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Graduate Assistantship

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Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships are offered by the academic unit, usually at the time of admission, and vary by program. Some assistantships are open for student applications and are posted on the student job boardFor questions about assistantship opportunities, contact your graduate program. 

 

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Graduate Assistant Benefits

Qualifying are eligible for a stipend, tuition waiver, and basic student health insurance

 

Tuition waivers are called waivers because your tuition is “waived.” Tuition is still charged to your account until the waiver is applied. Tuition waivers do not cover University fees. Estimate the cost of fees using the Tuition and Fees Calculator.

Appointment Information

To qualify for Graduate Assistant Benefits, GAs must hold a minimum .50FTE appointment the entire semester and be enrolled in a at least 5 hours during the fall and spring terms. See Final Semester Enrollment for Graduate Assistants for more details.

GTA Orientation

All newly appointed GTAs at OU are required to complete the Graduate College's New GTA Orientation. This includes GTAs whose duties are grading-only.

Graduate Tuition Waivers

Tuition waivers for qualifying graduate assistants are automatically applied to student's accounts within the first three weeks of classes. If a graduate assistant changes enrollment after a tuition waiver has been applied, the waiver will automatically get adjusted within 5 business days. Email gradgra@ou.edu with questions about tuition waivers.  

 

Award Process

  • Tuition waivers for qualifying graduate assistants are automatically applied to student's accounts within the first three weeks of classes.
  • If a graduate assistant changes enrollment after a tuition waiver has been applied, the waiver will automatically get adjusted within 5 business days.
  • Tuition waivers are factored into a student's overall aid package.
  • The student is responsible for any tuition not covered by the waiver.

 

Tuition Waiver Limits

Qualifying graduate assistants are eligible for a waiver of up to the total number of hours required for the graduate program. Doctoral students also in a master’s program are eligible for the total number of hours required for the doctoral degree.

 

Change in Enrollment

Tuition waivers are calculated on the number of hours in which a student is enrolled at the time the waiver is awarded. If a student's enrollment increases or decreases, tuition waiver adjustments will be made within five business days.

 

Summer Waivers

Students who held or will hold a qualifying appointment in the preceding spring or following fall semester will be eligible for a waiver in the summer, provided they have not exhausted their maximum allowable waiver.

Graduate Assistantship Information

Graduate Assistants who will be reappointed for Fall need to complete payroll paperwork, including a new I-9 and Loyalty Oath, in early August if they were terminated by their department for the summer. In order to be paid on the August Monthly payroll, the necessary paperwork must be in Payroll by the August deadline. This means your reappointment paperwork, new I-9 and Loyalty Oath must be completed and in Payroll and Employee Services, NEL 244 by that date.

Graduate Assistants who are placed on Leave of Absence Without Pay for the summer and return to their GTA or GRA position in the Fall will not be required to complete a new I-9 or Loyalty Oath.  The department must provide Payroll and Employee Services with a Personnel Action Form returning the GTA or GRA from the Leave of Absence Without Pay.

To be eligible for the Student FICA (Social Security & Medicare) Exemption students must be enrolled at least half time by August 5th for Fall Semester, January 5th for Spring Semester or June 5th for Summer Semester.  FICA taxes will not be refunded to student employees who fail to be enrolled in the appropriate number of class hours by the aforementioned deadlines.

Note: Courses through OU North America & Europe (Advanced Programs) and/or the Center for Independent and Distance Learning (whether online or in-person) are not eligible credit hours for exemption from FICA.

To work more than .50 FTE, graduate research and teaching assistants must have prior approval of the Graduate College. Approval is required for any .50 FTE graduate assistant who does any additional paid work for OU, including supplemental pay. 

How to Request to Appoint a Graduate Assistant Over .50 FTE

  • Complete out the electronic Request to Appoint a Graduate Assistant over .50 FTE form with the signature of the advisor, graduate liaison, or chair of the student's academic unit
  • If there are questions, please contact Gail Shelton at (405) 325-3811 or aokoe@ou.edu
  • Students and departments will be notified of the determination by the Graduate College via email.

Responsibility of the Graduate Student to Submit the Request to Appoint a Graduate Assistant Over .50 FTE

  • Since graduate assistants appointed over .50 FTE often hold a combination of appointments in various departments, it is the responsibility of the Graduate Student to submit the Request to Appoint a Graduate Assistant over .50 FTE form to the Graduate College for approval prior to the start of the semester.
  • Approvals are granted for one term, so this request process must be completed prior to the start of each semester a graduate assistantship total FTE exceeds .50. 

Eligibility

  • Graduate students may not be appointed over .70 FTE at any time
  • Graduate Assistants appointed at .70FTE cannot work for the University in any other capacity, including supplemental pay
  • Students must be in good academic standing
  • The assistantship(s) must be relevant to the student’s program of study
  • The assistantship(s) must not impede the student’s progress towards the degree
  • Students are generally not approved to work over .50 FTE during the first semester of graduate level coursework
  • International students on a student visa are not eligible to exceed .50 FTE during the fall and spring semesters and cannot work for the University in any other capacity, including supplemental pay
  • International students on a student visa are eligible to exceed .50 during summer and winter intersession.
  • Requests are not required for summer appointments which will exceed .50 FTE

Tracking Compliance of Graduate Assistantships Exceeding .50 FTE

  • Two weeks into the start of each semester, Employee Services will generate a report of all graduate assistants who are appointed over .50 FTE. Students with appointments exceeding .50 FTE which were not approved by the Graduate College will be notified that a request to the Graduate College is required. Students will then be given one week to submit the Request to Appoint a Graduate Assistant over .50 FTE form to the Graduate College for review. 

Supplemental Pay

  • Departments may not effectively increase a graduate assistant’s FTE via supplemental pay. The Graduate College must approve supplemental pay requests for graduate assistants.

Graduate assistants with a total .50FTE or greater, may be eligible to enroll in fewer than five hours of coursework (3 hours for summer) during their final semester and still be considered full time for the purpose of maintaining eligibility for a tuition waiver and FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) tax exemption. This helps students avoid paying fees for coursework beyond the hours needed for completion of their degree.

Graduate assistants may receive a one-semester exemption from the FICA tax if they declare their final semester with the Graduate College by completing the online Graduate Assistant Final Semester Declaration form below. This form may be completed one time only.

  • Summer graduates enrolled in less than 3 hours must complete the online form no later than May 22nd to receive the FICA tax exemption on their summer paychecks.
  • Fall graduates enrolled in less than 5 hours must complete the online form no later than July 24th to receive the FICA tax exemption on their August paycheck, or by August 25th to receive the FICA tax exemption on their September paycheck, and students must also be enrolled by August 5th.
  • Spring graduates enrolled in less than 5 hours must complete the online form no later than December 31st to receive the FICA tax exemption on their January paycheck, and be enrolled by January 5th.

Should a student declare their final semester with the Graduate College but not graduate in that semester, the student will no longer be eligible to retain full-time student status with reduced enrollment.

The Graduate College will report to the Office of Financial Aid any students who have self-identified the current semester as their final semester. Students should contact the Student Financial Center for enrollment requirements regarding financial aid eligibility and student loan deferment information.

For International Graduate Assistants

All international graduate students must also obtain separate approval for a reduced course load from International Student Services in their final semester.

Graduate Assistant Final Semester (online)

In order to be a Qualifying Graduate Assistant (QGA) and eligible for QGA benefits, students must: 

  • Be admitted to a graduate degree program
  • Hold a minimum .50 FTE* graduate assistant appointment through an academic unit for the entire semester (from the first day of class to the last day of final exams.) The appointment(s) can be a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) and/or Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA). 
  • Be enrolled in 5 hours during each semester of the appointment (Fall and Spring)

*A .50 FTE graduate assistantship may consist of a combined appointment from multiple units on campus (e.g., two .25 FTE assistantships).

Students must be enrolled in classes by August 5th in the Fall and January 5th in the Spring to be eligible for the Student FICA (Social Security) Exemption on August and January paychecks. The FICA payroll taxes cannot be refunded for late class enrollment.

Fall or SpringSummerFinal Semester

Minimum required enrollment for full-time status is  5 credit hours.

Enrollment requirements for summer GAs differ depending on the student’s circumstances. Not all summer GAs need to be enrolled. See section 4.3.2.2 of the Graduate College Bulletin for more details.

The minimum enrollment requirement for the final semester is 2 credit hours.

Qualifying graduate assistants are eligible for a waiver of up to the total number of hours required for the graduate program, provided they meet the eligibility requirements for QGAs.  

Tuition waivers do not cover: 

  • University fees (estimate the cost of fees using the Tuition and Fees Calculator
  • Tuition for OU Online programs and courses
  • Tuition for Extended Campus (formerly Liberal Studies) courses
  • Tuition for OU North America and Europe (formerly Advanced Programs) courses
  • Tuition for College of Professional and Continuing Studies (formerly OU Outreach) courses
  • Tuition for College of Law courses
  • Audited courses 
  • OU Health Science Center professional degrees

Students and courses in the following programs are not eligible for tuition waivers:

  • All OU Online programs and courses
  • Master of Arts in TESOL
  • Professional Master of Arts in TESOL
  • Simultaneous accelerated programs

More details on tuition waivers and costs not covered can be found in section 4.3.3.2 of the Graduate College Bulletin

Qualifying graduate assistants are also eligible for a student health insurance waiver. To participate in the health insurance plan, students must enroll by certain deadlines. For more information, contact the Student Health Insurance Office at 405-325-9196 or directly enroll at the Student Health Insurance Office Web site.

New GTA Orientation

The Graduate College provides the New Graduate Teaching Assistant Orientation* each Fall and Spring semester for newly appointed GTAs.

The New GTA Orientation is required for all newly appointed Norman campus GTAs, including those in supporting roles where their duties are primarily grading and/or holding office hours. 

Failure to complete this orientation will result in an enrollment hold being placed on the GTA's account for the following semester. 

The Fall 2022 New GTA Orientation will have an online and in-person component. The online component will be hosted via Canvas asynchonously.

To fulfill the in-person component of the orientation, all participants must attend one of the synchronous New GTA Orientation workshops, offered in the first four-five weeks of the Fall 2022 semester. Details about workshop logistics will be communicated to participants from the email ngtao@ou.edu.

Registration for the Fall 2022 New GTA Orientation will open starting from June 6th, 2022.

 

Register Here!

 

Registrants will be added to the orientation's Canvas platform starting on July 18th, 2022 and will have between 2 and 6 weeks to complete the online component of the orientation, depending on when they register.

For International GTAs

*This orientation is not the same as the required English language certification for some international teaching assistants. For information about this certification, visit ETCS website.

For additional questions regarding the New GTA Orientation, please email ngtao@ou.edu.

About Registering

To access the registration form, you must use your OU Net ID and password. You can set up your OU Net ID and password by following the instructions at https://accounts.ou.edu

If you are experiencing any issues obtaining your OU Net ID and password, please contact OU Internet Technology resources or call 405-325-4357.

Graduate Assistant FAQs

They are eligible for the waiver in the semesters they are appointed (plus summer) as a qualifying GA (.50 FTE assistantship for the full semester).

Starting August 16, 2019, the minimum rate for .50 FTE graduate assistants is $1,152.50 monthly or $13,830.00 annually.

Contact your hiring unit to verify your remaining hours of waiver.

If you have credit hours remaining, and the waiver is still not showing on your bursar statement after the 3rd week of the semester, contact the Graduate College at gradgra@ou.edu or 405-325-3811 for assistance.

Hiring units have access to a report of each student and their remaining hours of waiver. Students can also contact gradgra@ou.edu to verify waiver eligibility.

If a student is placed on academic probation or fails to make satisfactory progress toward their degree, the student may lose the tuition waiver award. A student who fails to enroll in the minimum number of required hours for the entire semester (fall and spring) will lose the tuition waiver award. If a student fails to have a qualifying graduate assistantship appointment for the entire semester (fall and spring), the student will lose any waiver dependent on that appointment.

Bursar Services will send you an e-refund or a check for the amount of your waiver(s) once it appears on your bill.

Hours from the uncompleted degree that apply to the new degree will reduce the limit for the new degree.


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