Dear deans, chairs, graduate coordinators, and GA supervisors,
We are reaching out today to share a number of important updates and new information related to graduate assistants this fall. Given our current situation, graduate assistants are impacted in a number of unusual ways. Below you will find guidance and processes for the fall 2020 semester to support our GAs and help you manage your GA program in these challenging times. Apologies for the long email; we hope it is helpful to you.
On-Campus & Remote GA Work
Graduate Assistant Assignments & Requests for Remote Work Accommodations
- International students without a visa and social security number and outside the U.S.:
- Students may enroll entirely remotely from outside the U.S.; however, if they do not have a visa and social security number, they may not receive payment from UNLV, so we’re sorry to say that these students may not be GAs.
- U.S.-based and international students with a social security number:
- These students may work on campus or in a hybrid arrangement, or they may be assigned remote GA work. Any of these options are fine.
- Please note that graduate students are required to enroll in a minimum of 6 graduate credits each semester that they work as GAs. These graduate credits may be delivered through any modality: in-person, hybrid, or remote.
As you plan for the fall and spring semesters, as always we ask that you please work with your graduate assistants to align assignments with GA preferences wherever possible. As with other employees, GAs who are at elevated risk or have special family care responsibilities as a result of COVID closures may qualify for a remote work accommodation if their GA assignment may be done from off campus. Please note the following guidelines:
Now Offering Fall 2020 GA Deferrals
- If GAs need accommodations for their work, they must follow the same process laid out by HR and contact the leave office at HRLeave@unlv.edu indicating their request to remote work due to 1.) higher risk as identified by the CDC, 2.) living or caring for someone who is high risk in accordance with the CDC, or 3.) experiencing child care issues related to COVID-19.
- We encourage units to be flexible in creating GA assignments where formal accommodations are both feasible and necessary.
- When accommodations are simply not feasible due to the nature of the GA work, requests for remote GA assignments may be denied.
- GAs are not eligible for administrative leave with pay.
- Please reach out to Graduate Financial Services if you have questions and we'll work with Human Resources to assist.
Given the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, recession, and challenges facing our new and continuing international students, we anticipate an atypical fall semester from a GA perspective. Specifically, there will be a number of new and current students with fall GA offers who are unable to enroll, and we believe that these circumstances may disproportionately impact our international GAs. International students who do not yet hold U.S. visas but enroll in all remote classes in fall are not eligible to be GAs because UNLV cannot pay a person without a visa and social security number. Also, most new international students cannot get visa appointments and cannot make it to the U.S. in time for fall, so they will need to defer or take remote classes --- either way they will not be eligible for a GA position.
Request to Rescind a Fall 2020 GA Offer Due to Non-enrollment
- GAs who do not enroll in fall are facing grave challenges, so we would like to work with you to help ensure that we do nothing to worsen their situations and that we do everything possible to retain and progress them in their graduate programs. To this end, we have drafted a number of new guidelines to support you and your students during this challenging time.
- GA Deferrals: We anticipate that some new, incoming students will need to defer their admission until spring 2021. Similarly, some current GAs may need to take a semester leave of absence due to the pandemic crisis, challenges facing international students, and/or out of economic hardship due to the recession. If a student enrollment deferral or leave of absence is approved, the Graduate College recommends that departments defer the student’s GA contract to spring 2021.
- However, given that every graduate program operates a bit differently, we respect and support graduate program decisions on how to manage these cases as you know what is best for your graduate students.
- How to defer a Fall 2020 GA offer to Spring 2021:
- Please notify the Graduate College Business & Finance team by emailing GradFinancialSvc@unlv.edu of your decision to defer a Fall or AY20-21 GA offer to Spring 2021. Please include the student’s email or written confirmation of their deferral until Spring 2021.
- We will rescind the existing GA offer and the funds for that GA will be returned to the department's Graduate College state-funded allocation (if funded with Graduate College state funds). We will create a spring 2021 GA application for the student whose GA is being deferred and inform the department that the GA application is ready for departmental review.
- Once the GA departmental review is complete, we will extend a spring 2021 GA offer to the student.
- Please note: If a new international GA is deferring to spring 2021, the GA will have to show one year of funding for purposes of the I-20. If you know you will appoint the GA for fall 2021 please let us know by emailing GradFinancialSvc@unlv.edu and we will provide you with a fall 2021 GA funding letter template to support your international student’s I-20 application.
The Graduate College is currently monitoring GA enrollment to get a sense of which GAs have yet to enroll in the minimum of 6 graduate credits in fall 2020. We understand that departments might want to rescind GA offers due to non-enrollment in order to release GA funds for other students who need funding. Since the GA offer letter does not include an enrollment deadline date, we cannot rescind GA offers for non-enrollment without giving the GA notice and enough time to make enrollment decisions.
Opportunities to Reallocate Graduate College State GA Funds: Fall 2020 Only
- As of today, we have 152 GAs who have not enrolled in credits for fall 2020. The Graduate College will message these GAs and require them to enroll in 6 graduate-level credits by Aug. 1 or they will be at risk of losing their GA offer.
- After the Aug. 1 deadline, the Graduate College will share a list of your GAs who have not enrolled; and at this time, the department may request that we rescind or defer the GA offer in order to extend an offer to another student. In the future, the Graduate College will include an enrollment deadline on all GA offers.
- How to terminate GA offers for students not enrolled in fall 2020:
- Please notify the Graduate College Business & Finance team by emailing GradFinancialSvc@unlv.edu that the GA offer should be rescinded due to the student’s inability, or decision, to not enroll in fall 2020. Please include the student’s email or written confirmation of their non-enrollment in fall 2020.
- The current GA offer will be rescinded, and the funds for that GA will be returned to the department's Graduate College state-funded allocation (if funded with Graduate College state funds) to support another GA in fall 2020 and/or GAs in spring 2021.
- The Graduate College Business and Finance team will inform the student that the GA offer has been rescinded and they will need to reapply for a GA if they want to be considered for future funding.
- You will need to appoint another student in the GA position or consider reallocating the one-semester fall GA to a student in need (see below).
Due to GA deferrals, we anticipate that departments may have unspent Graduate College state funds for AY 20-21. It is important for the Graduate College to know as soon as possible if you plan on having any unspent GA funds for this academic year or if you are able to share any fall 2020 GA funds to support students in need. If you agree to do so, these funds will return to you in the future; any reallocation would be temporary
. The reason we ask you to consider a one-semester reallocation if you have unfilled GA lines in fall is to support the many graduate students whose spring or summer graduation was delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Many of these students have run out of funding and need one more semester of support. If you have deferrals that open GA funds this fall, please reach out and let us know if you can help support one of these students in need. Thank you!
Research GAs & Graduate Student Research
- Please note that in order to determine if colleges will have remaining Graduate College state funds for 2020-21, the Graduate College will send an email to department chairs, graduate coordinators, and deans on July 31 that will include a list of GAs appointed with Graduate College state funds and remaining Graduate College state allocations.
- Please respond to that email by Aug. 10 with your plan on how you will use remaining Graduate College state allocations to support GAs for fall 2020 or spring 2021.
- If funds cannot be used to support GAs within your college, the Graduate College will discuss the possibility of temporarily reallocating the funds to make fall-only GA appointments, as needed, to support unfunded students.
Per UNLV’s Restarting Research Plan
, it is up to each faculty member to propose safe guidelines to resume their research, including that of their graduate students. Once plans are approved, research may resume. We are encouraging graduate students to work with their advisor, graduate coordinator, or chair to get additional information about resumption plans for their specific research, scholarship, or creative activity regardless of whether they are working as GAs or doing research, scholarship, creative or professional activities as part of their degree program.
- As you know, it is very important that graduate students can safely return to their research or it will have a number of negative consequences including slower student progression, delayed graduation, GA funding challenges, and the likelihood of an increased debt burden on our students. While not all types of research can safely resume yet, many faculty have already submitted plans and restarted their research, including that of their graduate students. We encourage all graduate faculty to review the Restarting Research Plan and then submit plans for their graduate students, too, as soon as possible.
- Please note that this may mean running labs for more hours a day (or even 24/7 to allow everyone socially distant and safe time in a lab), staggering access, and engaging in creative solutions to ensure safety first, and then resume research.
- We encourage GA supervisors to establish a system, with all necessary precautions in place, that enables your graduate students’ and GAs’ work to progress as soon as is practicable. Where access to space or resources is limited, please consider giving priority to more advanced students. We’d like to thank Associate Vice President for Research, Dr. Dave Hatchett, who has offered to address specific questions about the Guide to Restarting Research if you need additional guidance.
If you have questions or need additional guidance on any of this or other GA matters, please don’t hesitate to reach out to both Graduate.Dean@unlv.edu
and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Thank you and be well!
Kate Korgan, Ph.D.
Executive Director of
Graduate Financial Services &
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