GA Guide and Frequently Asked Questions

GA Guide & FAQs

What is a GA?

A Graduate Assistant is an employee of the university, hired by a department or unit. A graduate assistantship provides financial assistance to degree-seeking graduate students through a mentored university employment experience. Under this program, you will participate in work obligations and educational and developmental activities, all of which are integrated into helping you succeed at your degree.

GA Titles

Your specific GA title reflects your majority duties. It will be one of these three titles:

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA)
  • Graduate Research Assistant (GRA)
  • Graduate Service Assistant (GSA)

It is important to know what type of GA you are, as this will relate to how you are paid and possible tax implications. Please see additional information in the Compensation section.

How to Apply

Graduate Assistantships are offered directly by individual departments, programs, or other university units. Students may contact their program to learn about the assistantships that may be available and how to apply.

The Find an Assistantship page is a resource to find programs that offer positions.

Tuition & Fee Waiver

Your full Graduate Assistantship award includes payment of your tuition (resident and non-resident, if applicable). Tuition waivers are posted approximately two weeks before the start of the term.

What fees are covered as part of my Graduate Assistantship?

A standard waiver covers resident tuition and fees as outlined on the Graduate Tuition and Fee Schedule. For more information see Boise State University Tuition and Fees. If a GA is classified as a non-resident of Idaho for tuition, the non-resident tuition is waived by the university.

What's not covered as part of my Graduate Assistantship?

Typically items such as textbooks and student ID cards are not included as part of your waiver unless requested by the supporting department or unit. Additional course fees, internet fees, and lab fees may or may not be covered by your department.

It is recommended that you contact the department/office that hired you to learn what fees are covered as part of your assistantship award.

Who do I contact about the remaining fees on my student account?

Tuition and fee waivers will be posted approximately 2 weeks before the start of the term, and before the fee payment deadline. Please note, in the case of a late hire, it may take a few days for the tuition and fee waiver to be posted to your account.

After your waiver has posted to your student account, if you are left with a balance that you feel should be covered as part of your assistantship, please contact the program administrator for the department that hired you or your supervisor.


How often will I get paid?

Payment of your salary will be processed through the employee payroll system. Paychecks are issued bi-weekly on Fridays according to the Payroll Schedule. This Payday Calculator is a handy tool to easily calculate paycheck estimates based on work weeks.

Minimum salary

The minimum salary for a full award for the 2018-2019 academic year is $9,588.00 for a Master’s level student and $10,226.00 for a Doctoral level student.

GAs are non-benefit eligible (they do not receive holiday pay, sick leave, or vacation pay). Every GA is covered by the university insurance for work related illness or injury in accordance with university procedures. Additional information on health insurance is listed in that section.

Salary or hourly, exempt or non-exempt

Graduate Teaching Assistants

  • GTAs are exempt from overtime and generally paid a salary. If a GTA is paid hourly they do not need to enter hours in the system and will be paid a salary spread out evenly over the work dates.

Graduate Research Assistants and Graduate Service Assistants

  • Those GRAs and GSAs who earn more than $455 a week are exempt from overtime and may be paid salary or hourly.
  • Those who earn less than $455 a week are non-exempt and overtime eligible. They are paid hourly and must enter hours in their timesheet in Peoplesoft.
  • Special note for GSAs – The IRS has determined that GSAs whose tuition benefit exceeds $5,250 in the calendar year must add the excess amount to their income as a taxable fringe benefit. This is most likely to affect GSAs working more than one term in a calendar year. Starting in the fall of each year GSAs who have received a tuition benefit in excess of $5,250 will have the applicable taxes withheld from their remaining  paychecks for the year. This will result in a decrease in net pay.  If you have questions about your withholding, please contact payroll services at

How do I fill in my timesheet?

For hourly GAs only. The Payroll and Personnel Processing office offers an online training guide that shows you how to fill out your timesheet. Please visit their website for more information or access the Time Entry for Students guide. In-person Time and Labor workshops are offered about once a month. If you’d like to find out more information or sign up please visit Time and Labor workshops page.

How do I sign up for direct deposit?

Information on signing up for direct deposit may be found on the Payroll and Processing website.

Tax withholding, exemptions, W4

For more information on time entry, tax withholding, exemptions, or W-4s visit the Payroll and Personnel Processing website or contact Payroll Services at (208) 426-4440 or email

I didn’t get paid! What do I do?

Check with your supervisor first to verify if your start date is within a pay period that has already been paid and to confirm if hiring paperwork was submitted on time. Your supervisor can call the payroll office or their Human Resource Services (HRS) representative to correct any discrepancy.

Health Insurance

Your assistantship covers full payment of the premium for the GA Group employee health insurance plan. The Boise State GA Group plan is an employee plan and the insurance provider is PacificSource Health Plans.

Additional information on the GA Group plan, including a benefits summary, travel abroad information, and PacificSource Member Guide, can be found on the GA Health Insurance Site. (You must be logged in to myBoiseState with your employee email account to access this page).

Coverage Dates

The GA health insurance coverage starts on the previous first day of the month if your first day of work as a GA is on or before the 15th of the month. Coverage starts the first day of the following month if you start work on or after the 16th of the month.

The GA health insurance coverage ends on the the last day of the month of your last day worked (i.e., if the last day worked is May 1-31, insurance ends May 31).

Plan year dates as it relates to annual deductible and out-of-pocket limits are August 1 – July 31.

Exception: If you are a GA in the Spring term and receive a confirmed appointment for the following Fall term by July 15, your GA insurance will continue during the summer without a break in service.

When your GA position ends and your insurance termed, you will receive information from PacificSource and a separate packet of information related to COBRA. If you elect COBRA, it enables you to continue your GA Group insurance by paying the premium yourself. For additional information contact COBRA at 877-355-2760.

Health Services

Boise State Health Services provides on-campus primary care, urgent care, counseling, immunizations and offers additional care that may be included in your plan such as visits with a dietitian and massage therapy. Most services are provided under the PacificSource GA Group plan at no charge.

If you are a graduate student, but not receiving a graduate assistantship, please review your health insurance options with Health Services.

Contact Information

PacificSource Health Plans
Customer Service: 1(800) 688-5008
Hours: 8:00am – 6:00pm, Monday through Friday

Boise State Human Resources, GA insurance contact
Marusya Stoyanova
(208) 426-4450

Plan Information

For your current plan information:

  • Log on to your account on the PacificSource Health Plans website
  • Call customer service at 1-800-688-5008 to receive a hard copy by mail
  • Visit the GA Health Insurance Site (you must be logged in to myBoiseState with your employee email account to access this page).
  • Representatives from PacificSource will host two Information Sessions this fall: Friday, August 23, 9:45 – 10:15 a.m. in Jordan Ballroom C of the Student Union Building (SUB) (following new GA Workshop) and also on Thursday, August 29, noon – 1:00 p.m. in the Berquist Lounge of the SUB

ID Card

You may print a temporary health insurance ID card here.


Graduate Assistantships provide coverage for the GA only. If you wish to add dependents to your plan, you may add them to your plan by paying the premium yourself. If you wish to add dependents, please contact Marusya Stoyanova in Human Resource Services ( or 208- 426-1616). Coverage may not be added for spouses.

Requirements of a GA position

Admission and Enrollment

  • You must be admitted to a graduate program prior to the start of your assistantship and remain in an admitted status while employed.
  • Each semester, non-international students must enroll in a minimum of 5 credits, however some departments require 9 credits. A GA who is also an international student must register as a full-time graduate student (at least nine (9) credits).
  • You must show you are on track for successful degree progress.
  • During summer and intersessions, you must meet intent to enroll criteria, which typically means you must be enrolled in the minimum number of credits for the following term.

Employment Obligations

Employment obligations include the work for the university that is assigned by your supervisor and for which you are paid for. This may include any combination of teaching, research, and service duties.

Maximum Weekly Time Commitments for Work

On average, the number of hours assigned by the supervisor as the work obligation for your graduate assistantship cannot exceed:

  • 20 hours per week during fall or spring semester
  • 40 hours per week during spring break, intersession, and summer session

Educational and Developmental Activities

GAs are expected to participate in additional activities to meet degree requirements or enhance skills and knowledge, such as learning, instruction, training, or research. There are no limits on time spent on these, and you may or may not earn academic credit. These activities are non-compensated.

Other Employment

  • A GA cannot work for the university under any compensable arrangement other than the graduate assistantship during the contract period, unless an exception is approved by the Dean of the Graduate College.
  • Graduate students are expected to devote their time to their studies and to their assistantship. This means that in most cases a GA should not be employed off-campus unless the GA holds a partial GAship. Although the University does not prohibit outside employment by GAs in addition to their University appointment, acceptance of outside employment should be guided by the need to avoid conflicts of interest and any infringement on the student’s academic duties. A GA interested in being employed off campus should first speak to his or her research advisor and supervisor about the nature of the proposed work. The advisor and supervisor must be assured that the work will not compromise the time that the student is expected to devote to their studies and assistantship responsibilities, and that the outside work does not infringe upon patent or intellectual property rights related to the student’s University scholarship. The student also must ensure that the outside work does not violate any program or departmental policy. Departments and programs have the discretionary right to make appointments to students whose commitment suggest that they are most likely to attain their educational goals and maintain assistantship responsibilities in the most effective manner.

Who do I Report To?

  • Every GA will be under the guidance of a supervisor and an advisor.
  • Your supervisor is an employee of the university responsible for the assignment, direction, and evaluation of the work for which you are paid for.
  • Your advisor is a member of the graduate faculty responsible for advising you on academic matters.
  • Your supervisor and advisor are your primary mentors, they may be different people or the same.
  • Under their mentorship, you will gain experience and learn scholarly, professional, and ethical behaviors appropriate to your specific field of study.

Email Accounts

GAs will have an employee email address ( and a student email ( GA email accounts are administered differently than other student employee email accounts.

GA email addresses at the end of appointment

  • When your GA work contract ends your employee email address will remain active for 9 months (270 days) past the work end date.
  • This will allow you to maintain email access for a period after your assistantship ends. Be sure to notify contacts and update your email address before your employee email ends.
  • Your student email address will remain active.


Our GA Guidebook includes our welcome presentation, welcome guide, and GA & Supervisor discussion checksheet to help with your transition in becoming a Boise State GA. You can review this information on our GA Guidebook website (You must be logged in to myBoiseState with your employee email account to access this page).

Partial Graduate Assistantships

Partial Graduate Assistantships can be awarded to graduate students for a work obligation of half the maximum average weekly time commitment (typically 10 hours per week). A Partial GA Award will include payment of at least half the full-time standard tuition rate, half the minimum salary for half the hours worked, and full payment of the GA Group health insurance premium.

Message from the Dean

Message to new Graduate Assistants from Dean Tammi Vacha-Haase

Welcome to your graduate program at Boise State University and your position as a graduate assistant.  We are delighted to have you join us, as you prepare for an educationally exciting and productive semester.

As a graduate assistant, you are a select member of graduate students who help to move this university forward.  Whether you are working in a lab, teaching a course, or providing direct services, your efforts make an impact on our Boise State community. You are a member of our team, and the university is counting on you!

I remember my first semester as a graduate assistant, many years ago.  I distinctly recall having more questions than answers, and was appreciative of any guidance offered.  We hope the resources offered here are able to answer many of your questions.  However, if your graduate assistantship is anything like mine, you will continue to benefit from mentoring and general support throughout your time in the graduate assistantship role.  I encourage you to take advantage of those around you who can help, as it is together that we all continue to learn and grow.

Best wishes for an enjoyable assistantship experience; one that not only enriches your educational experience while you are at Boise State, but allows you to see your true value as an important part of this incredible institution.

Tammi Vacha-Haase, Ph.D.
Dean, Graduate College

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