Who pays for grad school?

Jai_Guru
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Who pays for grad school?

Postby Jai_Guru » Thu Apr 09, 2009 7:52 pm

I'm from Mexico and I'm planning on attending grad school in the US. There are a couple of issues I don't understand yet. Who pays for graduate school? If a university accepts you does it mean they'll have to spend lots of money in you?

Here in Mexico there is a government agency that pays living expenses and tuition for graduate study in a good university (top 100 maybe) which means that if I apply to a university in the US they won't have to spend so much in me. Is this a plus for getting accepted?

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dlenmn
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby dlenmn » Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:25 pm

It's rare that anyone pays "lots of money" on grad students. Your source of pay will vary. If you're TAing, it's probably from the department. If you're RAing it's probably from a professor's grant. If it's a fellowship, it might be from any number of sources.

Often, the government (tax-payer) is footing the bill one way or another.

If you're going to be fully funded by the Mexican government, that might well help your chances since the department won't have to pay you.

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grae313
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby grae313 » Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:04 am

dlenmn wrote:It's rare that anyone pays "lots of money" on grad students.


Well, "lots of money" is of course a relative term, but including tuition, insurance, stipend, etc, I cost the University around 60K per year.

As to the OPs questions, if it is a public University, the American taxpayers pay for grad school. If it is a private University, an endowment funded by a lot of rich people as well as the American taxpayers pay for grad school. If your government will pay your tuition/living expenses while you attend a US University, that is just as good as having a fellowship and will definitely make it much easier for a program to consider accepting you, and also to get into the research group of your choice.

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Julius_Sumner_Miller
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby Julius_Sumner_Miller » Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:27 am

Just thought I'd throw in my two cents. I am currently a graduate student and have a scholarship that pays full tuition, at first I thought this would be a plus but it turns out that for most schools graduate tuition is so called "funny money" (i.e. it is money that only ever exists in writing, I'm sure admissionsprof could explain this in more detail). My first year as a grad student the head of the Physics department recommended that I use the scholarship as it would "look good" for the department, but after the office began to deal with the mounds of paperwork and numerous visits to the grad office required I was told not to bother with it my second year. Although all schools are different, considering how underfunded my current department is I doubt a top 100 school would care any more than they did about tuition money. Any source of outside funding always looks good on your application, but I would not expect a school to accept you without the typical stipend+tuition funding they offer everyone, it just seems like that's part of their enrollment equation (x students * stipend+tuition per student = grad budget < departmental electricity bill).




"Physics is my business"

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dlenmn
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby dlenmn » Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:09 pm

grae313 wrote:including tuition ... I cost the University around 60K per year.


Tuition costs the university money? Depending on the school, perhaps the department gives the university money (from the money that the university gave the department). It's just moving money from one hand to the other. Doesn't cost the University a cent (except to employ a bean counter to do it). Insurance, electricity, etc. do cost the university/department money, but I find it hard to believe it costs $30,000 a year. Most people don't get as large stipends as you either.

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grae313
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby grae313 » Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:43 pm

dlenmn wrote:
grae313 wrote:including tuition ... I cost the University around 60K per year.


You're right in one sense, but here's another: if my tuition wasn't waved, I would pay somewhere around $30k per year in tuition. That's money in the school's pocket that's not there because my tuition is waved or paid for by the University or whatever is going on behind the scenes.

I hear what you're saying though, it's definitely not like the University is sending away 60K of it's money every year. But if the CD costs $15 and you walk out of the store with it in your pocket, the store just lost money.

sterculus
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby sterculus » Fri Apr 10, 2009 3:46 pm

If you're on a RA at many schools (the ones I'm looking at, at least) the prof's grant pays your tuition in addition to your stipend. If you're a TA then it usually gets waived. So yeah, the 60-70k figure is real.

admissionprof
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby admissionprof » Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:01 pm

At most (but certainly not all) schools, the university gives the department a certain number of tuition waivers. Usually enough to cover a typical entering class for a year or two. After that, it's grants (although tuition often drops a lot when classes aren't being taken). If someone has a scholarship to pay tuition, that will often free up one for another student.

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dlenmn
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby dlenmn » Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:02 pm

grae313 wrote:if my tuition wasn't waved, I would pay somewhere around $30k per year in tuition.


Really? If a school wouldn't wave my tuition, I wouldn't go there. I think most people would do the same.

In short, if they charged $30k tuition, no one would go there and they'd get $0 in tuition. That's the same amount they'd make if they waved tuition! Even if a sucker or two did attend, it wouldn't be worth it for the school, since having many grad students is more useful than having a few who pay.

In your CD store analogy, if the stolen CD was by some horrible band that no one liked, and it was never going to sell anyway, then someone walking off with it didn't really rob the store of any revenue since it was just going to sit there gathering dust.

matonski
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby matonski » Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:53 pm

I've always had similar thoughts when people say that downloading pirated music/software is stealing. I feel like it only really hurts anyone if you would have bought it otherwise.

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dlenmn
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby dlenmn » Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:11 pm

I agree. The hard part is how to know that you really wouldn't have bought it (counterfactual situations are tricky like that).

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grae313
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby grae313 » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:20 pm

dlenmn wrote:
grae313 wrote:if my tuition wasn't waved, I would pay somewhere around $30k per year in tuition.


Really? If a school wouldn't wave my tuition, I wouldn't go there. I think most people would do the same.


Well of course if it was an isolated incident I wouldn't, but if it was not the universal trend to waive tuition, I don't think the doctoral degree would become extinct. Also, sterculus' point was a good one, when you become an RA in a year or two, it's not just "funny money" anymore.

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dlenmn
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby dlenmn » Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:44 pm

sterculus wrote:If you're on a RA at many schools (the ones I'm looking at, at least) the prof's grant pays your tuition in addition to your stipend. If you're a TA then it usually gets waived. So yeah, the 60-70k figure is real.


Here that is not the case. The university directly remits tuition for all TAs and RAs with at least a 1/3 time appointment (so there's not even money being moved from one hand to the other). Even if that were not the case, non-resident tuition is less than $13k (and a good deal less for dissertators), so we're still not getting anywhere close to 60-70K.

I forget how it worked at the other schools I was looking at, but I don't think Wisc was the only program where RA tuition wasn't payed for by the prof's grant. I'm not going to take the time to dig up the information now though.

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dlenmn
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby dlenmn » Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:59 pm

I'll make this my last post on the subject.

grae313 wrote:Well of course if it was an isolated incident I wouldn't, but if it was not the universal trend to waive tuition, I don't think the doctoral degree would become extinct.


Well, I think some people would still do it, but there would be many fewer. You'd see a lot less international students from poorer countries for sure.

Other grad programs (medical, MBA, etc.) charge lots of money. I don't think it's altruism that's keeping physics grad programs from charging us tuition. I think it's supply and demand. To get the number of graduate students they need, tuition remission is necessary (or something equivalent, like charging tuition and increasing the stipend by the same amount -- a Galilean transformation).

See also my previous post for a case where the money is always funny.

excel
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby excel » Fri Apr 10, 2009 11:05 pm

dlenmn wrote:
I forget how it worked at the other schools I was looking at, but I don't think Wisc was the only program where RA tuition wasn't payed for by the prof's grant. I'm not going to take the time to dig up the information now though.


dlenmn, generally, PIs do have to pay both tuition and stipend support. Like you said, I do know universities where this is not the case though. Hopefully, I get to become a PI and at one of such universities! :mrgreen:
Last edited by excel on Fri Apr 10, 2009 11:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

excel
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby excel » Fri Apr 10, 2009 11:37 pm

At the heart of this discussion seems to be the net value of the PhD experience.

This value arises out of the education we get in graduate school, the connections we form, the "fun" bit, the personal growth, the university brand name that we can now associate with our names, the opportunity to succeed at research etc.

The tuition measures this non-monetory value in dollar amounts, but obviously different people would estimate this value differently.

If someone thinks this value (=tuition) + stipend<net value of working these years in industry, then s/he should prefer to go work in the industry instead of doing PhD.

I use the undergraduate tuition as the reference point for measuring this value. And, by that reference point, I would say my PhD is worth $25-30K per year.

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grae313
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby grae313 » Sat Apr 11, 2009 11:40 am

dlenmn wrote:Even if that were not the case, non-resident tuition is less than $13k (and a good deal less for dissertators), so we're still not getting anywhere close to 60-70K.


Ah, tuition for research PhDs here is 29.5K per year. Then there is health insurance, stipend, and fellowhips on top of that. Anyways, I just spat out the ~60K number because that's what I was told by several faculty/staff here ::shrug:: Perhaps they were just trying to impress us.

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quizivex
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby quizivex » Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:47 am

This is an interesting question and I thought about the same thing. My financial aid paperwork said my tuition + stipend add up to ~$56K. I doubt that's actually coming out of Princeton's pocket (or PPPL's budget). It's just a number given to impress students and show them how much things would've costed if they had to pay tuition themselves. It doesn't cost them much to run our classes, and we more than make up for it through the research we do for them. But the stipend is a nice bonus they do have to fork up.

People constantly complain that "grad students live on a near-poverty income."... But that's just BS. How would they like it if instead of getting just 22K per year, they had to pay their own tuition and buy their own food, just like students in other fields do? I think it's quite awesome that we're paid a solid, adequate income to live comfortably while earning an advanced degree. I don't know what kind of *** they like to buy, but for a single person, I think it's plenty. And if you're not single, that's your problem... your spouse should be working or having his/her own student stipend.

As dlenmn suggested before, if a program didn't waive tuition, far fewer students (practically nobody) would consider coming, since it wouldn't be competitive with other programs. Even if no programs waived tuition, enrollment would uniformly plummet... Physics students already face quite a bleak future in terms of job prospects and income in physics, compared to doctors, lawyers, and others with advanced degrees, so if it weren't for the fact that we can live comfortably and graduate debt free from school, I for one, would never have considered taking this path. If we weren't given stipends, I'd probably still do it, but there's no way in hell I'm paying $20-40k (depending on the school) on top of my personal expenses for 6 years just to graduate ~$250Kin debt just to take a measley postdoc position 2000 miles away. Physics, as opposed to medicine, just doesn't pay enough later to justify going into debt now. So we can't look at waived tuition as profit being forefeited. But I am thankful for stipends.

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Julius_Sumner_Miller
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby Julius_Sumner_Miller » Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:17 pm

quizivex wrote:People constantly complain that "grad students live on a near-poverty income."... But that's just BS.


Easy for you to say, your stipend is 50% more than mine you rich bastard! :P
Also I would like to add that this year by not using my scholarship I increased my federal tax return by $500, if I had known this last year I would definately never used it. Lesson: always let someone else pay for grad school.

tensorwhat
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Re: Who pays for grad school?

Postby tensorwhat » Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:54 pm

Lesson: take all the good scholarship money, and never pay federal taxes when you don't have to :)

eff the IRS & the fed :)




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