Graduate Research Assistantship Tuition Matching Program

Effective September 27, 2023, Anupma Prakash, Provost, and Julie Queen, Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services, established the UAF Graduate Research Assistantship (RA) Tuition Matching Program. This program uses institutional resources to provide central tuition support for new graduate students on sponsored program activity that already supports graduate students.  

This program proved successful when tested on a pilot basis for several years within the ocean sciences LTER project; therefore, UAF is expanding the program to all subject areas. The program is subject to the following terms and conditions:

  1. It applies to existing and new sponsored projects that include UAF graduate research assistants where the project supports the stipend and tuition of a minimum of one RA.
  2. The sponsored project (or other aligned funding such as third party or departmental match) will cover the stipends and health insurance cost for the second (matching) graduate RA receiving the UAF central tuition support.
  3. To be eligible, the sponsored project must budget and expend at least one semester of resident tuition plus nonresident tuition (NRT) (if applicable) for each additional RA student supported by UAF. 
  4. The project must expend all of the funds that are budgeted for graduate student stipends, health insurance, and resident and nonresident tuition for those purposes.
  5. The value of tuition (including NRT) funded by the grant cannot be less than the value of tuition support funded by UAF. In other words, if the project budget supports one student’s tuition, and UAF agrees to support the tuition of a second student, each will support one if both are of equal tuition value. If only one student is a non-resident (NRT rate), the project will support that student and UAF will support the resident student. ​

Units will continue to use their standard RA tuition waiver code for all awards and will reconcile the tuition charges (6210) within one month of the close of fee payment each semester, or within one month of the charges posting (if after the fee payment deadline), in order to be eligible.

The graduate RA Tuition Matching Program account is 103010-50175. Each semester, approval for use of this program will come from the Associate Vice Chancellor for Financial and Business Services (Amanda Wall or her designee) upon submission of the RA tuition support reconciliation journal voucher (JV). JVs must contain the following details:

  • Clearly formatted backup showing each grant
  • The student(s) supported by that grant
  • The students the unit is requesting UAF support through this program

This is an important step in expanding UAF’s R1 efforts including support of graduate research assistants. Deans and Directors are hereby delegated authorization to approve graduate RA awards based on the expected use of this program and assume liability for all tuition support awarded for which the administrative processing guidelines or terms and conditions are not met.

How do I actually make use of the GRA Tuition Matching program?

You build salary and graduate health insurance (GHI) support for two graduate assistants into your project proposal.  You also build tuition support for ONE.  When the project is awarded, you hire two GRAs, both of whom are paid their stipends from the project.  The project supports GHI for both students and tuition remission for one, while UAF supports tuition remission for the other.

 How many students will UAF support in this way?

UAF will support any number of new students as GRAs that represent half of the GRAs a restricted program will support, if this support is approved by the unit’s dean or director as part of the proposal submission (or a project modification, if such project is currently in progress).  The key element of this program is that the additional assistantships support new graduate students to UAF.

 All of the prospective GRAs for my program are out-of-state students.  Will UAF still support half of them?

Yes!  This program operates independently of the residency status of graduate students and recognizes that most graduate students are non-residents.  In the event that a graduate student is an Alaska resident or otherwise has a status that does not charge NRS, UAF will support that student, while the sponsored program will support another student in similar status or a non-resident student (whichever applies).  At no time will UAF tuition remission exceed that which is paid by the sponsored program.

 I have two projects:  One supports a GRA and the other does not.  Can I match a second GRA with the project that currently pays a GRA but pay them from the project that does not support a GRA?

No.  In order to monitor the activity and effectiveness of this program, both GRAs must be supported by the same project.  If there is a direct link between the projects, such as a subject or match relationship, please reach out to Financial & Business Services for further consideration.

 My project requires match.  Can I count the university’s tuition support through this program in the total match requirement?

Yes!  If the project requires match, the UAF-supported tuition remission is an excellent source for that!  Please have your unit personnel reach out to Office of Finance & Accounting during the preparation of the RA tuition support reconciliation journal voucher (JV) each semester to ensure the charges and match revenue post to the proper match fund.

Is this program only applicable to FY24?  I have a three-year project proposal I’m developing.

No!  This program is effective unless or until such time it is rescinded.  Please develop the proposal with the expectation that this support will remain in effect for the duration.

 What happens if the program IS rescinded?  Am I on the hook for the promises made to agencies and students?

No.  If UAF decides to end the program, there will be a sunset built into the closure to ensure programs are not left in a lurch.

 Do I need to apply for this support?

No.  This program is open to all units and sponsored activity; the only caveat is that your unit’s dean or director must approve it as part of the project proposal or modification.

 Is there a limited amount of support?

No.  This is a blanket program at UAF and, as long as all guidance is followed, UAF expects this program to be self-sustaining as it scales up.  Considerations to note include:  Do more GRAs facilitate the research objectives; is there sufficient advisor support for the GRAs I want to support; will the agency allow me to bring on more GRAs in lieu of technicians or other personnel I might otherwise need for the project?

 Am I required to make use of this program?

No.  The purpose of the program is to expand support for graduate students while enriching UAF’s research programs and intellectual community.  Each PI must decide what approach is most effective for the proposal or program under consideration; this is another tool available to them. 

 My project supports a GRA, but it cannot support the stipend and GHI of a second.  May I match a second GRA with the project but pay for additional costs from unrestricted funding?

Yes, with the approval of the unit’s dean or director.  To maximize the effectiveness of the program, both GRAs should be paid from the same project, but UAF understands that there are times when other considerations warrant providing support from other sources.   If you have additional questions, please reach out to Financial & Business Services for further consideration.

 I currently have nine graduate students supported by four projects.  May I combine them so that my projects only pay tuition on five?

No!  The purpose of the program is to expand support for graduate students while enriching UAF’s research programs and intellectual community.  In order to work effectively, any tuition match the university provides must be in support of a NEW graduate student at UAF.  If your projects currently support nine graduate students, UAF is thrilled to support the tuition remission of nine new students!  If the budget of current projects can support more GRAs, you can bring them on board as soon as practical (with your unit’s dean or director approval).  Otherwise, you will need to build such consideration into new project proposals to provide future support.

 I have a project that supports five graduate students, and I am going to submit a renewal to continue this research for another five years.  Should I write the proposal to remove tuition support for two of those students?

No.  The program does not work unless more graduate students attend UAF.  The university expects that the new project should continue to support five GRAs, and now UAF will also pay tuition for up to FOUR MORE GRAs as long as the project will/can support their stipends and GHI.  If you need to create minor support adjustments from the project to work within budget constraints, such as reducing project support to four GRAs in order to allow for matching support for four more, that is allowable. 

I have concerns about this program because the RFP on my proposal does not require match, and it specifically states that voluntary match is not allowed.  Can I still participate?

Yes.  This is an internal match program, meaning that it is available to all researchers in all subject areas and is not dependent upon any RFP-specific external criteria to qualify. In other words, UAF is not volunteering match for this particular proposal nor does this program change the competitiveness of proposals because the labor cost of a GRA without tuition remission is not dissimilar to the cost of labor from other employee types.

Language in any proposal's budget justification should only include the support requested by the program: Stipends and graduate health insurance for two GRAs and tuition remission for one GRA.

My program involves UAF and UAA.  If we have one GRA supported on UAF accounting and another supported on UAA accounting, will this program support two more GRAs?

No.  The program will only support additional GRAs when the sponsored GRA is on UAF accounting, regardless of the scope of the program or the total number of sponsored GRAs.

I have a two year project.  I want to support one GRA with the project for two years, but budget constraints will not support the total costs.  May I use the matching program to cover the student’s tuition in year two if the project fully supports the GRA in year one?

No.  This program is intended to expand the number of graduate students at UAF concurrently.  Please reach out to your unit’s dean or director or the UAF Graduate School, for considerations on how to support this student for the full two years.

 

Our staff are happy to answer any questions or help navigate specific scenarios.