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Tuition Benefit Program Guidelines

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Note to students: In order to qualify for tuition benefit, your academic department must be a participant in the Tuition Benefit Program, and the department must have tuition benefit funding available to support your participation. Please check with your academic department if you are unsure about their participation and to confirm funding capacity. At present, the David Eccles School of Business, the School of Medicine MD program, and the School of Dentistry currently do not participate in the Tuition Benefit Program. Please note that not all departments and colleges who participate in the Tuition Benefit Program use the resource for all graduate programs offered. 

  1. Categories of Supported Graduate Students
    1. The eligible classifications qualifying a student for tuition benefit participation are:
      1. Graduate Research Assistant (RA), (job code 9314, Exempt)
        1. A graduate student funded directly by an externally funded research grant (5000 fund only) and doing research for that project.
      2. Graduate Assistant – Research Focus (GR), (job code 9330, Exempt) 
        1. A graduate student doing research or research-related work, who is not paid from a 5000 fund, as well as students doing field work and clinical work.
      3. Graduate Teaching Assistant (TA), (job code 9416, Exempt)
        1. A graduate student with instructional responsibilities as instructor of record, assistant to the instructor of record or tutor within their academic department.
        2. Duties may include lecturing, holding discussion or problem sessions, conducting laboratory sections, conducting studio or performance work, online instruction, grading, tutoring, and holding office hours. 
        3. International students must be cleared through the International Teaching Assistant Program before being placed on job coded 9416.
      4. Graduate Assistant – Teaching Focus (GT), (job code 9417, Exempt)
        1. This category is appropriate only for incoming international students with no student contact (i.e. graders), and is limited to one semester, during which the student must be participating in the International Teaching Assistant Program so they can be in the TA category.
      5. Graduate Fellow (GF)
        1. A graduate student on a fellowship (a refundable scholarship), whose tuition is not paid by the award. 
        2. The Tuition Benefit Program has right of first reversal if other sources of tuition funding are available, meaning if tuition money is included in the fellowship award or tuition is budgeted into a research grant, the student should not be supported on traditional tuition benefit. 
        3. In most cases, fellowship payments should be distributed in semester payments through the University’s Scholarship Administration system; in special circumstances a fellowship may be distributed as a monthly stipend (traineeship), alternatively, which should be processed through Accounts Payable. 
          1. Fellowship payments made through the Scholarship Administration must be paid from item types set up as “graduate fellowships” and “refundable” in order to count toward the student’s tuition benefit-eligible support (with budget category code 66900). 
        4. No employer-employee relationship exists in a fellowship. The University administers the award and a service expectation may or may not accompany it.
      6. Should students be working outside of their academic home department in a TBP-eligible assistantship (TA, GT, GR, and/or RA), prior approval must be granted by the Dean of the Graduate School each academic year. Petitions, directed to tuitionbenefit@gradschool.utah.edu, must include an outline of the assistantship job duties and how the assistantship duties connect with the student’s graduate degree program curriculum. 
    2. These job codes/support classifications for assistantships satisfy current federal policies and regulations for graduate students working toward post-baccalaureate degrees at the University of Utah.
      1. Students supported on fellowships should receive prorated equivalents, whether paid in semester lump sums or in monthly increments (as dictated by funding sources), and fellowships will only count for the semester in which they are disbursed. 
      2. SPlease note that nonmatriculated students, part-time students, and students on probationary status are ineligible for tuition benefit, regardless of their department support.
    3. PeopleSoft fund codes 1000, 2000, 5000 and 6000 satisfy tuition payroll eligibility for assistantships. 
      1. Note: Graduate RAs (9314) must be paid from research grants with a 5000 fund and eight-digit project number.
      2. To be eligible for participation, no job code other than 9314 (RA) can be used on an e-PAF with a 5000 fund. 
      3. RA (9314) e-PAF should only include 5000 chartfields; split distributions of a 5000 and non-projects (activities) are prohibited.
    4. Please note that students who participate in the subsidized health insurance plan (GSHIP) must have a benefit allotment available in the fund from which they are paid that can cover the 80% of the premium for the health plan (unless they are a TA paid from a 1001 fund, which is then covered by a central benefit pool).
      1. Students participating in GSHIP must be supported at the 100% benefit level; graduate fellows are not eligible for GSHIP.
      2. Please contact the Graduate School Office of Fellowships & Benefits for further guidance.
    5. In accordance with federal payroll tax law, job assignments must be related to the student’s educational or professional objectives.
      1. Job assignments without a clear curricular connection to the student’s degree program, such as administrative work, are generally not allowed in conjunction with tuition benefit.
      2. In addition, a TA/GT salary may not be decreased mid-semester based upon the final student enrollment in the assigned teaching course.
      3. Contact the Graduate School Office of Fellowships & Benefits with any questions.
  2. Student Registration Requirements & Tuition Billing
    1. Students participating in the Tuition Benefit Program (including extended tuition benefit) must meet the following requirements:
      1. Enrolled as full-time, matriculated graduate students in good academic standing
      2. Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (Law School, 2.0); students on academic probation are not eligible to participate in the Tuition Benefit Program
      3. Full-time student status means registration for a minimum of 9 credit hours during each Fall and Spring semester; full-time Summer enrollment is a minimum of 3 credit hours.
        1. This provision does not affect full-time student status definitions or requirements used elsewhere for the purpose of loan repayment, student insurance, or other reporting requirements.
      4. FTE cannot exceed 0.74; this FTE requirement includes all employment at the University of Utah, including hospital & clinics, Huntsman Institute, and athletics division. An FTE of 0.50 is the recommended maximum for 100% tuition benefit, 0.375 for 75% tuition benefit, and 0.25 for 50% tuition benefit (see section IV – Service Requirements).
    2. Students must meet the full-time enrollment requirement in order for tuition benefits to be applied to a student’s tuition bill
      1. The only exception to this requirement is when an enrollment accommodation has been granted by the Center for Disability & Access (CDA)
      2. Granted accommodations will be communicated to the Graduate School Office of Fellowships & Benefits directly by the CDA advisor; accommodation requests communicated by students or faculty without CDA approval will not be granted.
    3. Credit hours covered per semester
      1. A student participating in tuition benefit for both Fall and Spring semesters may have up to 24 graduate credit hours of tuition benefit available over the academic year (Fall thru Summer semesters). 
        1. The 24 credit hours should be split over Fall, Spring and Summer semesters. 
          1. For example, a student could potentially enroll in 9 credit hours in Fall semester, and 9 credit hours in Spring semester, leaving 6 credits available for Summer semester.
      2. Tuition benefit will cover a maximum of 12 graduate credits in each the Fall and Spring semesters (minimum enrollment of 9 credits required), provided the student has eligibility and is supported by their academic department. 
      3. Tuition benefit will cover a maximum of 6 graduate credits during the Summer semester (minimum enrollment of 3 credits required), provided the student meets the eligibility for Summer tuition benefit, as defined below.
      4. Should a student be supported on tuition benefit for only the Fall semester (or only the Spring semester), their maximum academic year tuition benefit coverage is 12 credits shared between that one single Fall/Spring semester and the Summer semester.
      5. Summer does not count towards a student’s total terms of eligibility (see Terms of Eligibility & Restrictions section below); however, for a student to use tuition benefit during the Summer semester, the following conditions must be met:
        1. Summer cannot be the student’s first semester of the academic year on tuition benefit; if this is true, the student is only eligible for extended tuition benefit (XTBP);
        2. Students must be supported by their department during the Summer semester, and the student must meet the minimum assistantship wages and/or fellowship support to maintain their benefit;
        3. Students must enroll in a minimum of three credits during the Summer semester, even if their tuition benefit eligibility is less;
    4. Tuition benefit covers
      1. Resident tuition for up to 12 graduate credits Fall/Spring semesters (6 graduate credits Summer semester);
      2. Mandatory fees;
      3. Non-resident waiver where applicable (see below for RA 84-credit hour stipulation for non-resident waivers)
    5. Tuition benefit does not cover
      1. Differential tuition;
      2. Fees outside of mandatory fees (specialized program fees, lab fees, course fees, e-book/materials fees, etc.); 
      3. Undergraduate courses;
      4. Repeated courses outside of courses required for degree to be repeated (namely thesis/dissertation credits); 
      5. Enrolled credits more than then maximum coverage of 12 graduate credits;
      6. Non-credit/continuing education courses;
      7. Withdrawn course;
      8. Audited courses;
      9. International student surcharges;
    6. Tuition Billing
      1. Graduate student enrollments are billed by the Office of Income Accounting by course. 
      2. Students are billed at the tuition rate consistent with their residency (Utah residents billed tuition at the resident rate, non-Utah residents billed at the non-resident rate). 
      3. If a student receiving tuition benefit is a non-resident student, a non-resident tuition waiver will be applied to their tuition bill in addition to tuition benefit covering resident tuition and mandatory fees. 
    7. If a PhD student is enrolled in credits within the catalog range 7970-7989 (thesis/dissertation), these courses will be billed at a reduced rate.
      1. If a PhD student is enrolled in a hybrid of general coursework and dissertation credits in the same semester, dissertation credits will be billed at the reduced rate while general coursework will be billed at the regular graduate rate.
    8. While undergraduate and ineligible repeated courses are not covered by tuition benefit, they can count toward a student’s minimum enrollment requirement each semester; tuition benefit will only cover eligible credits.
    9. Withdrawn Courses
      1. Withdrawn courses are those when a student has removed a course from active enrollment after the semester add/drop deadline, as defined by the Office of the Registrar
      2. If a student’s active enrollment (less the withdrawn course) remains 9 credits or higher, their tuition benefit will remain in effect and the student will only be responsible for the cost of the withdrawn course.
      3. However, should a student’s active enrollment drop below 9 credits, they will be ineligible for tuition benefit and the student will be responsible for the entirety of their tuition bill.
    10. RA 84-Credit Hour Rule
      1. Students who are supported as research assistants (job code 9314) concurrent to the semester(s) in which they have met or exceeded 84 cumulative graduate credit hours will be responsible for the non-resident portion of their tuition bill. 
      2. If the student is eligible for tuition benefit (or XTBP), resident tuition and mandatory fees will continue to be waived.
        1. However, affected students who have completed required coursework may enroll for thesis/dissertation credits only (9 credits – no more, no less) to avoid the non-resident charges.
        2. Departments desiring to cover such non-resident charges should do so through Scholarship Administration.
    11. Summer Courses and Dissertation Tuition
      1. The following items apply to all graduate students, regardless of their participation in the Tuition Benefit Program:
        1. Summer courses are always charged at resident rates, regardless of student residency status. This includes students subject to the RA 84-credit hour rule.
        2. Tuition for PhD dissertation courses (catalog range 7970-7989) are charged at a reduced rate. See the Financial and Business Services (FBS) tuition tables and calculators for additional details.
  3. Financial Support Requirements for a Tuition Benefit
    1. All students receiving a tuition benefit must meet the minimum financial support requirements – through an assistantship and/or fellowship – paid through the University of Utah for each semester in which a benefit is anticipated.
      1. Fall 2021/Spring 2022 Minimum Support Requirements:
        1. $8,070 per semester: 100% tuition benefit
        2. $6,051 per semester: 75% tuition benefit
        3. $4,035 per semester: 50% tuition benefit
      2. Summer 2022 Minimum Support Requirements:
        1. $5,380 per semester: 100% tuition benefit
        2. $4,034 per semester: 75% tuition benefit
        3. $2,690 per semester: 50% tuition benefit
      3. Fall 2022/Spring 2023 Minimum Support Requirements:
        1. $8,355 per semester: 100% tuition benefit
        2. $6,265 per semester: 75% tuition benefit
        3. $4,175 per semester: 50% tuition benefit
      4. Summer 2023 Minimum Support Requirements
        1. $5,570 per semester: 100% tuition benefit
        2. $4,175 per semester: 75% tuition benefit
        3. $2,785 per semester: 50% tuition benefit
    2. Assistantship wages will count toward minimum required tuition benefit support when earned within the following date ranges (please note that the final paycheck of each semesters’ pay periods will Fall outside the below ranges):
      1. Fall semester: August 16 thru December 31 (9 pay periods)
      2. Spring semester: January 1 thru May 15 (9 pay periods)
      3. Summer semester: May 16 thru August 15 (6 pay periods)
    3. No tuition benefit is granted to students receiving less than the minimum required for 50% tuition benefit each semester. Required minimum support level is annually indexed to general salary increases to prevent gradual erosion of established graduate student salaries, stipends, and fellowships.
    4. Eligible percentage of conditional tuition benefits (50%, 75%, or 100% benefit) are posted to tuition bills based on the anticipated assistantship wages and/or fellowship support for the term as indicated by the coordinator at time of student entry. Tuition benefit will correct posted benefits at the conclusion of each semester based on actual support.
  4. Service Requirements
    1. Graduate students receiving a tuition benefit are expected to fulfill the responsibilities appropriate to their specific assignments. 
      1. No student is required to work more than 20 hours a week (0.50 FTE) in order to receive a tuition benefit. 
      2. Faculty may expect up to 20 hours of work a week (0.50 FTE) from students receiving a 100% tuition benefit, 15 hours a week (0.375 FTE) from students receiving a 75% tuition benefit, and 10 hours a week (0.25 FTE) from students receiving a 50% tuition benefit.
      3. Students working one or more on-campus jobs with a combined FTE greater than a 0.74 FTE are ineligible to participate in the Graduate Tuition Benefit Program.
    2. IMPORTANT
      1. In order for students to participate in the Tuition Benefit Program, the appointed department coordinator will enter the student into the Tuition Benefit Program portal, indicating the anticipated student support (assistantship wages on the proper job code as outlined in section I and/or fellowship support) and a proration of how the support is provided (TA, GT, GR, GF, and/or RA).
      2. Students’ benefits are to be entered only by their academic home, i.e. the department of their program of study. 
  5. Residency and Meritorious Status
    1. Residency Status
      1. As approved by the University of Utah President, according to Utah law, and the Utah System of Higher Education’s (USHE) Utah Board of Higher Education policy, out-of-state students participating in tuition benefit are exempt from paying nonresident tuition; graduate tuition benefit is posted to tuition bills at the resident tuition rate for the appropriate benefit level (100%, 75%, or 50%), with a non-resident tuition waiver where applicable.
      2. Tuition and fees not covered by the tuition benefit are the student’s responsibility; departments choosing to cover remaining costs should do so through Scholarship Administration.
    2. USHE policy allows for domestic non-resident graduate students (non-international students) receiving a tuition benefit to be eligible to apply for Utah residency upon the completion of 40 graduate credit hours at the University of Utah. 
      1. Comprehensive and aggressive action should be taken by departments to ensure that eligible students are encouraged to apply for Utah residency once 40 graduate credit hours are reached.
        1. A student’s ability to establish residency will not affect eligibility of a tuition benefit.
        2. It is important to note that a department cannot require a student to change their residency, but the University of Utah does require that departments routinely inform and encourage eligible students of the opportunity to apply for Utah residency.
        3. Office of Admissions oversees residency and can provide details for residency reclassification.)
    3. Meritorious Status
      1. The Tuition Benefit Program is a merit tuition benefit provided by the University of Utah as allowed by USHE policy. Therefore, students participating in the Tuition Benefit Program must meet the following requirements of graduate meritorious status, as established by the President of the University:
        1. Admission to the University of Utah as a matriculated graduate student
        2. Selection on the basis of merit, determined by written policy (i.e. the Graduate Student Handbook for the program) in each department, as a supported graduate student receiving an assistantship salary and/or fellowship support from the University of Utah under the provisions and subject to the minimum levels of support as approved by the Dean of the Graduate School
        3. Recommended by the department chair
        4. Maintenance of status of being in good academic standing in the graduate program, including completion of all required milestone exams and program requirements before departmental deadlines, and maintenance of a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher (except where otherwise approved, such as a 2.0 GPA in the Law School) in the program. GPAs are verified at the end of each academic semester. A grade below C- is not accepted for credit toward a graduate degree; some departments further restrict C grades
  6. Terms of Eligibility & Restrictions
    1. Participation in the Tuition Benefit Program is available only to matriculated graduate students supported through the University of Utah. 
      1. The Tuition Benefit Program covers resident tuition and mandatory fees, as well as non-resident tuition waivers where applicable. 
      2. Differential tuition charged by various graduate and professional programs, among other student- or program-specific fees, is the responsibility of the graduate student, department, and/or college. (See section II – Student Registration Requirements & Tuition Billing.) 
      3. Students may participate in the Tuition Benefit Program for a limited number of semesters, which need not be sequential.
      4. Semester limits for participation in the Tuition Benefit Program are as follows:

        1. Students in a master’s program who enter with a bachelor’s degree are eligible for up to two years (four semesters) of tuition benefit support
        2. Students in a doctoral program who entered with a bachelor’s degree are eligible for up to five years (10 semesters) of tuition benefit support
        3. Students in a doctoral program who also received their first master’s degree at the University of Utah are eligible for up to five years of tuition benefit support (two years for master’s + three additional years for a doctorate)
        4. Students entering a doctoral program with a master’s degree from another university are eligible for up to four years (eight semesters) of tuition benefit support
    2. Doctoral students who Fall under categories 2 and 3 above and who have served a minimum of four semesters as full-time TAs (0.50 FTE or 20 hours/ week) may receive an additional two semesters of tuition benefit eligibility beyond the limits described above. 
      1. In order for the student to receive this time extension, department coordinators or directors of graduate studies must provide a written request to the Graduate School Office of Fellowships & Benefits that includes the student’s name and UNID.
      2. These restrictions do not limit the number of years or semesters a program, department, or college may choose to support a student beyond participation in the Tuition Benefit Program.
        1. However, established time limits for completion of graduate programs still apply.

    3. Participating students and departments are responsible for maintaining an accurate count of the semesters of tuition benefit support a student has received.
      1. A student who receives more terms of tuition benefit than he or she is eligible for may be retroactively billed for the tuition of the ineligible semester(s).

    4. Participating students and departments are responsible for maintaining an accurate count of the semesters of tuition benefit support a student has received. A student who receives more terms of tuition benefit than they are eligible for may be retroactively billed for the tuition of the ineligible semester(s).

    5. All classifications of tuition benefit-eligible support (assistantships and/or graduate fellowships) may qualify for Summer tuition benefit, provided they are supported during the Summer semester to the minimum support levels, and meet general Summer tuition benefit eligibility as outlined in the Tuition Benefit Program guidelines.
      1. Summer participation in the Tuition Benefit Program will not count towards a student’s limited terms of eligibility (see section II – Student Registration Requirements & Tuition Billing).
  7. Administration of the Tuition Benefit Program
    1. Tuition Benefit Funding
      1. The Graduate School Office of Fellowships & Benefits administers the Tuition Benefit Program in partnership with participating colleges and departments. 
        1. Verification of a student’s tuition benefit eligibility is the responsibility of the student’s academic department. 
        2. Eligibility ultimately depends on the availability of funding at the department level.
        3. Please note that the Tuition Benefit Program guidelines should not be interpreted as a guarantee of eligibility or available funding.
      2. Colleges participating in the Tuition Benefit Program are provided with an allocation of tuition benefit dollars to cover the cost of resident tuition and mandatory fees (allocations won’t be charged the cost of non-resident waivers) for students with the following support codes: TA, GT, GR, and GF.
        1. College deans will have the flexibility to distribute this tuition benefit allocation amongst academic departments as it aligns with the college’s strategic goals. 
      3. Departments who have concerns over their tuition benefit allocation should first engage in conversations with their dean, or dean’s designee, for the possible reallocation of funding within the college. 
      4. Strategic growth requiring additional tuition benefit support for TA, GT, GR, and GF-supported students should be a part of the college’s annual budget request. 
      5. Students supported by their department as RAs (payroll supported by a research grant project fund) will have their resident tuition and mandatory fees charged to the college’s F&A return to overhead. 
        1. Department leadership should work with their deans to determine the strategic use of RAs in their program. 
    2. Removal of Benefits
      1. A student’s tuition benefit may be reduced or removed if a graduate student received a conditional benefit for the semester but 
        1. withdrew from courses, dropping below the minimum required enrollment of 9 credit hours, 
        2. received less than the minimal required financial support for their level of benefit, and/or
        3. in any way did not meet the requirements or restrictions associated with the Tuition Benefit Program’s graduate student requirements or Graduate School policy. 
      2. In such circumstances, the student will be billed for tuition and fees at the full, relevant rate for that semester and residency status.
      3. It is the responsibility of department tuition benefit coordinators to first diagnose tuition benefit concerns using their semester report available in the tuition benefit portal, and escalate issues to the Graduate School Office of Fellowships & Benefits when, and if, necessary.
    3. Tuition Benefit Coordinator Role
      1. It is the responsibility of each participating department to appoint an individual to serve as the primary tuition benefit coordinator. 
      2. Their responsibilities will include timely entry of students into the tuition benefit portal, running and reviewing coordinator reports, and liaising within the department pertinent tuition benefit concerns.
      3. Coordinators will be required to undergo training with the Graduate School Office of Fellowships & Benefits in order to gain access.
    4. Entry of Benefits
      1. The tuition benefit portal opens for student entry six weeks prior to the first day of each semester. 
      2. Students are not eligible to receive a tuition benefit after a semester has ended if they were not entered into the tuition benefit portal prior to the date the state’s registration census (15th day of classes) is taken.
      3. It is a department’s responsibility to enter eligible students into the tuition benefit portal in a timely manner prior to the campus census deadline for the semester the, date as defined by the Office of the Registrar, in which the student expects to receive the benefit.
        1. No retroactive benefits are processed.
  8. Petitions for Exception to Tuition Benefit Policy
    1. With a petition from the student’s department chair, or chair’s designee, to the Dean of the Graduate School, exceptions will be considered for personal emergencies such as illness or family emergency.
      1. Petitions related to tuition benefit should be formatted as a letter printed on letterhead.
      2. Petitions should be submitted by the department on a student’s behalf rather than directly by the student. 
      3. Petitions should be submitted to the Graduate School’s Office of Fellowships & Benefits (tuitionbenefit@gradschool.utah.edu), where they are routed to the Dean for review.
    2. To be eligible for a Tuition Benefit Program petition, a student must meet the following requirements:
      1. Remain in good standing in their academic program
      2. Formation of committee
      3. Grad Student Degree Tracking (PeopleSoft) must be up to date, including program of study entered and approved by committee
      4. Qualifying exams completed
      5. Completion of other milestones as required by a degree program to define good standing
    3. Please follow the below guidelines before submitting a petition:
      1. The Tuition Benefit Program (TBP) has been designed to cover most of the cost of the graduate student tuition, but it was never intended to guarantee 100% tuition coverage for all students. 
      2. In cases where a graduate student exhausts their tuition benefit eligibility before completing their degree, it is the department/program’s responsibility to pursue one of the following options:

        1. If the student is appointed as an RA and their stipend is paid for by a research grant, the PI of the grant can pay the tuition directly from their grant funds. 
          1. In this case, the department may add the student to extended tuition benefit (XTBP) in order to pay the tuition directly from the grant or activity.
          2. The Office of Sponsored Projects has posted guidelines for paying tuition from grant funds.
        2. It is also allowable for the tuition to be paid by departmental funds, reimbursed overhead, donor funds, or through a PI’s startup account fund.
          1. This can be done by adding the student to XTBP and supplying an eligible chartfield for tuition payment.
        3. If no other option is available, the student may register for the minimum credit hours necessary to maintain continuous registration (1 credit hour) and pay directly.
          1. In some cases, visa and/or student loan or health insurance issues require the student to register for 3 credit hours of dissertation in order to maintain full-time student status. 
            1. For example, the University’s student health plan currently allows 3 credit hours enrollment of dissertation coursework as an alternative to the standard full-time graduate student status requirement (9 credit hours).
Last Updated: 7/5/22