The Department requires that all graduate students holding either a teaching or a research assistantship (TA or RA) be registered for at least 9 credit hours during each semester of the academic year.
The statement of the University policy is attached as Appendix B. The University requires all foreign Teaching Assistants to successfully complete an International Teaching Assistant Institute. This three–week–long institute is offered during the latter part of each summer.
The delay between when you work and when you get the check for that work is two weeks. The year is divided into two long semesters and two summer sessions. Summer TAs result in a slightly strange pay schedule. At the end of June, you get paid for the first half of the first session. The July paycheck includes the second half of the first session and the first half of the second session. In August, you get paid for the second half of the second session. In addition, if you have a TA or RA for the next Fall, two weeks of the TA/RA salary will be included in the August paycheck. See the graduate secretary for questions about paychecks.
In order to improve research productivity, decrease the average length of graduate study, and mitigate potential problems arising from the minimum class size policy, the Department limits the extent of TA support as follows:
1. All students are restricted to 12 semesters of full-time TA support after enrolling with a B.S. degree (or UNL equivalent), and eight semesters of full TA support after enrolling with an M.S. degree (or UNL equivalent). Support during the summer is not restricted.
2. If funding is available, students making satisfactory progress will be guaranteed 10 semesters of full–time TA support toward the Ph.D. degree (6 semesters if entering with an M.S. degree) or 5 semesters toward the M.S. degree. Beyond these limits, support will be granted only at the convenience of the Department.
i. During the Academic Year
To be eligible for tuition credits, graduate students must give evidence of some combination of teaching and research assistantships equivalent to at least a 2/3 assistantship. Students will get credit toward tuition for up to 12 credit hours. Note however, that Graduate College regulations restrict full TAs or RAs to registering for no more than 10 credit hours per semester.
ii. During the Summer Sessions
Students having a graduate assistantship during the academic year may receive tuition credit during the following summer sessions. The amount of tuition credit depends on the level of the academic year graduate assistantship stipend. Details are available from the Main Office, the Graduate Committee Chair, or the Graduate College. Graduate assistants not on appointment for both semesters are not eligible for the summer session tuition credit. However, a graduate assistant on appointment during the spring semester may be eligible for a reimbursement of summer session tuition if he/she receives a graduate assistantship appointment for the following fall semester. To obtain such reimbursement, graduate assistants must apply to the Student Accounts Office, 110 Administration, after the fall semester has begun and after their assistantship appointment has been processed.
Some graduate students unnecessarily pay social security (F.I.C.A.) taxes every summer on their summer income. The Payroll Office (ext. 2-2010) describes the regulations as follows:
1. Foreign Students here on an F-1 or J-1 visa generally do not pay social security taxes. Those on F-2, H-1, H‑2, or J-2 generally do pay social security taxes. For further information, consult the Payroll Office.
2. American students who have a graduate teaching or research assistantship do not pay social security taxes provided they have half-time status. This means that they must be registered for a total of four credits over the course of the summer. Note that there are two 5-week summer sessions and one 8-week summer session that runs concurrently with the first 5-week session. For example: You can register for two credit hours during the first (8-week) summer session and two credit hours during the second 5-week summer session, or two credit hours for the first 5-week session and two credit hours for the second 5-week session to avoid paying social security taxes. See Marge Wolfe for details.
(See the Graduate Studies Bulletin)
During the summer, students are not required to register for credit hours to maintain graduate student status; however, if they do not register for at least a total of 4 credit hours over the summer sessions as noted above, Social Security and Medicare taxes will be withheld. During the Fall and Spring semesters, full-time status is 9 credit hours.