Sufficiency of Stipend

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rohit
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Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby rohit » Sat Nov 08, 2008 9:29 am

If you lead a frugal lifestyle, is the fellowship/TA sufficient to support oneself fully? :lol:

Samual_Adams
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby Samual_Adams » Sat Nov 08, 2008 2:54 pm

Rohit,

It depends on the school you go to. I am at one of the top-5 US grad schools, and our stipends are large enough to support pretty non-frugal lifestyles.

Presumably, big-name private schools (MIT, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, etc.) yield larger stipends than public ones (since they have more money), but once your offer letters start rolling in, you should be able to make these comparisons for yourself.

All in all, so long as you get over $25 thousand per year, I think you can support yourself. At many schools, you can easily get 30-35 if you're good, or in some cases, even more (if you can combine some external fellowships like the NSF with your "local" money from the school).

stardust
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby stardust » Sat Nov 08, 2008 4:06 pm

For a guy in a top 5 school, you certainly don't know how to spell Samuel Adams. :)

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coreycwgriffin
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby coreycwgriffin » Sat Nov 08, 2008 6:17 pm

stardust wrote:For a guy in a top 5 school, you certainly don't know how to spell Samuel Adams. :)


:rofl:

LucasWillis
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby LucasWillis » Sat Nov 08, 2008 8:11 pm

In almost all cases, the TA stipend is more than enough to live on. In theory, the amount a school offers is based on cost of living in that area and they don't expect you to have another job or be dipping into savings.

Noted exceptions would be some California schools, where you would probably have to live a reasonably frugal lifestyle.
I personally thought that University of Maryland's stipend was a little too low for the area, and University of Colorado's was borderline.
Private schools can usually offer quite a bit more. Yale's standard TA stipend is tremendous (27k) for New Haven.

It all depends on living conditions, really. If you are trying to get a single-person apartment, you might be in trouble. My advice is to try to make some contacts during visiting weekends and find some possible room mates. You could also opt for the random craig's list ads seeking a room mate, but it is definitely more convenient to room with someone in your department. Just picture your room mates throwing a party the night before the qualifier. That's not to say that you can't luck out with the random craig's list ad.
Another housing option is sending an e-mail to the department secretary after you've accepted, and ask him/her to send an email out to the department and other incoming students asking if anyone wants/needs a room mate.

abeboparebop
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby abeboparebop » Sat Nov 08, 2008 9:33 pm

I assume these stipends are generally taxed like a regular paycheck?

marten
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby marten » Sat Nov 08, 2008 11:13 pm

Yeah, as an employee you'll have to fill out the normal paper work just like you would for any other job. That includes US tax witholding W-4. It's a job, with tuition benefits. I've found my stipend to be more then comfortable, still paying off student loans, putting money into IRA, savings, and living comfortably. It helps to be smart, not be making expensive car payments, or things like that. Besides, most physics grad students don't have time to blow a lot of money on luxuries.

Besides lifestyle, definitely take local cost of living into consideration. For example, Washington DC has a famously high cost of living, go to http://www.gradschoolshopper.com and take a look at the average stipend for CUA. On the other hand, I'd agree that you could live comfortably in New Haven for 27k.

Marten

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gliese876d
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby gliese876d » Mon Nov 24, 2008 9:43 pm

What about health benefits? Do schools typically offer that as part of your package? I've been without health care for years and it would be nice to finally have coverage...

Also, marten, I'm confused by this:
I've found my stipend to be more then comfortable, still paying off student loans, putting money into IRA, savings, and living comfortably.
Aren't student loans deferred while you're in graduate school? I sure hope they are...

As far as financially getting by in grad school, I'd say if you're looking at schools in the top 40-50 come to U of Pittsburgh; cost of living is dirt-cheap here. I'm not looking forward to the inevitable increased cost of living when I go to graduate school, but I'm pretty darn frugal with my money--as a single mom, I have to be (note: my kids have always had health care, in case anyone was about to read into my earlier statement about me not having health care). And I can say that *anything* is better than this living-on-loans-lifestyle. Getting paid rather than paying for my education will be a nice change of pace...

marten
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby marten » Tue Nov 25, 2008 12:06 am

Oh yes, you're absolutely right, if you meet the requirements for the loan (1/2 time, full time student, I forget, and it may depend on the loan) you can defer your loan(s). If they're subsidized, then your loans won't accrue interest, but if they aren't subsidized, then you'll be accruing interest while in deferment. This can rack up over 5 years or so for a PhD. Of course you can just pay the interest to keep it from capitalizing, or not, and pay for it later. Personally, I've deferred my big federal loan, because half of it is subsidized, but not my higher interest rate private loans. One of them is paid back, and the other is currently in repayment. It makes sense financially to defer your lowest interest rate loans if you can, and divert those funds to paying off your highest interest rate loans first.

At my University, the grad students can purchase the University health plan. The cost isn't included, (around $1000 for a year) but it is subsidized, so we'll get reimbursed for half of the price. Coming up soon already. Plus the University has a good health center which is free for students. The health insurance is good for extra costs that aren't covered by the health center, prescriptions and so forth.

Congratulations on making it as a single mom, I don't pretend to know what that is like, but it can't be easy. FWIW, the first paragraph in my health care brochure fine print says that it doesn't cover spouses or children.

I agree, getting a check and taking classes at the same time is a very nice arrangement. Reinforces the choice of quitting a job for grad school.

Marten

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Helio
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby Helio » Tue Nov 25, 2008 12:13 am

1. Get admitted first :wink:
2. Yes... schools know that you won't come without money

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gliese876d
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby gliese876d » Tue Nov 25, 2008 12:54 am

Marten, thanks for clarifying. I have some subsidized and unsubsidized loans, and have been paying the interest on the unsubsidized loans. So I imagine I would want to keep doing that, and if I have enough extra money I might be able to throw some towards the principle of the unsubsidized loans.

$1000/year doesn't sound too bad for health care. My kids are currently covered by my ex's health care, and in Pennsylvania (where I live now), there is a state-run health program called CHIP that covers basically any child that's otherwise uninsured, so I could always have them covered even if something were to happen to their father's coverage. I guess I'm hoping other states have the same sort of health insurance for kids, because at this point, I can't count on my ex moving where I go, and I don't know if his health coverage would work in other states.... But my situation's pretty complex; too many coupled equations and too many unknowns.... I am just hoping that in the coming months, the best option will ultimately present itself clearly, after all these question marks are resolved... For the typical single incoming grad student, I imagine the finances and logistics are more straightforward...

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G01
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby G01 » Tue Nov 25, 2008 4:17 pm

gliese876d wrote:What about health benefits? Do schools typically offer that as part of your package? I've been without health care for years and it would be nice to finally have coverage...

Also, marten, I'm confused by this:
I've found my stipend to be more then comfortable, still paying off student loans, putting money into IRA, savings, and living comfortably.
Aren't student loans deferred while you're in graduate school? I sure hope they are...

As far as financially getting by in grad school, I'd say if you're looking at schools in the top 40-50 come to U of Pittsburgh; cost of living is dirt-cheap here. I'm not looking forward to the inevitable increased cost of living when I go to graduate school, but I'm pretty darn frugal with my money--as a single mom, I have to be (note: my kids have always had health care, in case anyone was about to read into my earlier statement about me not having health care). And I can say that *anything* is better than this living-on-loans-lifestyle. Getting paid rather than paying for my education will be a nice change of pace...


I was in Pitt's REU program the past two summers and have to agree that the cost of living in Pittsburgh is drastically low for a city of it's size. I would have expected it to be much more. Of course, I only have a limited 6 months of experience in the Pittsburgh area.

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gliese876d
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby gliese876d » Thu Nov 27, 2008 1:04 am

Yeah it's definitely cheap here. All you have to do is check out any cost-of-living calculator to see it. I'm applying to schools all across the country and *every* single one has a higher cost of living than here except University of FL, which is almost exaclty the same cost of living as Pittsburgh (ie. Gainesville is less than 1% cheaper than here in Pittsburgh).

I'm a big believer in checking out costs of living at schools you are considering, because how else can you really gauge which school is offering you the best deal?

Who did you work with for REU if you don't mind my asking?

rohit
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby rohit » Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:25 pm

eek!! :shock: :?: :!:

quoted from the PhysicsGRE.com article on financial aid by the siteadmin -
" Although there are some lucky students who are able to stay out of debt while attending graduate school, the majority students go into debt in some form of another."

Clarifications please !

03D3bb
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby 03D3bb » Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:39 pm

If you get into a top-ish program you shouldn't have to worry about money, given that you live within your stipend of course. Most places offer a stipend appropriate for the cost of living in the area and either fully cover healthcare of subsidize some part of it. While money is important, don't let it be the deciding factor because most schools will give you enough money to afford rent and eat things other than ramen. Bottom line, you are not going to live like a king while in grad school, but you should be able to get by with your stipend and some spending restraints. If you can't imagine living with roommates and a budget, do not apply to state schools like UCSB (~17k), go for private schools like Stanford (~30k) and Yale (~28k).

rohit
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby rohit » Fri Dec 05, 2008 5:26 pm

OK, but i am applying to schools that are ranked as low as 50 - U pittsburgh, Michigan State, U florida, U NC Chapel Hill...
Can i be sure of not running into debt if i live frugally, as i remarked in the 1st post? I simply will not have any source of income other than the stipend, and absolutely do not want to take a loan.

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twistor
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby twistor » Fri Dec 05, 2008 6:40 pm

I live in luxury. Science will make you rich like that guy in "Blow".

mhazelm
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby mhazelm » Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:12 am

Speaking on this issue, when we fill out applications, what do we put in the financial parts? I'm always confused by this. I don't know how much to ask for: entire living costs expected, or do they see that as too much to ask for? Is it bad to tell them I have no debt (I'm assuming they give you more help if they think you're already in debt)?

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zxcv
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby zxcv » Tue Dec 09, 2008 2:12 am

Your financial aid is almost assuredly not going to be need based, so I don't think those forms matter at all.

To get a sense of financial aid offers, look through the profiles thread from last year. Not everyone gets the same offer due to fellowships but it should give you a general range.

It's pretty hard to predict what your financial offer will be, but it probably is indeed going to be sufficient. You can judge that by asking current grad students when you're flied out there for a visit after getting in.

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secander2!
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby secander2! » Tue Dec 09, 2008 5:35 am

Every offer I've seen was around $2000/month, although this can skyrocket when you get fellowships. I'm currently living in one of the worlds 10 ten most expensive cities for less than this amount (albeit not particularly comfortably :| ), so it can be done.

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zxcv
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby zxcv » Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:48 am

secander2! wrote:Every offer I've seen was around $2000/month, although this can skyrocket when you get fellowships. I'm currently living in one of the worlds 10 ten most expensive cities for less than this amount (albeit not particularly comfortably :| ), so it can be done.
Uh, check the funding levels at most public universities, especially for TAs. None of my four offers guaranteed $2000/month if I was still teaching after the first year -- some were significantly less. In particular, beware offers of extra bonuses in the first year that won't be there next year.

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secander2!
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Re: Sufficiency of Stipend

Postby secander2! » Tue Dec 09, 2008 8:49 am

zxcv, sorry, you're right, somehow I 'inflated' everything in my head... I think I just abstracted the fellowship offers to the whole sample! I looked back at some of my offers from last year, and a some of them were significantly lower, although none were lower than $1500 a month (which is about what I'm currently living off of right now) so it SHOULD be livable, although it would be quite hard depending on how expensive the location is.




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