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Student Financial Aid Policies

Guidelines for Competitive Graduate Awards and Graduate Assistantships - 4A3

Acceptance of an offer of financial support (such as a Competitive Graduate Award or graduate assistantship) for the next academic year by a prospective or enrolled graduate student completes an agreement that both the student and the University expect to honor. Competitive graduate awardees and graduate assistants are entitled to a waiver of tuition.

For the Competitive Graduate Award, eligibility for waiver of tuition is based on the holding of the award for at least one-half of the academic term. An awardee who resigns before one-half of the academic term is over, but who completes the term's classes, is liable for the payment of the full amount of tuition waived. An awardee with a tuition waiver who withdraws from classes after the first two weeks of the term is liable for the full amount waived.

For graduate assistantships, any student holding an appointment, who resigns that appointment prior to the completion of the academic term, will forfeit the tuition waiver and be liable for full payment of tuition, and will not be eligible for appointment in another unit at the University until the beginning of a new term. Exceptions to this condition may be granted upon recommendation from the original hiring unit and approval by the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research.

Competitive Graduate Awards

The Competitive Graduate Award program is administered through the Graduate School. Award program eligibility is limited to classified graduate students and qualified students in an approved combined baccalaureate/masters five-year degree program. These awards, which carry a stipend plus waiver of tuition, are valid for a maximum of two consecutive academic terms, beginning with the fall term. Awards are not renewable. Stipend amounts are set by the University. A Competitive Graduate Award carries no work requirement, and the awardee ordinarily carries at least 9 hours of graduate work each academic term. Holders of Competitive Graduate Awards shall not hold other appointments in the University and employment outside the University is strongly discouraged, since the purpose of the award is to permit students to complete a substantial portion of their degrees during the period for which the awards are held. An award may be withdrawn whenever a student's grade point average in work done for graduate credit falls below that required for retention in the Graduate School. A Competitive Graduate Award is terminated as of the date the awardee withdraws from classes.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships are available in most academic units and in some administrative units. All assistantships are awarded by the hiring unit. The Graduate School reviews all appointments and makes recommendations for approval to the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. The Graduate School also regularly reviews the records of assistants to determine their eligibility for continued appointment. An assistantship appointment is terminated as of the date that a graduate assistant withdraws from classes.

The following definitions apply:

General Assistant: Renders general service to an academic or administrative unit which may be related to instruction, research, or administration.

Research Assistant: Renders research service to one or more specific faculty members.

Teaching Assistant: Performs instructional duties in direct contact with students in a lecture or laboratory situation.

Doctoral Assistant: Designs, selects, or produces instructional materials used in graduate seminars; participates in research; provides instructional services in courses.

A student with an assistantship appointment is a First Year Assistant during the first two terms of appointment. Beginning with the third term of appointment, the student is considered to be a Second Year Assistant.

Eligibility for appointment is as follows:

Classified Graduate Students: Students must be admitted to a graduate degree program in order to hold an assistantship. Qualifications for a doctoral assistant include possession of a master's degree or its equivalent and classification as a graduate student admitted to a doctoral program at SIUE.

Classification Pending: Students in classification pending status may hold appointments for a maximum of one academic term. Continuance or reappointment is contingent upon acquisition of status as a classified graduate student.

Unclassified Graduate Students: Unclassified students are not eligible for appointment as graduate assistants.

Undergraduates: Undergraduate students are allowed to hold appointments only with permission of the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. This permission may be granted only in exceptional circumstances such as to a qualified student in an approved combined baccalaureate/masters five-year program.

Students with Low Grade Point Averages: Students with low grade point averages or excessive incomplete or deferred grades will not be approved by the Graduate School for assistantship appointments. An assistantship already awarded will be in jeopardy when the appointee's grade point average falls below that required for retention in the student's graduate program.

Graduate assistantships carry a stipend, plus waiver of tuition. Stipend amounts are set by the University. If the source of funds for an appointment is an external grant or contract, the appointment is contingent upon availability of funds in the grant's account. Ordinarily, because assignments require activities that relate to the instructional and research responsibilities associated with the academic activities of the University, graduate assistants' appointments are made on the basis of an academic year or a fraction thereof. If the work requires continuance during the summer session, a summer appointment must be issued. There is no automatic entitlement to a subsequent term appointment.

In rare instances, "fiscal-type" assistantship appointments may be made. These are based on a year-round need within the hiring unit for a half-time graduate assistant and therefore must be for 50% time. A student may be appointed for the whole year or for any segment of the year. These appointments are approved upon written certification to the Graduate School from the originating unit that the fiscal appointment is necessary to the operation of the unit.

Graduate assistants on a 50% appointment are eligible for a sick leave benefit of 20 hours, which would have been assigned as work hours, for each month covered by the appointment. For appointments of less than 50%, the entitlement is to be prorated according to the percentage of the appointment. After seven consecutive days (assigned as work days) of absence due to illness, a graduate assistant must present a physician's statement verifying the illness. Graduate assistants are not entitled to extended sick leave benefits.

Graduate assistants appointed on an academic year basis (academic term or summer session), or fraction thereof, are not eligible for vacation benefits. Students on fiscal-type appointments of at least a full academic term's duration are eligible for vacation benefits. Vacation entitlement shall accrue at the rate of one and 1/24 days per month. The vacation credit must be used during the term of appointment, and there is no carry-over of vacation credit from one fiscal year to the next nor is the appointee entitled to a lump sum payment following expiration of appointment for accumulated and unused vacation credit.

Graduate assistants are entitled to the same official holidays as other University academic personnel. If their assistance is required by supervisors during such periods, arrangements should be made to compensate them by relief from duties during slack periods.

Each assistantship appointment must relate to the student's academic objective and be supervised by qualified personnel. The Dean of Graduate Studies and Research is authorized to approve assistantships in accordance with these criteria. Each hiring unit has the obligation to provide a formal program of orientation and inservice training for graduate assistants. Supervisors should assist graduate assistants in securing access to University resources and facilities, including office space and clerical services.

An appointment may not be made for less than 25% nor more than 50% time. A maximum of 20 clock hours per week can be assigned. For teaching assistants, this includes preparation and grading time. Students on less than a 50% assistantship appointment may hold a concurrent appointment elsewhere in the University as a graduate assistant or student worker as long as the total hours worked do not exceed 20 hours per week at any time during the period of the assistantship appointment. Students on a 50% assistantship appointment may not hold a concurrent appointment of any type within the University nor should they be employed elsewhere during the period of the assistantship. Graduate assistants can carry no more than 12 hours nor less than 6 hours of graduate credit per academic term (maximum of 6 and minimum of 3 during a summer session) unless specifically authorized to do so by the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research.

Approved by Chancellor effective November 27, 2000
This policy was issued on December 5, 2000, replacing the April 4, 2000 version.
Document Reference: 4A3
Origin: GR 4-70/71; OP 10/7/91; OP 8/17/92; OP 2/1/95; PVP 3/7/95; GR 1-00/01

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