Graduate, Research, and Teaching Assistant FAQ
UIC Grad College tuition and fees
What is waived and not waived if you have a waiver
Required reporting to UIC Financial Aid
Minimum percentage appointment for tuition and fee
Required and Suggested Registration for Classes.
CUPPA Career Web Pages
1. Make sure you have your letter of invitation for your assistantship, fellowship, or scholarship for your appointment from the unit, professor, or researcher who has offered it to you.
2. DO NOT begin work until the person offering your assistantship has given you your invitation for your assistantship appointment IN WRITING (e-mail is OK). A sure sign that your appointment letter has not been processed is that you have not received it. Not having an appointment letter will almost certainly delay your pay.
3. Then, please notify the personnel manager in the CUPPA unit that has offered you the appointment that you would like to activate your appointment. SIGN YOUR APPOINTMENT LETTER.
4. Please bring documentation from the third page of the following following link (http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf) in order to complete your I-9 form. You will then be given the following forms to fill out or sign:
- Your acceptance on your letter of invitation if you have not done so already.
- Your "assistantship form
- Drug Free Workplace form
- I-9 form. (NB: under federal law, your I-9 form must be filled out either before or on your start date—not after).
for Exception to Limit on Summer Appointment form (only if you are being
appointed to 3 summer months)
International students beginning their first CUPPA appointment will also have to complete:
- Work authorization form
- Employee Clearance form
If you wish, make copies of these for yourself, and submit the originals to the personnel manager of your appointing unit.
5. The personnel manager* will then use a UIC personnel software system to activate an electronic form for you to fill out on a system called NESSIE. You will receive an automatic email message that will include the web address and a password to log into NESSIE online at--https://nessie.uihr.uillinois.edu/cf/index.cfm. Save your NESSIE password. You can use it to check your appointment later! See below for VERY IMPORTANT POINTS regarding NESSIE. See the CUPPA Quick Guide to NESSIE.
*CUPPA Unit personnel managers:
For CUPPA Academic Programs:
Public Administration: Kathleen Stauffer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Urban Planning and Policy: Wei Liu, email@example.com
Urban and Public Affairs BA Program: Sharyn Dyer, firstname.lastname@example.org
For CUPPA Research Centers, Institutes, and Labs:
Center for Urban Economic Development, Yibing Li, email@example.com
Great Cities Institute, Yibing Li, firstname.lastname@example.org
Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement, Kathy Stauffer, email@example.com
Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, Silvia Becerra, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement, Yibing Li, email@example.com
Survey Research Lab, Marguerite Harris, firstname.lastname@example.org
Urban Data Visualization Lab, Wei Liu, email@example.com
Urban Transportation Center, Silvia Becerra, firstname.lastname@example.org
CUPPA Dean’s Office, Jennifer Pietka, email@example.com
6. Once you have completed filling out your information in NESSIE, and you have clicked your final OK, an e-mail automatically gets sent to the personnel manager in your appointing unit, letting him or her know a form called the Personnel Information Transmittal Report (PITR) has been started for you.
7. Into the PITR form the personnel manager enters the dates of your appointment, your pay rate, and the university account responsible for paying you and related information, and submits it for approval through the UIC Human Resources system. You should be able to check your appointment in NESSIE within a week or two after the unit personnel manager has submitted it electronically to the Dean's office.
IMPORTANT NESSIE POINTS
Log onto NESSIE and fill out the forms. International students and students who still formally reside in states with reciprocal taxing agreements with Illinois, such as Wisconsin residents, MUST go to UIC Payroll to fill out a paper W4 form, and can't do so on NESSIE. In order to fill out a W4 at Payroll, an appointment is necessary. Please call 312-996-0706, or 312-996-1922, to make an appointment to fill out your W4. The room where you fill out your W4 form is Rm. 118, Marshfield Building, 809 S. Marshfield. Non-international students and students who are not still residents of reciprocal taxing states like Wisconsin can fill out their W4 form on NESSIE.
Direct payroll deposit is the default choice for receiving your pay. Please indicate your deposit account of choice in NESSIE. We urge you to do so! This puts the money in your account the morning of payday, and saves time and worry. If you don't have an account yet in Chicago, Credit Union One on campus is a good place to start one. If you choose Direct Deposit too late for the payroll deadline, sometimes your first check is a paper check. The NEXT one is directly deposited. In those months in which the first of the month is a weekend day, those with Direct Deposit often get their pay a full day before those who get paper checks. Those who insist on paper checks only receive them through campus mail, and this delivery is sometimes subject to delay.
A NESSIE SNAFU to avoid: Please note that your college degree and date field is not required by NESSIE, but is required by U of I Human Resources, or else they won't process your appointment. Please make sure you fill in your college degree and date before you click the final NESSIE box.
Also, CUPPA requires that you fill out your emergency contact name and phone numbers in NESSIE. Please make sure you do so before clicking your final NESSIE "OK."
Make sure you have completed all the information in NESSIE, and have clicked the final box. Not clicking the final box is the most common reason for delays in processing your appointment!
Once you've filled out NESSIE, you usually do not have to fill it out again if you have an assistantship in the next year, nor do you have to fill out forms 2, 3, and 4 above again if your assistantship continues to the next year.
Renewals must be negotiated with the assistantship supervisor each year and for summer sessions. Some assistantships are part of special programs which commit an assistantship to you for a specific period, but even in these cases certain conditions may have to be met that are particular to the specific program. It is always good to communicate early with your assistantship supervisor about the renewals of your assistantship. SEE YOUR APPOINTMENT LETTER FOR SPECIFIC DATES OF YOUR APPOINTMENT.
Previous University of Illinois appointments
Please let your CUPPA appointing unit human resources manager know immediately if you were previously paid in the University of Illinois system as a graduate, undergraduate or staff member because your previous employing unit will have to electronically send your Personnel Information Transmittal Report (PITR) to your new unit. Sometimes, your prior U of I employing unit will have to adjust your terminal date of employment at their location first, and this may take a few days to become effective in the system. If you graduated from UIUC, and now are a UIC grad student a few months later, it may take an entire semester for you to be cleared out of the UIUC HR system, so let the unit HR manager know right away so they can give your appointment the special handling it needs.
If you were an undergraduate employee at either UIUC, UIC, or UIS, you still have to fill out NESSIE per information above.
Working off campus
Generally, students cannot work full-time outside campus and still have an assistantship. The faculty of CUPPA would like you to take part in college and campus life, and if you have a 50% appointment (meaning, 20 hours weekly of time spent on the assistantship), plus a full time job, plus three classes, you are "burning the candle at both ends" and not going to benefit as much from your graduate experience as you might. Please consult with your academic advisor on this question. In some isolated cases, advanced PhD students who are ABD (all their degree work completed but their dissertation) may be working outside the university and also teaching a class as a graduate assistant, but this case is usually short-term, and one for which we examine other more suitable alternatives.
By Federal Law, international students on visas with graduate assistantships cannot work outside the university except under "practical training" or other conditions subject to the US Immigration and Naturalization Act.
During the period from beginning of the term to the end of exams, the Dean's office can ask the Graduate College to approve under extraordinary conditions an exception to the 50% to 67% limit (note that 50% is recommended and 67% is the absolute limit), but this is only with the recommendation of the student's academic advisor and academic director, and subject to the availability of funds.
Ending an assistantship early
Please see the Director of Graduate Studies for you Department first before you do anything about ending an assistantship early. You must tender a written resignation. But if you resign at the wrong time, you may owe tuition. So please get good advice before resigning.
Holidays and vacation
If your assistantship runs from 8/16/xx through 12/31/xx or 5/15/xx or 8/15/xx in a given academic year, you must work on the assistantship on all days but official university holidays.
If you are planning to take vacation days during your assistantship appointment--and this includes Spring or Winter Break--it is best to notify your assistantship director of these dates and accept a small reduction in your stipend accordingly, or make an agreement with your assistantship supervisor to "make up your hours" by working either before or after the break or vacation. Money not paid to you because of your vacation time can then be used to benefit other students if you elect not to work during certain weeks, but it is best to make these arrangements in advance.
With the prior approval (preferably written) of your assistantship supervisor only, you may with their consent arrange to "make up your hours" before or after your absence if you are going to be away during certain days of your assistantship. A director or CUPPA unit may have a policy against this practice, and unit policies take precedence in this case.
There is sometimes confusion because Spring and Winter Breaks are breaks in the academic schedule, but not in university employment. CUPPA is very willing to make reasonable arrangements for you to take time off, but at the same time, there are no paid vacations for students. You must either make up assistantship time you miss if paid, or elect not to be paid for assistantship time you know you will miss.
Research assistants are paid stipends according to a scale called the Campus Stipend Minima For Graduate Assistantship set by the UIC campus each year. This scale determines minimum stipend. Students with advanced skills can be paid more according to college practice if the assistantship position is advanced technology specific. Each year, the campus pay scale is increased, some years to match inflation, some years to go beyond inflation. An explanatory section at the bottom of the Stipend Minima web page lets you know that you must work 91 days in a given semester, 41 in summer semester, in order to obtain a tuition and fee waiver.
Graduate research assistants receive their stipends on the sixteenth (16th) of the month, at the END of a month of previous work, according to the UIC Payroll Schedule. If you look at the Payroll Schedule closely, you'll note that the pay periods that last one month apply to you. Each pay date has a "calc," or calculation date about two weeks before the pay date, which is the deadline for the computer to have received your completed PITR. If your appointment is processed and fully approved by the University before "calc," you should get your paycheck at the latest by the beginning of the next month. Typically, students whose assistantships are fully approved "in the system" by the first few days of the semester should see their first check on September 16 for the fall, or January 16 for the Spring. In some cases, you will see your first paycheck on the "pay adjustment" pay date, which is each Friday. This means you may get your first paycheck in mid-September (if Fall semester) or mid-January (if Spring semester), but this is not guaranteed. However, if the processing of your appointment is delayed and the "calc" date is missed, your pay won't come until the next pay adjustment date, usually the first or second Friday after the 16th of the month.
Bi-weekly time sheets
Research assistants must complete time sheets on a bi-weekly (every other week) basis. The reason for filling out time sheets is that funders of research and other university activity can demand evidence of "time and effort" spent on the project, and sometimes audit a funded research project or event after the fact to make sure there is evidence that the people who were supposed to be working on a project actually did. Please fill them out every two weeks and submit them to your supervisor.
If you don't get your stipend check or direct deposit on the anticipated pay date, please notify your appointing unit personnel manager immediately. If they are not available, please contact the Dean's office. In some cases of extreme need or University error, you can ask for a "pay adjustment". These are paid each Friday if processed by noon the previous Tuesday.
Direct deposit, tax withholdings and more
You can change your payroll direct deposit, your tax withholding, or make other payroll changes online in NESSIE. If it does not work, please contact your appointing unit personnel manager. They can provide you with the proper form to make these changes. See the CUPPA Quick Guide to NESSIE.
UIC Graduate College Website for Tuition and Fees:
Also, please check the UIC Office of Admissions and Records web page for Academic 2013-14 graduate program tuitions and fees at: http://www.uic.edu/depts/oar/grad/tuition_grad/tuition_grad_fal13_spr14.html
General information is available on assistantships from the UIC Graduate College at:
What is Waived with an Assistantship. The assistantship at UIC CUPPA includes a waiver, subject to change, of the university’s base graduate tuition for CUPPA (for 12 semester hours and over, $5533 per semester in-state, $11,532 out-of-state); the service fee ($323); the health service fee ($89); the Academic Facilities Maintenance Fund Assessment (AFMFA, $315), the Library and Information Technology Assessment ($200); and $100 toward CampusCare health insurance in the first semester of the waiver only (usually the fall), if you are enrolled in CampusCare.
What Is Not Waived with an Assistantship. The waiver does not cover the General fee ($431); the CTA fee ($109); the Student-to-student fee ($3); the balance of CampusCare, if you are enrolled ($301 first semester, $401 thereafter). You will be responsible for all non-waivable fees and the student health insurance, should you decide to buy it. Together, these will total to approximately $844.00 (subject to change) for your first semester, and $944 each semester thereafter. In most cases, with the exceptions listed below, differential tuition is not waived in CUPPA.
Required Reporting of Waiver to Financial Aid. You must report this tuition and fee waiver to UIC Financial Aid, because loan amounts and disbursement of funds may be affected, especially if any loan money will be used for living expenses.
Minimum percentage appointment for tuition and fee waiver
You must have a minimum 25%, or 10 hour a week assistantship, for 91 days of a Spring or Fall semester (41 days if Summer) to receive a tuition and fee waiver. The deadline for accepting a research assistantship for Tuition and Service Fee Waiver purposes for the Fall, 2013 semester is September 10, 2013 (in this case, the 91 day appointment must run through 12/9/13), and for Spring, 2014 semester is February 4, 2014 (in this case, the 91 day appointment must run through 5/4/14).
The case for international students is different. International graduate students in their first year of assistantship must meet the required level of financial responsibility for their assistantship. If international students cannot declare any other financial support for their entry to the US than the university, then a minimum level of earnings must be demonstrated. For Academic 2013-14, the minimum earnings for the nine-months from 8/16/13 through 5/15/14 is set as the campus 50% minimum. If he or she can demonstrate no other earnings or resources, and if an international student does not receive what amounts in total to a 50% appointment for their first academic year, he or she cannot successfully obtain clearance to begin their research assistant appointment. Smaller percentage appointments are possible after the first year. In addition, there is another complication. International students on their first year of their first research assistant appointment must take 12 graduate hours per semester. Thereafter, they can take eight.
Little known fact: If you have an assistantship in the Spring semester that carries a tuition and fee waiver, you also get a base tuition and fee waiver (in most cases, the tuition differential is not covered) for the Summer term immediately following, even if you don't have a Summer assistantship. While summer enrollment is optional, assistants who wish to use their summer tuition and service fee waivers must register for at least 3 hours during that term.
Minimum graduate course hours to maintain tuition and fee waiver
For non-international students, the minimum graduate course hours one can register for during the Fall or Spring semester and still keep a graduate assistantship with the standard tuition and fee waiver per CUPPA’s internal requirements for both PA and UPP is twelve (12) hours effective the 2013-14 Academic Year.
CUPPA graduate tuition differential amounts
Link to the UIC Graduate Tuition and Fees Website
Which assistantships cover tuition differential charges
In most cases tuition differential charges are not covered by the tuition waivers that accompany graduate/research/teaching assistantships. See the list below for exceptions.
*As of 1
October 2006 (subject to change), the following award programs administered by
the Graduate College included waivers of the tuition differential:
- Abraham Lincoln Fellowships
- Board of Trustees Tuition and Service Fee Waivers
- Dean’s Scholar Fellowships
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarships
- University Fellowships
*As of 1
October 2006 (subject to change), the CUPPA Distinguished Graduate Scholarship
PhD Program includes payment of the tuition differential.
*Please check your award offer letter to determine if your award pays the tuition differential.
Please see the CUPPA FAQs for Graduate Tuition Differential for further information.
Required and Suggested Registration for Classes. Although university policy requires research assistants to register for and maintain registration in a minimum of 8 semester hours of coursework each term, with the exception of the summer term, for which 3 hours are required in order to receive a summer tuition and fee waiver, we strongly encourage you to register for a full-time schedule of 12 credit hours or more each semester. If the assistantship will end May 15, 2014, you will receive a base tuition and service fee waiver for the following summer session if you remain in student status. International students may be required to register for a greater number of hours if the appointment is less than 50%. Please consult the website of the UIC Graduate College for further technical information on assistantships and tuition and fees—
http://grad.uic.edu/cms/--under the heading, “Funding Your Education.”
Further Requirements. In order to receive this Graduate Research Assistant appointment, you must be 1) graduate degree seeking (non-degree students are NOT eligible); 2) you must remain in good academic standing; 3) you must successfully meet the requirements of the assistantship; 4) you must serve in an appointment of between 25% and 67% time, provided that you serve 91 days prior to the last day of exams for each fall and spring semester, or 41 days in the summer session, according to the rules set forth in the Chicago Campus Stipend Minima For Graduate Assistantships, http://www.uic.edu/depts/hr/uichr/ahr/minimagrad.html; 5) you must submit weekly time reports to your supervisor; 6) only official UIC holidays can be taken during this appointment. If you are planning to take vacation days during your assistantship appointment, it is best to notify your immediate supervisor in writing of these dates and accept a small reduction in your stipend accordingly. This money not given to you can then be used to benefit other students.
Receiving tuition bills
If you receive a tuition bill in September (during Fall semester) or January (during Spring semester), the best thing to do is wait until your next tuition statement in October (during Fall term) or February (during Spring term), when the Student Accounts Receivable system usually updates and "finds" your assistantship. You should be able to check NESSIE to see if your assistantship is really there. You can also check your online student bill using My.UIC to view your student bill and credits posted to your account. It usually takes two to three weeks for your assistantship to be processed and the waiver applied to your outstanding tuition bill.
If you want to make sure that you never get such a tuition notice, your assistantship generally has to be approved "in the system" a full month before the first day of the term.
If you keep getting the tuition notices, and you wish to put an end to them, you can ask your appointing unit personnel manager to print out a copy of your RA appointment information from the PITR form and bring it to the office at Student Accounts Receivable that is sending you the notices. This should put a stop to the notices.
Waiving student health insurance fees
If you have comparable coverage through an employer or a family member, you can have the fee permanently waived by completing a waiver form, as indicated below, but you must meet the deadline for the semester in question.
Students have the option to waive the insurance coverage by completing a waiver form and presenting evidence of other comparable insurance coverage.
Tip: If you do waive your insurance coverage one semester, and then activate it the next, please check each semester to make sure that your insurance is in force.
The CampusCare website includes:
- Waiver Form, Reinstatement Application Form, and Dependent Enrollment Form
- A description of covered benefits, premium rates, CampusCare Health Center Physicians, FAQs and more
Tuition and fee deferment as taxable income
Whether your tuition and fee deferments are considered taxable income depends on what kind of assistantship you have. See: http://www.obfs.uillinois.edu/payroll/tuition-fee-waivers/
If you are a GA, please check your liability for this tax carefully. GAs who have tuition and service fee waivers exceeding $5,250 per calendar year may have their tax liability charged to one of their final paychecks of the academic year, thus potentially wiping out a major portion of May or June pay. If you receive an e-mail notice of this tax liability, please take this notice very seriously.
More very useful information is available on this topic from the UIC Graduate College website at:
If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, please consider completing the Free Application for Student Federal Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is the all-purpose application for subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans. Graduate students should apply for the Federal Work Study (FWS) Program (see below), as well, which may help subsidize an assistantship. UIC's FWS budget is limited, so it's best to apply as early as possible.
If you already have a processed FAFSA on file with the UIC Office of Financial Aid and would like to be considered for the FWS Program as well as loans, please contact your financial aid adviser immediately. If you are interested, please submit your FAFSA as soon as possible, and speak with your home Academic Unit program staff (in UPP, PA, or UPA) as soon as possible.
Financial Aid, and Federal Work Study Option. If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, please consider completing the Free Application for Student Federal Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ is the all-purpose application for subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans. Graduate students can apply for the Federal Work Study (FWS) Program, as well, which may help subsidize an assistantship. UIC's FWS budget is limited, so it's best to apply as early as possible. If you already have a processed FAFSA on file with the UIC Office of Financial Aid and would like to be considered for the FWS Program as well as loans, please contact your financial aid adviser immediately. If you are interested, please submit your FAFSA as soon as possible, but not later than June 1, 2013 for a Fall, 2013 graduate assistantship. Complete information on the FWS Program and how it relates to other forms of federal financial aid can be found at-- http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/index.jsp.
Should you decide to apply for any federal aid next year, please visit the Office of Financial Aid's website-- http://www.vcsa.uic.edu/MainSite/departments/financial_aid/home/ for step-by-step instructions.
CUPPA Career Center Web Pages
Are available at—
Temporary Social Security Numbers that starts with 999
Students cannot start their graduate assistantships and receive a tuition and fee waiver along with a stipend until they get a permanent SSN. Please go the UIC Office of International Services (OIS), and they will help you get your SSN. Sometimes, OIS needs you to make an appointment, so call them first before heading over to OIS. OIS may ask you to bring your Employee Clearance Form (see the next FAQ below) from your appointing unit with you, so they can take care that form and your I-9 (bring the needed identification from the next FAQ below) in one visit, but the UIC Human Resources will not let us start your appointment, and you cannot receive a stipend for any date previous to the date you get your permanent SSN. You must be registered for 12 semester hours initially for your SSN to be processed. Thereafter, you can maintain an assistantship with a minimum of 8 semester hours.
Also, check the FAQ at the OIS website. They are very helpful for international students.
Once you have your SSN, report back to the personnel manager in your appointing unit (the one which is giving you your letter of appointment; if you do your assistantship research, for example, at CUED, but are a UPP student, see the personnel manager at CUED), fill out an Employee Clearance form, and bring it to OIS with your passport and identification. OIS will help you fill out your I-9 form and sign the Employee Clearance form. Bring the completed Employee Clearance and the I-9 forms back to the personnel manager in your appointing unit. Please be aware that the 91 day appointment requirement still holds for international students whose appointments have been delayed. Please see the deadlines above under “Tuition, Fees, and Differentials: Minimum percentage appointment for tuition and fee waiver.”
Please see the 6/4/03 memo.
Problems with research assistantship supervisors
If you begin to have a problem with your supervisor, speak with your him or her first and try to work it out. If this does not work, make an appointment with the Director of your academic program, either UPP or PA. If you have tried this already, and you need to go beyond this level, make an appointment with the Associate Dean or Dean.
CUPPA observes the UIC policies against sexual harassment and against discrimination. If you have a sexual harassment or discrimination complaint, please bring it immediately to the attention of the Director of your academic program, the Assistant Dean for Student Services, or the Dean's office if necessary. You can also make your complaint directly to the UIC Office of Access and Equity.
See the UIC Student Academic Grievance Policy page .
Problems with other students
Please contact your academic program director, or the CUPPA Assistant Dean for Student Services if you are having a problem with another student. You also have a right to lodge a complaint with the Dean of Student Affairs for the UIC campus.
UIC Counseling Center
See UIC Counseling Center for information on personal, interpersonal, occupational and other types of counseling.
Americans with Disabilities Act
The University of Illinois at Chicago and its College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs (CUPPA) comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For ADA-related requests for modification in the admission process or for studies at CUPPA, please contact Albert Schorsch, III, CUPPA Associate Dean, 412 S. Peoria, (M/C 348), Chicago, IL 60607, 312-413-8088, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UIC Office of Access and Equity also provides resources for ADA compliance on campus.
Reporting building issues
Please see the CUPPA How To page on reporting building and safety issues.
Contact the CUPPATECH team at email@example.com, or 6-2009 from any UIC campus phone for assistance with computer or other technical equipment problems that occur in CUPPA Hall or CUPPA space in Art & Design Hall, including classrooms 2232, 2234, 2236.
In the case of an emergency such as flood, fire, power failure, or police matter, call 6-HELP from any UIC campus phone. Then call the Dean's office at 3-8088, or 6-2177. Please see the CUPPA Emergency Procedures page.
If there is an intruder or suspicious person in the UIC building where you are, call the UIC Police at 6-HELP from any UIC campus phone immediately.
Student Disciplinary Code
Students rights and duties are listed in the Student Disciplinary Code.
UIC Computing Acceptable Use Policy
Conditions For Use of Academic Computing and Communications Center (ACCC) Services & Facilities
For suggested corrections and additions to this page, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org