Graduate Research Assistants

 

Criteria

Per the U.S. Department of Labor, no employment relationship exists between the University and graduate students who meet the criteria listed below. Therefore, they are considered to be "students" not "employees" (i.e., not covered by the FLSA). A graduate research assistant (GRA) must be a full-time student, matriculated in a Masters or PhD degree program and must meet the following additional requirements:

  • Conducts original, professional-level research which is primarily for the purpose of fulfilling the requirements for an advanced degree (i.e., the research is related to the student’s field of study).
  • The research is performed under the supervision of an RIT faculty member.
  • The research environment is provided by RIT.
  • There is no direct deliverable to the research sponsor.

Purpose and Responsibilities

The primary purpose of a research assistantship is to conduct original, professional-level research which is primarily for the purpose of fulfilling the requirements for an advanced degree (i.e., the research is related to the student’s field of study). General duties may include the following:

  • Performs independent research under the direction of an RIT faculty member
  • Engages in literature searches
  • Performs data analysis
  • Designs a research experiment
  • Assists in a faculty member’s laboratory

Payment Method

GRAs receive a predetermined stipend over the term of their appointment, typically one academic year. The stipend amount is based on the GRA’s appointment/level of effort (hours devoted to their research up to a maximum of 20 hours per week) and classification.

Complete a GRA Payment Request Form and send it to Accounts Payable to be processed. Note: if the stipend is charged to an externally-funded grant or contract (or cost share project), send the information to Sponsored Programs Accounting for approval. SPA will forward the forms to Accounts Payable.

Federal and NYS Tax Treatment

Payments made to Graduate Research Assistants are taxable to the recipient; however, since an employment relationship does not exist between the University and the GRA, no taxes are withheld at the time the payment is made through the accounts payable process. The University will provide the GRA with a Federal and State Form 1099 if total earnings are $600.00 or more in a calendar year. The student is required to report the amounts on his/her individual income tax return. Advise GRAs who are non-resident aliens to contact the Non-Resident Alien Reporting Specialist in the Payroll Office at (585) 475-5984 with questions regarding the tax treatment of their stipend. Refer to the Federal and NYS Tax Treatment document on the Controller’s Office web page for more information.