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Graduate and professional students who work as teaching assistants or associates and as research assistants are getting a pay increase.

“Graduate and professional students add to the richness of our campus in many ways,” said Dixie Thompson, vice provost and dean of the Graduate School. “As a part of our teaching force, graduate teaching assistants and associates help in the instruction of undergraduate students and assist with our retention and graduation efforts. Similarly, graduate research assistants are essential in advancing our research mission.”

More than 1,600 graduate students hold assistantships that come with central fee waivers, which means that the university pays the tuition (in- or out-of-state) for these students so that neither the student nor the department has to bear these costs.

Departments pay the stipends for these students, and there have been no university-wide adjustments to the minimum pay rate for graduate assistants since 2002.

For this academic year, $1 million was designated to help elevate the pay of these graduate students. After collecting data and input from across campus, the Graduate School has developed an implementation plan.

“The plan we chose to follow has the largest impact on those students who are making the least, but all graduate students who hold one of these positions will benefit,” Thompson said.

The minimum stipend levels will be increased by 20 percent. All students in central fee waiver positions who are currently making below the new minimums will be given a pay increase to reach the new levels. Approximately half of the $1 million will be used to elevate the lowest-paid GTAs and GRAs to the new minimums.

All students in a central fee waiver position, regardless of salary, will receive a $300 increase in annual salary. All colleges with graduate students in central fee waiver positions benefit from this aspect of the plan.

Students can expect to see half of their pay increase before the end of the calendar year. The remaining portion will be distributed across their paychecks in spring 2019.

College budget directors will get more information soon about the process of distributing these pay increases.


Sean Hendricks (865-974-7521,

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,