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Graduate Assistant Handbook

Important Contacts

Welcome

GA Handbook Overview

College of Graduate Studies Staff

Graduate Studies Information

Graduate Vision Statement

Graduate Mission Statement

GA Admission Eligibility Requirements

Semester Course Hour Requirements

Employment Classification

Assistantship Expectations

Types of Assistantships

GA Scholarship and Stipend

Summer Fee Waivers

Pay Schedule

Time Reporting

Additional Employment

Additional Scholarships

Duration of Assistantship

Re-Appointment of GA Position

Complaint Procedures

Resignation of Assistantship Position

Termination

 Program of Study

Change of Program of Study


Student Financial Aid
     


FAQ
                                     


Graduate Assistant Forms

Managing Your Studies and Assistantship

   
   

Important University Contacts for Graduate Assistants

 

Karen Runyon
Office Supervisor, College of Graduate Studies
runyonk@apsu.edu
(931) 221-7414

Ms. Runyon coordinates the graduate assistantship process. She also works closely with faculty committees to oversee the Diversity Fellowship Grant program and the Graduate Academic Appeals process. She works annually to update and publish the Graduate Bulletin. Ms. Runyon also coordinates the budget and purchasing for the College of Graduate Studies and provides administrative support for graduate committees and graduate faculty programs. 

Kendra Bryant
Graduate Admissions
bryantk@apsu.edu
(931) 221-7662

Ms. Bryant oversees the processing of graduate admissions paperwork. As a reminder, students are responsible for submitting admission paperwork and meeting departmental admission requirements in a timely manner. Official transcripts and entrance exam scores must be submitted by the 10th day of classes during the first registered semester. For 8-week sessions, the 6th day of classes is the deadline for submitting official documents. All official documents must be received in order to be granted regular admission status. Failure to submit all official documents in the prescribed time period above will result in the student being dropped from all classes and the assistantship revoked..

Brad Averitt
Coordinator of Graduate Recruitment
averittb@apsu.edu
(931) 221-6189

Mr. Averitt is responsible for developing and execuring recruitment strategies for graduate programs. This includes creating marketing materials, attending education and career fairs, managing social media accounts, identifying new businesses and markets to target for graduate programs, and serving as  point of contact for potential students.

Amy Tanner                                          Sherri Devers
Accounts Receivable                             Student Financial Aid
tannera@apsu.edu                               deverss@apsu.edu
(931) 221-7480                                      (931) 221-7035                                                                                 

Ms. Tanner addresses university billing inquires, while Ms. Devers handles financial aid issues. Graduate asssistants should contact Financial Aid and Accounts Payable via email for questions or concerns regarding the financial portion of their GA assignments, wiht the exception of payroll inquiries, which are addressed by Human Resources. One important note: once a GA award has been posted, the GA's student account is not automatically adjusted if classes are added or dropped; a manual process is required. Therefore, GAs making schedule changes must contact both Ms. Devers and Ms. Tanner, along with the College of Graduate Studies, to ensure that appropriate updates are made their accounts.

Sherry Comperry
Office of the Registrar
comperrys@apsu.edu
(931) 221-7124

Ms. Comperry is the point of contact in the Registrar's Office for questions regarding graduate records. She processes graduate documentation relative to matriculation and graduation, including transfer transcripts, verification of degree forms, and programs of study.

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Welcome Graduate Assistants!

The College of Graduate Studies welcomes you. We are excited to have you join the Austin Peay University community as a graduate assistant! The staff of the College of Graduate Studies is here to support you as you embark on what will hopefully prove to be a transformative, rewarding, and valuable journey. I want to encourage you to take full advantage of the opportunity you have ahead of you. Delve into your studies, embrace the APSU community, and reach out as you demonstrate the change you wish to see in the world.

Our faculty are here to serve as mentors and guides as you work to realize the path which will allow to achieve, or even formulate, your academic and professional goals. Take advantage of the wisdom and knowledge these professionals have worked hard to achieve, and realize your reciprocal contributions to their success are immensely valuable as well. Successful faculty-student relationships are built on a foundation of trust and communication. Be unafraid of an open exchange of ideas and always endeavor to keep an open mind. The faculty you work with will shepherd you through traditional learning opportunities like seminars and classes, while facilitating opportunities for you to achieve original and meaningful research. Beyond that, they will mentor you in your professional aspirations and enable you to develop your professional network. You are encouraged to reach out to the faculty on this campus, and the professionals and faculty of other places you will have access to at conferences, to learn more about their research and strengthen the ties that bind successful learning communities and industries together.

This handbook has been created and updated to help you begin to understand your responsibilities and benefits as a graduate assistant here at APSU. As you peruse this handbook, remember that it is meant to be a useful resource to you but is only one of many such resources. If you find yourself with questions about your assistantship feel free to reach out to your supervisor, your department, the Office of Graduate Studies, or Human Resources as appropriate. If you’re ever not sure which resource is the best to help you overcome a specific challenge or take full advantage of a particular opportunity feel free to contact the Office of Graduate Studies for guidance. I am very excited to see each and every one of you grow and excel as you make your way through the graduate educational process here at APSU. I exhort you to savor this experience and capitalize on the unique opportunities that each day will bring your way. Let’s Go Peay!

Dr. Chad Brooks, Ph.D.
Interim Associate Provost of Research and
Dean College of Graduate Studies

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Graduate Assistant Handbook Overview

Austin Peay State University wants your graduate assistant experience to be a positive one. The College of Graduate Studies created this handbook to supply you with important information, answer questions, and address concerns you may have about serving in your role as a graduate assistant. Please refer to these guidelines in the coming academic year. If you are unable to find specific information that you need, please make use of the resources and points of contact provided in this handbook or contact your graduate program coordinator.

The Graduate Assistantship Program at Austin Peay State University is designed to promote the research and teaching responsibility of the University and to provide students with valuable professional development opportunities while earning a degree. Graduate assistants have the joint responsibility of maintaining satisfactory academic performance and successfully performing the assigned teaching, research, or other duties.

As a graduate assistant, you will contribute to APSU in significant ways. You were selected for your assignment from a competitive group of highly qualified graduate students. Regardless of your specific duties as a graduate assistant, your work is a central element in delivering top quality instruction and service to the University community.

While portions of this booklet are excerpted from the Austin Peay State University Graduate Bulletin and APSU personnel policies and procedures, the Graduate Assistant Handbook does not replace the University Bulletins, graduate or undergraduate, or the Student Handbook. All of these publications provide valuable information not found elsewhere. It is your responsibility as a student to keep abreast of the policies and procedures set forth in campus publications.

The Graduate Bulletin contains information that is relevant to all graduate students and is available online at http://www.apsu.edu/registrar/bulletins.php.

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Graduate Studies Information

The College of Graduate Studies is located on the first floor of the McReynolds Building. There are approximately 900 graduate students currently enrolled at APSU. The College of Graduate Studies establishes policies and procedures in consultation with the Graduate Academic Council (GAC), which meets monthly throughout the academic year. The University confers a wide variety of degrees, to include Biology (M.S.), Communication Arts (M.A.), Computer Science and Quantitative Methods (M.S. or P.S.M.), Counseling (M.S.), Education (M.A.Ed., M.A.T.), Education Specialist (Ed.S.), Engineering Technology (M.S.E.T.), English (M.A.), Health and Human Performance (M.S.), Healthcare Administration (M.H.A.), History (M.A.), Industrial Organizational Psychology (M.S.I.O.), Management (M.S.M.), Music (M.M.), Nursing (M.S.N.), Professional Studies (M.P.S.), and Social Work (M.S.W.). In addition, graduate certificate programs are offered in the areas of Community and Organizational Leadership and Data Science.

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Graduate Vision Statement

The College of Graduate Studies fosters an intellectual community of advanced learning within an environment of scholarship, research, and creative activities engaging faculty and students with partnerships representative of a global society as students acquire knowledge, skills, and values for life and work.

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Graduate Mission Statement

The College of Graduate Studies ensures that a clear distinction is made between undergraduate programs and graduate programs and, as such, develops advanced programs and services addressing national needs and provides a mechanism for collaborative opportunities in research, creative and scholarly activities. These connect university expertise with private and public resources, and contribute significantly to the intellectual, economic, social, physical, and cultural development of the region, and therefore, the nation. The College of Graduate Studies engages students in graduate education of a superior level of academic achievement that promotes the knowledge of society, global awareness, and continuous learning skills, and values, as well as prepares them for doctoral studies.

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Graduate Assistant Admission Eligibility Requirements

All graduate assistants must meet certain eligibility requirements prior to the start of their assistantships. 

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Employment Classification

Graduate assistants are classified as student workers. APSU’s Employment Classification Policy 5:019 defines student workers as, “All personnel whose primary purpose for being at the University is to be enrolled in an academic program of the University.”

The first priority of every graduate assistant is satisfactory progress in his or her academic program. Collaboration between graduate assistants and their supervisors with regard to assistantship duties should focus on this goal. If it is not possible for the student to succeed academically, the graduate assistantship must be relinquished.

Under the provisions of APSU Policy 5:040, graduate assistants are classified as in-state students for the assessment of tuition and fees. Graduate assistants who are classified as out-of-state residents are eligible for out-of-state fee waivers for summer courses, allowing them to receive in-state rates. To apply for the waiver, the Graduate Assistant Summer Out-of-State Fee Waiver Approval Request must be completed and submitted to the College of Graduate Studies for approval and processing.

Graduate assistants are not eligible for employee benefits. Withholding tax will be deducted from the graduate assistant’s stipend. FICA and Medicare taxes will also be deducted if the student is enrolled in fewer than six (6) credit hours.

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Assistantship Expectations

As a Graduate Assistant your primary responsibilities are to assist the faculty member or supervisor with implementing the instructional program and to achieve the goals of the academic or service unit to which you are assigned. The assistantship program is based on the idea that graduate students, when given the opportunity to assist the faculty, staff, and administration, not only provide a service to the institution, but also gain valuable experience through this work. The supervisor will coordinate the assistant’s working time with the class schedule and will also make every effort to assign duties that will provide valuable learning experiences.

Graduate Assistants are neither regular faculty nor typical students; sometimes they perform in both roles. Graduate Assistants should be aware of their dual roles and the accompanying responsibilities. It is expected that GAs will conduct themselves professionally at all times while carrying out their assignments. Caution and discretion should be used in speaking and in conduct.

Discussing faculty, other students, and grades is a normal and acceptable part of the graduate student’s experience, but the GA must remember that he or she may be viewed by others in a different light. In many cases, discussing other students, faculty, or grades may be a violation of confidentiality. Under no circumstances should GAs reveal confidential information about students accessible to them because of their assigned duties. Student records should not be revealed to anyone other than the student. If a GA has any doubt about whether or not requested information is confidential, the supervisor should be consulted regarding privacy laws.

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Types of Assistantships

There are three different categories of assistantships. You have been assigned an assistantship in a particular category. The descriptions below indicate what could be expected of you and what you can expect of your department, program, or office.

Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA): A Graduate Teaching Assistant is employed by the university to provide direct support for the teaching mission of the unit.

Graduate Research Assistant (GRA): A Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) is employed by the university to perform duties related to a scholarly project or program of research under the guidance and direction of a faculty member. The duties of a Graduate Research Assistant involve applying and mastering conceptual and theoretical ideas, practices, or methods of scholarship. A Graduate Research Assistant may be employed outside of his or her academic department in a capacity in which the assistant brings knowledge or skills related to the program of study. The GRA is not permitted to work more than twenty (20) hours per week at APSU during the fall or spring semesters [a maximum of twenty (20) hours a week for sixteen (16) weeks in the fall and sixteen (16) weeks in the spring). The GRA is eligible for a full tuition waiver per Internal Revenue Code 117.

Graduate Administrative Assistant (GAA): A Graduate Administrative Assistant (GAA) is employed by the university in a capacity not related to his or her program of study and is not engaged in activities directly related to research or teaching. The GAA is not permitted to work more than twenty (20) hours per week at APSU during the fall or spring semesters [a maximum of twenty (20) hours a week for sixteen (16) weeks in the fall and sixteen (16) weeks in the spring). The GAA is not eligible for a full tuition waiver per Internal Revenue Code 117.

All graduate assistants must meet with their supervisors to review and discuss their assigned job duties. Each department provides a detailed GA job description to include the duties, responsibilities, and essential functions that are expected.

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Graduate Assistantship Scholarship and Stipend

A full time graduate assistant receives a scholarship to cover tuition and fees of up to ten (10) graduate credit hours per semester, in addition to a stipend.  The scholarship may not exceed the cost of ten (10) graduate hours per semester UNLESS approval is granted by the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. To request approval, please submit a Request to Add or Reduce Course Hours form.

An assistantship is a student employee appointment that offers financial payment for working up to twenty (20) hours per week per semester in research, teaching, or administration. Students accepting assistantship awards obligate themselves to work for the University for the academic semester and/or academic year (fall and spring).

Graduate assistants usually begin their duties on or before the first day of classes for the semester and end when final exams are over. Specific schedules should be determined in consultation with the immediate supervisor and/or Department Chair.

Fall and Spring Assistantships:

Summer Assistantships and Employment

The College of Graduate Studies does not normally award graduate assistantships for the summer term. A limited number of summer assistantships may be arranged by individual hiring departments on a case-by-case basis, provided funding is available.

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Summer Fee Waivers

Under the provisions of APSU Policy 5:040, graduate assistants are classified as in-state students for purposes of fees and tuition. A graduate assistant who is classified as an out-of-state resident is entitled to a waiver of out-of-state fees during the summer sessions following the spring semester assistantship. This waiver is not automatic and must be requested by the student. The Graduate Assistant Summer Semester Out-of-State Fee Waiver Approval Request form can be found at http://www.apsu.edu/grad-studies/graduate-assistantships-financial-support/graduate-assistant-forms.php

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Pay Schedule

The graduate assistant’s stipend is paid bi-weekly in eight (8) equal installments each academic semester, with half of the total yearly stipend being paid during the fall semester and half during the spring semester. Direct deposit is required for all student employees. Any portion of a stipend that is not used during the period for which the award was made cannot be used at a later date. HR's bi-weekly pay schedule can be found at http://www.apsu.edu/human-resources/payroll/payroll-schedules.php.

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Time Reporting and Bi-Weekly Time Sheets

Graduate assistants are paid based on an average of twenty (20) hours of work per week. GAs are not required to report hours worked on the electronic bi-weekly timesheet. However, it is important that working hours are tracked and reported to the assigned supervisor within the department. GAs are responsible for making up missed hours due to illness, appointments, or other absences. Any adjustments to the GA’s normal working schedule should be coordinated between the supervisor and GA in advance of the absence whenever possible. 

Departments that employ GAs are responsible for notifying the College of Graduate Studies if or when the following conditions occur: 1) when a GA does not report to his/her assigned department at any point during the semester; 2) when a GA resigns his/her position. Departments that do not report these conditions in a timely manner will be charged for any overpayment made in error to the GA. 

Employment in Addition to GA Assignment

Austin Peay State University has an obligation to facilitate your progress in your degree program. It will be very difficult to successfully pursue your graduate degree while holding additional jobs. Therefore, a graduate assistant may not accept additional employment at the University without special permission from the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. Employment at APSU in addition to GA hours may not exceed nine (9) hours per week. To request permission, submit a Graduate Assistantship Request for Additional APSU Employment form, which requires the approval of the requesting department, the current GA supervisor, the Graduate Coordinator, and the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. This form can be found at http://www.apsu.edu/grad-studies/graduate-assistantships-financial-support/graduate-assistant-forms.php

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Scholarship Award in Addition to the GA Scholarship

In some cases, graduate assistants are awarded scholarships in addition to their assistantships. If you receive an APSU scholarship that requires additional work hours or other time commitments, please submit the Scholarship Award in Addition to the GA Scholarship form to the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies upon acceptance of the award.

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Duration of Assistantship

The duration of the graduate assistant contract is stipulated in the contract with specific beginning and ending dates. A graduate assistant cannot complete his or her assigned hours to begin another student assignment at the university. The maximum number of years that a graduate student can be appointed to an assistantship is three (3), or six (6) academic semesters. Students must re-apply for their assistantships each academic year. Be sure to check your department’s specific rules concerning continuing assistantships during internships or student teaching.

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Re-Appointment of Graduate Assistantship

Re-appointment of a graduate assistantship for the next academic year is not automatic. It is based on the academic or service unit's needs, the availability of departmental funding, satisfactory work performance by the student, and successful progress toward earning a graduate degree. Your supervisor will determine if your job performance is favorable and will approve the re-appointment. The Graduate Dean will be notified immediately if re-appointment is not granted.

To remain eligible for an assistantship, the GA must complete all duties satisfactorily and maintain a minimum cumulative graduate GPA of 3.0. GA's who are not in good academic standing will be required to relinquish their appointments. The graduate assistant must also submit a re-application form to the College of Graduate Studies prior to the start of each academic year. The reapplication requires signature approval of the supervisor or Department Chair. Award notifications for each academic year will be made by August 1. The re-application form can be found at http://www.apsu.edu/grad-studies/graduate-assistantships-financial-support/graduate-assistant-forms.php

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Complaint Procedures

If you have a complaint about any aspect of carrying out your assignments (work hours, duties assigned, working conditions, etc.), or if you believe that a decision or action made by another employee, supervisor, teacher, or director of the University involves misconduct, misapplication, or misinterpretation of University policy, state and/or federal law, you have the right to grieve a decision or action. If possible, you should speak first with your immediate supervisor, and if the problem has not been resolved, with the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. In all cases in which you think you are unable to speak with your supervisor, department, or college about the specific problem because of the nature of the problem or fear of consequences, you should seek assistance in resolving the matter from the Dean in the College of Graduate Studies. However, in such a case, you should carefully consider the decision of bypassing the department and college levels because any resolution of the problem will require notification of all parties involved.

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Resignation of Assistantship Position

If a graduate assistant resigns an assistantship, a letter of resignation to the academic or service unit in which they are currently employed is required as soon as possible. Immediate notification must also be sent to the College of Graduate Studies. The resignation letter should include the last day of employment and the total number of hours worked up to that day. The College of Graduate Studies will report resignation information regarding GAs to the Office of Human Resources in a timely fashion to ensure appropriate processing and payment of the last paycheck.  Financial Aid and Student Accounts will also be notified. The student may be required to pay back tuition and fees covered by the assistantship.

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Termination

Continuation of your graduate assistant appointment is dependent upon satisfactory academic performance as a graduate student as well as satisfactory performance of the assistantship duties. A graduate assistant appointment may be terminated if the assistant neglects his or her responsibilities as a student, GA, or both.

Graduate assistantships may be terminated by the University for any of the following reasons:

A graduate assistant who is unable to continue with his or her assistantship should contact the supervisor and graduate coordinator to discuss the discontinuation of responsibilities and departure date. Both the student and department supervisor are encouraged to cooperate in reaching a mutually acceptable termination date.

If the graduate assistant appointment is terminated, either voluntarily or involuntarily, the student forfeits the unused portion of the scholarship (i.e., tuition) and stipend.

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Complete Your Program of Study/Admission to Candidacy/Committee Assignment Form

It is important to remember that, as a graduate student, you must complete the Program of Study/Admission to Candidacy/Committee Assignment form during the first semester of attendance (excluding summer). This form must be completed in consultation with your advisor or Graduate Coordinator. All forms must be approved by the student’s graduate committee and/or department chair.

Once completed, the approved form must be electronically scanned (at the department level) and submitted to the graduation analyst supervisor in the Registrar’s Office. Candidacy forms are available in the academic department or from the College of Graduate Studies website http://www.apsu.edu/grad-studies/current-students/graduate-student-forms.php. A hold will be placed on the student’s registration by the Registrar’s Office if this task is not completed by the end of the first semester of attendance.

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Change of Program of Study

 If, during your program of study, you need to initiate a deviation in the courses originally listed in your program of study, be sure to complete the Change of Program of Study form. The same approval process as above applies. It is imperative that students check their degree evaluations to ensure all courses listed in their programs of study are completed before graduation. The Change of Program of Study form can be found at http://www.apsu.edu/grad-studies/current-students/graduate-student-forms.php.

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Managing Your Matriculation and Graduate Assistantship

 It does not take long to figure out that obtaining a graduate degree is quite different from undergraduate. The coursework and research are much more involved, the standards and expectations are higher, and the pressure is a bit more intense. Remember that you were carefully selected because the department believed that you could succeed with the additional responsibility of an assistantship. If you ever struggle with your academics and workload, seek assistance and solutions. Communicate with your instructors and supervisor. You are capable and you can succeed!

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Student Financial Aid – Information You Should Know

The graduate assistantship, not to include the stipend, is considered financial aid assistance and could affect your eligibility for certain types of financial aid. Most often it can reduce loan eligibility. The portion of your graduate assistantship that deals with the tuition payment often fluctuates due to the dropping and adding of classes and associated fees. Currently, the system does not automatically calculate any adjustments after an award has been issued. Graduate assistants should notify the Office of Student Financial Aid, Student Account Services (Bursar’s Office), and the College of Graduate Studies any time they have fees not equal to the standard in-state, full-time graduate rate as published on the APSU website. IMPORTANT NOTE: If graduate courses are dropped within the refund periods, any portion of the refund from the graduate assistantship must be returned to the fund from which it was awarded. For more information related to how a graduate assistantship could affect your financial aid package and/or how to issue a refund to the Graduate Assistant Fund, please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid & Veterans Affairs at (931) 221-7907 or sfa@apsu.edu.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I report for work if the University closes?
When the University is closed due to increment weather or natural disaster, graduate assistants who are scheduled to work during the declared times of closing will be granted time off from work with pay and will not required to fulfill any missed hours.

What is my Banner/A Number?
Your Banner number or “A-Number” is your Student ID number. The number begins with the capital letter “A” and is followed by a series of eight (8) numbers. You can locate this number on your OneStop account, through Web Self Service, under the Personal Information tab. It is important to remember this number and it is recommended that you memorize it.

Who is the Graduate Advisor and/or Coordinator of my graduate program?
Your graduate academic advisor is assigned through your department of study. You must be advised by your advisor or graduate coordinator before you can register for graduate courses. Your graduate Advisor or coordinator can answer questions related to your coursework and departmental requirements. Your graduate advisor’s name can be found by accessing your OneStop account, through Web Self Service. Go to Student tab, select Registration, and then OneStop Advising Page. At the top right of this page you will see “Primary Advisor.” We encourage you to seek the assistance of your advisor or graduate coordinator. These individuals are willing and able to serve you throughout your studies.

How do I receive a Govs ID Card?
To receive a Govs ID Card you must be registered for classes and provide a picture ID, such as a driver’s license or passport. ID cards can be obtained at the Govs ID Card Center in room 207 of the Morgan University Center, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

What can I do with my Govs ID Card once I receive it?
The Govs ID card is your lifeline to campus life. Your card allows you to buy a meal plan, purchase food at venues in the Morgan University Center (UC), check out items in the library, attend athletic events, and access facilities after hours (with special permission). You can add money to your card and spend it at the bookstore, vending machines, or any food service location. A new feature of the Govs Card is the ability to link your card with US Bank to use it as a debit card. Further information about the Govs ID Card can be found at https://www.apsu.edu/govscard/.

Where do I park on campus?
Student parking decals are available at Public Safety/Campus Police located in the Shasteen Building. When applying for a decal, you must register your car through OneStop. Once you have registered, you must go to the Shasteen building and present your current APSU ID and your A-number. Parking fees are paid with student fees included in your tuition. GAs are not given a special parking decal.

Does the GA Scholarship cover my textbooks?
Currently there are no monetary provisions to assist GAs with purchasing textbooks.

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