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Professional Pay in Higher Education

Faculty, staff and graduate assistants should be fairly paid for their work. But often, especially for contingent faculty and graduate assistants, pay is lacking.
Professor leading her class
Published: 10/2020

NEA and its state and local affiliates are working hard for improved salaries for higher-education employees at every level and at all kinds of institutions, including historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions.

The simple fact is your work on U.S. colleges and universities is integral to the nation’s wellbeing. When it comes to fair pay: You deserve it.

And yet, NEA research shows that faculty at HBCUs suffer a pay penalty, while graduate assistants rarely earn a living wage. For decades, the pay earned by tenured and tenure-track faculty has stagnated, not keeping up with increased costs of living—and the situation is far worse for contingent faculty. Too many higher-education employees, including academic staff and support professionals, struggle to pay their bills.

Meanwhile, top-level administrative salaries continue to soar.

It’s time to join your local and state affiliates in fighting for fair pay for the faculty and staff whose work is vital to the mission of their institutions and integral to the wellbeing of our nation: the people teaching classes and conducting research, providing student services, and keeping their campuses safe and operational.

The good news is that NEA research shows the faculty who have a union get better pay than faculty who don’t!

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Jump to updates, opportunities, and resources for NEA state and local affiliates.
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Learn more about NEA Higher Ed

Our work as higher education faculty, staff and graduate assistants is fundamental to the well-being of this nation. As NEA members, we embrace the mission of our national union — “to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world”
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.