(November 8, 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.  Please note that for your GRA hires in FY24 and beyond, you should always use the Graduate Office’s GRA budgeting tool at https://www.montana.edu/gradschool/documents/GRA%20Tool%2010.26.2023.xlsx
    2. The GTA/GRA collective bargaining agreement has changed. Please review the current version here: https://mus.edu/hr/cba/024-CBA.pdf. Of particular interest to PIs is the changes to compensation (the stipend), benefits, and tuition (specified in Articles 8 and 9).

      Stipend. EHHD GAs are compensated at a rate that is above the stipend floor (8.01(A)).  However, if your GRA’s stipend did not increase by at least $500 per AY semester through budgeted COLA adjustment on your grant, your grant will be charged an extra $500 this semester and another extra $500 next semester (Spring 2024) so as to be in compliance with the CBA.  You should also expect to increase your GRA budget next year (FY25) by at least $500 for each AY semester in which a GRA is employed. 

      What may also impact your grant, are required increases for the additional payment (AKA the gap payment), specified in 8.01(B) in the above-cited agreement.

      Additional payment. Additional payment for GAs in their first 5 AY semesters has increased from $175 per month to $182 per month (or $910 per AY semester).  Additional payment for GAs in their 6th or greater AY semester has increased from $225 per month to $232 per month (or $1,160 per AY semester).  

      We recommend you check your grant charges for GRA hires with the Business Operations team ([email protected]) who can help identify if your index is being charged more this fall than you expected.

    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. To hire a GRA, please contact the EHHD Business Operations team ([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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Note: You may hire graduate OR undergraduate students on an hourly basis if you don't have funds or time for a full semester-long GRA-ship.  Check with the Business Operations team ([email protected]) about how to hire these research assistants.  For either, 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.