period Pay Dates|
|Sept. 15||Sept. 30||Oct. 15||Oct. 31||Nov. 15||Nov. 30||Dec. 15||Dec. 31|
Spring appointments run from January 1 through April 30. Students on Spring appointments are paid eight times during the appointment period as defined below.
|Spring Pay Period Pay Dates|
|Jan. 15||Jan. 31||Feb. 15||Feb. 28/29||Mar. 15||Mar. 31||Apr. 15||Apr. 30|
Summer Appointments constitute appointments made outside of the regular academic year during the summer (i.e., May through August). These appointments may run the entire four months of the summer session, or during the Field (i.e., May and June) or Summer (i.e., July and August) sessions only. Appointees may hold Graduate Assistant or Graduate Hourly Appointments during the summer with service expectations of up to 1.0 FTE. To hold an Appointment above 0.5 FTE, students may not be concurrently registered for classes during the Field or Summer terms. If registration includes coursework, the maximum appointment workload during the summer is equivalent to that imposed during the regular academic year.
Summer appointments run from May 1 through August 31. Students on appointments providing support for the entire summer are paid eight times during the appointment period as defined below.
|Summer Pay Period Pay Dates|
|May 15||May 31||Jun. 15||Jun. 30||Jul. 15||Jul. 31||Aug. 15||Aug. 31|
Depending on the type of appointment, appointees may, or may not, have to register during the Summer. See the Registration Requirements for Summer Appointments below for details.
Calendar Year Appointments constitute commitments made to appointees that provide employment support over an entire calendar year, usually Fall through Summer. Most often, Calendar Year Appointments are made as Graduate Assistantship Appointments. These Assistantship Appointments could be in the form of Calendar Year Research or Teaching Assistantship Appointments, or could be a combination of the two types of Assistantships that vary over the course of the calendar year.
As described above, during the regular academic year, Graduate Assistantship Appointments may not exceed a service expectation of 0.5 FTE. During the summer (i.e., field and summer sessions) Appointments may be made up to 1.0 FTE. For the purposes of establishing the appropriate minimum institutional stipend rate for Calendar Year Appointments, an appointment with a 0.5 FTE workload during the academic year and a 1.0 FTE load during the summer, the most common type of Calendar Year Appointment, and is referred to in the table below as a 0.67 FTE Calendar Year Appointment. Calendar Year Appointments made at less than 0.67 FTE have fractionally less workload expectations during the academic and summer semesters. So, for example, a 0.33 FTE Calendar Year Appointment would have an academic semester workload expectation of 0.25 FTE and a summer semester workload expectation of 0.5 FTE.
Departments award Calendar Year Appointments with the expectation of this varying level of service commitment, but they do so by providing appointees with a uniform monthly stipend over the entire calendar year. Thus, if one were to compute a per-hour pay rate, Calendar Year appointees receive higher per-hour salary during the academic year than they do during the summer. As long as the pay averaged over the entire calendar year meets the institutional minimum pay requirements as defined below, however, these appointments are in compliance with Mines guidelines.
Minimum stipend rates are as follows*:
|Academic Year||2-wk pay period, 0.5 FTE||2-wk pay period, 0.67 FTE|
*Corresponding annual minimum salaries for students who receive 0.5 FTE contracts in fall and spring and 1.0 FTE contracts in summer, as well as for students who receive 0.67 FTE contracts in fall, spring, and summer, are $21,120 (AY 16-17), $22,400 (AY 17-18), and $24,000 (AY 18-19).
In addition to the stipend rates, the FTE assignments that should be indicated on the Implementation Commitment for each semester during which a student is supported on a Calendar Year Appointment are also indicated.
Graduate Hourly Appointments are compensated on an hourly basis determined by the number of hours actually worked. Mines mandates no minimum hourly pay rate for Graduate Hourly appointments, but strongly encourages pay rates commensurate with those required for Assistantship Appointments.
The Colorado School of Mines considers tuition remission granted as part of an Assistantship award financial aid. It is awarded for the sole purpose of aiding the student in the pursuit of his or her studies and is paid independent of the stipend. As such, tuition remission is not conditioned upon the student’s provision of any services to Mines and will, therefore, not be deemed taxable compensation. In the event of appointment termination, any payments made in the form of tuition remission prior to the termination date constitute irrevocable financial aid. The student cannot be compelled to repay such awards.
Graduate Hourly Appointments are not eligible for tuition remission as part of the Graduate Hourly Appointment.
Full or partial tuition remission in the form of a Fellowship Award may be made to any student not eligible for tuition remission as part of their Graduate Assistant or Graduate Hourly Appointment. To do so, however, the award must be an allowable expense given the source of the funds used.
If the source of funds is sponsored research please contact the Office of Research Administration for further guidance.
Fee and Health Insurance Remission
Additionally, Health Insurance is required of all students as a Mandatory Health Insurance fee; unless a student can prove coverage through another plan. Graduate Assistant Appointments are eligible for remission of the required Health Insurance fee. Students who incur a Health Insurance fee while on a Graduate Assistant Appointment that does not remit, as part of the appointment, the Health Insurance fee are responsible for payment of this Mandatory fee.
Graduate Hourly Appointments are not eligible for Mandatory Fee or Health Insurance remission as part of the Graduate Hourly Appointment.
Registration Requirements for Summer Appointments
Research Assistant Appointments: By definition Research Assistants are presumed to be working toward degree and, therefore, MUST REGISTER during the summer semester. The required minimum registration for a Research Assistant appointed during the summer is three (3) credits of research in the Summer II term. To insure research appointees have access to the appropriate campus services including building access, Health Center, Recreation Center, etc., Research Appointees MUST REGISTER for the required research credits BY THE LAST DAY OF REGISTRATION FOR THE SUMMER I TERM. All Research Appointees are assessed tuition at the normal summer tuition rates and Mandatory Fees at the “Thesis Research” rate.
If a student on a Research Assistant Appointment is also completing coursework during the Summer I or II terms, the Appointee MUST REGISTER FOR THESE COURSES IN ADDITION to the required three credits of research in Summer II. The registration deadline for coursework registration is the normal deadline for the Summer I or II session course. Tuition is assessed for both the required research and coursework credit hours at the normal Summer I and Summer II rates. Mandatory Fees incurred by students completing both research and coursework during the summer are assessed at the “Thesis Research” rate.
NOTE: Master’s Non-Thesis students are not eligible for Research Tuition Fellowship. For exceptions, please contact the Dean.
Teaching Assistant and Hourly Appointments: If a Graduate Teaching Assistant or Graduate Hourly Appointee is not working toward degree requirements at any time during the Summer I or II sessions (i.e., May through August), REGISTRATION during the Summer I or II terms IS NOT REQUIRED. Such appointees will, however, be subject to the TIAA payroll deductions as defined below.
Summer fees are not automatically assessed for students who do not register. So, unless students proactively indicate they want fees assessed, students working on Teaching Assistant or Hourly Appointments during the summer will not have access to university-provided services (e.g., Health Center, Recreation Center, etc.).
If a Teaching Assistant or Hourly Appointee is also working toward degree requirements during the Summer I or II terms (i.e., May through August), these appointees must register as appropriate.
- Appointees completing research during the summer must register for at least one (1) credit hour of research. The registration deadline for this required research registration is the last day of registration for the SUMMER I TERM
- Students completing coursework must register for the appropriate courses by the appropriate Summer I or II registration deadline. Tuition is assessed for all credits in which a student is registered at the normal Summer I or II tuition rates. Mandatory fees incurred by students completing coursework are assessed at the appropriate Summer I or II rates. Mandatory fees incurred by students completing research are assessed at the “Thesis Research” rate.
- Teaching Assistant or Hourly Appointees working toward degree during the summer by completing both research and coursework during the summer (i.e., May through August) are required to register for both research credit hours and course credit hours as defined above by the deadlines defined above. Tuition is assessed for both the required research and coursework credit hours at the normal Summer I and/or II rates. Mandatory fees incurred by students completing both research and coursework during the summer (i.e., May through August) are assessed at the “Thesis Research” rate.
Students required to register during the Summer semester are responsible for all Mandatory fees incurred during the Summer semester. These fees may, or may not be remitted as part of a Graduate Assistant Appointment. Students for whom registration is not required during the Summer semester but who are working on campus may choose to pay Mandatory Fees at the “Thesis Research” rate. Payment of these fees provides students access to campus facilities including, but not limited to the Library, Health Center, Recreation Center, etc. during the entire summer (i.e., May through August). Requests for prorating of this voluntary fee payment will not be considered.
To initiate a Graduate Assistantship or Graduate Hourly contract, departments, divisions or PIs must complete the electronic Institutional Implementation Commitment form found here. The completed implementation form represents the formal agreement entered into by Mines through the department, division or PI with the student. It will explicitly spell out the duration of the agreement, the level of compensation, the amount of tuition/fee remission and specifics regarding the services to be rendered by the appointee. The electronic version of the form must be emailed to email@example.com to implement the financial specifics of the contract. Upon completion, the student signed signed copy of the implementation form should reside in the department or division issuing the agreement with a copy sent by campus mail to the Office of Human Resources.
Institutional Financial Aid/Fellowship Programs
- encourage Departments and Divisions to admit, and support, more academically qualified students into their graduate programs,
- stimulate the research enterprise at Mines by increasing the cost-competitiveness of research grants submitted, and
- increase the quality and diversity of the graduate student body by providing research-active faculty the ability to provide long-term support for top-quality international students,
the Colorado School of Mines has defined two fellowship programs available to help defray tuition costs for non-resident students employed by the Institution as Graduate Assistants.
Academic Year, Differential Tuition Fellowship Program: The Colorado School of Mines will provide Fellowship support in the amount of the difference between non-resident tuition and resident tuition for some Graduate Assistants. To be eligible for this program, awardees and assistantship contracts must meet one of the following conditions.
- All international students who are in good academic standing and are employed by the Institution through an Assistantship (TA or RA) contract at the 0.5 FTE level and whose contract pays the resident portion of the tuition.
- All first-year US resident students who are in good academic standing and are employed by the Institution through an Assistantship (TA or RA) contract at the 0.5 FTE level and whose contract pays the resident portion of the tuition. US resident students are not eligible for the Differential Tuition Fellowship Program after their first year.
Differential Tuition Fellowship awards are made as part of the graduate contracting process defined below. For students whose Teaching or Research obligations extend across multiple academic units, to be eligible for the Differential Tuition Fellowship a single Assistantship implementation agreement should be submitted that shows the appropriate distribution of effort across the academic units. Differential Tuition Fellowship awards will not be considered for students supported on multiple implementation agreements even if the sum of these meets the minimum effort required.
Summer Term, Research Tuition Fellowship Program: The Colorado School of Mines will provide Fellowship support in the amount of three (3) credits of resident or non-resident tuition for Graduate Research Assistants employed during the summer. To be eligible for this program, awardees and assistantship contracts must meet either of the following conditions;
- graduate students appointed during the summer as Research Assistants at the 1.0 FTE level with stipend funding derived from an external source that pays overhead to the institution, or
- graduate students appointed to 0.67 FTE Calendar Year Graduate Assistant appointments, with research responsibilities during the summer semester and summer stipend funding derived from an external source that pays overhead to the institution.
Research Tuition Awards are made as part of the graduate contracting process defined below. As Research Assistants are required to register for three (3) credits of research during the summer. The Research Tuition Fellowship Program is used to offset the cost of this required registration. Registration associated with coursework completed during the summer is above and beyond the required research registration and is not covered by this Research Tuition Fellowship Program.
State and Federal Compliance
These required forms MUST be submitted to the HR Office before the start date to ensure Federal and State compliance laws.
Federal regulations require automatic payroll deduction for retirement from all university employees. Normally, this deduction is in the form of a Social Security deduction. At Mines, however, the retirement payroll deduction is in the form of a personal TIAA retirement account contribution. The only exception to this payroll deduction requirement allowed by federal regulations is for student employees who are registered at half-time or more during the semester in which they are contracted.
During the academic year, as all Graduate Assistant and Graduate Hourly Appointees must be registered full time, TIAA payroll deductions are not withheld from student appointees. During the summer, however, TIAA payroll deductions may be withheld for some student appointees. To remain in compliance with federal regulations, Mines deducts TIAA contributions from student pay for students on TA, RA and Hourly contracts during the summer semester who are registered for less than 1.5 credit hours. Therefore, any student who qualifies for the summer registration exception defined above will have TIAA contributions deducted from their pay during the summer semester.
The TIAA deduction amount is 7.5% of your pre-tax pay. Deductions are placed in your personal TIAA account. You may request a withdrawal of your fund balance from TIAA, subject to taxes and withdrawal penalties, once you are no longer a student or employee at Mines. For questions regarding TIAA go to the TIAA website or call 800-842-2252.
Glossary of Terms Related to Graduate Appointments
- Stipend: Total salary received by a student appointee as compensation for services rendered to the institution. Graduate stipends are paid every two weeks during the term of the appointee’s contract.
- Tuition Remission: Departments, Divisions or PI’s may choose to pay, as part of the appointment, the full-time tuition of the appointee. This payment is referred to as tuition remission.
- Insurance Remission: Departments, Divisions or PI’s may choose to pay, as part of the appointment, the mandatory health insurance of the appointee. This payment is referred to as insurance remission.
- Mandatory Fee Remission: Departments, Divisions or PI’s may choose to pay, as part of the appointment, the mandatory fees of the appointee. This payment is referred to as mandatory fee remission.
- FTE or Full-Time-Equivalent: A measure of the work effort expected for the specific appointment. One full-time-equivalent, or 1.0 FTE, is a workload approximately equivalent to 40 hours per week. Fractions of an FTE have workload expectations in hours that are approximately fractional to this 1.0 FTE level. For example, an appointment at the level of 0.5 FTE would have an expected workload of approximately 20 hours per week.
- Reduced Registration: Normally, to maintain full-time status, appointees must register for 9 credit hours per semester. Upon completion of certain requirements and submission of the appropriate paperwork, appointees may be eligible for full-time registration at a reduced number of credit hours. This is referred to as reduced registration. Please see the Graduate Catalog for specifics on the requirements of eligibility for reduced registration.
- Differential Tuition Award: Differential tuition is the difference in dollars between non-resident and resident tuition. The differential tuition award is an institutional fellowship program that provides this tuition difference as part of the graduate appointment. If a student is eligible for a differential tuition award, the difference between non-resident and resident tuition is provided by Mines and, therefore, does not have to be provided by the Department, Division or Faculty member. The differential tuition award is intended to remove any financial disincentive for researchers to provide support to non-resident graduate students.
- Institutional Implementation Commitments: These are part of the Graduate Assistant, Graduate Hourly and Fellowship awarding process. These forms must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by the appointing department, division or PI each semester an appointment is active. These spreadsheets specify how Mines is to financially implement the contract. A student signed copy of the implementation form represents the Student Agreement form and a copy should be sent to the Office of Human Resources.