GSH Section 11 - Benefits for Graduate Associates, Fellows and Trainees

Benefits for Graduate Associates, Fellows and Trainees - 11.0

The Ohio State University offers several benefits and services to graduate students who are appointed as graduate associates (GA), fellows or trainees. These benefits help support students as they pursue their graduate degrees while balancing academic, employment, and personal goals. 

Graduate Fee Authorization (GFA) - 11.1

Graduate Associates. Every graduate associate (GA) (GTA, GRA, and GAA) appointed for at least 50 percent time receives a full tuition and fee authorization. This GFA covers payment of the instructional and general fees, nonresident tuition and learning technology fees. Notice of fee authorizations appears on the student’s Statement of Account. A GA may not be denied a fee authorization. This is a requirement that accompanies the title of GA. By the same token, no graduate student may receive a fee authorization without an accompanying eligible appointment.

Graduate Fee Authorization Funding. GAs appointed on various grants and special projects also receive a GFA, although in their case the fees may be charged back to the grant or appointing unit. A GA on a less than 50 percent appointment who holds a concurrent appointment at 25 percent (or less) receives the fee authorization from the unit supporting the 50 percent appointment. Fee authorizations for concurrent appointments of equal FTE (e.g., two 25 percent appointments) are split equally between appointing units. 

Summer Fee Authorization. Graduate students holding a 50 percent or greater GA appointment for autumn and spring semesters are entitled to a full fee authorization during the immediately following summer term without being on appointment. Students holding a 25 percent GA appointment for two consecutive semesters are entitled to a summer fee authorization at half the full fee authorization rate. MS students and predoctoral students using the summer fee authorization must be registered for at least four hours of credit. Post-candidacy doctoral candidates must register for at least three hours of credit. A graduate student who elects not to enroll during the summer may not defer the use of the summer fee authorization. Students on a summer fee authorization may hold a 25 percent or less GA appointment. Fellows, Trainees, or non-GA appointments for one or both semesters are not eligible for the summer term fee authorization. Student Associate titles are not meant to be used as a substitute for GA appointments during the summer term.

Graduate Fellows and Trainees. Students holding graduate recruitment and Presidential Fellowships from the Graduate School receive a fee authorization for each academic semester or summer term on appointment. The authorization covers payment of the instructional and general fees, nonresident tuition, and learning technology fees. Students receiving fellowships or traineeships from sources outside the graduate school (Section 10.6) may also be eligible to receive GFA. However, requests for GFA with an accompanying non-graduate school fellowship are handled by the appointing unit and the Graduate School on a case-to-case basis through the Graduate School Matching tuition and Fee award program.

Other Fees. Other fees, including parking and late penalties as well as the program fees (if applicable) and student activity fee and the mandatory COTA fee, must generally be paid by the student.

Time Off - 11.2

Most graduate associates are part-time student employees (50 percent time) and therefore do not meet the eligibility criterion for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Policy 6.05. GAs, fellows and trainees do not accrue vacation or sick leave. Rules regarding time off during semester or term breaks or other times are determined by the GA’s appointing unit. GAs must check with their appointing units to determine when they are expected to be on duty. GAs that have held an appointment for more than 60.1 percent FTE for an entire 12 month period may qualify for leave under FMLA and should contact their local unit and FML Administrator to determine eligibility. 

Legal Holidays. GAs are not required to work on legal holidays noted on the university calendar. When university offices are required to maintain services on certain holidays and GAs are scheduled to work on a holiday, they must be given an alternate day off.

Each program unit can determine the policy or guidelines for graduate student paid leave. Any leave additional to legal holidays is optional, but are strongly encouraged by the Graduate School. One day off for students working 20 hours per week is recommended to be assessed as 4 hours/day over 5 working days. The Graduate School has the following guidelines that are strongly encouraged for students holding a GA, fellow or trainee appointment. 

  • Sick/Bereavement Leave. A period of one to three consecutive days at a time for up to a maximum of three times for personal and/or family illness each spring or autumn semester may be taken. Sick days do not accrue beyond a semester. Many GAs have nine-month appointments and thus sick leave would not be granted in the summer term. If the student is a summer GA, fellow or trainee, then 1-3 days off up to twice per summer term is recommended. 
  • Personal Leave. A period of up to 10 business days per year (two weeks per year) for vacation and/or personal reasons may be taken. Personal leave does not accrue.
  • Professional Development Leave. It is recommended that at least 5 business days per year be allotted for professional development activities such as attending workshops, or attending and presenting scholarly work at national and international meetings. 
  • Parental Leave. Up to 3 weeks of leave may be granted for childbirth or adoption. Up to 3 additional weeks for health recovery of the birth mother is recommended (Appendix F). One suggested allocation would be to use remaining sick-leave, personal leave, and professional leave followed by paid leave for up to 3 or 6 weeks as applicable. Parental leave should be discussed and planned with the advisor and local unit.

The university has formalized a set of practices to be used by academic and administrative units at Ohio State to support GAs, fellows, and trainees during instances of personal and/or family illness, bereavement, childbirth, and adoption (Appendix F). Each situation will be individually addressed according to the specific research, teaching, or administrative context and the individual’s reason for requesting the leave. In the case that medical leave extends longer than recommended or leads to poor performance, the unit and GA, Fellow or trainee, can contact  Integrated Absence Management and Vocational Services for guidance.

All GAs, fellows, and trainees who are in good academic standing, making reasonable progress toward their degrees, and paid through the Ohio State payroll system, regardless of appointment length, type or FTE, are eligible to request use of the sick/bereavement leave as consecutive days, such that up to 9 consecutive business days could be taken for this purpose. This paid absence is to recover from a personal illness or to grieve the death of an immediate family member. This request should be an uncommon instance, and will require prior approval and documentation to the appointing unit because the consequences to the student may be significant. If the length of leave does not permit continued enrollment in classes, then the tuition and fees will default to the student. GA tuition and fees are not paid if the student is not enrolled. 

Unpaid Academic Leave

In some cases, a funded graduate student may request to take a period of time off from both academic program and appointment responsibilities (e.g., an academic leave for pre-candidacy students). A funded graduate student should discuss options with their advisor, Graduate Studies Committee Chair and administrative supervisor. Students who are approved for an academic leave should understand that the time of leave is unpaid, and what impact, if any, the time off will have on their expected funding opportunities upon their return to their graduate programs. Funded graduate students’ academic leaves must be on file with the Graduate School. 

Self-funded students who take time off from their studies (i.e., are not registered for classes) are not eligible for the leaves of absence.  

Students may request an academic leave (Section 3.1), for up to one year, by submitting a Pre-Candidacy Leave of Absence form on GRADFORMS. The advisor, program, and Graduate School must approve this form before the leave period begins. If approved, the Graduate School will update university records to reflect the date of return. Students can go on academic leave for up to two years, but must seek approval from the Graduate Studies Committee for reenrollment. Post-candidacy students who do not enroll are subject to the continuous enrollment policy. Please refer to  Section 7.7 for more information regarding the continuous enrollment policy.  

Military Leave. GAs who are members of the Ohio National Guard or any other reserve component of the United States Armed Forces or who are ordered involuntarily to extended United States military service are granted leave without pay in accordance with the Ohio State Military Call for Active Duty policy. The GA is required to submit to the supervisor a copy of military orders or other statement in writing from the appropriate military authority as evidence of the call for training or duty. Students on military leave are encouraged to withdraw from all Ohio State courses and have no expectation to make progress toward their graduate degree during the time of leave. However, the graduate program and the college/regional campus office may exercise professional judgement on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the time of the term, course workload, percentage of work completed or other relevant factors, a student on military leave may be allowed to remain in one or more courses.  

Within 90 days from the date of honorable discharge or completion of training or active duty, the GA will be returned to the former position or its equivalent, without loss of seniority, upon application for such a position and reenrollment as a graduate student. 

More detailed discussion of leave circumstances can be found in Appendix F.

Health Benefits - 11.3

Health Insurance. GAs, fellows, and trainees who are enrolled at least half-time are required to carry health insurance as a condition of enrollment. The university provides a health subsidy for graduate students with a fellowship, traineeship, or GA appointment paid through the Ohio State payroll system. The university provides a 100 percent subsidy for the cost of the Student Health Insurance (SHI) premium, which includes single, spouse, and dependent coverage. Students appointed at a 25 through 49 percent FTE receive a 50 percent subsidy for the cost of the SHI premium. Externally funded fellows or trainees who are paid outside of the Ohio State payroll system are not eligible for the university health insurance subsidy. See Section 3.3 for other benefits related to SHI, including mental health benefits.

Miscellaneous Benefits - 11.4

Taxes. The monthly stipend received by GAs, fellows and trainees may be subject to federal, state and local taxes. Whenever there is a change in the GA’s status that affects the tax deduction, name, or W-2 Tax mailing address, the GA must use the Employee Self Service site to update their W-4. 

Workers’ Compensation. In general, GAs are eligible to participate in the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS). GTAs who have established membership with the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS), based on other Ohio teaching service, are required to continue contributions to that system or to request STRS membership exemption. Exemptions from either system must be made within 30 days of the first day of the appointment. All GAs are also eligible to contribute to voluntary 403(b) or 457(b) retirement accounts, which allow additional retirement dollars to be contributed on a pre-tax basis. 

Retirement. In general, GAs are eligible to participate in the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS). GTAs who have established membership with the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS), based on other Ohio teaching service, are required to continue contributions to that system or to request STRS membership exemption. Exemptions from either system must be made within 30 days of the first day of the appointment. All GAs are also eligible to contribute to voluntary 403(b) or 457(b) retirement accounts, which allow additional retirement dollars to be contributed on a pre-tax basis.

Unemployment Compensation. Because a GA is viewed as a part-time student employee position by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, GAs are ineligible for unemployment benefits when their appointment ends (between academic terms or after leaving the university).

Parking Permits. Graduate associates and fellows are permitted to purchase “C” student or “B” staff parking permits, either for Central or West Campus. If the B permit is requested, written verification of the associateship or fellowship must be submitted to CampusParc at the time of purchase. Daytime garage permits are available.

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