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Policy and Procedures

Purpose

To support graduate programs and provide educational opportunities and financial assistance for graduate students.

 

Graduate Assistantship parameters defined

For the purposes of this policy, a "graduate student" is an individual who is admitted and enrolled in a degree program in good academic standing in graduate studies at Longwood University and whose primary relationship with the University is an educational relationship.

The College of Graduate and Professional Studies programs recognize that graduate student assistantships provide critical educational opportunities to graduate students, and that assistantships are directly related to the core elements of student's graduate degrees and the educational reasons students attend Longwood. Moreover, graduate assistantships provide a mechanism through which the College of Graduate and Professional Studies may provide students consistent and regularized financial assistance.

Graduate students who are offered an assistantship at Longwood University must be appointed to one of the assistantship classifications described in this document, and the terms of their appointment must conform to the policies governing those classifications. Although assigned teaching or academic support duties, graduate assistants are regarded by the university as students and not as employees. As such, graduate assistants are not eligible for any employee benefits.

A graduate student holding a graduate assistantship forgoes the designated student academic vacations for the period of the appointment and may not be appointed to another paid position at Longwood concurrently without permission of both their program advisor and the Dean of the College of Graduate & Professional Studies. Graduate program coordinators and prospective graduate assistants should agree upon the specific work expectations, including employment dates, before finalizing appointments.

 

Eligibility requirements and student responsibilities

Students who are candidates for appointment as graduate assistants are responsible for meeting the following eligibility requirements and for taking the initiative in ascertaining that all have been fulfilled. The requirements are described here to provide graduate student applicants with an understanding of the usual conditions for awarding assistantships. Individual colleges, departments or programs may set more rigorous standards than are listed here.

An entering student is awarded an assistantship on the basis of academic potential. The student is expected to have been admitted fully and without academic provision, having achieved a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for the last 60 semester hours of academic credit earned. Another indicator of academic potential is a score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) that places the applicant above the 50th percentile of all students who take this examination. In those disciplines requiring GRE subject tests, an upper 50th percentile achievement is expected. An equally high achievement level is expected on the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). Students applying for English assistantships demonstrate potential through the quality and promise of their required writings.

Graduate assistants, once appointed, must maintain grade point averages of 3.0 or better. Graduate students may be retained as assistants only as long as they are registered as current, full-time (9 hours or more) or part-time (6 hours) students in good academic standing and are performing satisfactorily their teaching or academic/administrative duties.

 

Graduate assistantship appointment classifications

Graduate assistantships are apprentice professional appointments offered as a form of merit-based financial aid. Graduate assistants provide service to the University while simultaneously allowing students to develop the skills and experience required to assume leadership roles in academia and/or the professions.

Graduate students who are assigned academic responsibilities at Longwood University will be appointed to one of the following classifications of graduate assistantships:

  • Teaching Assistant- A graduate student who assists a faculty member who is the instructor of record for a course. The duties of such an appointment may include work in the classroom, in recitation sections, in laboratories, in online learning management systems or in other learning settings. The Teaching Assistant (TA) may or may not be responsible for grading student assignments and for maintaining office hours.
  • Academic Assistant - A graduate student with limited responsibility for the administrative and/or applied professional practice within an academic department or a University administrative unit. These positions may include significant student or client interaction and an intentional student development and educational component.

Teaching Assistants and Academic Assistants may, as a matter of course, have some administrative duties associated with their appointments, but those duties are considered part of their assistantship assignment.

 

Graduate Assistant Appointments

Longwood University adheres to the national Council of Graduate Schools resolution that states:

"Students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15; earlier deadlines for acceptance of such offers violate the intent of this Resolution. In those instances in which the student accepts an offer before April 15 and subsequently desires to withdraw that acceptance, the student may submit in writing a resignation of the appointment at any time through April 15. However, an acceptance given or left in force after April 15 commits the student not to accept another offer without first obtaining a written release from the institution to which commitment has been made. Similarly, an offer by an institution after April 15 is conditional on presentation by the student of the written release from any previously accepted offer. It is further agreed by the institutions and organizations subscribing to this resolution that a copy of this resolution should accompany every scholarship, fellowship, traineeship and assistantship offer."

Graduate Assistant appointments are awarded for not longer than one calendar year and are not renewed automatically from year to year unless specifically stated in writing. A graduate program or University unit and graduate students may apply for a continuing appointment for the following year. At the end of each term, Program Coordinators or Directors are responsible for evaluating and recommending continuing graduate assistant appointments in their program to the Graduate Dean. Specific work assignments, scheduling, and arrangements relating to vacation and personal leave are determined by the department, program or administrative unit to which the graduate student is assigned.

Acceptance of a graduate assistantship for the next academic year by a prospective or enrolled graduate student completes an agreement that both the student and the College of Graduate & Professional Studies expects to honor. A memorandum of agreement signed by the hiring program and the graduate assistant specifies the duties, responsibilities and evaluation outcomes of the position. The Request for a Graduate Assistant application includes these duties, responsibilities and outcomes.

The College of Graduate and Professional Studies conducts a general orientation for graduate assistants that may be supplemented by the hiring program to address specific duties and responsibilities.

The duties of graduate assistants require work from 10 to 20 hours per week during the academic year or the summer, depending on the stipend awarded. Graduate assistants must perform satisfactorily the duties assigned by their departments; must make satisfactory progress in their programs as defined by the degree requirements and the regulations of their departments; and may not hold any employment or appointment of a remunerative nature during the term of their assistantships without the approval of the Graduate Dean. Graduate Assistants log their time and submit it monthly in order to get paid.

During the academic year, all graduate assistants awarded a full-time graduate assistantship whose tuition is being paid by the university must enroll for at least nine hours of graduate coursework each semester. Graduate students awarded a part-time graduate assistantship must be enrolled for a minimum of six hours of graduate coursework each semester. Undergraduate credits may be included in the minimum, provided they are relevant to the student's degree program and approved by an advisor and the Dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies. Courses taken for audit are not counted toward the enrollment requirement. Students awarded summer stipends and tuition are expected to enroll for at least six credit hours during the summer session. All graduate assistants must be continuously enrolled. Exceptions to minimum enrollment requirements must be approved by the Dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies on recommendation of the student's graduate program director.

 

Termination of Appointment

Graduate assistantships typically end when the period of appointment is concluded and the term of the assistantship agreement is fulfilled. An appointment also may end when the grant or contract supporting the student expires, for whatever reason, even if that occurs before the end of the student's current appointment. The Separation Form must be completed by the graduate student and the department/program on or before the last working day.

Otherwise, a graduate assistantship may be terminated for the following reasons:

  • Resignation for cause by the student, such resignation to be in writing for approval by Program Coordinator or Director, and forwarded to the Dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies;
  • Failure of the graduate assistant to perform assigned duties adequately, such termination to be recommended in writing by the Program Coordinator or Director, and forwarded to the Dean of the College of Graduate & Professional Studies;
  • Failure of the graduate assistant to remain in good academic standing or to adhere to enrollment policies in accordance with this policy statement.

Graduate Assistant immediate supervisors will work with their Program Coordinator or Director to resolve problematic issues with graduate assistants. After consultation with the immediate supervisor of a graduate assistant, the graduate assistant, and any other relevant individuals, the Program Coordinator or Director may recommend to the Graduate Dean the termination of a graduate assistant appointment prior to the end of the appointment period using the Separation Form.

Any stipend funds remaining after termination of a graduate assistantship revert to the funding program and may be reallocated to another graduate student. If students withdraw from classes or programs or reduce enrollment below full time or part-time requirements, tuition/fees and stipends may be rescinded, and students will be responsible for returning all funds to the University. Exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis by the Dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies on the recommendation of the student's graduate Program Coordinator.

A graduate student who believes that his or her graduate assistantship has been terminated unjustly and who has exhausted all departmental and school appeal procedures, may appeal the decision in writing to the Dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies.

The Graduate Dean will make the final decision regarding termination of the appointment.

 

Non-assistantship employment of graduate students

Student appointments that are primarily of a clerical or non-academic administrative nature should be offered through Student Employment and processed in accordance with their policies. The College of Graduate and Professional Studies allocation funds may not be used to support such positions.

 

Scholarships to be provided with graduate student assistantships

A graduate student who is awarded a full-time Teaching Assistant or Academic Assistant appointment of at least 20 hours per week may also be awarded a scholarship to cover up to nine credit hours (a full-time course load) of the student's Longwood University in-state tuition during each semester of award.

A graduate student who is awarded a part-time Teaching Assistant or Academic Assistant appointment of at least 10 hours per week may also be awarded a scholarship to cover up to six credit hours (a part-time course load) of the student's Longwood University in-state tuition during each semester of award.

Since scholarships are not tuition waivers, but actual payment of the student's tuition charges, the cost of appointing a graduate student to one of these positions will include both the stipend and the scholarship portion of the award.

Out-of-state tuition waivers may be considered to meet recruitment goals.

Tuition and/or fee support and other awards such as room, meal plan, and stipends, associated with graduate assistantships vary from year to year and by program. Some awards may consist of a basic stipend only. In such cases, students are responsible for payment of tuition and fees. Some awards may include a base stipend plus tuition and/or fees or inclusion of room and meal plan. Payment of special program or class fees is optional and varies from program to program. University awards that include tuition and fee support may not cover special fees. Students are responsible for settling their accounts according to the rules and procedures of the University's Office of Student Accounts.

Tuition will be charged according to a student's official residency status as determined by the university's Registration Office. Questions related to residency status should be directed to that office.

 

Payments and tax status

All stipends associated with Teaching Assistant and Academic Assistant awards are treated as FICA-exempt.

The stipend portion of a graduate assistantship package is designated by the Internal Revenue Service as wages for work performed, is processed through the University's Payroll Office, and is subject to withholding taxes. A graduate assistantship stipend is reported to the IRS as earned income. Tuition and/or fee support, if provided, is processed through the university's Financial Aid Office and is applied directly to the student's account.

In all cases, final decisions and interpretations as to the tax status of graduate assistantship stipends or tuition and/or fee awards are made solely by the Internal Revenue Service, and, ultimately, it is the student's responsibility to ensure accurate reporting of such support to the IRS.

All graduate assistantship and tuition and fee awards are reported to the University's Financial Aid Office and are included in any calculation of financial aid need. Students with questions about their need-based financial aid packaging should contact their financial aid advisors, graduate program directors, and/or departmental fiscal administrators about the status of their funding before accepting offers.

 

A reminder about international students

International students are restricted by U.S. law in the actual (not the average) number of hours they may work during a week. These students may not work more than 20 actual hours per week during the semester. If the student cannot legally be appointed to additional hours, he or she must not be required or permitted to provide them.

 

Application Procedures: Request for a Graduate Assistant

Graduate Dean will solicit and receive Request for Graduate Assistant applications for review by the Graduate Assistant Review Committee.

Request for a Graduate Assistant applications must include the following information:

  • Immediate Supervisor(s)
  • Term(s) Applied For
  • Assistantship Category
  • Duties and Responsibilities
  • Project Outcomes
  • Skills/Qualifications Required
  • Evaluation Plan
  • Nominations

The Graduate Dean, Academic Deans and the Vice-President for Student Affairs will constitute a Graduate Assistant Review Committee to rank and recommend funding priorities in line with announced criteria. The selection of the specific graduate assistant will be done by the program or department whose application is approved and recommended for funding by the Deans and VP. The College of Graduate and Professional Studies will confirm the eligibility of each student applicant for a graduate assistantship.

 

Application Procedure: Graduate Students

Graduate students may apply to the College of Graduate and Professional Studies for a graduate assistantship concurrently with their application to a degree or professional endorsement program. Graduate students already admitted into a graduate program may apply by the announced application dates.

Graduate Student applications must include the following information:

  • Name
  • Contact information (address, phone, email)
  • Social Security Number
  • Degree or professional endorsement program
  • Term(s) Applied For
  • Graduate Assistant Category Preferred
  • Number of hours per week available to work
  • Minimum number of credit hours per term
  • Legally employable on first day of appointment
  • Education
  • Employment History
  • Skills/Qualifications
  • Educational Goals
  • Placement Preferences

 

Graduate Assistant Application Process

  • The College of Graduate and Professional Studies collects Request for Graduate Assistant applications and student Graduate Assistant applications
  • The College of Graduate and Professional Studies determines eligibility of graduate student applicants.
  • Graduate Assistant Review Committee reviews and approves graduate assistant requests.
  • Department/program hires graduate assistant(s) from among eligible candidates.
  • Department/program completes the Educational Stipend form.
  • Recommended Graduate Assistant student completes:
    • I9 form
    • W4 form
    • VA4 form
    • Direct Deposit Authorization form
    • Copy of Social Security card
    • Copy of government-issued identification, e.g. driver's license, passport, birth certificate, etc.
    • International students submit additional documents including I20, I94, visa/passport and others as required.
  • All documentation (department/program and student) is collated and routed for review and approval to:
    • Department/program supervisor
    • College Dean/Director
    • College of Graduate and Professional Studies Dean
    • Appropriate internal funding review source (Budget, Foundation, etc.)
    • Human Resources
    • Student Employment for I9 review
    • International office (as appropriate for International students)
  • The College of Graduate and Professional Studies issues letter of appointment as a Graduate Assistant.