For many years, colleges/units/departments have utilized Student “55” positions for the following purposes:

  1. To hire a graduate student over the summer to bridge the gap between Spring Term and the next Fall Term,
  2. To begin the orientation process early for new graduate assistants, and/or
  3. To extend an appointment period for a graduating student to finish a thesis or project.

In reviewing the use of this position type, the University has determined that utilization of other position types, including summer graduate assistantships, hourly graduate student employment and, in limited cases, Academic Wage or Temporary employment as more appropriate options for these situations.

What this means moving forward

Beginning Summer Term 2021, the University will be eliminating the use of Suffix-55 positions. As an alternative, departments are encouraged to utilize the following options for summer session:

  1. A summer Graduate Assistantship
  2. An hourly graduate student position
  3. A fiscal year graduate assistantship (7/1 – 6/30).

An academic wage appointment or temporary appointment may be used in situations where a student has graduated and is needed on a limited, short-term basis.

Contact Information and Resources

Please utilize the below contacts for additional assistance based upon employment type and/or employment request:

Summer Graduate Assistantships:

Student Hourly Positions:

Academic Wage/Temporary Appointment Type:

HR Strategic Partners

  • Your HR Strategic Partner can assist you if you need consultation or initial assistance in determining the best next step forward.  You can find your HR Strategic Partner contact information here.


This change is being made in an effort to more closely align graduate student work duties with position type. Anticipated results of this change are that more graduate students will be eligible for summer graduate assistantships, and that those placed into summer graduate hourly positions will have a more defined scope of job duties.

No. While a graduate student may have a preference for such appointment type, it is ultimately dependent upon the type and scope of work that will determine the position type. Departments should utilize either a graduate assistantship or hourly graduate student employment types.

Graduate hourly positions should not perform the same scope of work as the graduate assistant position type; therefore, they should not be paid the same or higher rate of pay.

No. Hourly graduate employees should not perform the full scope of job duties that were assigned to them as a graduate assistant, nor should they maintain the same level of decision-making responsibilities associated with the graduate assistant role.

Based upon pay cycles, graduate students who begin in an hourly student position will not receive their first summer paycheck until July 31. Graduate Students may utilize the Emergency Payroll Draw form to request a pay advance based upon individual need.

Per federal guidelines, student employees will remain exempt from FICA taxes so long as they are enrolled in 5 or more credit hours in summer term.

The following EmpCenter resources are available to both employees and supervisors:

Additional assistance and/or answers to specific questions or concerns can be accessed by submitting an EmpCenter Online Help Form.

No, the Graduate Project Assistant position should not be used for situations in which the student will be teaching, or an instructor of record over the summer. If the student were to assist a professor (i.e. helping to grade, putting together materials that the professor will present), then the Graduate Project Assistant position would be appropriate. In the absence of enrollment, degree progress and the student meets the eligibility requirements, a Summer Session Teaching appointment would be appropriate. 

Graduating students will be given up to one pay period and can be placed into an hourly Graduate Project Assistant position. However, international graduating students must complete their on-campus employment on the final day of the term in which they graduate or on the final day of their graduate assistantship in their final term of their degree. For questions, please check with the Office of International Services for Post-Graduation Options and meet with an OIS advisor if you have specific questions. If the work will take longer, depending on the scope of the work, the following options may be available:

  1. Employment in an Academic Wage position type.
  2. Employment in a Represented/Temporary position type.

In both cases, your Classification & Compensation Team can assist you in developing a position description and determining which position type is most appropriate.

To qualify for a graduate assistantship, the student would be required to maintain a minimum of 3-credit enrollment toward their degree during Summer Term (this requirements increases to 12-credits during the academic year).

Liaisons should select the Graduate Project Assist position in the dropdown menu on the Hourly Non-Competitive Interface in Benny Hire. If you do not see a position with the Job Title Graduate Project Assist please contact the Graduate Student Employment Team at and they will assist you.

Please contact either Sr. Employee & Labor Relations Officer, Cory Vieira ( or your HR Strategic Partner should you have additional concerns and/or wish to discuss this change further.