Will I have a gap with no stipend due to the delayed start of my assistantship appointment?

Date: July 2020


Dear Deans:

I saw in Cornell’s announcement of plans for the next academic year that classes will be starting on September 2. This is about a week later than usual, and I’m concerned that the start of my assistantship appointment will be delayed as well. I’m seeing predictions on Twitter that I’ll have to deal with a one-week or so gap without a stipend. Are these claims on Twitter true?

-Grad Wondering if Tweets are Accurate


Dear Grad Wondering if Tweets are Accurate:

Thank you for your question, and for being a discerning reader who is aware that not everything you see on social media is true.  Start and end dates for assistantship appointments are specified in University Policy 1.3.  As announced earlier in our 4/9/20 Update, Fall ’20 semester appointments will be August 21 – January 5, and Spring ‘21 semester appointments will be January 6 – May 20.   The Summer ’20 appointment period ends on 8/20, so there will be no break between summer and fall stipends, and no break between Fall and Spring stipends.

University Policy 1.3 notes that the academic calendar varies a bit between years for start and end dates and includes time before classes start for TAs to prepare for the semester:

“appointment periods for assistantships typically begin one to three weeks prior to the start of classes.  Graduate students funded on assistantships should thus expect their assistantship responsibilities to begin at the start of the appointment period and should plan to make academic progress in their degree program throughout the appointment period.  Because some courses may have final exam periods that extend beyond the assistantship appointment period, TAs should be informed at the time of appointment that they may be required to fulfill teaching responsibilities beyond the appointment period.  The appointing department and supervising faculty should put this information in writing in the student’s appointment letter.  Total hours for TAs (including final exam responsibilities outside of the appointment period) should not exceed the university policy limit of an average of 15 hours/week for the number of weeks in the appointment period, with no week exceeding 20 hours.”

Although this coming fall semester may be exceptional in many ways, graduate assistants are not expected to take on duties that exceed what is described in the above paragraph.  We are sensitive to the reality that you are each balancing many other academic and personal pressures during this time.

Warm regards,


Barbara A. Knuth
Dean of the Graduate School