Equalization of GRA and TA university minimum rates

See below a note from the graduate school sent to DGSs by email.  This doesn’t apply to you in an immediate sense because the rate we paid was already above this.  However, I think this is worth being aware of the dynamics of how grad stipends are set at cornell.  GRA and TAs were historically paid the same minimum rate.  Recently (I think last year), the grad school separated the minimum rates and allowed the two rates to become different.  The argument (at the time) was that fields that paid primarily TAs were competing in an employment market different from those that paid primarily GRAs.  Anyway, from below it is clear that grad students opposed the separation of these two pay rates, and the new president/provost have acted to bring them together again.

Again, we pay students in our field more than this anyway, so it doesn’t directly affect you, but good to know what is going on at the university.


Jason Kahabka
Aug 28 (2 days ago)
Dear DGSs and GFAs,

As you may know, the minimum stipend rate for Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs) and Research Assistants (RAs) has been slightly lower than the minimum rate for Teaching Assistants (TAs) for the past year. For 2015-16, the published differential was $324/semester. This disparity has raised strong objections from students and their elected representatives on the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly. In response to these concerns, President Garrett, Provost Kotlikoff and Dean Knuth have approved equalizing the RA and GRA rates with the current TA rate of $24,658/year, effective this fall. We expect that President Garrett will publically announce this news next Monday but I am writing now to alert you of this impending change. (Please don’t share this message until Tuesday, 9/1)

In a survey conducted last spring many fields reported that they had already planned to pay RAs and GRAs at or above the minimum TA rate. An evaluation of current appointment records indicates that approximately 130 doctoral students will be impacted and will receive a higher stipend. We are working directly with those fields and faculty PIs to adjust their stipends and reissue appointment letters.

If you have any RA or GRA appointments in your field that are currently below $24,658/year ($12,329/semester) please contact me immediately for information on how to make the necessary changes. The new rates have been posted online. Thank you for your understanding as we work through this adjustment.

From all of my colleagues at the Graduate School, we hope you and your students have a great semester.



Jason Kahabka
Associate Dean for Administration
Cornell University
The Graduate School