Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - Graduate Students

Throughout this document, the term graduate assistant(s) is used generically to represent a graduate student who is receiving tuition benefits related to employment as a graduate research assistant, graduate teaching assistant, or graduate assistant.

What is a graduate assistantship?

Graduate assistantships are employment opportunities for graduate students to help finance their educational studies at Florida Atlantic University. Graduate assistantships are intended to provide high-quality, degree seeking students with professional experiences while at FAU that will prepare them for their future careers. For a position to be classified as a graduate assistant, and for the student to be eligible for the University’s tuition benefits, the duties performed must directly contribute to the student’s Plan of Study.

How do students obtain graduate assistantships?

The process of obtaining a graduate assistantship is competitive. Students interested in applying for a teaching assistantship, research assistantship, or graduate assistantship should contact their graduate programs directly. Some graduate assistantship opportunities may be posted on the FAU Graduate College's Facebook page, on the FAU Human Resources Employment Opportunities page, and/or the FAU Career Center Handshake page.

What is a graduate assistantship stipend?

It is the amount of money paid for the work performed ad is paid as a biweekly paycheck from Human Resources. The stipend amount is set by the individual department, unit, or hiring authority.

In addition to the stipend, what benefits does a graduate assistantship include?

A partial or full tuition waiver is awarded depending upon the student meeting eligibility requirements. Student fees and health insurance benefits are not included.

How do students receive their tuition waivers?

A payment credit will be posted to the student’s account shortly after the last day to drop/add a course. The waiver pays the tuition expense only. It is your responsibility to pay all fees on the account. The amount of tuition waived is determined by the enrollment and FTE employment status.

What is a Plan of Study?

The Plan of Study outlines the courses and credits the student will be completing to fulfill the requirements of the graduate degree.

Do all courses have to be listed on the student’s Plan of Study to receive a tuition waiver?

Yes. However, during the first semester of the assistantship, the student is not required to have an approved Plan of Study on file in the Graduate College to receive tuition benefits. During this time, course approval is still required by the department or college. Students must submit a Plan of Study and have it approved by the end of the second semester.

What is the maximum number of hours students can work as graduate assistants?

Students typically work 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. Under rare circumstances, domestic graduate assistants may have appointments greater than 20 hours per week in the fall and spring semesters; however, prior approval is required using Form 10 to make the request.

International students are not permitted to work more than 20 hours per week under any circumstances during the fall and spring semesters while school is in session.

Employment of domestic and international students varies in the summer term depending upon the availability of funds. Domestic and international graduate assistants may have appointments greater than 20 hours per week in the summer semester; however, prior approval is required using Form 10 to make the request.

Does the tuition waiver cover courses needed to remove deficiencies?

Yes, if they are approved by your advisor or program administrator. These courses will need to be listed on your Plan of Study in the deficiency section.

What happens if students need to make changes to the Plan of Study after it has been submitted and approved?

Changes to an approved Plan of Study require the submission and approval of Form 9. For students receiving tuition benefits, this form must be submitted every semester the student deviates from the approved Plan of Study.

What happens if students resign or terminate their assistantships prior to the end of the semester?

Graduate assistants who resign or terminate an assistantship prior to completing the continuous employment period will forfeit all their tuition benefits and must repay the university the full amount of tuition paid by this benefit for the term in which they were enrolled.

If students are admitted as non-degree seeking, can they receive a graduate assistantship?

No. A student must be admitted into a graduate degree seeking program to be eligible for a graduate assistantship at FAU.

Can students enroll in courses that are not required for the degree to satisfy financial aid enrollment requirements?

No. All credit hours paid by a tuition waiver must be required to complete the graduate degree.

Will the tuition waiver impact the amount of financial aid students can receive?

Possibly. Tuition waivers may reduce financial aid awards, and it is the student’s responsibility to consult with staff in the Office of Student Financial Aid on how this might affect eligibility.

Will a reduced enrollment status impact a student’s financial aid and/or qualification for health insurance?

Possibly. Depending upon the rules of the lending institution and insurance provider, a reduced enrollment status may impact disbursement of financial aid and qualification for health insurance. It is the student’s responsibility to know the enrollment status requirements of individual lending institutions and insurance providers.