Graduate assistant tuition revamped

Liz Bogut

For now, University graduate assistants who work at least 20 hours per week during the summer can count on full tuition reimbursement.
But this summer could be the last time.
Beginning this summer, the University will only cover two-thirds of summer graduate student tuition, said Phil Cole, executive vice president for the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly.
“Now that the policy is in place, the Graduate School is going to cover the other one-third this summer,” Cole said. “But this is something the Graduate School cannot afford in the years to come.”
The summer reduction in tuition benefits for graduate assistants is a result of a shorter summer session under the semester system, Cole explained.
“During the academic year, a semester runs 19.5 weeks … They would need to work 30 hours per week to earn the full 390 hours semester band benefit in just a 13-week summer time span,” said George Green, associate dean of the Graduate School, in a May 5 e-mail to all graduate assistants.
Cole said it would be very unlikely a graduate assistant could work 30 hours per week, since departmental budgets — which include graduate assistant pay — are set for an entire year at a time.
Michael Pawson, GAPSA president, said this is a big problem because a large number of students have their tuition paid for year round.
“They would have to write a check to the University for one-third of the summer tuition,” Pawson said. “This goes against the spirit of a full tuition waiver.”
For many graduate assistants, one credit is considered full time during the summer. This would mean students would owe the University about $140 for tuition, or one-third the cost.
Cole said many graduate assistants register for classes during the summer session in order to be FICA-tax exempt.
GAPSA will need to work with the Graduate School on this issue during the course of the 2000-01 school year in order to come up with a solution, Cole said.
“Something new is going to have to happen,” he said.

Liz Bogut covers administration and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3217.