Blazer Graduate Research Fellowship Letter

Graduate Assistantship Letter

Graduate Fellowship Letter

Tuition Scholarship Letter

Graduate Research Assistantship Letter 

Graduate Teaching Assistantship Letter 


The following Graduate Student guidelines are for departments which have students classified in the following assignment categories:  Graduate Assistant, Graduate Research Assistant, Graduate Teaching Assistant, and Graduate Student Trainee.  Students who are assigned to one of these categories must be enrolled in an official graduate program and can only have an additional assignment under special circumstances as described below with permission of the Graduate School Dean.  In addition, a student’s primary assignment should be within his/her graduate program or department.  The only exception to this requirement is for Graduate Assistants (GAs) funded through Athletics, Campus Rec, or Campus Housing.

Graduate Assistant (GA): (06) Activities include, but are not limited to, duties primarily in support of administrative functions (e.g. performing clerical functions, maintaining webpages, supervising computer labs, and drafting non-research materials). Effective October 2, 2016, Graduate Assistants will be considered non-exempt student employees and will be paid for hours worked.  GAs must record their hours worked using the Campus KRONOS system.

Graduate Research Assistant (GRA):  (06) GRAs conduct original, professional-level research in their field of study (e.g. conducting experiments, analyzing data, and drafting research publications for professional journals or conferences) primarily for the purpose of fulfilling the requirements for an advanced degree.  The GRA assignment is considered an academic appointment and is exempt from FLSA requirements. 

Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA): (06) GTAs are directly involved in classroom or laboratory instruction (e.g. teaching classes, leading discussion groups, preparing curriculum, and grading exams) primarily for the purpose of fulfilling the requirements of an advanced degree.  Any teaching assignment must be in the student’s own field of study or one that is closely related.  The GTA assignment is considered an academic appointment and is exempt from FLSA requirements. 

Graduate Student Trainee: (46)  Graduate Student Trainees are paid monthly from Fellowship or Scholarship resources.  Graduate Student Trainees are not considered to be UAB employees.  This appointment is intended to allow the individual to be a full time student.  No past, present, or future services are required as a condition of receiving this appointment.

In some pre-approved cases, the graduate student is awarded a combination of the appointment categories indicated above.  The student should be given two separate award letters clearly specifying the conditions of each award.


Assumption of additional assignments requires prior approval in writing by the Graduate School Dean.  The Request for Additional Assignment form may be found on the Graduate School website on the Online Forms page.  If a student is already being compensated at the maximum allowed (see below), an additional assignment outside their primary appointment can only be made under special circumstances.


A salary cap for Graduate Assistants and Graduate Student Trainees has been set in consultation with the Academic Programs Council and has been approved by the Provost's Office.  The following is a guide for all predoctoral students in all disciplines.  The minimum compensation level for predoctoral students is only a recommendation as it is recognized that some programs cannot provide stipends at that level, nor does the recommendation for predoctoral trainees apply to students who are supported in masters degree programs for whom the recommended minimum compensation level is $10,000.

The maximum compensation allowed for all predoctoral students is $30,600 for 2015-2016. In subsequent years the maximum will be indexed to equal 90 percent of the current NSF individual fellowship stipend.  The recommended minimum compensation for all predoctoral students is $16,590.

If a department/program sets the stipend level for its students above the maximum compensation level but then requires the students in that program to pay for their own tuition, fees and health insurance costs from stipend proceeds, only the portion of the stipend remaining after tuition, fees and insurance payment would be considered as these students’ compensation relative to the maximum compensation level allowed.


In some circumstances there may be justifiable reasons for exceeding the stipend maximum. If additional assignment work is related to or augments a student’s dissertation research, if the student’s mentor and program agree to and support the additional assignment in writing, then the Graduate School Dean could be petitioned to approve a compensation level that exceeds the maximum.  Teaching assignments that involve additional compensation could also be viewed as being beneficial to a student’s professional development, especially if the subject matter is either within or related to the student’s primary field of study.  Assuming a teaching assignment for additional compensation also requires written permission from the student’s mentor and his/her program, as well as approval of the Graduate School Dean.


Students who apply for and receive extramural fellowships that provide stipends and additional benefits which exceed the recommended maximum are entitled to receive the full support provided by the extramural award.  Also, if the base stipend on a training grant or the stipend derived from some other form of external support exceeds the maximum, students who are chosen to receive a stipend from that source are entitled to receive the full amount of that compensation.


Health insurance is covered under the scholarship award to the student and can be processed via payment request.  However, if the student employee (Assistantship) does not have a “tuition and all fees” award, the additional monies to cover the cost are considered compensation and thus would be processed via element pay on the ACT document.


If an initial award is modified in any way, (i.e. increase or reduction in salary, extension of support period) a new letter of appointment must be issued to the student along with the necessary ACT document.  The award letter is issued from the graduate program director and must be signed by the student.  No appointments will be processed without the student’s signature.


Letters offering appointments are usually issued by the graduate program director or a student’s mentor.  Template letters containing recommended statements of commitment are provided at the top of this page.  These examples of fellowship and assistantship appointment letters have been carefully worded to reflect the legal nature of the appointment document; therefore, it is important to use the provided templates.  

If a tuition scholarship is awarded, the student should be issued a separate (second) letter.  If the student will also receive an appointment letter (assistantship or trainee), the letters may be mailed together.  However, each commitment letter must be signed by the student.

Last modified: 08/5/2015