Graduate assistant wage boost beneficial for students, university

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The much-needed graduate assistant salary increase effective Sept. 1 will be a win-win situation for both students and the university.

According to an April 3 University Star article, graduate teaching, research and instructional assistants will receive a $2,000 raise for two semesters of work. This raise will not only benefit graduate assistants, some of whom currently have to work multiple jobs to supplement their meager incomes, but will also help the university with recruitment of its graduate programs.

Graduate assistants can have a wide range of duties, with some even conducting the majority of teaching in a class. While graduate assistants who work “full-time” are supposed to work 20 hours per week, it is common for many to take work home, grading papers in their downtime.

Graduate assistants will receive up to a 20.3 percent increase in their incomes due to the extra $2,000, according to the same Star article. For any college student, an extra $2,000 can mean the difference between barely making ends meet and having enough money to pay the bills. This pay raise is vital to helping students stay afloat while they work their way through graduate school.

According to the Texas Tribune’s government employee salaries database, the median salary for a Texas State professor is $109,068. Graduate assistants often teach labs that comprise more than two-thirds of total curriculum covered for a particular class. It is unreasonable for graduate assistants to be paid so little while some professors receive about an $109,068 annual salary for teaching a class when they are only giving instruction for about a third of it.

It is easy to forget graduate assistants are students, and their job is no easy task. On an average day, these students take on heavy workloads by grading dozens of papers and are constantly making themselves available to students by answering questions during class and outside of normal office hours. There is no reason hardworking graduate students should have to struggle to pay the bills, and it is admirable that university officials recognized the need and are implementing a boost to their salaries.

In addition, the salary raise is beneficial because the number of graduate assistant applications have decreased over the past few years, according to the same Star article. By raising the wages, potential candidates will be more likely to apply for masters programs at Texas State and take on graduate assistant positions instead of heading to campuses down the road in Austin or San Antonio. Raising assistant wages will help bolster the number of applicants and will create a more competitive field, allowing a better selection of candidates to rise to the top. Having more highly qualified graduate assistants can only serve to benefit classroom experiences for undergraduate students and instructors.

In the past, the editorial board has criticized Texas State’s administration for only looking to meet the needs of future students at the university, not those currently attending. However, with the decision to raise graduate assistant salaries, officials are moving in the right direction and prioritizing current students. This initiative fits perfectly into the university’s long-term goal of becoming a Tier One Institution and is sure to increase the prestige and prominence of the graduate program in the state and country.