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Financial Aid

Financial aid is available to qualified graduate students in the form of fellowships, research assistantships, and teaching assistantships. All types of financial support include a full tuition waiver and partial fee waiver as long as they are for at least 25% time. Most entering graduate students are supported as Teaching Assistants; fellowships are available for outstanding students.

Graduate Student Assistantships

Graduate student assistantships and their accompanying tuition waivers provide graduate students with financial resources that help defray the expenses associated with completing their graduate degrees. Students who hold assistantships experience educational and professional benefits. 

Teaching Assistantships

Teaching Assistants (TAs) assist with instruction in astronomy courses, e.g., grading student assignments, leading lab or discussion groups in a course, holding office hours for tutoring or other student assistance.  A typical teaching load is three sections of discussion or laboratory courses per week, plus additional class preparation time and office hours.  A graduate teaching assistant typically takes a course load of 8 hours.  International students must demonstrate oral English proficiency to be eligible for a Teaching Assistantship.

Research Assistantships

Research Assistants (RAs) work with a research advisor on a project. These assistantships are offered by individual faculty members.  The work may relate to the student's thesis, or may be on another subject. RAs are supported by research grants to faculty.

All appointments are contingent on state or federal funding and on satisfactory academic and job performance. For continuing students, initial appointments in the Department of Astronomy are generally renewed at an equivalent salary rate.

Fellowships

These are competitive awards based on ability to carry out research. The student receives a tuition waiver and a stipend, and is free to pursue his/her own research without TA duties.  Fellowships are supported by University resources, including funds from the Graduate College and donations. In addition, students may apply for their own fellowship funds from NASA, the National Science Foundation, or other agencies.
For info on many additional Fellowships from the Graduate College check their web pages.

Summer Support

Student support during the summer months is usually provided by individual faculty members through their research grants.  Each faculty member sets the duration and level of a summer stipend, but it is typically for two months at the same rate as in the preceding academic year. A limited number of TA appointments may be available for assisting with summer courses.

First-year graduate students receive a fellowship during their first summer at the University.  During this first summer, each supported student will conduct a research project with an Astronomy faculty member.  The first summer research project is not required to lead to a thesis.  However, a paper reporting the results is required which must be prepared in ApJ style and approved by the research advisor.

2016-17 Astronomy RA/TA Salary Chart

Timeline Monthly Rate (50%) Duration of Appointment Total Compensation
MS Program Student OR
PhD Program Student Prior to Passing Preliminary Exam
$2,016.87 11 months1 $22,185.57
9 months2 $18,151.83
4.5 months3 $9,075.92
2 months4 $4,033.74
PhD Program Student After Passing Preliminary Exam* (prelim raises go into effect at the start of the semester following the one in which the prelim was passed) $2,077.95 11 months1 $22,857.45
9 months2 $18,701.55
4.5 months3 $9,350.76
2 months4 $4,155.90

1. 11 months = 9 month academic year + 2 months of summer
2. 9 months = academic year
3. 4.5 months = one semester (either fall or spring)
4. 2 months = summer appointment

All Teaching Assistantships, Research Assistantships, and Fellowships that are for at least 25% time, include a full tuition waiver and a partial fee waiver.