Comprehensive Graduate Student Recruitment & Retention Plan
Graduate students are vital to the success of the research and teaching missions at the University of North Texas. The University is committed to offering competitive recruitment and retention packages, which includes financial, benefits, and tuition and mandatory fee support, for highly qualified and diverse full-time graduate students who maintain good academic standing. This document outlines the comprehensive plan put in place to demonstrate this commitment.
Graduate students are defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board as “Any student who is pursuing a program, or has a bachelor's degree and is enrolled in courses which are normally part of a program, leading to a graduate or professional degree or certificate at an institution of higher education and has successfully completed the equivalent of at least three years of full-time study at an institution of higher education either prior to entrance into the program or as part of the program itself.” The university has two graduate student categories for which this comprehensive plan addresses: fellowships and assistantships.
Fellowship vs. Assistantship
Fellowship: A fellowship is a prestigious, competitive award that provides financial support to a student who is pursuing graduate studies. The goal of the university is to have 5% of the top graduate students as recipients of this award. Centrally-funded fellowships are managed and selected by the Toulouse School of Graduate Studies in collaboration with departments. However, departmentally-funded fellowships are managed and selected by the department in collaboration with the Toulouse School of Graduate Studies. The stipend received for fellowships is not considered employment income, thus it is not subject to employment-related taxes. Individuals are not eligible to participate in the State’s Uniform Group Insurance Plan (UGIP), which is administered by the Employee Retirement System (ERS) of Texas. However, they may participate in the university’s Student Injury and Sickness Insurance Plan, which is administered by UnitedHealthcare. Student insurance costs will vary depending on the level of coverage selected in either plan.
Assistantship: An assistantship is offered by a department to provide financial support to a student who is pursuing graduate studies and who agrees to enter into an employment relationship with the university. The university has four types of assistantships as described below, along with a brief job summary for each type. The salary received is considered employment income and is subject to employment-related taxes. Students on assistantships for at least .5 FTE are eligible to participate in the State’s Uniform Group Insurance Plan (UGIP), which is administered by the Employee Retirement System (ERS) of Texas. However, in lieu of participating in the State’s UGIP insurance plan, they may participate in the university’s Student Injury and Sickness Insurance Plan, which is administered by UnitedHealthcare. Student insurance costs will vary depending on the plan and the level of coverage selected in either plan.
Teaching Fellow (TF) - Job Codes 0801, 0802, 0803
Teaching fellows have direct student contact in a formal instructional setting and are charged with primary responsibility for teaching a course for credit
under the direct supervision of a faculty member or chair, receiving regular in-service training and planned and periodic evaluations. Teaching fellows
are listed as the instructor of record.
Teaching Assistant (TA) - Job Codes 0811, 0812, 0813
- Teaching assistants are graduate students who do not have primary responsibility for teaching a course for credit; they perform under the instructor’s
direct supervision and provide general assistance to the instructional process, such as grading, tutoring, etc. Teaching assistants may not be listed
as instructor of record.
Research Assistant (RA) - Job Codes (Academic and State Funded) 0821, 0822, 0823; (Non-Academic or Non-State Funded) 0841, 0842, 0843
- Research assistants are graduate students who are engaged in research activities under the direction and supervision of a principal investigator or faculty
working on research.
Graduate Services Assistant (GSA) - Job Codes (Academic and State Funded) 0831, 0832, 0833; (Non-Academic or Non-State Funded) 0851, 0852, 0853
Graduate assistants are graduate students whose responsibilities may be administrative in nature or consist of other activities that do not generally fit
within the TF, TA, or RA job responsibilities.
A Graduate Student Pay Schedule has been created to ensure graduate students have proper financial support. Students must maintain good academic standing while on an assistantship or a fellowship in order to continue receiving university support.
The rates in the pay schedule were determined based on two factors: 1) the academic progression level of the graduate student and 2) the academic department for which the student is employed or the academic department that closely aligns to a non-academic department for which the student is employed. The default department rate that will be used for non-academic departments will be that in which the Higher Education program resides (N20500) unless justification is provided to use another academic department’s rate. A 9-month and a 12-month schedule have been prepared. Summer monthly rates are equivalent to the monthly rates provided during the regular academic year. Summer assistantships receive central support for those paid from state funds in academic departments.
There is a 25% variance between the minimum salary rate and maximum salary rate at each level and a 15% variance between the minimums of each level. Progression to the next level requires meeting the minimum qualifications of the higher level at the beginning of the Fall semester only.
Upon the initial hire of a graduate student, the entry level salary will generally be at the minimum rate based on the qualifications outlined below. However, a College, School or Division may elect to hire individuals above the entry level salary based on internally developed criteria. Hire above entry does not require approval by the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. However, please note that Colleges and Schools will be reimbursed only for the entry level salary amount on budgeted positions. Any amount over entry must be funded by the College or School.
Graduate students may receive annual pay increases if warranted and recommended by the department chair and dean if financial resources are available. However, Under no circumstances should a graduate student exceed the maximum salary at the level in which they are situated with the exception of those grandfathered when the plan was initially implemented.
The primary purpose of the multi-level pay schedule is to encourage timely progression to graduation.
Academic Progression Level 1: Masters or doctoral students without experience in a graduate degree program and with less than 18 credits toward a graduate degree.
Academic Progression Level 2: Students pursuing a master’s degree or seeking a doctoral degree with at least 18 credits toward a graduate degree. This is the entry level for doctoral students with an earned master’s degree.
Academic Progression Level 3: Doctoral students who have completed all course work; have passed all their qualifying examinations; and be in good academic standing. Exceptions must be approved by the Graduate Dean. For advancement to Pay Level III, departments must fill out a brief form to certify results of qualifying examinations at: http://www.tsgs.unt.edu/downloads/forms/qualifying-examination-results.pdf.
The academic progression level submitted by a department and college to authorize payroll for a graduate student is subject to audit and if intentional discrepancies are found, reevaluation of the amount of graduate student positions allocated to the department and college will be reassessed, and a major work rule violation will be deemed to have occurred initiating appropriate disciplinary action.
Length of Appointment
Doctoral students on state-funded UNT assistantships and fellowships are eligible for funding for no more than 12 long, academic semesters, regardless of whether students work at any time at .5 or .25 FTE. Students who file an approved request for a leave of absence will not have months spent on leave counted against these limits. Time spent on externally funded grants will not be counted against these limits.
Master’s students on state-funded UNT assistantships and fellowships are eligible for funding for no more than 6 long, academic semesters, regardless of whether students work at any time at .5 or .25 FTE. Students who file an approved request for a leave of absence will not have months spent on leave counted against these limits. Time spent on externally funded grants will not be counted against these limits. For MFA students, semester time limits will be determined by the number of required SCH in the degree program divided by 6. For example, students in a 48 hour MFA program would be eligible for 8 semesters of funding (48 ÷ 6).
Colleges and schools will receive an annual allocation of centrally-funded, graduate student assistantship lines/positions. Colleges and schools shall allocate positions to the departments. A position can only be split in half for a .25 FTE. Unused salaries in positions (e.g. vacancies) will generate salary savings to the Provost Office. Each year the colleges and schools will have an opportunity to request changes to the positions allocated based on changed qualifications of the students, changing needs of their departments, and/or other relevant reasons.
Graduate students paid from local/grant funds (not centrally-funded) will not be placed in lines/positions. However, students supported from local/grant funds must be paid at the rates specified in the UNT Graduate Student Pay Schedule.
The University recognizes the essential need to provide adequate benefits to sustain the graduate student and his/her family while the student pursues his/her studies. Benefit plans will be offered for fellowships and assistantships for domestic and international students who meet the eligibility requirements of the benefit plans. The two available plans are the State’s Uniform Group Insurance Plan administered by the Employee’s Retirement System (ERS) and the University’s Student Injury and Sickness Insurance Plan administered by UnitedHealthcare.
Uniform Group Insurance Program (ERS)
Graduate students, whether domestic or international, who are employed in a salaried capacity that requires graduate student status for at least .5 FTE are
eligible to participate in this plan. Therefore, fellowship recipients are NOT eligible to participate in this plan. Details regarding the program
can be found at: http://bsc.untsystem.edu/benefits.
Student Injury and Sickness Insurance Plan (UnitedHealthcare)
The University has contracted with UnitedHealthcare to offer a Student Injury and Sickness Insurance Plan to domestic and international students. Details regarding the plan can be found at: http://healthcenter.unt.edu/billing-insurance/ . Students on assistantships or fellowships are eligible to participate in this plan, as well as, other students on the UNT campus. Students receiving centrally-funded support via assistantship or fellowship will receive centrally-funded contributions to this plan similar to that which is provided under the UGIP.
All international students and scholars holding non-immigrant visas must carry UNT-approved health insurance coverage during the entire period of their UNT residence. Residence is defined as that continuous period from initial orientation and enrollment or employment, including holidays, through graduation or final separation from the university. International students are automatically charged for the UNT-offered policy each semester at registration, and must provide proof of comparable insurance by the established deadline at International Advising to avoid purchasing the UNT-offered policy. International scholars must demonstrate acceptable insurance coverage at International Advising during their initial orientation session. The University has contracted with UnitedHealthcare to offer a Student Injury and Sickness Insurance Plan to international students. Details regarding the plan can be found at: http://healthcenter.unt.edu/billing-insurance/ .
Evidence of the University’s commitment to recruiting and retaining high quality and diverse full-time graduate students is the payment of tuition and mandatory fees on behalf of selected students. These payments will be processed in the form of scholarships. Scholarships will be allocated to each college for distribution to their departments and/or students. Additional scholarships will also be held centrally in the Toulouse School of Graduate Studies for strategic distribution to colleges, departments, and/or students. Students must maintain good academic standing to continue to receive scholarship support throughout the scholarship period.
Questions regarding the graduate student compensation plan and graduate student lines should be addressed to Melinda Lilly, Assistant
Director for Academic Resources, 940-565-3951 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions regarding tuition and fee scholarships should be addressed to Rochelle Sykes in the Toulouse Graduate School at 940.369.8339 Rochelle.Sykes@unt.edu.