(May 25, 2023)

The following policy governs the hiring of Graduate Research Assistants,  Hiring graduate research assistants (GRAs) with external grant funds is encouraged to provide research experience for graduate students while accomplishing the aims of your project.

In order to fairly compensate a GRA, you must include in the grant budget sufficient funds to cover the cost of the stipend that the GRA will receive including additional pay, plus proportional benefits, and if possible, tuition and fees.

    1. In EHHD effective July 1, 2023, the stipends provided MS level GRAs will be a minimum $1,800/month ($18,000 per academic year - 10 months, 20 pay periods) for 19 hours per week of work (translates to $23.68/hour). PhD level GRAs should earn a minimum of $2000/mo ($20,000 per academic year or $26.32/hour).  Both levels also earn the additional payment as noted below.  If your grant does not allow you to cover a GRA’s tuition, please consider adding an adequate amount to the stipend to help your student pay their own tuition. 19 hours per week of work is the maximum number of hours that a GRA can be employed except during the 2 summer months remaining in a calendar year. The stipend may be prorated when the workload is less than 19 hours per week. For example, a MS-GRA needed to work only 10 hours a week will receive a stipend of $9,000/year versus $18,000.  Under 10 hours/week is not considered a GRAship, but can be paid as hourly labor (as can undergrads).  Just be sure they aren't working more than 20 hours/week total among any campus jobs they may have.
    2. Additional Pay: All GRAs will receive an additional $175/month for GRAs in their first 5 semesters, or $225/month thereafter, regardless of the number of hours for which the GRA is employed.  These rates are spelled out in the Graduate Employee Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Additional pay is treated as and should be budgeted as salary.  The Bargaining Agreement is being updated in FY24 sometime, so stay tuned!
    3. The following benefits rates apply (calculated in proportion to the total of salary or wage plus additional pay as noted in #1 - #2 above).
      1. 9% benefits rate for GRAs taking less than 6 credits (such as during summer).
      2. 1% benefits rate for GRAs taking 6 credits or more.
    4. Unlike Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs), GRAs are not awarded tuition waivers on State funds. Including tuition costs into your grant budget for GRAs to take at least 6 credits is expected, and will make the offer more competitive. In‐state tuition rates apply to all graduate students who work as Graduate Assistants (10 hours/week or more) regardless of their state of residency. Current resident graduate tuition and fees may be found at the Fee Schedule web page. As noted above, if your grant does not allow tuition payments, please increase the pay rate to include that cost to the student.
    5. Note: OSP (MSU Office of Sponsored Programs) and the Graduate School have developed an Excel spreadsheet tool for figuring GRA salary, benefits and tuition.  Follow the link for "Grant Budgeting Tool for GRA costs" under Toolkit at OSP's Forms and Toolkit page and descriptive guidance on their Budgeting page.
    6. To hire a GRA, please contact the EHHD Business Operations Manager ([email protected]) for a Hiring Form EACH SEMESTER (including summer), fill it out and return to them.  If you will be paying for the student's tuition and/or fees, please make sure to include how many credits need to be paid for.  If you are covering all of the credits that they are registered for, please talk to the student to confirm the amount of credits that need to be paid for before returning the form.
    7. If you are paying their tuition: Financial Aid takes quite some time to process the tuition payments so it is likely that your student will be sent a message from the university warning them that if they don’t pay their tuition, they will be dropped from courses. Please let your student know to email [email protected] and [email protected] and let them know that they are on a GRA appointment and that their payment has not been processed yet.
    8. Note: If you hire a GRA on a grant, new (2021) VPREDGE policy enables you to receive 15% of the F&As (IDCs) generated by expenditures in GRA account codes 61127 and 61127A per semester up to a maximum of $10,000 at any one time.


NOTE: If you plan to hire undergraduates: Be sure that the total amount of time that they are working anywhere on campus does not exceed 20 hours per week and their hourly wage is commensurate with the wages they are being paid by other departments for similar work.