One of the most common sources of funding for graduate students are assistantships, which can support general administrative duties, teaching, or research projects.

Many departments routinely evaluate graduate admission applications to match them with available assistantship positions. Departments may contact newly accepted students to inform them if a funding offer is available. Current students in search of funding should check with their departments to discuss the availability of assistantships and eligibility requirements.

Information for new graduate assistants may be found here.

Graduate Assistant (GA)
Graduate Assistants provide academic and program support to academic, administrative or service units of the university. GA responsibilities may be administrative in nature and consist of duties not directly related to teaching or research (such as academic advising, program planning, advising student groups, and assisting with the administrative duties of an office). GA responsibilities may also be academic in nature and include grading examinations, problem sets, and/or lab assignments, setting up displays for lectures or laboratory sections, and preparing or maintaining equipment used in laboratory sections.

Graduate Research Assistant (GRA)
Graduate Research Assistants conduct academically significant research under the direction of a faculty member who is generally a principal investigator on an external grant or contract. GRAs are awarded by departments and professors who are engaged in research projects. Research assistantships offer exciting opportunities to participate in ongoing research developments at Virginia Tech. Since GRAs are often funded by sponsored research grants, they may be paid at a higher stipend level than GAs or GTAs.

Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA)
Graduate Teaching Assistants provide academic program support under the supervision of a faculty member. GTAs may assist faculty in teaching undergraduate courses, including laboratory teaching assignments, or in providing other appropriate professional assistance, including grading examinations, problem sets, and/or lab assignments, setting up displays for lectures and laboratory sections, and preparing or maintaining equipment used in lab sections. GTAs must have 18 hours of graduate-level course work completed in their teaching disciplines to be assigned full responsibility for teaching an undergraduate course. GTAs lacking this training will be assigned to work under the supervision of a faculty member who will be the instructor of record for the course.

 

The GTA workshop is held during the week before the start of Fall classes. Although this workshop is primarily for new GTAs, continuing graduate students who have not previously attended may also attend. Participants will be enrolled in GRAD 5004 (1 credit) upon the recommendation of their departments.

GTAs are given special parking passes each semester that allow them to park in restricted lots on days that they teach classes. GTAs should apply for these passes by completing the request form and submitting it to Parking Services. A regular student parking pass is also required.

  • Must be enrolled in 12-18 credit hours in fall and spring
  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA; departmental requirements may be higher
  • Make satisfactory progress toward degree as defined by academic departments and the Graduate School
  • Meet requirements to be eligible for employment in the U.S.

A full assistantship requires a student to work for 20 hours per week on average. Students may or may not be required to report to work during school breaks. Departments may also offer partial assistantships.

In addition to assistantships awarded by departments, there are other university administrative units that employ graduate assistants. When a position becomes available, a notice is posted in the GLC-programs weekly listserv distributed on Mondays.  

To be competitive in the recruitment and retention of high quality graduate students, the University provides an assistantship compensation package that is comparable with those offered by our peer institutions. The key components of the compensation package are:

  • competitive stipends
  • in-state tuition scholarship and out-of-state tuition waiver (if eligibility requirements are met)
  • health insurance subsidy (if eligibility requirements are met)
  • payroll-deduction option of student fees.

The stipend table for graduate assistants ranges from Step 1 to Step 50. Each step represents a pay range within which full-time (20 hrs/wk) graduate assistants must be paid. Departments determine which pay step to use based on the student's qualifications and experience, academic standing and availability of funds. Departments have a wide range of stipend options to make competitive offers.

During the academic year (Fall/Spring; tuition for summer and winter enrollment not included) students who are paid less than $3262/month receive a tuition scholarship for the in-state tuition, library and technology fees for the semester of their assistantship. The tuition, library and technology fee scholarship is proportionate to the assistantship appointment. Students who are paid at $3262 or more may need to pay their tuition and fees from their assistantship stipends.

Graduate students who earn more than $4000 in an academic year on assistantship appointment(s) are eligible for a waiver of the out-of-state portion of tuition for the year (see eligibility details below). Students must be enrolled full-time and be on assistantship to qualify for the out-of-state tuition waiver. Summer earnings on assistantship or wage employment do not count towards meeting the $4000 minimum earnings requirement. Tuition bills from the Bursar's Office will show the out-of-state tuition charge and a credit to reflect the out-of-state tuition waiver (may also be referred to as "UF Differential"). Students who are enrolled in programs that have a program-specific graduate tuition rate (such as MIT, MNR, PSALS, and LGMC) are not eligible for the out-of-state waiver, since they are assessed a flat rate that is not residency specific.

The out-of-state tuition waiver is automatically applied to students' accounts when the following three criteria are met (this does not apply to level 46 bachelor's/master's students whose out-of-state tuition cannot be waived):

  • the student's appointment (PAF) is entered in Banner by the hiring department
  • the student meets the earnings criteria described above
  • the student has registered for the semester

 

Undergraduate students who attended Virginia Tech from other states and who go on to Graduate School are not automatically considered in-state residents. For questions about residency, contact the Graduate School at 540/231-8636.

Eligibility for out-of-state waiver based on assistantship status and earnings:

  • Fall: Must be on 4.5- or 9- or 12-month GA/GTA/GRA and earn at least $2000 on assistantship stipend between Aug 10-Dec 24
  • Winter: Must be on a 9- or 12-month GA/GTA/GRA and earn at least $2000 on assistantship stipend between Aug 10-Dec 24, or $4000 or more between Aug 10-May 9
  • Spring: Must be on 4.5- or 9- or 12-month GA/GTA/GRA and earn at least $2000 on assistantship stipend between Dec 25-May 9
  • Summer: Must have been on a 9- or 12-month GA/GTA/GRA or spring only assistantship and earned at least $4000 on assistantship stipend between Aug 10-May 9

Out-of-state tuition differential waiver eligibility chart

 

Academic year

Summer

Fall      

Winter  

Spring  

Summer

No assistantship
No OOS waiver
 

Asst. stipend ≥$2,000
Eligible for OOS waiver

No Assistantship
Eligible for OOS waiver
if fall stipend ≥$4,000

No assistantship
No OOS waiver

No assistantship
No OOS waiver

No assistantship
No OOS waiver

Asst. stipend ≥$2,000
Eligible for OOS waiver

9- or 12-m assistantship
Eligible for OOS waiver

Asst. stipend ≥$2,000
Eligible for OOS waiver

No Assistantship
Eligible for OOS waiver

No assistantship
No OOS waiver

No assistantship
No OOS waiver

Winter assistantship
Eligible for OOS waiver

Asst. stipend ≥$2,000
Eligible for OOS waiver

No assistantship
Eligible for OOS waiver
if spring stipend ≥$4,000

Asst. stipend
Eligible for OOS waiver

Asst. stipend ≥$2,000
Eligible for OOS waiver

9- or 12-m assistantship
Eligible for OOS waiver

Asst. stipend ≥$2,000
Eligible for OOS waiver

No Assistantship
Eligible for OOS waiver

Graduate assistants may pay their comprehensive and Commonwealth Facilities & Equipment (CFE) fees through payroll deduction during the fall and spring semesters, if they commit to paying the full comprehensive and CFE fees through payroll deduction. Enrollment is managed through Hokie SPA and students must sign up each semester in which they wish to take advantage of this opportunity. Enrollment is not available for the summer terms.

Enrollment periods:

  • for fall semesters: Jul 15-Oct 15
  • for spring semesters: Dec 15-Mar 15

Students may enroll in the program only after they have registered for classes and their assistantship appointment has been entered on the Banner-HR system by the hiring department. Students can verify the projected fee amount and projected semi-monthly deduction amount on the payroll-deduction enrollment screen before completing their enrollment.  Students must enroll in at least 9 credit hours to see accurate projections. Once enrolled in payroll deduction, students cannot cancel the payroll deduction unless the balance is paid in full. Should an assistantship appointment end before the fees are paid in full, the student will be billed for the balance due.

Graduate assistants who maintain at least a 50% assistantship (10 hours per week), may be eligible for health insurance benefits. Visit the Graduate School's insurance benefits webpage for additional information.

Students offered an assistantship must sign the Graduate Assistantship Agreement form, which is a contract between the student and department. The agreement should stipulate the beginning and ending dates of the contract, the type of appointment, the amount of the monthly stipend, whether the student is expected to work during school breaks, and any other special conditions. The agreement also indicates whether a tuition scholarship, academic fee, and engineering fee will be paid by the department, and whether or not the out-of-state portion of the tuition (UF Differential) will be waived.

Comprehensive/CFE Fees: Students are responsible for comprehensive fees each semester. Out-of-state students must also pay a Commonwealth Facilities & Equipment (CFE) fee. See the Bursar's web page for a description of fees. The CFE fee requirement cannot be waived and is not part of the tuition charges.

Taxes: Federal and state taxes, if applicable, are withheld from the assistantship stipend check, which is issued semi-monthly at approximately the first and sixteenth of each month. Students on summer assistantships who are not enrolled will be taxed at a higher, non-student rate.

Students receiving financial aid need to report tuition scholarships and out of state waivers to their financial aid counselors.

Graduate students on full assistantships are not prohibited from seeking additional employment (restrictions may apply to international students). Students should consult with their academic advisor and/or assistantship supervisor as applicable regarding the fulfillment of their assistantship and graduate study responsibilities. Students must notify the Graduate School about any additional employment, including the period of employment, name and contact of employer, and job title or short description of duties. Use the online tool for reporting:

Access the Additional Employment Reporting Tool.

Five-year bachelor/master's students can hold assistantships in the last semester of their senior year and receive an in-state tuition scholarship, but their out-of-state fees cannot be waived. Bachelor/Master's students in the last semester of their senior year (level 46 students) who are offered assistantships cannot accept funds from the undergraduate scholarship funds and the graduate scholarship funds concurrently. Departments should discuss with each student the scholarship options before awarding an assistantship and issuing an agreement.

If for any reason a student leaves the assistantship appointment before the end of this contract, please refer to the table below for tuition responsibility. Students must inform their departments and the Graduate School in writing if they terminate the assistantship prior to the contract ending date. Departments wishing to terminate a student contract should notify the student and the Graduate School in writing.

This table is based upon the university refund policy and will be used in calculating tuition obligations for students who leave the assistantship appointment before day 38 of the semester.

SEMESTER CLASS DAY

STUDENT OBLIGATION*

DEPARTMENT OBLIGATION**

Prior to first day of classes

100% of tuition & fees

0%

One through eight

90% - tuition only

10% of tuition scholarship

Nine through nineteen

50% - tuition only

50% of tuition scholarship

Twenty through thirty-seven

25% - tuition only

75% of tuition scholarship

After day thirty-seven

0%

100% of tuition scholarship

The comprehensive, technology, and CFE fees are non-refundable and no reduction will be made after the beginning of classes.
*Student responsible for any amount not paid by department.
**Percent of tuition paid by department.

Assistantship dates are the same each year and are as follows:

CONTRACT DATES

BANNER ENTRY DATE

(also can be contract dates)

Academic Year

August 16 - May 15

August 10 - May 9

Fall Semester

August 16 - Dec. 31

August 10 - Dec. 24

Spring Semester

January 1 - May 15

Dec. 25 - May 9

Summer Semester

May 16 - August 15

May 10 - Aug. 9

Departments must specify whether a student is to work over school- or semester breaks. Students may be offered assistantships at any time of year. The tuition scholarship will be pro-rated for the remainder of the term in which a student is hired.