The Graduate School - Graduate Assistantships
Western Kentucky University awards assistantships to select graduate students. Educational goals at WKU are met in at least two important ways by the Graduate Assistantship program. Graduate assistantship stipends serve as the primary means of support for many graduate students enabling them to pursue higher degrees and grow professionally through the development and application of discipline-based knowledge. At the same time, the University gains the benefit of assistant-provided, high quality services at reasonable cost. Thus, the graduate assistantship program is mutually beneficial to both the student and the University.
Note: graduate assistantship scholarships cannot be awarded during the Winter term.
There are additional language requirements and tax implications for international students participating in the program. Please read this section carefully if you are an international student interested in becoming a graduate assistant at WKU.
Criteria for Exemption Eligibility:
- The Graduate Catalog provides definitions for determining full-time status of a graduate student. In any given term, graduate students are considered full-time when they are registered for 9 hours in Fall and Spring terms, and 6 hours in Summer terms.
- In order to be exempt from FICA tax, students must be (1) enrolled in at least ½ time status, (2) regularly attending classes in the semester and (3) working as a graduate assistant.
- Students must be “scheduled” to work less than 30 hours per week in order to have FICA exception.*
*A schedule is determined by the employing department and submitted to Graduate School office via an EPAF. If an EPAF is submitted to Graduate School with an incorrect schedule, the EPAF will not be approved.
Failure to meet the above criteria will result in the student paying Social Security (6.20%) and Medicare (1.45%) tax on the taxable gross paid for the pay period. Each department is responsible for the employer-matching portion of the tax and it will come out of the same funding department being charged for the student’s salary.
Keep in mind that graduate students are limited in the number of hours they may work. If the student works 30 or more hours, they will become subject to FICA taxes.
A tuition reduction you receive for graduate education is qualified, and therefore tax free, if both of the following requirements are met:
- It is provided by an eligible educational institution.
- You are a graduate student who performs teaching or research activities for the educational institution.
You must include in income any other tuition reductions for graduate education that you receive.
Please note: all graduate assistants are charged in-state tuition rates (regardless of residency) for all terms except Winter.
There are four different types of Graduate Assistantship appointments:
The combined load of teaching responsibilities and graduate course enrollment may not exceed 15 hours per semester.
The Center for Faculty Development (CFD) mentors graduate students via the Graduate Assistant Teaching Institute (GATI) training program. The Graduate School encourages all graduate students who have an interest and passion for teaching to complete the GATI training program. The GATI training program must be completed if a graduate student wishes to serve as an instructor of record under the Graduate Assistant Instructor (GI) designation. If you are interested in completing the GATI training program, please contact the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning.
WKU offers an excellent subsidized health insurance plan which graduate assistants may opt-in to at minimal cost. Students with a 20-hour/week assistantship are eligible to enroll in the Graduate Assistant Health Insurance program. Upon processing of the Graduate Assistantship Agreement, you will receive an email with instructions as to how to enroll. You must opt-in to this program each semester you wish to participate.
Click on the heading to find a listing of known, available graduate assistantships.