2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
    May 28, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Financial Aid and Assistantships

Financial Aid

Graduate students are eligible to apply for the unsubsidized federal direct student loan with funds being provided by the U.S. Department of Education. A student must be enrolled in a minimum of 6 hours and degree seeking to be considered for the loan. All graduate students who need financial assistance to attend Southern Arkansas University should contact the University’s Office of Financial Aid between January 1 and June 1 of each year. Eligibility for federal aid programs is determined through the filing of the “Free Application for Federal Student Aid” (FAFSA) need analysis. Students may be considered for one or more of the following types of aid:

Federal Direct Student Loans

The Federal Stafford Loan program is a need-based subsidized loan program with funds being provided by the U.S. Department of Education and guaranteed by federal law. SAU must certify a demonstrated financial need by using federal guidelines. Unsubsidized Direct Loans are available, and the family contribution is not considered when determining eligibility.

Vocational Rehabilitation

Persons who have a substantial handicap to employment as a result of permanent disability may receive, at no cost to themselves, vocational counseling, and some financial assistance toward the cost of their college training when their vocational objectives are approved by an Arkansas vocational rehabilitation counselor.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships are limited in number and are awarded on a competitive basis, subject to criteria such as grade point average, skills offered by the applicant, needs of the college or department, and order in which the assistantship application was received. When awarding assistantships, priority will be given to graduate students who do not hold a 40 hr. per week position.

To be eligible for a graduate assistantship, a graduate student must complete the following procedures:

  1. Complete an application for an assistantship, available from the School of Graduate Studies website www.saumag.edu/graduate, which describes previous training and experience supported by at least three references. The applicant may indicate an area of preferred placement on the application. The deadlines to apply for an assistantship: August 1st for fall, December 1st for spring, and May 1st for summer.

    The application for an assistantship must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, who will verify that the student has met all criteria established below and forward the application to the department/director granting the assistantship. Applicants who visit campus offices (other than the School of Graduate Studies) requesting a position may not be considered for an assistantship.
  2. Be fully admitted to a degree or licensure program in the School of Graduate Studies at SAU.
  3. Meet enrollment requirements:
    • Fall and spring semesters: minimum of six hours and a maximum of nine hours
    • Summer sessions: Minimum of three hours and a maximum of six hours during the term in which the student holds the assistantship. Students enrolled in long summer courses must have a minimum of six hours total enrollment when the current term and long summer course hours are combined.

    • One five-week course and one long summer course during the semester working as a GA.
    • Two long summer courses.

If the student’s enrollment drops below the required number of hours, any unused portion of the assistantship and the out of state tuition reduction must be forfeited. The effective date for forfeiting unused portions of the assistantship will be the date in which the student withdraws from a course and thus falls below the minimum course load requirement.

Students who are unable to meet the minimum enrollment requirements due to their degree plan or if they are enrolled in their final semester and only need one course, can request an exception by contacting the graduate office.

  1. Be available to work 20 hours/week in assigned duties (total of 300 hours per semester).
    • 15 weeks for the fall and spring semesters
      • Beginning registration week and ending finals week (Thanksgiving and Spring Break excluded).
    • 5 weeks each summer session (total of 100 hours per semester)
      • Beginning registration week and ending finals week each summer term.

Work hours will depend on the arrangements made with the department supervisor. Graduate assistants are accountable to their supervisors for their time and are not required to make up scheduled hours missed on days the university is unexpectedly closed (e.g., inclement weather, power outage).

  1. Maintain academic standards:
    • Have a grade point of at least 3.00 on all graduate coursework.
    • Have no grade of C or lower in a graduate course.

A graduate assistant failing to uphold these academic standards forfeits the graduate assistantship and will not be eligible to re-apply. To request an exception to this policy, the student must submit a written petition to the Graduate Dean requesting reinstatement of their graduate assistantship position. The request must outline a plan to remedy the academic situation. The exception must be supported in writing by the GA Supervisor and Academic Advisor. If the student fails to maintain the required academic standards after one exception, the student will not be allowed to receive a future graduate assistantship position. Any appeals may be made to the VPAA.

Graduate Assistant Compensation and Responsibilities

  1. Tuition: Students who reside outside of Arkansas will receive a waiver of out of state tuition. If you wish to pay tuition and fees out of your stipend, please visit contact student accounts prior to the payment deadline to set up a payment plan.
  2. Stipend: During the fall and spring semesters, students will receive four paychecks of $1,000 each for a total of $4,000 per semester. During summer terms, students will receive one paycheck of $1,320 per semester. The GA pay schedule aligns with the student worker schedule. In some semesters, the final timesheet due date and/or pay day may fall before finals week. In this case, GAs are required to continue working until their 300 hours are fulfilled OR through finals week.

    If a student resigns or is terminated from their position prior to completing the required 300 hours, they will be paid per hour based on the hours worked. Upon resignation/termination, the supervisor should e-mail gradstudies@saumag.edu with the student’s name, date of resignation and total hours worked. If the student has been paid beyond the wages earned, the student will be responsible for reimbursing the University for those funds.
  3. Timesheets: It is the responsibility of the graduate assistant to submit timesheets to the School of Graduate Studies by 5 p.m. on the day prior to the Financial Aid due date. Failure to follow this procedure repeatedly will cause a delay in receiving a paycheck.

    All timesheets may not be submitted at once, each timesheet must be submitted within the week prior to the due date.
  4. Expectations: The Graduate Assistant is an extension of the permanent faculty and staff and as such must meet certain expectations:
    • Assuming assigned duties,
    • Maintaining a professional attitude towards students, staff, and faculty,
    • Maintaining a standard of personal appearance and personal hygiene which reflects a professional demeanor,
    • Handling confidential information in a professional manner,
    • Representing the College and University to others, and
    • Meet criteria established by the department/director offering the assistantship.
  5. Evaluations: The supervisor has the option to meet with the graduate assistant at the end of each month to complete an evaluation. Completed evaluations should be submitted to the graduate office.
  6. Renewal Process: It is the responsibility of the graduate assistant to request renewal of a semester or summer session contract, if desired. To be considered for renewal, the graduate assistant must:
    1. Have a grade point average of at least 3.00 on all graduate hours taken.
    2. Have no grade of C or lower in a graduate course.
    3. Enroll in the required number of hours for the semester.
    4. Satisfactory ratings (average score of 3) for any evaluations received the previous semester.

A graduate assistant who fails to uphold the guidelines will be required to report to the graduate dean. If problems persist, Southern Arkansas University reserves the right to terminate the contract.

Supervisor Responsibilities

  1. Selection of a Graduate Assistant: It is the supervisor’s responsibility to interview students and select an applicant for their departmental graduate assistant position. Graduate assistants must be selected and the graduate office notified prior to the 11th class day during fall and spring semesters and 5th class day for summer sessions. Contracts will not be issued after the census date.
  2. Hire/Offer Position: After interviews have been conducted, the supervisor should contact the selected applicant to offer the position. During this time the supervisor should detail when the graduate assistant is expected to start and any other pertinent information.
    Since each department functions in their own capacity, the supervisor must detail work expectations as required for the specific position/department and set work hours for the graduate assistant.
  3. Evaluations: Evaluations are not required; however, it is recommended that supervisors meet with their graduate assistant(s) monthly to complete evaluations to ensure expectations are being met. In the event that a GA must be terminated, evaluations will serve as documentation that the assistant was given a warning to remedy the situation.
  4. Materials for the Position: The supervisor is responsible for ensuring the graduate assistant(s) within their department have the materials needed to complete the required tasks. For example: computer (or laptop), sufficient desk space, and access to a printer for someone working in an office environment. Graduate assistants are not expected to use personal funds to purchase materials required complete their assigned duties.

Ann Keese Thomas Graduate Scholarship

Two graduate scholarships are available based on a competitive basis to students who are seeking a master’s degree, not receiving graduate assistant funding and meet the following criteria:

  1. Completed application.
  2. Unconditional admission to graduate studies.
  3. Completed at least 12 hours of graduate coursework.
  4. Grade point average of 3.50 or higher in all graduate work, with no C grade included in work.
  5. Two letters of recommendation from faculty in higher education.

Application Deadline: May 31st

Conditions which apply:

  1. Must maintain a 3.50 grade point average with no grade lower than a B.
  2. Must be continuously enrolled for the 12-month period.
  3. May reapply for one additional year.