Assistantships, Fellowships, and Other Aid

Types of Financial Support

Financial support for graduate students engaged in degree study at the University of Connecticut comes from many sources. Two general types of financial aid support are available:

  1. Merit-based awards, which include Graduate Assistantships (for teaching or research), University Predoctoral Fellowships, and Dissertation Fellowships. Application for merit aid such as graduate assistantships should be made directly to the academic department. Students interested in scholarships and fellowships offered through The Graduate School should monitor the website for appropriate application procedures and deadlines.
  2. Need-based aid awarded by the Office of Student Financial Aid Services (OSFAS), which includes: Federal Direct Stafford Loans (FDSL), Federal Direct PLUS Loans, and Federal Work-Study (FWS). Citizens or permanent residents of the United States must apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at fafsa.gov. The University of Connecticut’s on-time application deadline is February 15 (May 1 for entering graduate students).

Note that international students are not eligible to receive need-based financial aid. Undocumented students may qualify for certain types of financial aid. Please visit the Financial Aid website for more information.

Many additional sources of funding for graduate education exist through both external and internal  opportunities. Graduate students are encouraged to seek opportunities for external sources of support, such as prestigious national fellowships. Opportunities to seek external funding can be found through the office of National Scholarships and Fellowships. A searchable database of opportunities can be accessed through the website, in addition to resources helpful to graduate students seeking to prepare competitive applications. Additional internal awards are available in many programs, and students are encouraged to seek information about awards on program websites. Although not exhaustive, The Graduate School website maintains a list of internal funding opportunities.

Categories of Merit-based Support

Many graduate students engaged in full-time degree study at the University of Connecticut receive merit based support in the form of graduate assistantships for teaching or research, whereas others hold fellowships, traineeships, or internships. More specifically:

  1. A graduate assistantship (in the form of a teaching assistantship or research assistantship) is awarded to a graduate student who provides teaching or research support to the University that is a part of the student’s academic program. In recognition of this support, the tuition of the student is provided by the grant/contract funding agency (for research assistants) or the University (for teaching assistants). All assistantships must be administered through an academic department. Appointments are ordinarily made for the nine-month period from August 23 through May 22.
  2. A fellowship is awarded to a graduate student to pursue their academic program, but does not require the student to provide any teaching or research support to the institution. The tuition of a student receiving a fellowship must be paid by the student, the granting organization, the department and/or school/college, or by the University with prior An example of this can be found in the Policy on Competitive Federal Graduate Awards at policy.uconn.edu.
  3. An internship is an experiential job placement designed to enhance the knowledge, skills, and abilities of a student, enhance their employability, and requires a student to perform specific work at the host’s site. The tuition payment is the responsibility of the student, the host, or the external funding specifically designated for this purpose.

Support from any of these sources is subject to terms of the funding source and to approval by The Graduate School. In addition, all holders of an assistantship, fellowship, or internship are responsible for associated fees.

Acceptance of Offers of Merit-based Support

The University of Connecticut supports the Council of Graduate Schools Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees, and Assistants. Acceptance of an offer of financial support (such as a graduate scholarship, fellowship, traineeship, or assistantship) for the next academic year by a prospective or enrolled graduate student completes an agreement that both student and The Graduate School expect to honor. In that context, the conditions affecting such offers and their acceptance must be defined carefully and understood by all parties.

Students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15; earlier deadlines for acceptance of such offers violate the intent of this resolution. In those instances in which a student accepts an offer before April 15, and subsequently desires to withdraw that acceptance, the student may submit in writing a resignation of the appointment at any time through April 15. However, an acceptance given or left in force after April 15 commits the student not to accept another offer without first obtaining a written release from the institution to which a commitment has been made. Similarly, an offer by an institution after April 15 is conditional on presentation by the student of the written release from any previously accepted offer. It is further agreed by the institutions and organizations subscribing to the above resolution that a copy of this resolution should accompany every scholarship, fellowship, traineeship, and assistantship offer.

See the Council of Graduate Schools for more information on the April 15 Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees and Assistants.

General Requirements

All merit and need-based financial aid recipients must meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements, which are based on federal regulations. These requirements include maintenance of an appropriate grade point average (3.0) and satisfactory completion of a percentage (75%) of the number of credit hours attempted in each award year, as well as not exceeding published credit maximums for the student’s program plan.

Please visit the Office of Student Financial Aid Services website for more information related to the terms and conditions of financial aid awards.

Specific Requirements Related to Graduate Assistantships

To be appointed, to retain an appointment, or to be reappointed as a graduate assistant, a student must have been accorded regular (not provisional) status, must have been maintaining a cumulative grade point average of at least “B” (3.0) in any coursework taken, must be eligible to register (i.e., must not have more than three viable grades of Incomplete on their academic record), must be enrolled in a graduate degree program scheduled to extend through the entire period of the appointment or reappointment, and must be a full-time student, counting coursework and/or its equivalent together with assistantship duties (see “Course Loads” under Academic Regulations), throughout the period.

The holder of a full assistantship devotes one-half of available time to studies and one-half (approximately twenty hours per week) to assistantship duties, whereas the holder of a half assistantship devotes three-quarters of available time to studies and one-quarter (approximately 10 hours per week) to assistantship duties. Assistantships are not available for less than 10 hours per week. Because of the added workload associated with their assistantship duties, graduate assistants ordinarily take fewer than the usual number of courses per year.  In addition, because graduate assistants divide their full-time eff­orts between study and assistantship responsibilities, they may not hold concurrent employment outside the University without the written consent of their major advisor.

All graduate assistants in programs based at the Health Center are awarded the same stipend. (Specific 12-month rates for Storrs and the regional campuses can be found at payroll.uconn.edu. Twelve month rates for the Health Center can be found at health.uconn.edu/student-services). However, stipend rates for graduate assistants in programs based at Storrs or a regional campus are graduated in terms of progress toward the advanced degree and experience:

  • Level 1: For graduate assistants with at least a baccalaureate degree.
  • Level 2: For experienced graduate assistants in a doctoral program with at least a master’s degree or its equivalent in the field of graduate study. Equivalency consists of 30 credits of appropriate coursework beyond the baccalaureate degree completed at the University of Connecticut, together with admission to a doctoral program.
  • Level 3: For students with experience as graduate assistants who have at least a master’s degree or its equivalent and who have passed the doctoral general examination.

(Specific nine-month rates for Storrs and the regional campuses can be found at payroll.uconn.edu). When a graduate assistant at Storrs or a regional campus become eligible for a Level 2 or Level 3 stipend, the student’s department may request an increase by filing a new employment authorization effective at any time after the student attains eligibility.

Tuition (but not the General University Fee, the Graduate Matriculation Fee, or other fees) are waived for graduate assistants. If an assistantship begins or terminates during the course of a semester, tuition will be prorated on a weekly schedule, charged for that portion of the semester when the assistantship is not in force and waived when it is in force. This often results in an adjustment of the tuition charges, including partial assessment (if the student is registered throughout the semester for coursework for which tuition is charged) or a partial refund (if tuition has been paid).

A graduate assistant is eligible for health insurance. Graduate assistants should be aware that it is necessary to complete the proper forms to enroll in health insurance. Health insurance does not take effect automatically. The University requires that all students have health insurance. If a student has other health insurance and does not want the GA Student Health Insurance plan, the student may waive the coverage by using the “GA Online Enrollment/Waiver Application” located at hr.uconn.edu/ct-partnership-health-benefits.