Graduate Assistant Handbook
Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Hiring and Eligibility for Graduate Assistants


Many graduate programs offer a limited number of graduate assistantships.  Admitted or enrolled students who are interested in assistantships should inquire with the Graduate Program Directors or advising offices of the colleges and programs in which they are studying.

 

Graduate School and University funding resources will be used to support full-time and enrolled, graduate, degree-seeking students covering the normal duration of their programs of study.  In rare cases such as the following, programs may elect to offer a graduate assistant position to a student pursuing a master’s degree who is entering his or her third year. If a program chooses to do this, it must be with the consent and support of said program’s department and college.

  

The minimum stipend for graduate assistantship duties is the state mandated minimum wage which beginning January 1st of 2014 was raised to $7.93 per hour.

  

Working hours are calculated in FTE.  Part time is .25 FTE, which is equivalent to 10 hours per week; full time is .50 FTE, or 20 hours per week. 

 

Graduate Assistants are not allowed to work more than 20 hours per week.  Assistantships may be combined but the total may not exceed 20 hours per week. 

 

Students who have been awarded assistantships are strongly discouraged from obtaining full-time employment outside the university.

  

Graduate Assistants can only be offered employment for one academic year at a time.

  

 Graduate Assistants should only be hired to perform work befitting their current degree programs and/or academic goals.

 

Graduate Assistants, especially those associated with teaching assignments, should be sufficiently proficient in spoken English to accomplish their tasks. Each hiring department may have a different means for determining proficiency, including, but not limited to, scores from the TOEFL, TOEC, or IELTS tests.

 

Split assistantship appointments are allowed, whereby departments can share the cost and benefits of an assistantship line. A single hiring agent, as well as assistantship responsibilities, must be clearly delineated on the HR hiring form.

  

Non-degree seeking students are not eligible for assistantships.  This includes any student enrolled in a graduate certificate program who is not also enrolled in a degree-seeking program.

 

Any Graduate Teaching Assistant teaching a stand-alone course or lab and who is the instructor of record must have a personnel file in Academic Affairs.

 

All assistantships should be coded on the HR paperwork in accordance with state university position description guidelines as detailed below.

 

Current full time UNF employees who are also Graduate Students should not be awarded any sort of assistantship.



1.2 State University System Position Classifications


Graduate Assistant (class code 9185):  Performs teaching, research, or related duties under the supervision of an appropriate faculty member or administrator of a State university. Responsible for assisting graduate faculty members with teaching or research related to the student's academic program. This person cannot be the instructor of record for any course or any portion of a course—a clear violation of SACS requirements. In carrying out his or her duties, this graduate student requires close faculty supervision.

 

Graduate Teaching Assistant (class code 9184):  Performs teaching duties under the supervision of an appropriate faculty member or administrator of a State University. Responsible for assisting faculty members with teaching, course preparation, and activities related to the student's academic program. This person can be the instructor of record for a course or a portion of a course, but faculty supervision is still necessary. The student must have completed a minimum of 18 graduate credit hours.

 

Graduate Teaching Associate (class code 9183): Performs teaching duties under the supervision of an appropriate faculty member or administrator of a State university.  Responsible for assisting graduate faculty members with teaching, course preparation, and activities related to the student's academic program. This person can be the instructor of record, but faculty supervision is still necessary. The student must have completed a minimum of 30 graduate credit hours.

 

Graduate Research Assistant (class code 9182):  Performs research duties under the supervision of an appropriate faculty member or administrator of a State university. Responsible for assisting graduate faculty members with research related to the student's academic program. 

  

Graduate Research Associate (class code 9181):  Performs research duties under the supervision of an appropriate faculty member or administrator of a State university. Responsible for assisting graduate faculty members with research related to the student's academic program. The student must have completed at least 30 graduate credit hours.

 

The State University System of Florida Board of Governors classifications can be found at http://www.flbog.edu/resources/ditr/classifications/specsfac.php.



1.3 Graduate Assistant Obligations and Duties


All graduate assistants – whether supported with university funds or grant funds – are subject to the same obligations with regard to abiding by FERPA and confidentiality rules, attending the GA Orientation and the GEDS in-service sessions, carrying out their duties at the standard of faculty professionalism, and so forth.

 

Graduate assistants, of whatever sort, may not serve as clerks, secretaries, office assistants, or handle routine administrative tasks. Their work should be focused on providing instruction to undergraduate students and/or on research in support of either academic or scholastic goals.

 

Graduate assistants with fewer than 18 hours may not teach or carry out any instructional duties that are not under the direct supervision of a faculty member.

 

Any Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) who is teaching a stand-alone course or lab – who is the instructor of record – must have a personnel file in Academic Affairs. This file must be entirely complete before the GTA steps foot in the classroom.

 

The research in which a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) can appropriately engage is any that serves either academic or scholastic needs. A GRA can assist in any research that faculty members qua faculty members engage in, and a GRA can assist in any research that allows a department or other administrative unit to accomplish its goals relative to providing for, or enhancing, instruction or faculty research.

 

Graduate assistants normally will be offered positions only to cover the normal duration of their programs of study, given full time pursuit of that study. In rare cases, programs may elect to offer a graduate assistant position to, say, a student pursuing a master’s degree who is entering her third year. If a program chooses to do this, it must be with the consent and support of that program’s department and college.

 

All graduate assistants must be evaluated by one of the following individuals: the department chair, the program director, the grant’s Principal Investigator, or the faculty member to whom they are assigned. Who should do the evaluation should be decided at the college level. This evaluation should be done every semester. Copies of the evaluation must be reviewed by the Graduate School Dean. ISQs cannot be used to evaluate any graduate assistant except GTAs who are instructors of record.



1.4 Allocating Assistantship Dollars and Waiver Authority to the Colleges


All faculty and staff inquiries concerning assistantship funds should be directed to the dean of their respective college.

 

Funding for assistantship stipends is received by the individual colleges as part of their annual budget requests and subsequent allocations. Individual college deans allocate shares of those resources to individual departments and determine how those resources may be distributed to students.

  

The Florida Board of Governors permits that a certain percentage of tuition collection be waived.  Academic Affairs and the Graduate School jointly allocate this tuition/matriculation waiver authority to the colleges. In turn, the college deans each allocate shares of those resources to individual departments and determine how those resources may be distributed to students. 



1.5 Graduate Assistant Training


All research assistants associated with research involving animal or human subjects are expected to be trained in accordance with responsible conduct and ethical treatment standards per NSF and NIH federal regulation.  The UNF Office of Research & Sponsored Programs offers important resources relevant to researchers and hiring agents.

  

All teaching assistants must be provided adequate instructional guidance.  Departments that employ teaching assistants can either require attendance at the Graduate School's annual GTA Orientation or develop their own training.  In the event a department handles its own training, a list of attendees and an agenda must be provided to the Graduate School.

  

The Graduate School promotes ongoing assistantship and academic development through the annual Graduate Lecture Series (GLS).



1.6 Expectations and Evaluation


All Graduate Assistants must be evaluated by one of the following individuals: the department chair, the program director, the grant’s Principal Investigator, or the faculty member to whom they are assigned. The appropriate evaluator will be decided at the college level and should appear on the HR paperwork. This evaluation should take place at least once per semester. ISQs cannot be used to evaluate any assistant except Graduate Teaching Assistants who are instructors of record.

 

Since assistantships are reserved for those applicants and students who possess the finest academic qualifications and promise, failure to maintain acceptable scholarship could result in termination.

 

Graduate Assistants must maintain satisfactory academic progress as defined in Graduate School Policy 2.0400P.  Failure to maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA will result in the revocation of the assistantship.

 

All assistants are subject to the same obligations in regards to abiding by FERPA and confidentiality rules.

 

All assistants are expected to compose themselves and perform their duties with the utmost faculty and administrative professionalism.



1.7 Out-of-State Tuition Waivers


A graduate student who is hired at a minimum of .25 FTE (minimum of 10 hours per week) as an HR approved Graduate Assistant, and is an out-of-state resident for tuition purposes, may have his or her out-of-state tuition and fees set to $0.00.  These out-of-state waiver awards are based on the availability of funds.

  

Hiring agents with eligible, non-resident graduate assistants must submit the following two items to the Graduate School Office:

  1. Email from the hiring agent stating the assistants’ full names, N#s, and a detailed description of the job duties;
  2. Copy of HR PAF Form indicating dates of hire for the specific hiring period (this can be attached as a PDF to the above email).

Upon receiving both items, The Graduate School will verify that the student is enrolled full time and remains in good academic standing, and that the duties as assigned are relevant to the student's degree.  If everything is in order then the waiver will be applied pending available funds.

  

These waivers can take up to 48 hours to process through the student database before they reflect on the student's billing account.  It is highly recommended that the waiver requests be submitted at least 48 hours prior to the tuition payment deadline so that the student can avoid payment penalties.