November 2003

The purpose of this memo is to share with you the recently revised 2003-2004 Graduate Stipend scale and to clarify the implementation plan.

As you know, students who work as graduate assistants while pursuing graduate degrees provide a valuable service to the University. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, the legislative process provides funding and guidance for the compensation of graduate students on assistantships, and changes in compensation for this group requires action by the University’s Board of Visitors.

During spring 2003, the Graduate School recommended a revision to the stipend scale that was reviewed and approved by the Board of Visitors in March 2003. Anticipating an uncertain fate for state-funded raises for graduate assistants, the new salary scale was used to offer and appoint graduate assistants (GAs, GTAs, GRAs) for Fall 2003. I know that many of you made adjustments in stipend levels using departmental resources to accommodate the new step system that served to increase the compensation for graduate assistants.

On May 1, 2003, Governor Warner signed the 2003 Acts of Assembly, which authorized a 2.25 percent compensation increase for university employees and graduate students on assistantship. Because the current stipend scale was established in March 2003, the Board approved an increase in the graduate stipend scale by 2.25 percent across-the-board effective November 25, 2003. A policy decision was made to automatically implement the new stipend scale across the board (for GA, GTA, GRA) rather than address each graduate student individually. The revised and recently approved stipend scale is attached and is available on the Graduate School’s website.

No action is required by departments to enact the stipend increase effective November 25, 2003. The stipends for all graduate assistants, graduate teaching assistants, and graduate research assistants will be automatically increased across-the-board. All graduate assistants will receive their new pay rate for Payroll 23. The new pay rate will be paid from the same funds utilized for the initial appointment(s) (e.g., E&G source or non-E&G source). Consistent with the Commonwealth’s appropriation process, the University increased the stipend budgets in E&G to provide funding and this E&G funding was included in the 2003-04 Authorized Budget for each college. For more information, contact the appropriate budget officer in the college.

Some questions have been raised about GRAs. These students are included in the stipend increase effective November 25, 2003 and the increase will have to be funded through non-E&G sources (e.g. grant/contract or auxiliary enterprise fund sources) utilized for the initial appointment. I realize that many of you might have already provided stipend increases for the GRAs and I also realize that you could feel that the stipend increase effective November 25, 2003 is an unanticipated encumbrance upon your budget. I hope that you will realize the merit of providing stipend increases in accordance with our policy, especially as we move to increase the overall competitiveness of our stipends. Because future salary scale increases are likely to occur off-cycle for typical graduate student appointments (i.e., in November), we need to anticipate as best as possible the academic-year impact when selecting step levels.

Thank you for your understanding.