L&S Student Assistant Appointment Letters

This KB provides important information about appointment letters for Student Assistants (also called Graduate Assistants) at the College of Letters and Science, with links to frequently used documents and policies. Contact your STS/SA HR Business Partner or HR Associate Director Laura Fisk with questions. For campus policies related to graduate assistants, please visit Graduate Assistant Policies and Procedures (GAPP) at https://hr.wisc.edu/policies/gapp/.

Instructions for Appointment Letters

Student Assistant appointment letters do not need to be reviewed or approved by your STS/SA HR Business Partner unless they differ in a material way from the template. Small modifications in tone and small additions to the language do not require review/approval unless they contradict the terms of the appointment letter. 

Best practice is to download and use a new template appointment letter from the links below with each hire or group of hires, since appointment letters are revised periodically throughout the year.  At a minimum, departments should download new template appointment letters just prior to each new semester’s hiring.   

Per GAPP, these are guidelines for appointment letters for all student assistants:

  • The employing department is required to send a copy of the appointment letter to the student’s department of graduate study, if different from the employing unit. 
  • The department is required to provide the appointment letter to the student before the start of employment.
    • If some appointment information is not yet available by then, the department must still provide a formal appointment letter with the most accurate tentative information available. The department should note which information is tentative. When information can be confirmed, the department should provide a follow-up email to the student as soon as possible, but the department is not required to send a revised or updated appointment letter.

Additionally, per GAPP, these are guidelines for notifying TAs of their tentative course assignment.

  • Departments must notify TAs of their tentative course assignment, if known, no later than the following: August 1 for fall semester courses; and December 1 for spring semester courses. The department can send this notification to the TA via email if it would like. This is an additional requirement, above and beyond the requirement to provide a formal appointment letter as notified in the previous section.

Appointment Letter Templates

Fellow/Trainee

Grader/Reader

Lecturer(SA)

Project Assistant (PA)

Project Assistants may be exempt or nonexempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  

  • Most Project Assistants are non-exempt. During the academic year they are non-exempt unless there is a concurrent exempt appointment, (i.e. TA or LSA). The exempt status dictates what rate to use in JEMS HIRE or JEMS Change, and in the appointment letter.
    • If the appointment is non-exempt, use the converted hourly rate.
    • If the appointment is exempt, use the salaried rate.
    • See rates:  https://kb.wisc.edu/ls/28638

Research Assistant (RA)

Teaching Assistant (TA)

Per GAPP, these are guidelines for notifying TAs of their tentative course assignment.

Departments must notify TAs of their tentative course assignment, if known, no later than the following: August 1 for fall semester courses; and December 1 for spring semester courses. The department can send this notification to the TA via email if it would like. This is an additional requirement, above and beyond the requirement to provide a formal appointment letter as notified in the previous section.

  • Graduate Assistant as a TA 
    • Teaching Assistant Appointment Letter Template, revised 7/8/22
    • Phasing out Teaching Assistant Senior distinction:
      • L&S eliminated the Senior/Standard distinction for Teaching Assistants. 
      • TA appointment letters should continue to identify the title as “Teaching Assistant – Standard or Teaching Assistant - Senior” as appropriate  
      • For non-payroll purposes, feel free to use  other terms to identify a hierarchy (e.g., eligibility for awards or other recognition, or to become a head TA, etc.)
      • For payroll purposes, JEMS still requires selecting senior or standard, so continue to identify as “senior” any TAs who were payrolled as senior as of Spring 2018. Enter any others as “standard”.
  • Undergraduate Assistant as a TA 

Undergraduate Assistant

  • These positions require special approval.
    • Undergraduate Assistant–TA – see “Teaching Assistant” above
    • Undergraduate Assistant-Grader/Reader – see “Grader/Reader” above  

Information for Appointment Letters

Semester Instructional Dates 

2022-23

  • Fall 2022:
    • Payroll Start Date: August 22, 2022
    • Payroll End Date: January 4, 2023
  • Spring 2023:
    • Payroll Start Date: January 5, 2023 
    • Payroll End Date: May 21, 2023

Calculating Gross Salary & Biweekly Salary 

Use the “Funding Layout Assistance Tool” (FLOAT), available on OHR Payroll Toolkit, to calculate the semester gross and biweekly salaries.

Alternatively, calculate the biweekly salary manually using the following formula:

  • Comp rate divided by the number of biweekly pay periods in an academic or calendar year (19.5 for C-basis, 26 for A-basis) multiplied by the appointment FTE.
  • Example #1:  33.4% Lecturer (SA) with a C-basis comp rate of $45,000:
    • ($ 45,000 / 19.5)  * 0.334  =   $ 770.77
  • Example #2:  50% Research Assistant with an A-basis comp rate of $60,000:
    • ($ 60,000 / 26) * 0.500 = $1,153.85

Maximum Level Appointment Information

When are graduate students limited in the amount they can work? 

Limits during the academic year

1.     Weeks in which academic year classes are in session (Fall and Spring semesters)

2022-23 

•    Sunday, September 4, 2022 through Saturday, December 17, 2022
•    Sunday, January 22, 2023 through Saturday, March 11, 2023
•    Sunday, March 19, 2023 through Saturday, May 6, 2023

Domestic vs Foreign National:

•    Domestic graduate students are limited to 75% time (30 hours a week) in all combined concurrent appointment
•    Foreign national graduate students are limited to 50%-time (20 hours per week) in all combined concurrent appointments. 

Concurrent Research Assistant appointments

•    If the graduate student has a concurrent Research Assistant (RA)* appointment, the graduate student is limited to a total of 75% FTE if domestic and 50% if foreign national in all combined concurrent appointments.

Concurrent Fellowship

•   In addition to the limits above, if the graduate student has a Fellowship, graduate school policies limits total earnings in all combined appointments during the fellowship to no more than the full-time RA rate of the graduate student's academic home department. 

2.    Weeks in which academic year classes are not in session (Semester Break, Spring Break)

2022-23

•    Sunday, December 18, 2022 through Saturday, January 21, 2023
•    Sunday, March 12, 2023 through Saturday, March 18, 2023

Concurrent Research Assistant appointments

•    If the graduate student has no concurrent Research Assistant (RA)* appointment, the graduate student can work up to 100%-time (40 hours per week) in all combined concurrent appointments.    
•    If the graduate student has a concurrent Research Assistant (RA)* appointment, the graduate student is limited to a total of 75% FTE if domestic and 50% if foreign national in all combined concurrent appointments

Concurrent Fellowship

•   In addition to the limits above, if the graduate student has a Fellowship, graduate school policies limits total earnings in all combined appointments during the fellowship to no more than the full-time RA rate of the graduate student's academic home department. 

Limits during other times  

2021-22

•    Sunday, May 8, 2022 through Saturday, September 3, 2022

2022-23

•    Sunday, May 7, 2023 through Saturday, September 2, 2023

Concurrent Research Assistant appointments

•    If the graduate student has no concurrent Research Assistant (RA)* appointment the graduate student (domestic or foreign national) can work up to a total of 100%-time (40 hours per week) in all combined concurrent appointments.    
•    If the graduate student has a concurrent Research Assistant (RA)* appointment, the graduate student (domestic or foreign national) can work up to a total of 75%-time (30 hours per week) in all combined concurrent appointments. 

Concurrent Fellowship

•   In addition to the limits above, if the graduate student has a Fellowship, graduate school policies limits total earnings in all combined appointments during the fellowship to no more than the full-time RA rate of the graduate student's academic home department. 

Other information

Concurrent Fellow appointments

If the graduate student has a fellowship, graduate school policies limit total earnings in all combined appointments during the fellowship (to no more than the full-time RA rate of the graduate student’s academic home department).  

Concurrent Research Assistant appointments

*Why are there special limits when a graduate student has a concurrent RA appointment?

There are special limits when the graduate student holds a concurrent RA appointment because the graduate student is required to be registered/enrolled in classes and there is a concern about the total academic load and intensive nature of these appointments. 

For this reason, an RA appointment itself can never be more than a 50%-time (20 hours per week) appointment. For this reason also, in summer when there is an RA appointment involved foreign national graduate students are treated the same as domestic graduate students. When there is a concurrent RA appointment the combination of appointments during the summer can be no more than 75% for any graduate student – domestic or foreign national.  

Enrollment Requirements

See https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1208 

See Also:




Keywords:TA, PA, appointment letter, graduate student employment, graduate student employment ls, Project Assistant, Program Assistant, Teaching Assistant, template letters, template, letters, student assistant, SA, SA letter, SA letter template, RA, Research Assistant, grader/reader, grader, reader, undergrad, undergraduate, grad student, templates, max, max level, max level appointment, semester dates and   Doc ID:22288
Owner:Stella L.Group:L&S KB
Created:2012-01-18 09:15 CSTUpdated:2022-11-11 11:02 CST
Sites:L&S KB
CleanURL:https://kb.wisc.edu/ls-teaching-assistant-and-project-assistant-appointment-letter-templates
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