FWS Funds for GTAships

We asked KU to confirm in writing that using FWS funds will not affect our GTAships, FTEs, or rights as unionized workers. During this exchange, KU called us “students” ten times. KU refuses to call us “workers” because they don’t think we do “real work”. Join GTAC to get the respect you deserve.

Julie Thornton, Director of Employee Relations
Sub: federal work study inquiry – GTAC

Hi Patrick,

Your inquiry about financial aid/Federal Work Study was forwarded to me by Financial Aid and Scholarships (FAS) yesterday.

Financial Aid and Scholarships let me know that your organization has concerns that GAs/GTAs/GRAs who file for Federal Work Study (FWS) may have interferences with their tuition waivers, healthcare benefits, and other benefits that come with GA/GTA/GRA. I have never heard of such an issue, but wanted verification from FAS on how they address graduate students and the FAFSA.

I learned from FAS that indeed there are no interferences with tuition waivers or benefits when a student uses federal work study. Where the money comes from does not impact the student’s benefits, except for allowing for the possible elimination of loans and replacing it with work study, which many students prefer.

Related to the use of FWS dollars, Financial Aid and Scholarships gets a regular report identifying students who have a FWS award but are not being paid FWS funds. KU gets an allocation of federal monies to subsidize work study pay (at 75%), and as you can imagine, we would prefer to spend FWS dollars than KU dollars, so our KU monies can be spent to support more non-FWS students. It is common for campus employers to request that their students ask for FWS when they do not already have an award, but FAS has not worked with any departments to get students switched to FWS as a result of the pandemic. Also, if a student calls asking how to get FWS, FAS encourages the FAFSA.

For reference, there are currently 466 total KU-Lawrence graduate students who have filed FAFSA and also hold a GA/GRA/GTA appointment for this current spring term.

Patrick, I hope this information is helpful for what you are trying to learn about graduate student tuition waivers and benefits, as it relates to federal work study dollars. I am happy to help you collect similar information like this in the future, as needed and appropriate. As I indicated earlier in this email, I look forward to getting to know you and working with you. All the best and stay safe.

Patrick Gauding, Legislative & Negotiations Chair for GTAC
Re: federal work study inquiry – GTAC


I am glad to hear from you and look forward to working with you as well. Of course, GTAC feels the same way about use of additional federal dollars and will be happy to direct our unit accordingly.

However, it seems there’s been a mix-up between messages, our apologies. While I’m sure we share a mutual concern for all KU students and workers, our legal prerogative is specific to workers holding the job title of Graduate Teaching Assistants and does not apply to students or even other graduate workers.

Specifically, we would like confirmation that applying for or accepting FWS funds will in no way affect our GTAships, FTEs, or rights as unionized workers within the GTAC AFT Local 6403 unit. If you could confirm this, we could get moving on accessing these funds for the University.

Julie Thornton, Director of Employee Relations
Re: Re: federal work study inquiry – GTAC

Patrick, to specifically answer your question. GTAships, FTEs, or rights as unionized workers within the GTAC AFT Local 6403 unit will not be impacted by whether their money comes from FAFSA/FWS or from KU dollars.

Geez KU, was that so difficult? If this was so urgent, why not just say it straight out in the first place? 🙄