The Summer Lag: GS professors stretch budgets during months with no pay

Shiann Sivell

According to, Georgia Southern University is one of the thousands of colleges in United States that have the ten-month employment contract rather than the traditional twelve-month offered in primary institutions.

Many American institutional contracts are written on a ten, sometimes nine, month basis depending on the definition of “summer” of the respected area. This ultimately means that professors are paid a salary over the course of the non-summer months and not paid for the two to three months of summer when the majority of professors do not work.

The ten-month pay distribution puts more money in each professors’s paycheck each month when professors are not paid during the summer months, June and July.

Professors and students’ speak

Professors are paid different salaries based off their degrees and department types, according to tenured multimedia journalism professor Jennifer Kowalewski.

Kowalewski said that her last teaching job at Texas Christian University gave her the option of a 10 month or twelve-month contract. She chose twelve-month contract and prefers it over the 10-month numbers GS provides.

“I prefer having the university take a little out each month, this way I’m insured to get some kind of pay over the summer,” Kowalewski said. “I wouldn’t have to worry about budgeting over the summer.”

Kowalewski said her first summer at GS was rough, as she wasn’t sure how much she would need to get with the new contract. She had to resort to putting some of her finances on her credit cards.

This summer she taught a class in summer Term A as well as used the money she saved from her recent tax returns to get by.

Criminal justice professor Sarah Rogers, who has worked at GS since 2017, budgets for family and said that one of the hardest parts of the summer lag is the lack of guarantee for work.

{{tncms-inline content=”<p>“We are not guaranteed summer classes,” Rogers said. “It’s hard not knowing if you are going to have a class or not, especially for what I do budgeting-wise to prepare for [summer].”</p>” id=”3aa223fb-ea4d-4f0b-a078-fd49f4e60180″ style-type=”quote” title=”Rogers Quote” type=”relcontent”}}

Rogers said that students who would like to pursue a career in teaching should ask their employers during interviews about the types of contracts available.

“[Students] who are going into higher education [should] ask about the option of being paid over twelve months,” Rogers said. “Some people are good at balancing budgets, some people aren’t. It’s a deciding factor on whether to take the job or not.”

While the ten-month contract issue varies from school and district, it is still an issue those pursing a career in education will inherit. Sarah Thomas, senior education major, said that despite how no planning on teaching at GS, she still feels that the ten-month contract isn’t fair to professors.

“Professors should get paid for every hour worked, especially during the summer,” Thomas said. “This should include things like planning.”

The bright side

There is never a true upside to not receiving a paycheck, even if it’s just for a month or two. However, there are still a few things for professors to take advantage of while they wait for the fall semester to roll around:

1. Professors and faculty will continue to receive benefits promised by their contracts during the summer as long as they are returning for the next academic year. Also, summer is the ultimate planning time and professors can use the time to use end-of-the-year feedback to make adjustments to class activities.

2. For research professors, many grants allow faculty to pay themselves a summer salary while they are actively pursuing research. The corporation, government agency, or foundation awarding the grant typically regulates the rules and rates for such compensation, in tandem with university rules or state law.

3. Finally, there’s plenty of ways to tighten the budget during the paycheck-less summer, from cutting back on the AC, to setting a fixed weekly amount on food and entertainment expenses.