Payroll Benefits for Graduate Assistants, Fellows, and Trainees

Payroll Benefits for Graduate Assistants, Fellows, and Trainees

Fellow Trainee Research Assistant Project Assistant Teaching Assistant
Subject to State and Federal Income Taxes yes1 yes1 yes yes yes
Withholding no2 no2 yes yes yes
Subject to FICA Tax no no no3 no3 no3
W2 no4 no4 yes yes yes
Health Insurance (if at least 33.33% time appointment or an equivalent*) yes yes yes yes yes
Remission of nonresident portion of tuition (if at least 33.33% time appointment or an equivalent*) yes no yes, unless student is enrolled in a service-based pricing program5 yes, unless student is enrolled in a service-based pricing program5 yes, unless student is enrolled in a service-based pricing program5
Remission of resident portion of tuition (if at least 33.33% time appointment or an equivalent*) no no yes6, unless student is enrolled in a service-based pricing program5 yes6, unless student is enrolled in a service-based pricing program5 yes6, unless student is enrolled in a service-based pricing program5
Vacation no varies yes yes no
Sick Leave no varies yes yes yes

1 May deduct tuition, fees, and books from stipends when calculating taxable income.
2 Except international students. See your payroll coordinator.
3 Half-time enrollment is required for exemption.
4 The university provides fellows and trainees a summary of stipend payments each January.
5 Graduate students enrolled in service-based pricing programs, such as online and accelerated programs, are ineligible to receive tuition remission. See a list of UW–Madison academic programs with service-based pricing (NetID login required).
6 Does not include segregated fees which are the responsibility of the student.

*This information is intended as a guideline and specific benefits eligibility should be reviewed at: https://www.wisconsin.edu/ohrwd/admin/download/eligibilitydecisiontable.pdf.

Tuition Remission

Tuition Remission policy

Most graduate students who have a Project Assistantship (PA), a Teaching Assistantship (TA), or a Research Assistantship (RA) of at least a 33.33% appointment for a fall or spring term are eligible to receive remission of full tuition.

Graduate students enrolled in service-based pricing programs, such as online and accelerated programs, are ineligible to receive tuition remission. See a list of UW–Madison academic programs with service-based pricing (NetID login required).

Graduate students should consult with their graduate programs and read their admission and appointment letters carefully to understand their benefits eligibility.

Fellowships or traineeships that are payrolled through the university and that carry stipends equivalent to at least a 33.33% Research Assistantship also qualify for remission of non-resident tuition.

Students should check with the payroll coordinator in their program to determine eligibility.

All graduate assistants are responsible for paying their segregated fees.

Tuition is remitted in summer sessions to graduate students in one of the following categories:

  • Those continuing students who were granted remissions in the immediately-preceding Spring semester provided they held a teaching, research, or project assistantship (all tuition), or graduate fellowship (non-resident portion of tuition) and enroll in the summer session as graduate students;
  • Those students who hold research, teaching, or project assistantship appointments, or fellowship appointments for the summer sessions, and who meet the criteria for remission established for the summer session.

For more information, visit the Bursar’s Office Tuition Remissions webpage or view the Bursar’s Tuition Remissions Policy. For questions, contact the Bursar’s Office at remissions@bussvc.wisc.edu.

See Enrollment RequirementsFellowshipsLecturersMinnesota/Wisconsin ReciprocityProject or Program Assistant (PA)Research Assistant (RA)Segregated FeesTeaching Assistant (TA)TraineeshipsWithdrawalAppendix 2 – Payroll Benefits

Tuition and Fee Information

Tuition and Fee Information policy

Students go to their MyUW Student Center Tuition Account Summery to view their tuition charges, payments, financial aid, loans, scholarships and refunds; and to access links to set up an “Authorized Payer” and view, print, and pay eBills.

The tuition bill is provided as an eBill which is published to view, print, or pay on-line on the Tuition Account eBill/ePayment secure website. An email is sent to notify students and their Authorized Payers each time a new eBill is published. If students want their parents to have access to the web site, students must first set them up as Authorized Payers. Detailed Authorized Payer information is available on the Bursar’s Office How to Add an Authorized Payer webpage.

Tuition and fee charges must be paid by the due date indicated on the tuition and fee statement to avoid a $100 late fee. (Late fee is subject to change.) UW–Madison does not accept debit or credit cards for tuition payment. Detailed payment options and information are available on the Bursar’s Office Payment Methods webpage. For tuition account questions or more information, contact the Bursar’s Office at: tuition@bussvc.wisc.edu (include the student name/ID in the email), or by phone: 608-262-3611.

The date a course is dropped or the date a student submits an online withdrawal request determines eligibility for a tuition adjustment. For tuition and fee adjustment and assessment questions, visit the Bursar’s Office Tuition Adjustment webpage or contact them at tuition@bussvc.wisc.edu. Find class drop deadlines, cost adjustments, tuition refund schedules plus other tuition and fees information on the Office of the Registrar’s Dates & Deadlines webpage.

See RefundsTuition RemissionWithdrawal

Teaching Assistant (TA)

Teaching Assistant (TA) policy

Many programs offer Teaching Assistantships. This title is appropriate for graduate students who have been assigned teaching responsibilities in an instructional program under the supervision of a faculty member of the academic staff. Contact the employing program directly for more information about the TA position.

Graduate Assistant Policies and Procedures (GAPP) outlining employment-related practices for graduate student teaching assistants are available from the Office of Human Resources.

See Enrollment RequirementsInternational Students Maintaining Legal StatusMaximum Levels of AppointmentsTeaching Assistant (TA) Orientation and TrainingTuition RemissionAppendix 2 – Payroll Benefits

Residence for Tuition Purposes

Residence for Tuition Purposes policy

Wisconsin Statute 36.27(2) governs resident status for tuition purposes. To be eligible for in-state tuition, a student must be a bona fide resident of Wisconsin for at least the 12 months immediately prior to enrollment, or must qualify as a resident for tuition purposes under one of the provisions in the Statutes that waives the 12-month requirement. In determining resident status for tuition purposes, standards are different from those used for voting, paying taxes, etc.

If students are classified as nonresident for tuition purposes, they do not automatically become residents for tuition purposes after residing in Wisconsin for one or more years. In cases where it appears the students have entered and remained in Wisconsin principally for educational purposes, a presumption is made that they continue to reside outside the state. The presumption of non-residence continues in effect until rebutted by clear and convincing evidence of bona fide residence.

Provisions of the statute under which a student may qualify as a resident for tuition purposes without waiting 12 months are:

  • The student is a graduate of a Wisconsin high school and has a parent who has been a bona fide resident of Wisconsin for the 12 months preceding the beginning of any term of enrollment or whose last surviving parent was a bona fide resident of this state for the 12 months preceding death;
  • The student, a spouse, or parent (of which they are claimed as a tax dependent), has moved to Wisconsin for a job transfer or for new employment that was accepted before moving and before the student applied to this university. The employment needs to continue full-time with the same employer, and the student needs to demonstrate an intent to establish and maintain their permanent home in Wisconsin;
  • One of the student’s parents is a bona fide resident of Wisconsin, and the student is a tax dependent of one of the parents.

Find more information about residence for tuition purposes and the full text of the applicable statute on the Office of the Registrar’s Residence for Tuition Purposes webpage. Students with questions about residence for tuition purposes, or who believe they should be a resident and would like to appeal the nonresident tuition status, may contact the Office of the Registrar’s Residence Counselors.

Research Assistant (RA)

Research Assistant (RA) policy

A Research Assistant (RA) must be a graduate student working toward a master’s or doctoral degree. Research Assistants are UW–Madison graduate students who are given stipends to support their own education and training. RAs should not be given work assignments unrelated to their own educational pursuits-graduate assistants with significant duties unrelated to their own course of study should be appointed as a PA rather than an RA.

The program will give consideration for an RA appointment based on information provided in the application for admission or, in some cases, in a specific program application form. Research Assistants will receive a letter of appointment or reappointment each semester or year they hold their assistantship. If appointed students have not received such a letter, they should contact their payrolling office.

Note that the RA appointment percentage is merely a mechanism for setting the stipend amount, and does not correlate to any particular requirement for hours of work. The maximum appointment percentage is 50%. However, to account for the potential that RAs may occasionally perform duties that are not directly related to their course of study, the university has deemed an RA appointment to entail 5 hours of compensated employment per week. In no event may an RA be asked to perform more than 5 hours per week of work unrelated to their course of study, regardless of percentage of RA appointment. Find more information here.

Graduate Assistant Policies and Procedures (GAPP) outlining employment-related practices for graduate student research assistants are available from the Office of Human Resources.

See Enrollment RequirementsInternational Students Maintaining Legal StatusMaximum Levels of Appointments

Project or Program Assistant (PA)

Project or Program Assistant (PA) policy

These titles designate graduate or professional students employed to assist with research, training, or other academic programs or projects. Contact the employing department directly for more information.

Graduate Assistant Policies and Procedures (GAPP) outlining employment-related practices for graduate student project assistants are available from the Office of Human Resources.

See Concurrent AppointmentsEnrollment RequirementsInternational Students Maintaining Legal StatusMaximum Levels of AppointmentsTuition RemissionAppendix 2 – Payroll Benefits

Minnesota/Wisconsin Reciprocity

Minnesota/Wisconsin Reciprocity policy

Minnesota residents who are certified by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (MOHE) for the appropriate term/summer session to attend UW–Madison under the Minnesota-Wisconsin Tuition Reciprocity Agreement will be assessed the approved reciprocity tuition rate, plus the segregated fees assessed for all UW–Madison students. Students under this program will be classified as nonresidents of Wisconsin.

Students with a Research Assistantship (RA), that covers all instructional costs, will be billed as nonresidents, not Minnesota reciprocity rates. The end result to the student is the same, as students are only responsible for the segregated fees.

Students who are not certified for the program prior to the date fees are due must either pay nonresident rates and be refunded the difference in tuition upon certification by MOHE, or delay payment until certification is issued and include the $100.00 late payment fee due at that time.

It is the student’s responsibility to inquire of MOHE about the suitability of reapplying, application procedures, and deadlines. Questions and application requests should be directed to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, 1450 Energy Park Drive, Suite 350, St. Paul, MN 55108-5227, 651-642-0567 or 800-657-3866. Students may also obtain additional information here.

Maximum Levels of Appointments

Maximum Levels of Appointments policy

University policy restricts appointment levels for Project, Research, or Teaching Assistants; fellows; trainees; and university staff who are enrolled as graduate students. The levels established by the university are maximums, not minimums or expected levels.

Project Assistant (PA) and Teaching Assistant (TA)
Appointments exceeding 75% for domestic students are rare and require approval of the advisor and chair of the payrolling program(s), the payrolling college dean’s office(s), and the Graduate School. Some colleges, schools, or programs may set lower limits, but in general require prior specific approvals if the appointment or some combination of appointments exceeds 75%. Project Assistants may be employed 100% during summer term, semester breaks, and spring vacation. International students cannot have an appointment exceeding 50% during the spring and fall terms. International students should refer to the section on International Students Maintaining Legal Status for additional appointment restrictions.

Research Assistant (RA)
Appointments exceeding 50% are not permitted. Domestic students may have a combination of appointments not exceeding 75% with no more than 50% being the RA appointment. International students cannot have any combination of a RA and another appointment over 50%. International students should refer to the section on International Students Maintaining Legal Status for additional appointment restrictions.

Predoctoral Fellows/Trainees
Students can hold a concurrent appointment as a TA, RA, PA, or student hourly with their fellowship within the limits set out in the current university policy. Whenever assistantships (RA, TA, or PA) are combined with fellowships or traineeships, total compensation cannot exceed the full-time RA rate of the student’s academic home department, as it was reported to the Graduate School for the current year (fellowship/traineeship + assistantship = total compensation). The list of approved program rates can be found on the Graduate Assistantships webpage, under Assistantship Salaries by Program. More information about concurrent appointment policy for fellows/trainees can be found in the University of Wisconsin–Madison Policy for Supplementation and Concurrent Appointments for Graduate Students Holding Predoctoral Fellowships or Traineeships.

Limited/Academic Staff, Non-dissertators
Combinations of appointment percentages and academic load percentage exceeding 175% are very unusual because of the difficulty that such academic loads place on the ability of the employee to perform their responsibilities. Therefore, approval by the employing division’s dean/director (or designee) is required prior to the start of classes. The Graduate School dean should be informed in writing of any approved requests. See Chapter 11.03 of the Unclassified Personnel Policies and Procedures document for the current university policy entitled, Employees Enrolled as UW–Madison Students.

Limited/Academic Staff, Dissertators
Combinations of appointment percentages and academic load percentage exceeding 175% are more common because dissertators have no classes to attend. Although these are approved only at the program chair or director level, the employing unit’s dean/director (or designee) and the Dean of the Graduate School must be informed in writing of any approved requests. See Chapter 11.03 of the Unclassified Personnel Policies and Procedures document for the current university policy entitled, Employees Enrolled as UW–Madison Students.

Student hourly
In some situations it may be appropriate to hire graduate students as student hourly help. Employers should contact their Dean’s office to determine when this is appropriate. Maximum levels for appointments also include student hourly appointments. See Chapter 1.06 of the Unclassified Personnel Policies and Procedures document for the current university policy entitled, Student Hourly Help.

For any combination of appointments (except fellowships and traineeships), the total appointment percentage may not exceed 75%.

A 100% academic load for graduate students is:

  • Non-dissertators: Fall or spring terms, 8 graded credits in courses numbered 300 or above; summer sessions, 4 graded credits in courses numbered 300 or above.
  • Dissertators: Fall, spring, or summer, 3 graded credits numbered 300 or above.

If a student holds an assistantship concurrently with a staff appointment, the combination of appointments may not exceed 75%, regardless of the number of credits for which the student is enrolled.

Further information about maximum levels of appointments can be found in the University of Wisconsin–Madison Maximum Levels of Graduate Assistantship Appointments Policy

See Enrollment RequirementsInternational Students Maintaining Legal Status

Insurance and Medical Benefits

Insurance and Medical Benefits policy

If students have been awarded a fellowship, traineeship, or an assistantship with at least a one-third (33.33%) appointment per term (or an equivalent), they qualify for full medical benefits. In order to activate medical insurance benefits, students contact their department’s/program’s benefits coordinator.

Students who are currently enrolled as UW–Madison students and have paid segregated fees can also use the services of University Health Services (UHS). University Health Services is the health clinic on campus, open to any current UW–Madison student (excluding guest students). UHS offers insurance through SHIP (Student Health Insurance Plan), which is located on the premises. SHIP is a comprehensive insurance plan for UW–Madison students that covers additional health care costs incurred both at UHS and elsewhere. This includes travel and meningitis immunizations, prescription drugs, and oral contraceptives at UHS as well as after hours, emergency room, hospitalization, and other specialized medical services locally and nationwide.

For more information or questions, contact UHS or SHIP.

International students, or visiting J-1 scholars, and their visa dependents residing in the U.S. must meet the mandatory health insurance requirements of UW–Madison. International students must show compliance with these requirements by registering with the SHIP office. Students may register either by enrolling in the SHIP Health Plan or by filing a waiver application (if they satisfy the qualifying conditions). Failure to register by the specified deadlines will result in a $100 late fee in addition to any required SHIP premiums.

Please note: Students do not have to file a waiver if they have employment through UW–Madison and they meet all of the following conditions:

  • They are employed at UW–Madison and are receiving full medical benefits which were effective on or before September 1 (for fall) or February 1 (for spring/summer).
  • They are a member of one of the following health insurance plans: Group Health Cooperative, Unity Health Plans, Physicians Plus, Dean Health Care, or Standard Plan.
  • They are the primary subscriber (not a dependent) of their health insurance plan.

If a student meets all of the above criteria, the SHIP office will file an automatic waiver on his/her behalf.

Additional information regarding SHIP, including enrollment and waiver policies, can be found here.

Graduate students traveling abroad for study or research are encouraged to acquire international health insurance through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI). All University of Wisconsin students studying/traveling abroad under a UW sponsored program must enroll in health insurance through CISI). Further information about international health insurance can be found here.

See BenefitsAppendix 2 – Payroll Benefits