Many of you know that Stanford's information systems are now being converted to new applications. While "PeopleSoft" is now the system of record for currently active students, Graduate Financial Support (GFS), the system that manages salaries, stipends and tuition allowance payments for graduate students, is still being tracked in the legacy system. Starting this Fall, the graduate financial system will have to interface with a new university accounting system, and it will no longer be possible to maintain the "old" GFS system.
This change is an opportunity to reinforce appropriate standards in our graduate financials administration. In doing this, I would like to emphasize that most of our policies for graduate student appointments will not change. Those policies are aimed first and foremost at the educational advancement of the student.
To be eligible for an assistantship appointment, graduate students must be matriculated and registered for full-time study for each quarter in which the appointment is held. RAs and TAs receive a compensation package including salary for the work that they do, and a tuition allowance (TAL) payment to assist them in continuing their studies. Salary payments are based on work performed. TAL, on the other hand, is a commitment to the student for the full quarter in which he or she is employed.
To receive tuition allowance, the RA or TA must be performing work that is directly related to his or her program of study. When graduate students are employed to do work that does not advance their academic program, e.g., to assist in libraries or to do other work for a supervisor, they are paid on an hourly basis and do not receive tuition allowance. Such payments are processed through Payroll and are not handled in the GFS system. Students on full-time assistantships or receiving full fellowships are limited to an additional eight hours of employment per week. (Note: International students on F-1 and J-1 visas may not be employed for more than 20 hours per week, including an assistantship appointment.)
Beginning in the Fall of 2002, when the new Graduate Financials System is in place, the following operational changes related to RA and TA appointments will be necessary. These include:
- RA/TA appointments are expected to be made for full academic quarters and to start and stop on standard dates, defined by Administrative Guide Memo 10.2.1 [pdf file]. For RAs/TAs who must start or stop work mid-quarter, the department will have to adjust salary to be consistent with work performed. Tuition Allowance (TAL) however will be paid only on a full-quarter basis.
Tuition may be funded from multiple sources. If one source is not available for the entire quarter, it is expected that the department will make up the difference from another appropriate source of funds, including, if necessary, departmental funds. This does not apply to assistantships that are cancelled as of the starting date of the quarter.
Full tuition allowance may NOT be charged to a sponsored project if the project ends in the middle of the quarter or if the student did not work on the project for the full quarter.
- Except for specific programs such as the Honors Co-Op Program, Stanford University does not enroll part-time graduate students during Fall, Winter or Spring quarters. Unless a student is on TGR status, enrollment for less than 8-10 units in these quarters will not be permitted without the approval of the school and the Dean of Research Office. That approval will normally be given only in cases where the graduate student needs only a small number of units to reach TGR status or to graduate. Without such approval, GFS will not allow any tuition allowance to be passed through and applied to the student's account for that quarter.
- The department in which the student in enrolled, i.e., the "home department," is the only authority for approval of a student's financial aid, including assistantship appointments. With increasing numbers of interdisciplinary projects, it will be important that other departments in which students are employed coordinate with the home department to assure correct handling of assistantships. The approval of the appointment constitutes what was formerly referred to as a "relevancy statement."
- The new GFS system will not allow Assistantships of less than 10% FTE. Percentage appointments must be in increments of 5%.
The following will NOT change:
- The calculation of tuition allowance and allocation of the cost (between external funding sources and the university) will remain the same.
- Any teaching appointments will continue to require a "TA-OK" check of language proficiency before salary can be processed.
We appreciate the challenges involved in any transition to a new information system, and assure you that we will do all we can to see that the upcoming GFS transition goes as smoothly as possible. Training for departmental staff in the mechanics of the new system is planned for this summer. That training will also include a review of appropriate graduate policies and procedures.