Hiring Graduate Students

There are a number of ways in which graduate students can be paid to work at Appalachian. The way you hire a student depends upon the duties of the job, the enrollment status (full/part-time, on/off-campus), the number of graduate hours completed, and the academic standing for the student. Relevant Banner screens are SGASTDN, SFAREGS, SHATERM.

The Graduate School (and Academic Affairs) prefers that graduate students be hired as Graduate Assistants whenever possible, but in some cases other forms of hiring may be necessary.

Graduate Assistantship

This is a formal title at Appalachian and the requirements to hold this title officially are specific. The tax status for this title requires "student first - employee second"; FICA is not withheld and unemployment claims are not allowed.

  • Graduate student in good standing (not probationary or provisional-first-term)
  • Full-time enrollment at the graduate level (9-12 hours) during the academic year or at least 2 hours in a summer term; in the final term of enrollment a student may hold a GAA with 6 hours enrolled if there are no requirements remaining to complete.
  • The paperwork for hiring a GTA, GRA, or GAA must be processed through the Graduate School using the assistantship form. [More information on hiring a graduate assistant.]

Student or Non-Student Temp

Graduate students can also be hired as temp if your unit has temp funds available, but please note that these graduate students cannot be counted or claimed in any way as "graduate assistants." The paperwork for this is handled in the department hiring the student. The main pros and cons to this title:

The minimum enrollment to hire a student in this way is one course (so as little as one hour). Note, however, that if they are below 5 hours enrollment, they will pay FICA because they will not be considered "student first - employee second."
Students do not need to be in good standing (although probationary/provisional students risk not being able to complete their programs, so we do not recommend hiring them unless the job complements their classwork).
Temps cannot be instructors of record or have access to the faculty portal.

Instructional Adjunct / Lecturer

A graduate student who is essentially finished with coursework -- for example, "all but thesis" or "all but comprehensive" or "all but internship" -- can be hired as non-tenure-track if they are going to teach. There are advantages to this for the student: looks better on a resume; and advantages to the department: the student does not need to be enrolled full-time (or at all).

The Graduate School urges that departments exercise caution in this case, because these people will show on rosters pulled for accreditation and other reviews and should be an exceptional (and easily explained and documented) case rather than the norm. This paperwork is prepared by the unit in the same way that any NTT is hired. It would be advisable to include a letter with the paperwork explaining why a graduate student is being hired in this way (remember the "essentially finished" proviso), or there may be delays in processing the payroll authorization due to paperwork being returned to the department.

Important Information about Funding Graduate Students through Grant Funding

When building the budget on a grant or contract proposal, we hope you will consider including funding for a graduate assistantship if allowed by the sponsor. There are some important funding considerations related to calculating fringe benefits in the budget:

If students are (1) registered at least 5 hours (i.e., half time) AND (2) their job depends on them being students, then the student is NOT eligible for either FICA or unemployment. Workman's comp claims are possible if the student is hurt on the job.

There are two situations that arise for graduate students hired on grants:

  • The student is a "graduate assistant" - i.e., hired through the Graduate School: By default the two conditions above are met. Only grad students can be GAAs and we will not allow a student with less than 6 hours to be hired as a GAA. This means that fringes should be included in the grant at the rate required for Workman's Comp. ORSP or Special Funds Accounting can provide specific percentages.
  • The student is a "student-temp": This situation is more problematic, because a student-temp employee is not required to be enrolled at least 5 hours -- 1 hour of enrollment is enough. Students enrolled less than 5 hours are subject to FICA and Workman's Comp (but not unemployment). Because there is no requirement for halftime enrollment in this category, the fringes should include both Workman's Comp and FICA. ORSP or Special Funds Accounting can provide specific percentages.