MSU Human Resources >> Ua >> Hiring >> Graduate-assistants >> Tips and Tricks for Graduate Assistant Processing


We've complied a number of tips and tricks to share with individuals involved in the processing of Graduate Assistant appointments to assist both units and MSU HR with expediting the processing of these forms. Please feel free to contact us at with any questions.

Reference Number

Always make a note of the reference number when submitting a form.

Know the deadlines

The deadlines for the Upcoming Semester are posted on the Graduate Assistants Hiring webpage.

Bi-weekly payroll deadlines – Each bi-weekly pay period also has a processing deadline. In order to meet the payroll processing date, completed forms must be received by the HR Cutoff date.

Why did my Graduate Assistant receive a tuition bill? Where is the tuition waiver? Why isn't health insurance activated?

The graduate assistant received the tuition and/or health insurance bill because an HR approved graduate assistantship has not been approved or a GA Residency Exception was not processed.  Please refer to under “General Job Aides and Guides” to complete a GA Residency Exception if the HR/Payroll form is still in process. For further assistance please call the Solutions Center at 517-355-4434.

Complete the Form I-9 in a timely manner

The DHS Form I-9 is a federal government requirement and at MSU timely accurate completion of both sections of the form is the responsibility of the hiring unit. The I-9 can be completed as early as 6 months before the appointment start date provided an offer of employment has been accepted. The law requires section I to be completed no later than the first day of paid employment and section II to be completed no later than 3 business days from the first day of paid employment. This business day count includes weekends since MSU conducts business on weekends. To help monitor and ensure federal compliance, MSU Human Resources requires both sections I and II to be completed before an appointment will be approved.  For timely processing of appointments, units should strive to have their I-9s completed upon submission of the appointment, or in any case, no later than the start date of the appointment. Please note that if a start date is changed after completion of the I-9, you must remember to correct the I-9 with the new date.  Please see the I-9 Process page for information about the electronic I-9 system. 

Comply with steps necessary for background check completion

Please make sure you are using the newest versions of the TA and RA offer letters available on the Graduate School website. It is a requirement to attach a copy of the offer letter to the appointment form. If the email address is not included on the form, we will not be able to initiate a HireRight Background Check. The background check must be completed in order for the appointment to be approved.

What if I only know the funding for the first portion of a semester for a GA?

If the GA will be working for the entire semester, then he or she should be appointed for the full semester. In the cost distribution section of the form, you may indicate how funding should be appropriated. If you only know the funding for the first portion of the semester, it is recommended that you assign them to a departmental account for the remainder of the semester and process a "Cost Re-distribution" form once the remaining funding is known. This will avoid any potential delays or gaps in pay for the GA.

Be cautious of putting forms on the system too far in advance

Each unit will need to make sure that all current semester appointments for a GA are processed before initiating appointments for future semesters. Once you have initiated an appointment for a future semester on the system, the system will no longer allow you to initiate an appointment for the current semester. You will be able to make changes to appointments already approved in the system for the current semester using the Change of Status form. However, you will no longer be able to initiate new appointments for the current semester. Therefore, be cautious of putting appointments on the system too far in advance.

Track forms

Use the HR Processes and Forms Workflow Activity Report to locate the status of a form and where the form is in the workflow process. 

Once the form is completed, this report will display the step status as "Approved by Central HR." The end date and end time indicates when the form was approved.

Be able to conduct some preliminary research as to why your GA might not have gotten paid

First utilize the workflow tracking tool to find out whether the form has reached and been processed by MSU HR. If it has been processed by MSU HR, what date was it processed on? Refer to the payroll calendar. Was it prior to the HR Cutoff date for the pay period?

My GA's form was not processed by the pay period payroll deadline. How can I get them a check?

The GA will automatically be paid any money due in the next payroll cycle. However, if you would like to get them paid sooner than that, you may request an off-cycle payment be made. Details regarding off-cycle payments may be found on the Payroll Office SharePoint site

Process cancellations and terminations as quickly as possible to avoid overpayment

Both are processed using the Termination form found on the Unit Administrator tab, Administrative Services sub-tab, Employee-Related Services heading, All Employees sub-heading. As a reminder, a cancellation means the GA did not work AT ALL. If you are canceling an assistantship, you should always use the reason "GA/UA/PA Cancellation". Additional information can be provided in the comments section of the form.

Know where to find credit enrollment requirements

Credit enrollment requirements can vary based upon what type of degree a GA is working towards, the percent of appointment, etc. Requirements documentation.

Know the difference between a registration status of "Enrolled" and "Registered" and share this knowledge with your Graduate Assistants

GA's are required to be "registered" for classes as condition of their assistantship. HR runs and distributes periodic reports regarding registration status. A registration status of "enrolled" merely means that a student has signed up for classes. It doesn't mean that a student is "registered". The most common reasons why a student would not have a status of "registered" are either the student has unpaid fees on his/her account, or the student has not CONFIRMED ATTENDANCE through the StuInfo system. There may also be other reasons why a student would not have a registered status. Any inquiries regarding registration status should be directed to the Registrar's Office or Student Accounts. If a GA does not have a registration status of "Registered" by the deadline set by HR (this will vary with each report), their assistantship will be cancelled.

Familiarize yourself with the payroll calendar

Please know that typically the first and last pay checks of a semester are partial pay periods.

For Example: The first pay period of Fall 2011 semester was for the time period of August 14 through August 27. This pay period contained 2 days of Summer semester and 12 days of Fall semester. Therefore, GA's only received 12/14ths of their Fall bi-weekly stipend.