GRADUATE STUDENT CLASSIFICATIONS
The following Graduate Student guidelines are for departments which have students classified in the following 06 student assignment categories: Graduate Assistant and Graduate Student Trainee. Students who are assigned to either of these categories must be enrolled in an official graduate program and can only have an additional assignment under special circumstances as described below with permission of the Graduate School Dean. In addition, a student’s primary assignment should be within his/her graduate program or department.
Graduate Assistant: (06) Graduate Assistants can be paid monthly or bi-weekly salary and wages for services rendered to UAB (i.e. teaching or research related assignments). Graduate Assistant assignments are part-time defined as 20 hours per week (0.5 FTE) or less. The stipulated maximum of 20 hours per week applies to students who are registered as full time students (9 credit hours or more per term). Students who are registered for 6 credits or fewer are allowed to work up to 35 hours per week with permission of their graduate program.
Graduate Student Trainee: (06) Graduate Student Trainees are paid monthly from Fellowship or Scholarship resources. Graduate Student Trainees are not considered to be UAB employees. This appointment is intended to allow the individual to be a full time student. No past, present, or future services are required as a condition of receiving this appointment.
In some pre-approved cases, the graduate student is awarded a combination of the appointment categories indicated above. The student should be given two separate award letters clearly specifying the conditions of each award. If one of the appointments is as a Graduate Student Trainee, the commitment to the second appointment cannot have a work requirement of more than 10 hours per week.
Assumption of additional assignments requires prior approval in writing by the Graduate School Dean. The Request for Additional Assignment form may be found on the Graduate School website on the Online Forms page. If a student is already being compensated at the maximum allowed (see below), an additional assignment outside their primary appointment can only be made under special circumstances.
MAXIMUM COMPENSATION LEVEL
A salary cap for Graduate Assistants and Graduate Student Trainees has been set in consultation with the Academic Programs Council and has been approved by the Provost's Office. The following is a guide for all predoctoral students in all disciplines. The minimum compensation level for predoctoral students is only a recommendation as it is recognized that some programs cannot provide stipends at that level, nor does the recommendation for predoctoral trainees apply to students who are supported in masters degree programs for whom the recommended minimum compensation level is $10,000.
The maximum compensation allowed for all predoctoral students is $27,000 for 2011-2012.
In subsequent years the maximum will be indexed to equal 90 percent of the current NSF individual fellowship stipend. The recommended minimum compensation for all predoctoral students is $16,590.
If a department/program sets the stipend level for its students above the maximum compensation level but then requires the students in that program to pay for their own tuition, fees and health insurance costs from stipend proceeds, only the portion of the stipend remaining after tuition, fees and insurance payment would be considered as these students’ compensation relative to the maximum compensation level allowed.
EXCEPTIONS TO THE MAXIMUM COMPENSATION LEVEL
In some circumstances there may be justifiable reasons for exceeding the stipend maximum. If additional assignment work is related to or augments a student’s dissertation research, if the student’s mentor and program agree to and support the additional assignment in writing, then the Graduate School Dean could be petitioned to approve a compensation level that exceeds the maximum. Teaching assignments that involve additional compensation could also be viewed as being beneficial to a student’s professional development, especially if the subject matter is either within or related to the student’s primary field of study. Assuming a teaching assignment for additional compensation also requires written permission from the student’s mentor and his/her program, as well as approval of the Graduate School Dean.
STUDENTS SUPPORTED ON INDIVIDUAL FELLOWSHIPS OR TRAINING GRANTS
Students who apply for and receive extramural fellowships that provide stipends and additional benefits which exceed the recommended maximum are entitled to receive the full support provided by the extramural award. Also, if the base stipend on a training grant or the stipend derived from some other form of external support exceeds the maximum, students who are chosen to receive a stipend from that source are entitled to receive the full amount of that compensation.
HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE
Health insurance is covered under the scholarship award to the student and can be processed via payment request. However, if the student employee (Assistantship) does not have a “tuition and all fees” award, the additional monies to cover the cost are considered compensation and thus would be processed via element pay on the ACT document.
If an initial award is modified in any way, (i.e. increase or reduction in salary, extension of support period) a new letter of appointment must be issued to the student along with the necessary ACT document. The award letter is issued from the graduate program director and must be signed by the student. No appointments will be processed without the student’s signature.
Letters offering admission are usually issued by the graduate program director or a student’s mentor. Template letters containing recommended statements of commitment are provided on the Graduate School website heading Graduate Student Pay Guidelines on the Faculty tab. These examples of fellowship and assistantship appointment letters have been carefully worded to reflect the legal nature of the appointment document. The use of the wording in these templates is strongly encouraged.
If a tuition scholarship is awarded, the student should be issued a separate (second) letter. If the student will also receive an appointment letter (assistantship or trainee), the letters may be mailed together. However, each commitment letter must be signed by the student.