mountain profile Institute for Astronomy University of Hawaii

Summer Salary

Maintained by LG

Students holding TAs and RAs may, if they wish, seek additional summer employment as research assistants. Such employment is not automatic, and needs to be negotiated with the supervisor and arranged with the administrative office at least five weeks in advance.

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 you to two half-months of summer salary if you hold an RA, or two full months if you hold a TA; exceptions are only made in unusual circumstances. 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. You can, of course, arrange to work for less than the maximum allowed period. The following charts illustrate the difference between an RA and a TA.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Academic Work
Summer Salary
11-month Research Assistantship
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Academic Work
9-month Teaching Assistantship

Note that one six-week session of summer school counts as 1.5 half-months of summer overload.

How is summer salary calculated?

Your summer salary is governed by university rules and is based on the type of assistantship you 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 current figures for 2007:

Research Assistant at step GA-14 Teaching Assistant at step GA-14
  • Basic salary for 11 half-months work:
  • Salary for one half-month's work:
    $25,902/11 = $2,354.73
  • Two half-months summer salary:
    $2,354.73 x 2 =$4,709.45
  • Total earnings for year:
  • Basic salary for 9 half-months work:
  • Salary for one half-month's work:
    $22,140/9 = $2,460
  • Four half months summer salary:
    $2,460 x 4 = $9,840
  • Total earnings for year:


  1. The actual summer salaries will differ from those above if the summer employment does not exactly fit into full calendar months. The pay you receive depends on the actual days you work, which have to be specified in advance. The calculation of part-month salaries is too complicated to explain here.
  2. Under this policy, TAs can earn 4.3% more than RAs per calendar year. This slight difference 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, even if they have done brilliant work. These rules can't be bent; federal and state auditors check on us frequently.

Here are the steps you must follow to arrange for summer employment:

  1. Find a faculty member who needs some work done over the summer and agree with him/her on how many weeks' work you will do, and whether you will be full-time or half-time. Decide with the faculty member exactly which days you will officially be at work. Obviously, this period of time cannot include any personal time or travel time you plan to take.
  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. I all goes well, you should receive a copy of the blue "Form 6" (Overload & Casual – Notification of Personnel Action), signed by lots of people including the director within 2-3 weeks. Check that this form is correct and that the period of time it covers is what you agreed with the faculty member. If you haven't received this form one week prior to the first day of your summer salary period contact the administrative officer.
  6. Solve the mysteries of the Universe.
  7. Get paid.
  8. Go to the beach.