Graduate Students

Update: Communication to Graduate Students - September 10, 2012

Information regarding scholarship payments for graduate students was sent for email distribution to all graduate students, graduate program administrators and HR/Payroll Contacts on September 10. Those emails are attached here for your reference.

Email to Graduate Students - September 10, 2012

Email to HR/Payroll Contacts - September 10, 2012

What is happening?

On July 1, 2012, the University will implement a new semi-monthly pay cycle and move all monthly and biweekly paid NASA staff, graduate students, excluded students and postdoctoral fellows to the new cycle.

How long is each pay period?

Each month will be divided into two pay periods. The first pay period is the 1st to the 15th of the month. The second pay period is the 16th to the last day of the month. Pay dates will occur on the 10th and 25th of each month. In the event the 10th or 25th is a non-banking day, the pay date will be the preceding banking day.

Why are graduate students moving to a semi-monthly pay cycle?

If you are a graduate student with an assistantship, currently you receive your monthly stipend (salary and award) plus any scholarship payments on the second last banking day of each month. 

To pay you on that day, Payroll requires about 10 calendar days to complete the calculations and send your payment to the bank or print your paycheque. To ensure payment on the correct date, payroll normally completes pay on approximately the 22nd or 23rd of each month. Before Payroll can begin processing pay however, all changes affecting your appointment, earnings and pay must be reviewed and entered into the PeopleSoft HCM system. The deadline that departments must meet to send in all paperwork is approximately the 10th of each month. 

As a result of the time it takes to process the pay each month, Payroll must forecast all the events that affect your appointment and pay between the department deadline and the pay date. In other words, anything that impacts your pay between the 10th and the 29th or 30th of the month must be forecasted and may not be paid correctly. In order to correct your pay or make payments that were missed by the department deadline, Payroll issues off-cycle cheques or delay payment until the end of the next month.

Paying you 10 days after the pay period ends will allow Payroll the opportunity to effectively process all changes affecting your pay after they have happened, eliminating the need to forecast your pay. This will reduce the need to produce off-cycle cheques and recall overpayments.

Why are hourly paid graduate students moving to a semi-monthly pay cycle?

If you are an hourly paid graduate student, currently you are paid every two weeks or 10 days after the end of each biweekly pay period. Each pay period is 14 calendar days long, running Sunday to Saturday with pay day the 2nd Tuesday after that. To achieve greater processing efficiency, it is more effective to combine all similar type payments on the same cycle. Fortunately, the impact of moving from a biweekly pay cycle to a semi-monthly cycle will be small. You will continue to be paid about 10 days after each pay period ends however the pay periods will be slightly longer than the biweekly pay period was. When moving to a semi-monthly pay cycle, you will now receive your wages for the 1st to the 15th of the month on the 25th and your wages from the 16th to the end of the month will be paid on the 10th of the following month. You will now be paid 24 times each year.

Why should I change to a semi-monthly pay cycle?

Moving biweekly and monthly payments into a combined pay cycle for all NASA staff, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows will result in streamlined, simplified and standardized payroll processes leading to increased efficiency, reduced service delivery cost, improved service to customers and enhanced internal controls. This change will provide more frequent and timely payments to employees, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and reduce the need for off-cycle pay cheques to correct incorrect payments.

Why are graduate students among the first groups to move?

Graduate students are frequently impacted by the negative effects of the current payroll system. 28% of the over 8000 off-cycle cheques produced in 2011 were for graduate students. Off-cycle cheques are extremely costly and inefficient to produce and result in a delay in payment to students. Frequently those that receive off-cycle cheques will have a temporary hold placed on them by the bank when they are deposited, and as a result the student is not able to access the funds immediately. Payment to graduate students using on-cycle payment processes by direct deposit is efficient, effective, and results in more timely payment.

How will my semi-monthly pay cheque be calculated?

If you are currently paid monthly, your monthly stipend (salary & award) will be divided by two and paid in each semi-monthly pay period. For example, if you currently work 12 hrs a week and receive an award of $878.25 plus a salary of $1,305.75 per month, the monthly amount $2,184 will be divided by 2 and $1092 will be paid in each pay period.

Scholarship payments previously paid monthly will now also be paid semi-monthly, each payment equal to one-half of the monthly scholarship amount. However, if you start your scholarship in the first half of the month (1st-15th), you will receive your full monthly scholarship payment on the paycheque on the 25th. 

If you start your scholarship in the second half of the month, (16th to the last day of the month) you will receive your scholarship on both pay periods in the next month, half on the 10th and half on the 25th. The total amount of two paycheques being equal to your full monthly scholarship. 

For example, if you receive a $4,000 scholarship for the fall term beginning on September 1st, on the previous monthly cycle you would have received $1000 per month payable on the second last banking day of September, October, November and December, the total equal to $4,000. On the semi-monthly pay cycle, you will now receive $1,000 on September 25th and then semi-monthly payments of $500 on October 10th and 25th, November 10th and 25th and December 10th and 25th, the total amount being equal to $4,000.

If you have your tuition fees deducted from your assistantship salary, your deduction will now be taken in six equal payments beginning on the 1st paycheque received in the second month of each term. For example, if you started in the fall term on September 1, your first tuition fee deduction will be taken on the paycheque of October 10. The balance of your tuition will be then deducted in five more installments on October 25th, November 10 and 25th, and December 10th and 25th.

To test what your new semi-monthly pay cheques will look like compared to your monthly pay cheque, try the Semi-Monthly Net Pay Calculator. An example for the fall term has also been provided.

What will by July 2012 pay cheque look like?

In July 2012, you will receive one pay cheque/deposit on July 25th. On that pay cheque, you will be paid your stipend (salary + award) from the period July 1st-15th or ½ of your normal monthly amount. If you are also receiving a monthly scholarship payment, you will receive your full monthly amount on the July 25th pay cheque.

Example: You currently work 12 hrs a week as a graduate assistant and receive an award of $878.25 plus a salary of $1,305.75 per month plus receive an additional $1,000 a month in scholarship. On July 25, you will be paid ½ of your award ($878.25/2 = $439.13), ½ of your salary ($1,305.75/2 = $652.88) plus the full monthly amount of your scholarship ($1,000) for a total monthly payment of $2092.01.   

The second half of July’s salary + award (July 16th-31st) will be paid on August 10 along with ½ of a month’s scholarship payment (Award = $439.13, Salary = $652.88, Scholarship = $500) for a total of $1592.01. Each pay period after that, on the 10th and 25th of each month, you will receive the same amount of pay.

To test what your new semi-monthly pay cheques will look like in July 2012 compared to your monthly pay cheque, try the Semi-Monthly Net Pay Calculator.

How is my scholarship payment impacted?

If your scholarship is to be paid on an on-going basis (exceeding one pay period), you will be paid scholarship payments on both the 10th and 25th pay cheques/deposits. 

If you started your assistantship on September 1, you will only receive one paycheque in the month on September 25th. That paycheque will have your full monthly scholarship payment plus your salary and award earned between September 1–15. 

If you are receiving a one-time scholarship payment, this will be paid either on the 10th or 25th depending on when Payroll receives the payment form from the department. 

Since I will not be receiving a full month's stipend (salary + award) in July, how will I meet my expenses at the end of the month?

To assist with this transition, the University is offering an optional one-time cash advance to graduate students to help offset any financial challenges affected individuals may face in the first month of the change. The advance will be paid on July 25, 2012 and would be repaid in equal installments over a maximum of 24 pay periods or the end of your assistantship appointment(s). You will be eligible for an advance for up to 70% of your July 1st semi-monthly stipend (salary + award). You are not eligible to receive a cash advance on your monthly or one-time scholarship payments as your full monthly amount of scholarship will be paid in July 2012. The cash advance is only available upon request and you will choose your option using on online form between April 1 and June 1. 

For more information about the cash advance, visit the Cash Advance Program section of this website.  

I only receive a scholarship. Am I eligible for the cash advance? 

No. If you only receive scholarship payments, you are not eligible for the cash advance on this payment type. However, as the first pay period of the month is now paid on the 25th (or previous banking day), you will receive your full monthly scholarship payment five or six days earlier than you did previously on the monthly payment cycle. 

Scholarship payments previously paid monthly will be paid semi-monthly beginning in August, 2012. On July 25, 2012, you will receive your full monthly scholarship, but on August 10th you will receive half of your monthly scholarship, and the second half on August 25th. Each month after, you will receive two semi-monthly payments until the total scholarship is paid.

If you have a graduate assistantship or a grad salaried appointment, you are eligible to request the cash advance because these appointment types will be paid on a semi-monthly basis, 10 days after the pay period ends. You can choose an advance of up to 70% of the semi-monthly stipend (salary + award) you will receive on your graduate assistant or graduate salaried appointment. 

For more information about the cash advance, visit the Cash Advance Program section of this website.

When can I make my decision on whether to take the one-time optional cash advance?

The cash advance program option form will be available on April 1st and your choice must be finalized by June 1. After June 1, you will not be able to make changes to your choice for the amount of advance or the repayment period. When the online option form is ready on April 1, Human Resource Services will contact all graduate students and provide a link to the form.

Who will be eligible for the one-time optional cash advance?

The cash advance will be offered to graduate students that meet the conditions outlined within the program. In general, if you are paid on the monthly pay cycle, have regular assistantship earnings, are actively employed during June and July and have a term of appointment that extends past August 24, you are eligible to receive the cash advance.

Specific conditions of the cash advance program are available on the Cash Advance Program page of this website.

Who is not eligible for the one-time optional cash advance?

The cash advance program is not available to hourly paid students on the biweekly cycle before or during the July implementation period. The cash advance program is designed to offset the potential financial hardship that salaried students moving to the semi-monthly cycle will experience when only half of their July stipend (salary + award) are paid in July. As hourly students are already paid 10 days after the pay period, they will receive two pay deposits/cheques in the month of July, one on July 10th for their earnings covering June 17th-30th , and then again on July 25th covering their earnings from July 1st -15th.

What should I do if I do not receive my scholarship payments on the pay cheque I expected them?

You may wish to contact your department to ensure that the required paperwork has been submitted to Payroll. Your department will work with Payroll to ensure accurate and timely payment.

How will my automatic tuition fee deductions change on the semi-monthly pay cycle?

Graduate students appointed to teaching or research assistantships will have outstanding tuition balances automatically deducted from their pay cheques by the Payroll system in the month following the start of the fall, winter and summer terms.

In the fall term, tuition owing as of October 1 will be deducted, to a maximum of 80% of your salary, from your October, November and December pay cheques in six equal installments. Tuition outstanding as of February 1 is deducted in six equal installments from salary paid in February, March and April. The same process is used for the June to August terms. 

On the monthly cycle, graduate assistants, research assistants, teaching assistants and trust appointees (TAP A & TAP B) were paid monthly and had outstanding tuition fees deducted in three equal installments over each term. On a semi-monthly cycle, those appointments are now paid semi-monthly 10 days after the pay period ends, so fees will be deducted in six installments beginning with the first pay cheque received in the second month of each term. 

Note: Students cannot exempt themselves from this payroll deduction. For more information about the Graduate Assistant Fee Deduction process, please visit the Faculty of Graduate Studies & Research website.

What happens to my last pay deposit/cheque when I terminate my appointment with the University?

Should you terminate your appointment with the University, your last pay deposit or cheque will be issued to you for your stipend (salary + award) and any outstanding scholarships up to the last day of your appointment. Since pay dates will be about 10 days after each pay period end date, you should keep your bank account open after your last day in order to receive your last pay deposit. If you have any outstanding amount not repaid from the cash advance, it will be deducted from your last or last two paycheques.

Do I need to do anything differently as a result of this change?

No. However the department must prepare the appropriate payment form and send to Payroll before the payroll deadlines for the pay period in order for you to receive your scholarship and assistantship payments in that pay period. If the department misses the deadline, the scholarship would be paid in the pay period following receipt of the required form.