Creating the Offer Letter
Appointments ordinarily are made for the nine-month period, August 23 through May 22, but may be of shorter duration for a variety of reasons. Specific dates can be found here on the "Stipend Listings" posted for each academic year.
All appointments of less than one semester duration require approval from the GEU and departments must contact Employee Relations for assistance before issuing an offer letter. Graduate assistantship appointments with either a retroactive date of hire or a retroactive increase in percentage of employment are prohibited. Appointment start dates should accurately reflect the employee's work. The contract allows less than one semester appointments which require an agreement with the union and may pro-rate the GA's tuition waiver. Should the need for a late appointment arise, the department should contact The Graduate School or Employee Relations prior to making a late appointment.
The appointment start date for GAs is typically prior to the start of the semester. GAs may be expected to begin work as of the start date of their appointment. All graduate students enrolled in on-campus programs are required to arrive on campus on or before the first day of each new term, as stated in The Graduate Catalog ("Deadlines"). This policy is to ensure graduate students' academic success, as well as to prevent any financial hardships that may result for student with a graduate assistantship appointment. Late arrivals may impact the GA's employment start date, which may cause the GA to be responsible for paying partial tuition and affect the GA's eligibility for subsidized health insurance. If a newly admitted student is not able to arrive on campus on or before the first day of the semester, they should plan to defer their admission to a later semester. Deferral requests require departmental approval and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
GA Offer Letters
Graduate Assistant offer letters define the terms and conditions of employment for graduate students who are invited to accept a new position or a continuation appointment as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Connecticut. Effective January 2023, the original six GA offer letter templates have been combined into one template that can be used to appoint or reappoint a GA for the fall/spring semester or the academic year. An additional template has been created that can be used specifically for mid-appointment (fall/spring or academic year) FTE or stipend level changes.
The GA offer letter templates contain boilerplate language that must be included, and the templates should be accessed from the Human Resources website as each new letter is created as content is subject to change. These template letters are not intended to be form letters, but the language has been vetted for compliance with relevant contractual and legal provisions. The hiring department is responsible for the personalization of names, titles, salary and other specific data. Hiring departments must also provide the GA with a Supplemental Description of Duties form. Template versions of the Supplemental Description of Duties form for Teaching GAs and Research GAs can be found here. These templates can be modified by departments to more accurately reflect the GA’s duties. Should you need to substantially revise the standard letters, it is imperative that you contact The Graduate School before doing so.
The Graduate School has developed an "Optional GA Recruitment Letter Template" to accompany GA offer letters for incoming graduate students. This optional template highlights some of the benefits of joining UConn and provides space for departments to list additional opportunities or support, such as a departmental fellowship.
Please remember that the GEU contract requires the university to make offers by April 1 for incoming GAs and by June 1 for continuing GAs except in exceptional situations as outlined in by the contract. If you have any questions about this deadline and whether a scenario would qualify as exceptional, please reach out to The Graduate School.
Additional Information for Incoming GAs' Offer Letters - The April 15 Resolution
GA offer letters for incoming graduate students must include language regarding the Council of Graduate Schools' (CGS) "Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees, and Assistantships," also known as the "April 15 Resolution." Because UConn is a party to the April 15 Resolution, we are obliged to allow admitted graduate students to consider all offers of financial support through April 15. In turn, the resolution binds students to their decisions made or held in place after April 15. Over 325 U.S. institutions offering graduate degrees have agreed to abide by this resolution.
Here are some important aspects of the Resolution:
- The April 15 deadline applies only to acceptance of an offer of financial support such as a graduate scholarship, fellowship, traineeship, or assistantship. Departments are free to ask or require potential students to respond before April 15 if the student did not receive an offer of financial support.
- It applies only to offers of financial support for the following academic year.
- Although departments are encouraged to make offers well before the deadline, prospective students are under no obligation to respond to offers including financial support prior to April 15.
- All offers of financial support should include a copy of or link to the “April 15 Resolution”.
The GA offer letter templates for "New" appointments include explanatory language regarding the April 15 Resolution and a link to the full text of the resolution. Please remember that the GEU contract requires the university to make offers to incoming GAs no later than April 1. If you have any questions about this deadline or about implementing the April 15 Resolution, please reach out to The Graduate School.
International GAs Admitted for a Spring Term
International students who are admitted for a spring semester may need to be show one year's proof of funding to receive their I-20. In collaboration with ISSS and Labor Relations, The Graduate School developed a letter template departments can use to confirm a calendar year of GA support and which the student may show when applying for their I-20. The department would also need to provide a spring GA offer letter using one of the standard templates for GA offers available on HR's website along with this letter, and then, closer to the fall semester, departments would issue a fall GA offer letter using the standard templates. Please reach out to email@example.com with any questions about this template.
Stipend rates for graduate assistants are graduated in terms of progress toward the advanced degree and experience. Stipend rates and payroll processing deadlines can be found on the Payroll website
- Level B/I: for graduate assistants with at least the baccalaureate. Students active solely in a master's program as paid at Level B/I.
- Level M/II: for experienced graduate assistants in a doctoral program with at least the master's degree or its equivalent in the field of graduate study. Equivalency consists of thirty graduate level content course credits of appropriate course work (graduate research credits, GRAD 5950 and 6950, do not count toward the 30 credits*) beyond the baccalaureate completed at the University of Connecticut, together with admission to a doctoral program.
- *Effective Fall 2020, GRAD 5950 and 6950 credits will count toward the 30 credit requirement for Level 2.
- Level P/III: for students with experience as graduate assistants who have at least the master's degree or its equivalent and who have passed the doctoral general examination.
The most straightforward way to determine a student's level eligibility is to refer to the Report on GA Hire Eligibility and Stipend Level. This report is sent out weekly by The Graduate School to the Graduate Admins listserv. If you would like to be added to this listserv, please contact Megan Petsa. If you have questions about this report or a student's level eligibility, please contact Megan Petsa.
Adding the GA to Grad Payroll
Core-CT Job Aids can be found under the Smart HR section of this webpage. Payroll processing deadlines can be found on the Payroll website. Detailed information about adding grads to payroll for the academic year is sent to the Grad Payroll Processors listserv directly by Payroll.
"Contact The Graduate School" Error Messages in SmartHR/Core-CT
If you receive an error message telling you to contact The Graduate School when you try to save and submit a payroll transaction, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the GA's name, student ID, and the reason for the error (if known) for assistance. Please note, when that error message appears, the SmartHR transaction has been automatically saved in "DRAFT" status.
This error message may appear for one of two reasons:
- Provisional Status. A student on provisional status cannot be a GA. To be removed from provisional status, the student must have a GPA above 3.0 and have completed 12+ graduate level credits here at UConn. This error will not be overridden, as the student is not eligible to be hired as a GA.
- Speech Test Not Satisfied. If the GA has not provided proof of English proficiency to be a TA as described in this policy and been cleared to teach, the department must verify in writing that the GA will have no instructional contact with students (e.g., they will be doing grading work or lab set up only). If the intent is for the GA to be assigned instructional contact duties, the GA will need to work with UCAELI/International Teaching Assistant Services to provide proof of English proficiency to be a TA. If not cleared to teach by UCAELI/ITA, the GA must be reassigned to non-instructional contact duties only.