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Financial Support

Updated November 2020

Student Support While in the Program

Upon admission to UCSD, each MFA student is provided a financial support letter from the department.  This letter details the guaranteed support the department is able to offer for the duration of the program.  Beyond that, students may apply for additional support opportunities, based on availability and student eligibility. 

The Department may have support opportunities available in the form of Teaching Assistantships, Readerships, Research Assistantships or Fellowships.  Support opportunities depend upon the funds available, the number of positions available, the number of students eligible, and their satisfactory rate of progress in the program.  While each support opportunity may have unique eligibility requirements, all support (including any tuition and fees) requires students to remain in good academic standing.  If students have questions about eligibility, they should contact the advising staff at mfawriting@ucsd.edu

An online program called the IA System (Instructional Assistant Data Management System) is used for most of the applications for TA positions and Reader positions across campus.  The Graduate Office may receive email advertisements for new positions that have been posted, and those will be shared with the students via the Department listserv.  At any time, students may also check the list of all currently open positions on the IA System website here: https://academicaffairs.ucsd.edu/Modules/ASES/OpenPositions.aspx.

Summer Arrangements

The Department does not guarantee any form of support during the summer months, so students should plan accordingly.  Students may apply to available employment opportunities across campus, including Teaching Assistantships and Research Assistant positions.

Tuition & Fees

All UCSD graduate students are charged tuition and fees each quarter.  These can vary slightly year-to-year, and students can view the detailed breakdown of fees for specific years on the GRAD DIVISION website: http://grad.ucsd.edu/financial/tuition-fees.html.  Several types of support will cover the cost of tuition and many of the fees.  In those cases, the fees students must pay will be reduced significantly:

  • Teaching Assistantship or Readership position of 25% time or greater: will cover all but $219.66 of tuition and fees per quarter
  • Research Assistantship of 25% time or greater: will cover all but $219.66 of tuition and fees per quarter
  • Fellowships: vary, students should refer to the details of a specific fellowship to see what tuition and fees it may cover

Students should refer to the Enrollment & Registration calendar for the fee payment deadline each quarter: https://students.ucsd.edu/academics/enroll/index.html.  Tuition & fee payments from employment positions will post approximately ten days before the fee payment deadline.  Students may access their bill online (https://students.ucsd.edu/finances/billing-payment/index.html), and tuition & fee payments from campus sources will appear in a “Pending Awards” box.  It is the student’s responsibility to ensure all tuition & fees are paid by the fee payment deadline, to avoid late fees and possible dropped enrollment.  Students should check their bill online well in advance of the fee payment deadline, and they should reach out to the advising staff at mfawriting@ucsd.edu if they do not see an expected tuition & fees payment posted.

Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition

Non-California residents are required to pay Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition each quarter, which is charged in addition to the tuition and fees that all students pay (see Grad Division’s website for details: http://grad.ucsd.edu/financial/tuition-fees.html). 

  • For domestic non-California residents, the Department covers the cost of Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition for one year. These students must establish California residency after their first year at UCSD.  If a student fails to establish (or elects not to establish) California residency after their first year, the student will be responsible for paying the Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition going forward.
  • For international students, the Department covers the cost of Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition for the three years following admissions (or completion of the degree, if less than three years). If an international student fails to graduate within those three years, the student will be responsible for paying the Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition each subsequent quarter.

Teaching Assistantships

The Department considers apprentice teaching a beneficial part of professional training for the MFA degree.  Every student is required to be a 50% teaching assistant for at least one academic quarter.  Duties of a teaching assistant usually include attending the lectures for the course, reading and grading papers and examinations, meeting with the supervising professor to discuss the progress of the course, conducting discussion sections, and holding office hours.

Students who are not native-English-speakers may be required to pass an English Screening Examination before they can teach courses conducted in English.  Courses designed to enhance English language skills are available to assist students in passing the screening so that they may teach.  Contact the advising staff for detailed information.

Full-time MFA students in good standing are eligible for 50% Teaching Assistantships on campus.  However, the maximum number of quarters a student may have Teaching Assistant appointments is eighteen, according to UC policy.  Appointments during Summer Session do not count towards this total.  While it is highly unlikely that MFA students will approach this maximum, it is an important policy to be aware of (as time spent as a TA in previous and future graduate programs within the UC-system is included in this total). 

The maximum academic employment appointment a student may accept is 50%.  Anything over that must be petitioned as an exception and only up to 75% time.  No first-year students will be considered for over-50% exceptions.  International students may not be employed over 50% during the academic year.

MFA students generally find employment in one of the six campus College Writing Programs or in Literature.  Most of these programs offer pedagogical training.  These positions are generally filled each Spring Quarter, and students will be sent application instructions via the Department listserv. 

Supervising professors write formal teaching evaluations for each teaching assistant who works with them, and students enrolled in the course will often complete online evaluations of their assigned TA.  Students may access completed teaching evaluations by logging in with their Single Sign-On or Student PID/PAC: http://academicaffairs.ucsd.edu/Modules/Evals  (be sure to select “Student SSO” as the “Sign on with:” option).  If you cannot access your evaluations for any reason, please contact the advising staff at mfawriting@ucsd.edu for assistance. TAs should download and review their evaluations after final grades have been posted, and then correct any significant weaknesses by the end of the following quarter. Please seek advising from the MFA director.  It is the student’s responsibility to download and save their evaluations each quarter, as they will not be able to access them after graduation (and the department will not be able to provide copies).

Teaching assistants are expected to take very seriously their responsibilities to their students, and the evaluations are very important. The ratings and comments may impact the graduate student's—

  • Teaching apprenticeship grade.
  • Annual Spring Evaluation.
  • Eligibility for future employment as a TA or reader.
  • Eligibility for future merit-based scholarships or fellowships.

Instructors expect TAs to have a positive attitude and professional work habits, and to follow instructions for grading and conducting sessions. Undergraduate students have similar expectations. Here are common reasons why TAs receive unsatisfactory teaching apprenticeship grades or evaluations:

  • Arriving late for lectures, discussion sections, or office hours.
  • Canceling discussion sections with little or no notice.
  • Disregarding instructions for conducting section or grading student work.
  • Failing to return graded work to students in a timely manner.
  • Behaving disrespectfully, inappropriately, or dismissively when interacting with the instructor or students.
  • Failing to keep accurate academic records or submit grades on time.

Readerships & Other Employment


Each quarter departments across campus (including Literature) hire Readers to assist professors who teach large courses by grading papers and examinations.  Their workload is prorated according to the enrollment of the courses.  Readers are paid an hourly rate for their work, and it is recommended that Reader positions be considered as a possible supplement to a Teaching Assistantship (rather than a primary source of income).

To be considered for a Readership, please apply online to the open positions.  Email notifications will be sent to the Department listserv to keep students up-to-date on when these positions become open, but students should also refer to the full list of available positions posted on the IA System Open Positions page (https://academicaffairs.ucsd.edu/Modules/ASES/OpenPositions.aspx)

Other Employment

The Graduate Office regularly receives requests during the academic year for tutors, editors, writers, translators, and other various positions across campus (and off-campus).  Announcements of this type will be sent via the Department listserv.

Union Information

Students working as Teaching Assistants and Readers are covered by a collective bargaining agreement between the University and the UAW.  Their names and addresses will be released to the UAW each term that they are employed in the bargaining unit.  The Union Agreement can be retrieved electronically at: https://ucnet.universityofcalifornia.edu/labor/bargaining-units/bx/contract.html.


Students are encouraged to apply for relevant fellowships through the University and through other granting institutions. 

A number of fellowships (both UC-based and extramural) are available annually.  Information about these fellowships is available from the GRAD DIVISION.  The GRAD DIVISION website: http://grad.ucsd.edu/financial/fellowships/funding-opportunties/index.html lists a wide variety of information about UCSD and UC need-based and merit-based financial assistance, as well as numerous extramural fellowship opportunities.  These sites are regularly updated.  Please contact the GRAD DIVISION for information on extramural fellowships at 534-3555.

There is also a list of funding opportunities for graduate students posted on the Division of Arts & Humanities website (http://ah.ucsd.edu/_files/Final%20Calendar%20UC%20Internal%20Grants%2018-19%20graduate%20students.pdf).  Information about extramural fellowships and awards is also available in the reference section of the Central University Library under Contracts and Grants.

A wide variety of local (system-wide and UCSD) awards are available from various agencies, Departments, and programs.  Enrolled graduate students receive regular notification about available fellowships from the Graduate Office and from GRAD DIVISION through the Department listserv.

When funding is available, the Department may also offer mid-year and summer research grants or support awards.

Fee Deferments & Loans

For students holding Teaching Assistantships, fee deferments and loans are available on a quarterly or an annual basis from GRAD DIVISION.  Once students have accessed and completed the required forms, they will need to the Department advising staff for endorsement.  Once signed, the student can submit the request form(s) to Grad Division: http://grad.ucsd.edu/financial/employment/ases/ta-fee-deferment-loan-programs.html.

Research & Travel Grants

There are no guaranteed travel funds, but there are various opportunities for students to apply for funds.  If/when any funds are available from the department, a call for applications will be send to the listserv.  Students will need to apply, and the details of the eligibility requirements and approved uses of the funds will be provided.

All students may also apply for funds from outside the department.  The two most common examples of these funding sources are the Dean of Arts and Humanities Travel Fund (http://ah.ucsd.edu/students/current/dean-travel-fund.html) and the GPSA Travel Grants (https://gradsa.ucsd.edu/grad-resources/travel-grants.html).  Some funding sources from outside the department (including the Dean’s Travel Fund and GPSA Travel Grants) will send the awarded funds to the department for processing.  The advising staff will contact the students to collect the applicable paperwork and receipts.

Taxes, Employment Documentation, & Benefits

Tax Liability

Teaching Assistantships, Readerships, Research Assistantships, and most fellowships are taxable.  For information on how salary, fellowships, and fee payments are taxed, please visit: http://grad.ucsd.edu/financial/tax-information.html.

Employment Documentation & Benefits

Graduate students employed by UCSD have access to benefits and employment information through the UCPath Online Self-Service Portal (https://ucpath.ucsd.edu/self-service/index.html) and the At Your Service Online website (https://atyourserviceonline.ucop.edu/ayso/).  For instructions on how to setup your access to At Your Service Online, students should follow the instructions here: https://blink.ucsd.edu/HR/benefits/AYSO/SSO.html.

Director of MFA Program
Lily Hoang

MFA Program Advising
(858) 534-8849

Accepting Applications:
Apply Online!
9/9/2020 - 1/6/2021 (for Fall 2021 admissions)