Beginning in fall 2022, graduate and professional students on assistantships will get a benefit regarding what they are required to pay each term. This was announced to the Faculty Senate by Provost Zomchick on behalf of the Chancellor on May 2. Many of the charges incurred by graduate assistants will now be covered by the university. For full-time students, this could mean a savings of at least $1,000 each semester. This change will provide a needed economic benefit for graduate assistants and will differentiate UT from many other US universities, making UT an even more attractive option for those seeking a place for their graduate education. As Dixie L. Thompson, Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, notes:
“With this new benefit for graduate assistants, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is demonstrating its commitment to these critically important members of our campus community who perform a wide variety of services, including teaching and performing research. When taken together, the university’s recent investments in stipend increases, its commitment to fellowship support, and now with mandatory fee coverage, UT offers an attractive and competitive financial package for its graduate assistants.”
Traditionally, the major financial benefit of being a graduate assistant, graduate teaching assistant, or graduate research assistant is that the university covers the cost associated with tuition and maintenance fees. Other fees such as mandatory fees (library fee, technology fee, etc.) and differential tuition (charges associated with certain colleges) must be paid by the students. With this new benefit, graduate students on assistantships will no longer have to pay these fees.
This move has been lauded by the Graduate Student Senate, the official voice of graduate and professional students at UT. As current president Hunter Hammock notes:
“This ground-breaking decision is the culmination of advocacy work done by dozens of students, staff, and faculty over the course of many years. It will help to address some of the financial challenges that many current graduate and professional students encounter during their time on Rocky Top. It will also help make the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, a more desirable institution throughout our region and the world.”