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Information for Graduate Assistants

Graduate assistantships are funding packages that involve teaching, research, or administrative activities. They are designed to support and enhance a graduate student’s overall educational experience, and they provide financial support in numerous ways.  

What’s included in an assistantship? 

An assistantship includes: 

  • a stipend 
  • tuition remission
  • insurance premiums subsidies 
  • Student-Initiated Fee 

Stipend amounts

A stipend is commensurate with both the type and grade level of an assistantship, and these are determined by the department providing the assistantship. The type refers to the volume of activities associated with an assistantship. 

Stipend amounts for each grade are set annually by the University, and the minimum recommended grade level for all assistantships for 2023-24 is grade 12. Stipend amounts increased by 3.5% for the 2023-24 academic year, and will increase by 3.5% in the 2024-25 academic year, as approved by the Penn State Board of Trustees. In prior years, stipends have typically increased by approximately 3 percent annually and are typically equivalent to or greater than the average University raise.  

To view stipend amounts, visit the Table of Graduate Assistant Stipends

Assistantship Type 
Expected Hours Per Week
Typical Course Load
Quarter Time
10 hours
9 to 14 credits per semester (5-7 per summer session) 
Half Time
20 hours
9 to 12 credits per semester (4-6 per summer session) 
Three-Quarters Time
30 hours
6-8 credits per semester (3-4 per summer session) 

Length of assistantships and summer funding 

Graduate assistantships last 18 weeks per semester, or 36 weeks for a fall and spring appointment. Students who had assistantships, fellowships, or traineeships in both the fall and spring are eligible to apply for summer tuition assistance (STAP) of up to 9 credits of required coursework during the subsequent summer. Many graduate students find additional funding for the summer through wage payroll, scholarship funds, summer graduate assistantships, or other means.  

Health insurance subsidies 

Penn State subsidizes health insurance (medical, dental and vision) for graduate assistants and full-time fellows and trainees. Health insurance is required for international students. The Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan provides robust coverage tailored to meet student needs for the entire academic year, including summer. The plan has a 93 percent actuarial value, equivalent to a “Platinum” plan as defined under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) metallic tiers.

Insurance Type 
Amount subsidized for graduate assistants
Amount subsidized for dependents
80 percent
75-76 percent
Dental and Vision
80 percent
70 percent 

For more information, visit the Student Affairs website for dental and vision insurance or health insurance premiums

The SHIP provides robust coverage tailored to meet student needs through input by graduate student representatives to the Student Insurance Advisory Board (SIAB) and the Student Insurance Administrative Council (SIAC). The SHIP provides coverage for the entire academic year, including summer. 

Total Estimated Value of 2022-23 GA Economic Benefits

Individual Coverage
Family Coverage
Average Stipend for Fall/Spring 2022-23 ½-time Assistantships1
2022-23 Fall/Spring GA Tuition
2022-23 Student Initiated Fee
Summer 2023 UP Tuition & Student Initiated Fee (9 credits)
Total Medical Insurance Subsidy (12 months of coverage)
Total Dental & Vision Subsidy (12 months of coverage)
Value of Total Support Package2,3

1 The table includes the average stipend amount across the University for the Fall/Spring 2022-23 academic year.
2 Graduate students on fall/spring assistantship appointments often receive some form of additional support in the summer, so that total annual support is often greater than reflected for the fall/spring assistantship.
3 Actual support value will vary with assistantship type, stipend amount, number of summer credits taken and residency status, and choice of SHIP, Dental and Vision coverage (e.g., Individual, Individual & Dependent, Family, etc.).

This page was generated on February 24, 2024 at 6:05 PM local time. This may not be the most recent version of this page. Check the Penn State Graduate School website for updates.