To: Deans, Directors, and Department Heads, Academic and Administrative Units
From: Catherine Ocen, Assistant Dean for Administration and Budget, Graduate College
Michelle Trame, Director, Office of Student Financial Aid
Subject: 2021-2022 Federal Work-Study Funded Graduate Assistantships
Information on the 2021-2022 Federal Work-Study (FWS) program for graduate assistantships is now posted on the Graduate College website – https://grad.illinois.edu/current/content/fwsassist. The process for submitting Federal Work-Study Funded Graduate Assistantships is in electronic format. Posted on the website, you will find the Guidelines, the electronic Appointment Request Form and a Student Information Sheet. We ask that you review the information in this letter along with the posted information and share the information with the appropriate individuals in your unit.
Units that plan to request FWS funded appointments are asked to provide the Student Information Sheet to all students for whom they intend to submit an Appointment Request Form. Students in approved cost-recovery and self-supporting programs are not eligible to receive tuition and fee waivers except statutory waivers. This means that these students may not hold waiver-generating appointments. More information, including the full list of such programs can be found at https://grad.illinois.edu/handbook/self-supporting-programs.
To request a FWS funded graduate assistantship for 2021-2022, units should electronically submit a completed FWS Funded Graduate Assistantship Appointment Request Form to the Office of Student Financial Aid no later than April 16, 2021 for each student who has agreed to be considered for a FWS funded graduate assistantship. FWS funded graduate assistantship appointment requests carry a "pending availability of funds" notice, which means that offers should not be communicated as a firm commitment by the appointing unit unless the unit is willing to fully fund the assistantship should FWS funds not be available.
Campus tuition waiver policy applies to FWS funded assistantship appointments. The level of waiver is tied to the graduate program in which the student is enrolled, as identified by the graduate program code. Students are governed by the waiver policy in effect at the time of first enrollment in the program as long as they are in good academic standing and are making proper progress toward graduation in that program. A unit considering appointing a student to a FWS funded assistantship is strongly advised to check the student's curriculum to determine if the student is eligible for a waiver-generating assistantship, as well as review the level of tuition waiver that will be granted. The full campus graduate waiver policy can be found at https://grad.illinois.edu/sites/grad.illinois.edu/files/pdfs/handbook.pdf#tuition-waiver-policy. Questions about Tuition Waiver Policy can be directed to the Graduate College at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Units that plan to offer Graduate Assistant or Pre-Professional Graduate Assistant positions with FWS funds are reminded that the tuition and service fee waivers for Graduate Assistants (GA) and Pre-Professional Graduate Assistants (PGA) are considered taxable income unless exempt under a specific Section of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). The University has a 127 plan, which is an educational assistance program that exempts the first $5,250 (per calendar year) of the tuition and service fee waivers as allowed by IRC Section 127. Cumulative tuition and service fee waivers in a calendar year exceeding $5,250 are considered taxable benefits. Therefore, the wages of a GA or PGA will have additional withholding for any value above the $5,250 limit. The value of the tuition and service fee waiver exceeding $5,250 will be subject to tax withholding based on the graduated tax withholding method. The calculation of the tax withholding will be in accordance with the assistant’s current Form W-4 on file with the University Payroll & Benefits Office. The tax withholding may result in the employee’s monthly paycheck or paychecks throughout the semester being significantly reduced possibly up to the point where the assistant will have no take-home pay. This will depend on the value of the tuition and service fee waiver and the pay received for the services performed for the University.
Questions about extending offers and processing assistantship appointments may be directed to Illinois Human Resources at https://humanresources.illinois.edu/ or 333-6747. General questions about FWS funded graduate assistantships or tuition waiver policy may be directed to the Graduate College at 333-0036 or email@example.com.
Specific questions about a student's eligibility for FWS may be directed to Kim Hamilton, Office of Student Financial Aid at 333.7603 or firstname.lastname@example.org.