Assistantships - Teaching and Research

2018-19 RA/TA/Fellow Health Insurance Rates
ANNUAL $2459.00
FALL ONLY $896.00
SPRING/SUMMER $1563.00

Graduate Assistantships

NOTE: Other conditions may apply - Please carefully read the FAQ's on the right hand side of this page in addition to the information below.

Teaching Assistantships and Research Assistantships are now available to domestic graduate students in six-credits. International students in F-1 or J-1 status MUST be full-time (click here for the definition) unless pre-approved for reduced workload in their FINAL semester.   More information on restrictions for International students can be found in red below.

Graduate assistants can be paid for the equivalent of a maximum of 20 hours per week while school is in session. Students with assistantships must be registered for at least six credits during the fall and spring semesters (audited classes do not count towards registration requirements)

Students who have a 21 – 40 hour per week research or teaching assistantship during the summer semester are in taxable status by default and have no summer registration requirements

Teaching assistantships 

Teaching assistantships may involve teaching courses, leading a discussion section, supervising a laboratory or meeting with students. The typical appointment involves working up to 20 hours per week. A teaching assistant receives a stipend, health insurance and tuition payment (see below) by the university:

  • For no more than 10 credits if the workload is 15 to 20 hours per week.
  • For no more than 5 credits if the workload is less than 14 hours per week.

Teaching assistants who are solely paper graders are required to fill out timesheets.

Research Assistantships

Research Assistantships are most common in science and engineering fields, but are often available in other fields as well. Research assistants work in laboratories and other settings to assist faculty on research projects. Research assistants also receive a stipend, health insurance, a tuition award based on workload (see below) and in some cases may include payment of fees. Research assistant support is provided by grants/contracts:

  • For no more than 10 credits if the workload is 15 to 20 hours per week.
  • For no more than 5 credits if the workload is less than 14 hours per week.

Research Assistants may be subject to registration requirements imposed by the grant.  (As usual,  audited classes do not count towards registration requirements).

A Graduate Assistant with a GPA of less than 3.0 for one semester will be allowed to petition to continue as a graduate assistant for the next semester.  A maximum of one semester will be allowed per student. The petition must be approved by the student's advisor, department chair and dean.

International Student Assistantship

INFORMATION - IMPORTANT!!

1) International students in F-1 or J-1 status who have not been formally approved for a reduced courseload must be registered as a full-time student regardless of the change to the graduate student employment policy.

2) International students cannot, by law, work over 20 hours per week UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES without being out of compliance with immigration law. The impact of being out of compliance could be catastrophic, so please take this into consideration when assigning work.

3) Immigration requirements contain very strict rules regarding students working past their program completion date!  These rules may impact the student's ability to finish out their job duties in their final semester.  As such, it is critical that the department issuing the assistantship is familiar with these requirements and is prepared to find a substitute for the RA or TA in the event that the student's program completion date falls before their contract letter end date.

Questions about immigration compliance should be directed to Reija Shnoro in the Office of International Programs and Initiatives.

Frequently asked questions about the new registration requirements for graduate students on a Research or Teaching Assistantship:

No, no, a thousand times no. This policy only brings domestic graduate student assistants in line with the student employment rules outlined by Board of Regents policy.  That said…If another entity requires you to be full-time (e.g. VA, lenders/scholarship providers, federal immigration law, etc.) and/or if the grant you are employed under requires full-time status, then you are subject to that requirement instead. DETERMINING WHETHER YOU ARE SUBJECT TO DIFFERENT ENROLLMENT REQUIREMENTS IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!  Contact your foundation/grant/agency/P.I./etc. as needed to determine what your specific registration requirements are.

Per the catalog, a graduate student registered for 9 or more semester credits, with 3 or more at the 600 level, is classified as a full-time student. A graduate student enrolled in 5-8 credits is classified as part-time.

As mentioned previously, federal law dictates enrollment requirements for students in J-1 or F-1 status.  We cannot override that.  That said…international students on J-1 or F-1 status who are in their FINAL semester may apply for reduced courseload during which they would only have to be in six credits to maintain their RA or TA as well (unless the grant governing the RA requires nine, of course).

Discriminating on the basis of race or national origin is illegal. If you or someone you know has been denied employment on the basis of being an international student, please contact the UAF Department of Equity and Compliance at uaf-deo@alaska.edu/ or file a report at the Department of Equity and Compliance

The change was approved right before the holiday break on December 21st. By this point, most of the contract letters had already been prepared for spring.  Again, (and I can't emphasize this enough) some entities and agencies, as well as some of the grants that fund RA’s require full-time registration (9 credits).  If you are unsure whether you are required to be full-time, contact the entity, agency and/or departmental HR person (or department chair) to ascertain your specific requirements.

The impetus for this change was driven by a system-wide review of student employment policies. During discussions, it came to our attention that the 9-credit minimum policy was based on outdated IRS regulations regarding FICA taxes. That policy is no longer in effect, so we consulted with Statewide HR and were told that yes, graduate students are only required to be in six credits as per Board of Regents policy (once again, your enrollment requirements may be different as per part (b) of question 1 above.


Summary of New Registration Policy

for Domestic vs. International Students in J-1/F-1 status.

Domestic Students

Defined as U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents.

Subject to UA Board of Regents policy and IRS regulations for FICA Exemptions.

Minimum enrollment of six (6) credits

Hours Worked vs. Credits Paid

Hours worked Credits paid
15+ hours per week Pays six (6) to 9 or 10 credits related to your degree as allowed by RA or TA.
< 15 hours per week Pays 5 credits related to your degree but you must still be a minimum of 6 for it to be processed (meaning you will have to pay 1 credit out of pocket).
Courses that aren't related to your degree will count toward your minimum enrollment but will not be paid by your assistantship.

This requirment ONLY pertains to the minimum required to be employed by UAF. Other entities, agencies, and specific grants MAY require full-time status to retain your assistantship. Beyond that, you cannot be required to register for 9.

International Students

Defined as students in F-1 or J-1 status.

Subject to UA Board of Regents policy, IRS regulations and U.S. Immigration Law.

Minimum enrollment of nine (9) credits*
*unless pre-approved by Reija Shnoro for reduced courseleaf in your Final semester

Hours Worked vs. Credits Paid

Hours worked Credits paid
15+ hours per week Pays at least 9 credits but no more than 10 as allowed by RA or TA.
< 15 hours per week Pays 5 credits,  but you must still be a minimum of 9 for it to be processed (meaning you will have to pay 4 credits out of pocket).
Courses that aren't related to your degree will count toward your minimum enrollment but will not be paid by your assistantship.

Your supervisor CANNOT ask you to violate your immigration status by making you work over 20 hours per week.


Minimum Rate of Pay for Graduate Assistantships:

Note: At this time these rates apply only to Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Graduate School and Thesis Completion Fellowship recipients (GFs). For more information on rates for Research Assistants (RAs) please contact individual departments.

Assistantship Rate Category Hourly Rate

You cannot work over 20 hours per week and remain in non-taxable status. (International students cannot work over 20 hours/week under ANY circumstances).

If you anticipate regularly* working over 20 hours/week during your position (or find yourself doing so) you must submit a Graduate Student Workload Exception Request form (PDF).

* "Regularly" is defined by our office as working over 20hrs/week more than 1.5 pay periods (3 weeks) out of a any 4 week period). Yes, that includes 21/hours week.

Master's student $15.73/hr
Ph.D. student, before advancement to candidacy, no prior Master's degree $15.73/hr
Ph.D. student, before advancement to candidacy, with prior Master's degree $17.23/hr
Ph.D. student, after advancement to candidacy $18.74/hr