A Graduate Student Appointment (GSA) provides part-time employment and tuition benefits to students who are pursuing their graduate degree.  Funding can come from sponsored awards or other department resources.  Funding from sponsored awards must comply with the sponsor-specific requirements.  These guidelines are based on a federal sponsor (typically NIH) requirements but are applied to all GSA’s (whether on federal or non-federal awards) in order to meet the consistency requirements of the Uniform Guidance. (2 CFR 200.430)


A GSA typically covers:

  • salary for 50% effort spent on the Award;
  • associated fringe benefits; and
  • the allowable portion of tuition and associated fees.

This funding for salary, associated fringe and tuition is referred to as Graduate Student Compensation.


NIH will only provide funding for the total of the salary, fringe benefits, and tuition up to the NRSA Zero-Level stipend amount, (NOT-OD-02-017). The actual amount paid may differ (see Re-budgeting below).

For example:


In this example, the amount that would be funded by NIH is $47,484 for the year.  If the actual cost is higher, the department would have to cover the balance with either other department funds or, if possible, re-budgeting (see below) of the NIH Award.

Note: This “zero-level” funding limitation can be the cause of confusion between a GSA and a NRSA Training Grant or Fellowship. GSAs are not the same as Training Grants or Fellowships; NIH just uses the NRSA 0- level as a benchmark to set what it considers to be a reasonable funding level for GSAs.



Graduate Student Object Codes are in the 01-3X or 01-4X range.

The salary paid to the GSA must be in accordance with the UAW/UW Academic Student Employee (ASE) union contract and the department’s established salary scale.


The effort must be at least 50% in order to be eligible for tuition coverage.  The expectation is that the balance of the student’s effort (the other 50%) will be for studying.  Students may be employed by the UW for their balance of effort but that employment must be for activities not related to the GSA.

Fringe Benefits

The associated fringe benefit rate for the Salary Object Code must be used (see UW Fringe Benefit Load Rates).


The Object Code for Tuition is 08-05.

Federal regulations (2 CFR 200.466) require that tuition can only be covered for the same type of tuition and other fees as in the UW tuition waiver.

This means:

  1. Tuition payments for GSAs are limited to the portion of tuition and fees that are covered under a UW-supported tuition waiver (see Executive Order 28 Section 3.c.2)).
  2. The student must also:
  • expended 50% effort on the award for 5 out of the last six pay periods;
  • be a UW employee (on UW payroll); and
  • be enrolled in at least 10 credits.


As stated above, NIH will only provide funding for the sum of a GSA’s salary, fringe benefits, and tuition up to the NRSA 0-Level stipend amount.

However, the actual compensation (salary, fringe and tuition) allowed to be paid for a GSA must be “reasonable,” which NIH defines as being no more than compensation (salary, fringe) paid to a first year Post Doc in the same discipline.  Thus, the department may re-budget the Award, if funds are available, to cover actual GSA costs up to salary and fringe costs for a first year Post Doc.  NIH will not provide additional funding to cover actual GSA costs.