2013-2014 Graduate Handbook

4. Financial Support

  1. Fellowships
    1. National Science Foundation Fellowship
    2. Graduate Division Fellowships
  2. Fees
    1. Health Insurance
    2. Nonresident Tuition
    3. Reduction in Nonresident Tuition
    4. Tuition for International Students
  3. Filing Fee
  4. Graduate Teaching Assistantships
    1. Minimum Requirements
    2. Required Teaching Course for GSIs
    3. Test of Spoken English (TSE)
    4. Fees for GSIs
    5. GSI Salary
    6. Summer Session Appointments for GSIs
    7. Payroll Forms for GSIs
  5. Readerships and Research Assistantships (GSRs)
    1. Procedure for Applying for a Reader Position
    2. Graduate Student Researcher Appointments
    3. Combined GSR/GSI Appointments
  6. Supplementation of Fellowships
    1. Insurance Coverage
    2. Withholding Tax
    3. Work-Study for Research and Teaching Appointments
    4. Visa Requirements
  7. Loans
    1. Subsidized Stafford Loan Programs
    2. Emergency Loans
  8. Travel Support
  9. Graduate Student Parent Support

  1. Fellowships

    The Department has access to a variety of university, federal, and industrial fellowships. Most fellowships are for one year and are awarded to entering students for their first year of study. However, a few scholarships and awards are reserved for continuing students, and these are usually awarded in late spring. EECS Competitions Committees screen nominations for certain external fellowships for which application deadlines are announced. For more information, students should speak with the Director of the Center for Student Affairs, Susanne Kauer, in 221 Cory. The Graduate Division Fellowships Office also maintains an index of other fellowships.

    1. National Science Foundation Fellowship

      First-year students are strongly urged to apply for National Science Foundation Fellowships. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible. Four letters of recommendation are required. Applications are available at the Graduate Fellowships and Appointments Office, 318 Sproul Hall, 642-0672. The deadline for applications is usually in November each year.

    2. Graduate Division Fellowships

      The Graduate Division maintains several different fellowships. For the most up to date list of available fellowships and their requirements, please refer to the Grad Division Fellowships website.

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  2. Fees

    All registered students are liable for fees. The Office of the Registrar will block a student's registration unless the fees are paid, either by the student or through some form of financial assistance.

    The fees are subject to change without prior warning. Please see the Registrar's website for up to date fee information and the Graduate Division's website for an estimated student budget.

    1. Health Insurance

      The fall GSHIP provides major medical coverage from August 15 through January 14; the spring plan covers January 15 through August 14. Any questions about health coverage should be directed to University Health Services (UHS).

    2. Nonresident Tuition

      Non-California residents are assessed an additional tuition. If you are a U.S. citizen or hold an immigrant visa, it is your responsibility to establish California residency (preferably after your first full academic year). Students that do not wish to establish residency in California, or were not eligible to get California residency, will be responsible for paying the Non Resident Tuition. Establishing California residency will allow for a decreased tuition. This only applies to students in degree programs lasting longer than one year.

      Immediately upon arrival in Berkeley, students should:

      • Register to vote in CA.
      • Use a credit card regularly to pay for bills so that there will be continuous proof of physical presence in California.
      • Obtain a California Driver's License or Identification Card and cancel any driver's licenses from other states.
      • Register their car with the California DMV as soon as possible after arriving in California.
      • Open a CA bank account and save cancelled checks. Close bank accounts in other states.
      • File a California State Income Tax Form, even if there is no income to report. The first year will be Form 540NR, and then Form 540 thereafter.
      • Whenever filling out a University form that asks for a "permanent address," supply a California address.
      • Plan to spend most of the vacations and the summer of the first academic year in California. Going home for a couple of weeks can be explained away, but if extended periods of time are spent in other states, the Residency Office may be skeptical about claims that California is the intended home. It may be possible to obtain an exception for a summer job in a state other than one that a student may have lived in for an extended period of time. However, an exception letter from the student's advisor confirming that the job was an integral part of their education should be submitted to the Residency Office as soon as possible, in case the petition is not approved.

      To initiate the process of establishing residency, students should review the Residency Information on the Registrar website.

      Applications for students entering in the fall should be submitted at the beginning of the following summer. The Residency Office does have an early deadline; students who have submitted their residency applications before that date received an automatic deferment of their Nonresident Tuition while their cases were being considered. Students filing applications after that date and before the final deadline were responsible for paying the first installment on their total bill (including Non-Resident Tuition) in mid-July.

    3. Reduction in Nonresident Tuition

      Nonresident graduate doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy by the beginning of the semester are eligible for a 100% reduction of the Nonresident Tuition Fee (to $0.00) for a maximum of 3 years (six consecutive semesters, excluding summer). Such students who continue to enroll or re-enroll after the 3-year period will be assessed the Nonresident Tuition Fee in full.

    4. Tuition for International Students

      Unfortunately, the Department is unable to assure full tuition support for all international students because of limitations on the resources that can be used for this purpose. However, every effort will be made to limit the tuition liability of students to an affordable amount.

      Many faculty members have access to industrial funds, which they can use to pay either full or partial tuition for their students. Students who are unable to obtain adequate tuition coverage from their Research Advisors may apply for a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) position. The Department will award Nonresident Tuition Scholarships (NRTs) to continuing EECS international students who are GSIs, paying half the NRT for students with a 25% appointment (10 hours/week) and full NRT for students who have a 49% appointment.

      Deadlines are announced by e-mail to all graduate students in November and April. A GPA of at least 3.1 is required for GSI appointments. Students are limited to no more than 6 semesters of GSI appointments.

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  3. Filing Fee

    The Filing Fee is a reduced fee (one-half of the University Registration fee) for graduate students who have completed all requirements for the degree except for filing the master's thesis or doctoral dissertation and are advanced to candidacy. The Filing Fee is not a form of registration or equivalent to registration. If students wish to use University services that are supported by registration fees, they must pay those fees.

    Duration of the Filing Fee:
    The Filing Fee will apply for the length of the semester for which Filing Fee status has been approved, up to the last working day of the term, which is the deadline for filing a thesis or dissertation. These dates vary from year to year, but are approximately December 20 and May 15 of each year.

    Eligibility requirements for the Filing Fee:
    To use the Filing Fee in a fall semester, the student must have been registered in the previous spring or summer. Summer Sessions enrollment must be for a minimum of three units . To use the Filing Fee in spring, the student must have been registered in the previous fall. Filing Fee status is not available for Summer Sessions. However, students are permitted to file a thesis or dissertation while registered for Summer Sessions. Students are also able to file a thesis or dissertation in the summer if Filing Fee is approved for fall semester.

    How to apply for the Filing Fee:
    Students must apply for the Filing Fee by the end of the first week of classes of the semester in which they intend to file. Students complete the Filing Fee Application and submit it to the staff Graduate Advisor. Students are billed on their CARS statement.

    Limitations on Filing Fee status:
    The Filing Fee may be used only once during a student's career. If a student does not complete the final degree requirements (filing the dissertation or thesis, or passing the final comprehensive exam) during the semester for which the Filing Fee is approved, the student must pay regular registration fees during the semester in which the requirements are completed.

    Filing Fee status and academic student appointments:
    Students with academic appointments are not eligible for Filing Fee status and must be fully registered and enrolled in at least 12 units to hold an appointment.

    Filing Fee status and international students:
    To avoid visa problems with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, international students must contact the Berkeley International Office (BIO, 642-2818, 2299 Piedmont Avenue) well before the beginning of the semester during which they will use the Filing Fee. Filing fee status can satisfy the registration requirement for international students only if the student has obtained the signature of the BIO student adviser.

    Health insurance for students on Filing Fee or Withdrawal status:
    U.S. resident students on approved Filing Fee or Withdrawal status may purchase the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) coverage. International students on approved Filing Fee are required to have full medical coverage through the Bay Area Plan. Coverage is from January 15 to August 14 for the spring semester, and August 15 to January 14 for the fall semester.

    Bay Area Plan:
    SHIP major medical coverage plus University Health Services (UHS) campus care. Out-of-Area Plan: SHIP major medical coverage only for hospitalization, emergency and urgent care services. Current premiums for plans are on the University Health Services website. See the UHS website for enrollment details.

    For answers to questions about the Filing Fee, please see the Graduate Division's FAQ.

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  4. Teaching Assistantships (GSIs)

    At Berkeley, teaching assistants are given the official title of Graduate Student Instructor (GSI). A half-time (20 hours per week) GSI appointment typically entails responsibility for two discussion or three laboratory sections per week, holding office hours, preparation and grading of assignments and examinations, and other duties as assigned by the faculty member in charge of the course.

    Appointments for EE courses are handled by Professor Anant Sahai (EE). (267 Cory Hall, sahai@eecs, 643-3633), assisted by Patrick Hernan (205 Cory Hall, hernan@eecs, 642-9265).

    Appointments for CS courses are handled by Professor Paul Hilfinger (CS). (787 Soda Hall, hilfinger@cs, 642-8401), assisted by Catherine Bouvier Dang (205 Cory Hall, catherinedang@eecs, 642-6285).

    EECS graduate students will be notified by e-mail of the application deadline and assignments. The application is online on the Information for GSIs/TAs website.

    1. Minimum Requirements

      In order to be a GSI, you must be registered and carry a minimum load of 12 units, have a GPA of at least 3.1, have no more than two Incomplete grades, and are making satisfactory progress toward your degree goal.

    2. Required Course in Teaching

      New ASE Orientation: All individuals whose GSI appointment is also their first ASE (Academic Student Employee) assignment must attend a New ASE Orientation sponsored by the Office of Labor Relations for the semester they have been appointed. If there is a failure to attend, individuals will not be eligible for ASE appointments in subsequent terms until they have attended this orientation.

      300-level Seminar: All UCB students appointed as GSIs must enroll in a 300-level seminar on teaching concurrent with or prior to their first appointment as a GSI at Berkeley. These courses provide unit credit for preparation for teaching. GSIs in EECS are required to complete the course EECS 301, while CS students must complete CS 301, Teaching Techniques for Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. Since most graduate students have never taught before, EECS 301 is an invaluable tool, presenting effective teaching techniques, alternative forms of instruction, and special methods for teaching key concepts to EECS undergraduates. EECS 301 takes the form of weekly seminars and discussions led by departmental faculty and experienced GSIs.

      Teaching Conference: First-time GSIs must attend the Teaching Conference for new GSIs, offered by the GSI Teaching and Resource Center each semester before classes begin. International GSIs appointed for the first time must also attend the teaching conference for new international GSIs, offered in the fall semester before classes begin. Pedagogy is the focus of the conferences.

      Online Course: First-time GSIs must successfully complete an online course on professional standards and ethics in teaching by the end of the third week of classes. To enroll in the online course, please go to the GSI Teaching and Resource Center's website.

      Materials relating to aspects of teaching, learning, and inventing are on reserve in the Engineering Library under the heading "Engineering GSI." Examples of teaching tools are posted on a bulletin board on the second floor of Cory, by the elevators. Additional resources and information for GSIs can be found at the GSI Teaching and Resource Center in 301 Sproul Hall.

      For detailed information regarding the GSI appointment, please consult the Grad Division GSI Appointments website.

    3. Test of Spoken English

      All prospective GSIs who do not speak English as a native language must pass a test of their proficiency in spoken English before they can be appointed to GSI positions. Exempted from this policy are those who hold a B.A., B.S., or other bachelor's level degree from an institution in the United States. The policy applies to all prospective GSIs, whatever their citizenship, country of origin, or residency status, and whatever subject they will be teaching. Once the test is taken, it does not need to be re-taken unless one goes to a non-English speaking country for an extended period of time (two years or more).

      Language proficiency can be established one of two ways:

      1. Once you arrive in Berkeley, you can take the free SPEAK Test. This examination involves having your answers to written questions recorded and evaluated. The minimum passing score is 50 out of 300. If your score is between 40 and 45, you can take the OPT (Oral Proficiency Test) with a panel of examiners listening to and evaluating your level of proficiency. If your score on the SPEAK test is below 40, we will not be able to hire you as a GSI until you take steps to improve your ability to speak English. There are English classes for international students who do not currently satisfy English proficiency requirements to work as a GSI. See the GSI Center website about their language proficiency courses. Students who do not pass the SPEAK test with a score of 40-45 can take the OPT test. A score of 3 or higher is passing.
      2. Scoring 26 or higher on the speaking section on the TOEFL iBT. Details can be found at SPEAK / TSE / TOEFL iBT speaking section equivalences web page.
    4. Fees for GSIs

      Students who are appointed to a 25% time or greater position will receive partial "Fee Remissions." First year graduate students may also be eligible to receive full NRT if the appointment is 50% time, and half the NRT if the position is 25% time. Any unpaid balance of the registration fees (which are subject to change without prior warning), must be paid by the student each semester. All GSIs are responsible for paying the Berkeley Campus and Class Pass Fees.

    5. GSI Salary

      Appointments are almost always made at the GSI Step I level. Appointment at Step II normally requires an M.S. degree, four semesters of college teaching, and a minimum GPA of 3.4. Few students do enough teaching to warrant an appointment at Step II or higher.

      The goal of the EECS Department is to equalize the amount of funding doctoral students receive over the course of their doctoral study. Because the GSI salary is slightly lower than the GSR salary and departmental fellowship stipend, the department will provide combination GSR/GSI appointments. Faculty are also strongly encouraged to supplement their research students who are serving as GSIs.

    6. Summer Session Appointments

      A limited number of teaching appointments are available for the Summer Session. Interested students should contact the Scheduling Assistant to locate the instructors in charge of summer courses and submit an application to the Payroll Assistant.

    7. Payroll Forms for GSIs

      All teaching appointees must fill out payroll forms prior to beginning their duties. (No forms, no pay.) Forms are to be completed in the Payroll Office in 337 Soda.

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  5. Readerships and Graduate Student Research (GSR)

    Readers are appointed each semester to check and correct problem sets in a number of courses. They may not grade examinations. Readers are generally registered students and they are required to have a minimum overall grade point average of 3.0 and must have received a grade of B or higher in the course for which they are appointed. The number of hours per week allowed for a given course is determined by the number of units and the enrollment. If the enrollment in a course diminishes through students dropping it, the allocation will be reduced. Students may read for more than one course or more than one section of a course, to a maximum of 20 hours per week. If a student is employed in another capacity (e.g., as a GSI or GSR) for less than 20 hours per week, this time may be supplemented by employment as a reader so long as the total number of hours does not exceed 20.

    1. Procedure for Applying for a Reader Position

      Students interested in becoming readers should apply online on the Information for GSIs/TAs website. The procedure to apply for a reader appointment is the same as the GSI.

      A GSI or Reader will not receive a paycheck until appropriate payroll forms are completed in 337 Soda. Readers will need an authorization form before they can make an appointment to complete forms.

    2. Graduate Student Research Appointments

      At Berkeley, research assistants are given the title of Graduate Student Researcher (GSR). A large number of EECS students are employed as GSRs through the Campus Shared Services Team 2 (formerly ERSO). There is no formal application procedure; individual faculty members who hold research grants almost always make appointments. It is up to the student to contact faculty members and to discuss funding possibilities. Participation in projects or seminars is usually helpful in securing an appointment. It is also helpful to have demonstrated some research skills or creativity.

      GSRs will receive a small pay increase after passing the qualifying exam and completing their advancement to candidacy. Students must submit verification that they advanced to candidacy to the Campus Shared Services Team 2 office in order to receive the salary increase. The standard summer appointment is made at approximately 100% for up to three months.

      GSR payroll forms are to be completed at the Campus Shared Services Team 2 Payroll office, 197M Cory Hall.

    3. Combined GSR/GSI Appointments

      In the case of combined appointments (for example, GSR+GSI, Reader+GSI, Reader+GSR, etc.), the Department will allow a total combined appointment of up to 65% ONLY in cases where:

      • the position to be added on has been listed
      • no suitable candidate with an appointment of less than 50% has been found
      • the Department has asked the student to serve in the added position

      For example, a professor is looking for a Reader for the course for which you are already the 50% GSI. The Department advertises the position, and no other suitable candidate is found. The Vice Chairman can decide to write a letter of exception to grant you an appointment of more than 50%, so that you can hold both the GSI and the Readership for the course. The Graduate Division having a general rule against students holding on-campus appointments of more than 50%. Any request for an appointment or combined appointments totaling more than 50% must be approved by the Vice Chair for Graduate Matters.

      However, you should be aware that any student with combined appointments of more than 50% may become liable for social security taxes on all of their income. This liability could deduct a large part of the financial benefit of working more than 20 hours per week. Also, international students may not be employed more than 50% time without jeopardizing their visa status.

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  6. Supplementation of Fellowships & GSR Salaries

    In the case of any fellowship, whether external or granted by the EECS Department, a faculty member may, at his or her discretion, offer up to a 25% time GSR supplement unless otherwise stipulated by a particular program. For more information, contact your faculty advisor.

    Supplementation of fellowships may also be achieved another way. The Department will allow fellowship recipients to secure a 25% GSI appointment per semester while on fellowship.

    You should be aware that appointments above 50% time might cause you to be liable for Social Security taxes. You can check with the Graduate Division's Appointments Office for details about your situation.

    For more information on financial matters, students should speak with the Director of the Center for Student Affairs, Susanne Kauer, in 221 Cory.

    1. Insurance Coverage

      The University pays for major medical and dental insurance coverage for students who are employed 25% time or more as a GSI, GSR, Reader, etc. The remission will be activated when employment forms have been processed, so it is to your advantage to complete these forms as soon as your employment has been secured.

    2. Withholding Tax

      Salaries are paid monthly and are subject to Federal Withholding Tax. Check with the Graduate Division Appointments Office, 318 Sproul, for more information.

    3. Work-Study for Research and Teaching Appointments

      Some students may be eligible for work-study funds, and recent changes in federal regulations make it possible for students to be employed under work-study in GSI and GSR positions. The student receives the normal salary when so employed.

      Students apply for work-study by submitting a Financial Aid Application, available from the Cal Student Central Office in 120 Sproul Hall.

    4. Visa Requirements

      Students with F-1 visas do not require permission for half-time employment with the university during the academic year. Consult with the Berkeley International Office (BIO), 642-2818, with any visa employment questions you may have.

      International students hoping to work off-campus during the summer should check with the Graduate Office and with the BIO for current procedures.

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  7. Loans

    1. Subsidized Stafford Loan Program

      These conditions and terms apply to new borrowers.if you already have outstanding Stafford, SLS, or PLUS loans, other conditions may apply. Please contact the Cal Student Central Office at 120 Sproul.

      The Federal Direct Loan Program consists of two types of loans:

      1. Subsidized Federal Direct Loans. Borrowers of subsidized direct loans do not incur the interest during school and specified deferment periods.
      2. Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans. Borrowers of unsubsidized loans are responsible for all interest charges. The interest accrues from the time the loan is issued, is capitalized once a year, and results in the compounding of interest during subsequent years in school.

      Because unsubsidized loans can eventually accrue a lot of interest, the Financial Aid Office strongly encourages you to borrow as little as possible. Another strategy is to delay accepting your unsubsidized loan until later in the year, after you have a better idea of what you really need, and whether or not you will be receiving other resources (i.e. Department Awards, GSI or GSR appointments, etc.). The advantage of delaying your acceptance is that will not accrue interest until the loan is disbursed.

    2. Emergency Loans

      Students may also be eligible for small emergency loans. There are two types available:

      1. Living Expense Loan: This loan is available to eligible registered students; the maximum amount is $775. If approved, you'll receive a paper check payable to you. You can use your loan to help with short-term financial difficulties such as paying for rent, books, or travel while you are waiting for your financial aid to pay out.
      2. CoPayable Loan for Fees: This loan is available to eligible unregistered students; the amount is $1,300. This loan is to help you become registered by making the minimum payment toward your registration fees. The minimum registration amount is set each year in collaboration with the Registrar's Office. You will receive a paper check that is payable to you and UC Regents. You endorse the check, and as a service to you, we deliver the check to the Billing and Payment Service Office for processing. You will become registered in three business days.
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  8. Travel Support

    Many students receive travel support to present the results of their research at conferences.

    1. It is important to apply to the conference directly for financial support. Student travel funds are often available through the committee in charge of the conference you will attend. Please note that you should apply directly for this support in a timely manner, as it may be allocated on a "first come, first served" basis.

    2. Research advisors often sponsor student travel, through their grant money, for students to report on research performed under their supervision. Contact your advisor to ask for support.

    3. The Graduate Division offers conference travel grants. The grant amount awarded will depend on the location of the conference. Application for a Conference Travel Grant.

    4. The UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly provides travel awards to students presenting outside the Bay Area. Travel award instructions and application.

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  9. Graduate Student Parent Support

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