Graduate Student

This section covers appointment information for Graduate Student Research Assistantships, Graduate Student Assistants, Graduate Student Instructors, and Graduate Student Staff Assistants.

For more information, contact us.

Graduate Student Research Assistantship Program Reference for Appointing Departments

This information is intended to provide general information regarding Graduate Student Research Assistantships for departmental administrators.

References are made throughout this document to administrative units whose staff are available to respond to questions pertinent to their areas. Contact information for these units is available at the end of the document in the Contact List for GSRA Appointments.

Questions about GSRA appointments and related processes which are not addressed in this document should be directed to the appropriate administrator of the academic unit.

What is a Graduate Student Research Assistantship?

A Graduate Student Research Assistantship (GSRA) is an appointment which may be provided to a student in good standing in a University of Michigan graduate degree program who performs personal research (including thesis or dissertation preparation) or who assists others performing research that is relevant to his or her academic goals.

Enrollment Requirements

The Graduate Student Research Assistantship program is a vehicle to provide financial support for the academically-related research activities of active University of Michigan graduate students. Therefore, in order to hold the title "Graduate Student Research Assistant," an individual must be:

  1. Term I and II: In good standing as a student in a graduate degree program and registered for not less than six (6) credit hours each term or, with the written approval of the student's faculty advisor, not less than five (5) credit hours consisting of not less than two (2) courses relevant to the student's degree program.
  2. Term III: In good standing as a student in a graduate degree program with no specific enrollment requirement.

Period of Appointment

GSRA appointments will typically be made for periods coinciding with academic terms. An appointment end date must always be specified. Appointments may be structured to begin or end during the course of a term, as the result of unanticipated needs or variations in external grant or contract support. It should be noted, though, that appointments of less than a full term are not accompanied by some of the benefits described in this document.

In all cases, the appointment period should closely coincide with the period of personal research or services rendered.

Once a commitment has been made to provide a given level of funding for a specific period to a student, this support would not normally be reduced during a period of appointment nor would an appointment normally be terminated prior to the originally processed end date unless the appointee fails to meet the stated program enrollment requirements at the University of Michigan.

If it is determined that the appointee is not making satisfactory progress towards a degree, or when appointment performance is unsatisfactory (including cases involving misconduct) the appointment duties may be reduced and the appointment fraction and stipend may be reduced correspondingly, or the appointment may be terminated. Prior to initiating a termination, the matter should be discussed with the GSRA in an effort to correct the problem. The discussion should include the alleged misconduct or performance concerns and allow an opportunity for the GSRA to respond. Where efforts at correction are inappropriate or prove to be unproductive, the proposed termination of appointment and support should be reviewed and approved in advance by the department chairperson or an equivalent level of authority (in an Institute or Center) prior to proceeding. In addition, the Academic Human Resources Office should be made aware of the pending action.


View PDF of GSA Salary Memo 2023.

The minimum amount for stipends associated with GSRA appointments is announced annually in a late-summer memorandum from the Office of Academic Human Resources to Deans, Directors, and Department Heads. While individual units may provide stipends exceeding the announced full-time equivalent minimum, it should be kept in mind that the FTE stipend amount of an individual in a department cannot be reduced in subsequent terms.  

Grant or Contract Support

A stipend which is made available as a result of an externally-funded grant or contract may be contingent on continuation of that grant or contract and must be subject to all of its terms. A GSRA appointed under such circumstances should be made aware of this fact at the time of appointment. In the event that external sponsor support is reduced or terminated resulting in an impact on the funding of a Graduate Student Research Assistantship, the affected GSRA should be notified as soon as possible. In such cases, every effort should be made to maintain an equivalent amount of financial aid from other sources for not less than the stated period of appointment.

Stipend amounts shall be consistent with those announced annually for the Office of Academic Human Resources. In this connection, University proposals to prospective sponsors involving support of a GSRA should be consistent with the Graduate Student Research Assistantship Program. Note that, in developing proposals,GSRA tuition support is generally included in the stipend/salary category rather than indicated as a separate item on the budget.

Additional information regarding GSRA inclusion on sponsored projects is available from the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (ORSP)

Fraction of Effort

In that appointment fractions represent a commitment on the part of the appointing unit to a given level of support for a graduate student, normally they will not change during the appointment period. Any changes proposed during the course of a previously processed appointment should be explained in an attachment.

Where GSRA activity is funded by external sponsors, it is particularly important to ensure that effort during the appointment periods is not less than indicated on the appointment. Effort certification may be required.

A GSRA should not normally be appointed at a fraction of 75 percent or higher during a term of academic enrollment. In no case should the appointment fraction of effort interfere with the progress towards a degree or exceed 100 percent. Fractions of 75 percent or higher during the Fall or Winter terms should have the approval of the involved academic department in which the student is enrolled. 


For General questions about GSRA appointments contact Academic HR.

Questions regarding the preparation of proposals, or project budgets involving GSRA participation in general, should be directed to ORSP Project Representatives.

GSRA Benefits

Group Health and Life Insurance

A GSRA with a one-quarter (25 percent) or greater appointment fraction for four or more continuous months are eligible to participate in the University's GradCare health insurance program and Group Life Insurance consistent with the terms of each plan. Coverage is not automatic. Application for GradCare should be made by the GSRA online using Benefits Self Service within thirty (30) days of the effective date of an eligible appointment or during the annual designated "open enrollment" period. Departments facilitate provision of this coverage by processing appointments on a timely basis (i.e. wherever possible, prior to the beginning of the term).

Dental Insurance

Group Dental coverage is effective with the beginning of a term in which an appointee has a 25 percent or greater appointment fraction for an appointment period of not less than 4 continuous months.

Retirement Savings Plans: 403(b) and 457(b)

A GSRA with a 1% or greater appointment may contribute to a 403(b) Supplemental Retirement Account or a 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan on a pre-tax or after-tax Roth basis through TIAA or Fidelity Investments. Although there is no U-M contribution, there is no minimum to enroll and the contribution amount may be changed throughout the year. Both plans allow loans, in-service cash withdrawals in qualifying circumstances, and may be rolled over at any age once no longer employed at U-M. Please note that fellowships, scholarships, and stipends are not eligible to be contributed to these plans. 

Travel Accident Insurance

Graduate Student Research Assistants who travel on university business (other than trips to and from their regular work site) are covered by the university's Travel Accident Insurance plan.

Summer Insurance Coverage

Individuals may be eligible for continued University contribution for premiums for health and Dental Insurance during the summer:

  1. Individuals who are appointed with a 25 percent or greater fraction during Term I and Term II of an academic year, or 
  2. Individuals who are appointed during Term II of an academic year and who will be re-appointed with a 25 percent or greater fraction during Term I of the following academic year  

In order to assure proper handling, the Benefits Office must be alerted to the Term I appointment by no later than April 10. 

Tuition Waivers

A Graduate Student Research Assistant who holds a 25 percent or greater appointment fraction throughout not less than an entire academic term is eligible for a tuition waiver which eliminates the appointee's responsibility for tuition payment for that term.

In the term that a graduate student finishes all the requirements of a Ph.D. program, eligibility for a tuition waiver will be based on the appointee holding a GSRA appointment at 25 percent or greater fraction of effort that is effective at the start of the academic term through either the date of final defense, or for a two month period, whichever is longer.

Charges to research accounts: When a GSRA is appointed on a non-general fund, externally sponsored project which charges no fees, a fixed rate, determined and announced each year, will normally be charged to the involved research account.

Taxation of tuition waivers: All questions regarding the taxability of tuition waivers under provisions of the Internal Revenue code should be directed to the Internal Revenue Service.

Vacation and Sick Leave

GSRA appointments do not provide for paid vacations or holidays. However, remuneration is not reduced during the term of the appointment for class recess or holidays. Graduate Student Research Assistants are eligible for sick pay not to exceed six (6) weeks in a consecutive twelve (12) month period, beginning on the first day of the initial appointment period when unable to meet appointment obligations because of personal illness or injury. Pay during such periods is subject to approval of the department chairperson, head of the research unit, or the GSRA's supervisor or mentor, as appropriate.

Leaves of Absence Without Salary (FMLA)

Leaves of Absence from an academic program are academic issues handled locally by each academic unit.

In general, due to the limited term nature of GSRA appointments, no leaves of absence are available during the course of the appointment period. However, if an individual has been appointed by the University, in any capacity, for 12 months or more and has worked at least 1250 hours during the 12 months immediately preceding the request for leave, a federally mandated Family Medical Leave may be available. In no case can an FMLA leave extend beyond the previously-processed appointment end date. The University complies fully with the Family Medical Leave Act.

Other Benefits

A GSRA responding to a subpoena may serve on jury duty or as a witness without loss of compensation.

Other benefits include instructional staff library privileges and bereavement time.

Questions concerning benefits costs for GSRA to be factored into proposal budgets should be directed to the Benefits Office, (734) 615-2000.

Questions concerning the application of tuition waivers to specific student accounts and the generation of waiver charges to other accounts or funding sources should be directed to the Student Accounts section of Financial Operations (734) 764-7447.

Complaint and Grievance Resolution

A GSRA with questions or concerns about any aspect of his or her appointment should be encouraged to raise the concerns with his or her mentor, supervisor and/or department chairperson.

Staff of the Academic HR Services Office (734) 763-8938 are available to advise and assist students and departments in the resolution of non-academic issues which may arise relating to the terms and conditions of GSRA appointments.

Students or departments with questions about the resolution of non-academic issues relating to GSRA appointments, contact Academic HR.

Referenced Departments Contact List for GSRA Appointments

Academic HR Services
2072 Administrative Services Building
1009 Greene Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1432

phone: (734) 763-8938

Benefits Office
3003 South State Street
G405 Wolverine Tower
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1278

phone: (734) 615-2000, toll free (866) 647-7657
fax: (734) 763-0363

Shared Services Center
[email protected]
phone: (734) 615-2000

Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (OSRP)
3003 South State Street
1002 Wolverine Tower
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1274

phone: (734) 764-5500
fax: (734) 764-8510

3003 South State Street
G395 Wolverine Tower
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1279

phone: (734) 615-2000 option 2 prompt 1 locally, or call toll free (866) 647-7657 option 2 prompt 1
Fax (734) 647-3983

Student Financial Operations
2226 Student Activities Building
515 E. Jefferson
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1316

Other Resources

University Human Resources Administration
3003 South State Street
4005 Wolverine Tower
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1281

Dearborn Human Resources
4901 Evergreen Road
1050 Admin
Dearborn, MI 48128-1491

phone: 313-593-5190
fax: 313-593-3568

Recruiting and Employment Services
3003 South State Street
G250 Wolverine Tower
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1281

Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX Office
2072 Administrative Services
1009 Greene Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1432

(734) 763-0235 (V)
(734) 647-1388 (TTY)
(734) 936-8894 (Fax)

Flint Human Resources
303 East Kearsley
213 University Pavilion
Flint, MI 48502-2186

Organizational Learning
1000 Victors Way, 4th Floor
Ann Arbor, MI 48108  

phone: (734) 764-7410
fax: (734) 936-2525

Michigan Medicine Human Resources
North Campus Administrative Complex
2901 Hubbard, Suite 1100
Ann Arbor, MI 48109/2435

(734) 647-5538

Additional GSA Salary Information

View a PDF of GSA Salary Memo 2023