UWM international student reading book in library

An assistantship is employment by UWM. It is different from an hourly student worker position, as it requires you to sign a contract, typically for an academic year. Assistantships provide a stipend and may also provide additional benefits like tuition remission or health insurance. 

Assistantships are sometimes referred to as a Graduate Assistantship (GA).  At UWM they are offered based on specific types of duties:

  • Teaching Assistantships (TA)
  • Research Assistantships (RA)
  • Project Assistantships (PA)

Graduate student assistantships are awarded directly from the academic program. Contact your Graduate Representative for more information on funding available for your program.

Commonly Asked Questions

What information is found in the assistantship contract? 
  • Assistantship percentage: 100% = 40 hours per week. 50% = 20 hours per week. 33% = 13 hours per week. 17% = 7 hours per week. Students in the U.S. on an F1 or J1 visa are restricted to 20 hours per week or less during the fall and spring academic terms. 
  • Start and end date: These are the beginning and end dates that you are contractually obligated to work.  You must be physically present in the U.S. by the start date. Be prepared to fully financially support yourself outside of these dates. 
  • The benefits of your position, possibility including tuition remission and health insurance coverage 
  • Enrollment requirements for employment purposes.  Be sure to also understand your enrollment requirements for your visa status.   
  • Minimum academic standards required to maintain your assistantship. 
  • Name of lead/supervisor. 
When will students with assistantships get paid?
  • You may not receive your first paycheck until multiple weeks after the contract start date. Be prepared with enough money upon your arrival to UWM to pay for a couple of months of living expenses.  Do not rely on your assistantship to cover initial expenses. 
  • View payroll information, including pay dates. 
  • View additional payroll details.  
How does the health insurance benefit work for students with assistantships?
  • The health insurance benefit from an assistantship is not free, but it costs significantly less than the regularly mandated insurance for international students. You will pay a bi-weekly insurance premium, which will come out of each paycheck as a deduction.  
  • You should plan to attend a Benefits Review Session to learn how about the health insurance coverage and the process to enroll.  
  • You will be eligible to request a waiver of the mandatory international student health insurance charges. Your action is required; make sure you follow all the appropriate steps
How do students with assistantships pay taxes?
What is a Social Security Number (SSN)?
  • The U.S. government assigns Social Security numbers to non-U.S. citizens who are authorized to work in the United States and who have valid employment.
  • Social Security numbers are issued for life.  If you already have one, it remains the same.  If you have never gotten one, you must apply for a Social Security number after you arrive in the U.S.  
  • Social Security numbers are required for all UWM employees. 
How do students with assistantships complete their hiring paperwork? 

Your academic program will help you complete all on-boarding paperwork, most of which must be done after you arrive on campus. 

What funding options do students with assistantships have during the summer or other terms not included in their contracts? 
  • Be prepared to cover your costs of living for any term that your assistantship does not cover.  
  • You can apply for an on-campus job to assist with your expenses; find more information about on-campus employment through Handshake

Refer to the Graduate Assistants Handbook for additional information.