Summer Salary

Last updated November 2022

Students holding TAs and RAs typically have their base pay supplemented by their faculty advisor during the summer. This supplement does not occur automatically and needs to be discussed with the faculty member and arranged with the administrative office at least five weeks in advance. During the first two years of graduate school, summer salary is usually funded by the student’s ASTR 699 research advisor and in the following years by their PhD advisor.

How many months can I work during the summer?

Summer salary (often referred to as “overload”) can be earned only during the three-month period starting the Monday after May Commencement and ending the Friday before the”Official Faculty Duty Start Date” in August. The exact dates vary from year to year – see the official academic calendar for details.

IfA policy limits students to two half-months of summer salary if they hold an RA, or two full months if they hold a TA. This policy is based on the model of a student working half-time for nine months during the academic year, and full-time for two months during the summer, leaving one month of free time for personal travel or other vacation-style activity. Students can, of course, choose to work for less than the maximum allowed period. The following chart illustrates the difference between an RA and a TA.

Note that one six-week session of summer school teaching (see below) counts as 1.5 half-months of summer overload.

How is summer salary calculated?

Summer salary is governed by university rules and is based on the type of graduate assistantship held during the previous year. This means that TAs and RAs are paid at slightly different rates even if they are doing the same work over the summer. The following table shows how this calculation is made, using figures for 2022:

Research Assistant at step GA-14Teaching Assistant at step GA-13
  • Basic salary for 11 half-months:
  • Salary for one half-month’s work:
    $28,026/11 = $2,547.82
  • Two half-months summer salary:
    $2,547.82 x 2 =$5,095.64
  • Total earnings for year:
  • Basic salary for 9 half-months:
  • Salary for one half-month’s work:
    $23,028/9 = $2,558.67
  • Four half months summer salary:
    $2,558.67 x 4 = $10,234.67
  • Total earnings for year:
Notes: (1) The actual summer salaries will differ slightly from those above if the summer employment does not exactly fit into full calendar months. The pay received depends on the actual working days, which have to be specified in advance. (2) Under this approach, TAs can earn 4.3% more than RAs per calendar year, which may be viewed as compensating for the fact that TAs earn significantly less than RAs during the 9-month academic year. (3) The basic salary for both a TA and an RA is paid in 24 semi-monthly installments over the year, irrespective of summer employment. Payments for summer overload are made approximately two weeks after the end of the pay period in question.

How do I arrange summer salary?

The deadline for submitting your request for summer salary is five weeks before the first day you start work (not the first day you expect to be paid). There are federal rules that forbid people to be paid until they are officially appointed. Here are the steps you must follow to arrange for summer employment:

  1. Talk with your faculty advisor to determine the source of summer funding and decide exactly which days you will officially be working. This period of time cannot include any personal time. If you plan to have work-related travel during these days, it should be related to the same funding source as used for your summer salary.
  2. Find out from the faculty member the name of the administrative officer in charge of the grant used to pay you.
  3. Fill out form UHM-3, which you can download from the web as a PDF file. Page 2 includes some notes about how to fill out the form.
  4. Submit the completed form UHM-3 to the appropriate administrative officer at least five weeks before you want to start work. This means April 10, if you plan to start work on May 15.
  5. To confirm that your summer salary has been processed, log into Employee Self Service (ESS) with your UH username and password 2-3 weeks after the start date. Please note that access to ESS requires being on a campus network and having Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) enabled (instructions here). Once logged in, go to the “Employee Change Summary” tile to view your summer salary information.
  6. Get paid for solving the mysteries of the Universe (or some small portion therein).

Can I teach during the summer?

Graduate students may have the chance to teach a summer section of Astronomy 110 for 1.5 half-months of summer salary. These accelerated courses require about 30 × 75-minute lectures to be delivered in six weeks. In recent years, one section of Astro 110 has been offered in each of the two summer sessions. These classes are organized by the Outreach College of the University of Hawai‘i, which also occasionally offers Astronomy 110 as an evening class. Check with the Graduate Chair if you are interested in summer or evening teaching opportunities arise.

How much time off do I have?

As shown in the above table for RA and TA compensation, there is one month of free time. This may be taken during winter break, during spring break, or during the summer when you are not getting summer salary. If you want more than one month of free time, you cannot earn the full summer salary.