I just learned the Berkeley way of doing financial support for TA’s and RA’s here. The payroll paperwork for the appointment is sent down to the Graduate Division, which up-front pays the University for tuition and fees. They then turn around and charge the department or grant per month for the money over the course of the semester. That way, if you’re an RA and get fired after one month, the Grad Division will turn around and charge you for the last 2/3 of the tuition and fees.
For those who are TA-ing this semester, the bus pass fee and student life fee are not covered by the teaching appointment, so those have to be paid out of pocket. I don’t recall this being what happened in the past, so in my mind that’s a real step back for TAs. This fee is only waived for first-year grad students, presumably to lull them into the false sense that Berkeley is a place which fully supports its graduate student instructors.
I know that these policies happen for good reasons, namely to prevent waste and trim budgets. I’m sure that similar things happen at most other universities. But the way the bureaucracy evolved seems so bizarre to me at times.