UW–Madison adopts higher wages for student employees, graduate assistants

February 23, 2016 By Greg Bump
Student worker Nurhayati Sulaiman places chairs on the Memorial Union Terrace in April 2013. There are more than 10,000 student employees at UW–Madison.

Student worker Nurhayati Sulaiman places chairs on the Memorial Union Terrace in April 2013. There are more than 10,000 student employees at UW–Madison. Photo: Bryce Richter

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is increasing its student employee minimum wage and the rate of pay for graduate assistants, campus leaders have announced.

The student hourly minimum wage is set to rise from $7.25 to $9 per hour on Sept. 1, the start of the fall 2016 semester. And effective July 1, graduate assistants will receive a 2 percent hike.

There are more than 10,000 student employees at UW–Madison. They have jobs in dining facilities, research labs, administrative offices and libraries. Graduate assistants, who teach and perform important research, number more than 5,300.

Students gain educational and work experience through campus employment, Chancellor Rebecca Blank says. Raising their compensation will help to supplement their income, she adds.

“Many undergraduate and graduate students face difficulty with making time for classwork, studying and finding time to work enough hours to cover living expenses. Raising the minimum hourly student wage to $9 will hopefully provide an extra financial cushion, help them pay for their own education and reduce their reliance on loans,” Blank says.

There are more than 10,000 student employees at UW–Madison. Graduate assistants number more than 5,300.

The pay adjustments are in recognition of the value student employees and graduate assistants provide to the campus community and that the university is committed to paying competitive wages to graduate assistants, Blank says.

Teaching assistants and project/program assistants received a 4.67 percent increase for 2013-14 and a 2 percent increase for 2014-15, which exceeded the 1 percent per year pay plan for other university employees. The university continues to review graduate assistant compensation to make sure UW–Madison can compete for and reward top graduate students.

On January 1, 2016, UW–Madison increased its minimum hourly wage for nonstudent employees to match the City of Madison living wage of $12.83. The city sets its living wage at 110 percent of the federal poverty rate for a family of four.

Campus leaders consulted deans and directors of administrative units, as well as the Associated Students of Madison (ASM), during the decision process on the minimum student employee wage. The pay increase for graduate assistants was decided upon following discussions with university leadership, the Dean’s Council, Graduate School Academic Planning Council and graduate students.

The Office of Human Resources (OHR) will implement the new minimum within the campus payroll system. Specific questions about implementation should be directed to college, school or divisional human resources offices.

The rates for graduate assistants are as follows:

Research Assistant

Annual 100% $44,162

Academic 100% $36,133

Teaching Assistant-Standard

Academic 100% $31,297

Teaching Assistant-Senior

Academic 100% $36,133

Program/Project Assistant

Annual 100% $38,252

Academic 100% $31,297

PA Grader/Reader

Hourly Rate $16.77