How rich (or poor) are grad students?

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bstrekha
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2017 2:34 am

How rich (or poor) are grad students?

Postby bstrekha » Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:19 pm

Hi guys,

Assuming you get $22,000 as a PhD student (UIUC) and get taxed, pay about $9,000 for rent... lets assume you are left with $6,500 (don't know how much tax is, so I'm assuming around ~30%). Is that "enough"? How much would food cost per year? So how much money would be left over typically after tax, food, toothpaste, etc...?

I will have to look at the rent carefully to see if there are good deals that aren't on-campus housing that will end up cheaper. But for the first year, I might just take the on-campus housing at the grad school I decide to go to.

Any advice on money management for grad students?

HenryB
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2016 9:50 am

Re: How rich (or poor) are grad students?

Postby HenryB » Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:46 pm

Do you pay $9000/year for rent in urbana-champaign if you live alone? :wink:

TakeruK
Posts: 848
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: How rich (or poor) are grad students?

Postby TakeruK » Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:54 pm

Tax is not going to be 30% !!!! Not with our humble grad student stipends :)

It will be around 10% to 12%. Lower if you are American or can file as a resident alien because you can claim more tax deductions.

People who live in Chicago can give you a better sense of how much it costs to live there for the other expenses.

bstrekha
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2017 2:34 am

Re: How rich (or poor) are grad students?

Postby bstrekha » Mon Feb 20, 2017 12:59 am

HenryB wrote:Do you pay $9000/year for rent in urbana-champaign if you live alone? :wink:


Is it more? Less? According to their on-campus housing you get a 1 bedroom http://www.housing.illinois.edu/Resources/Rates/2017-2018/grad-hall-new-fall-2017 for $9,000. Although, I'll have to look up their rates for close by apartments which could be lower. Doesn't seem like it'll be higher.

But okay, cool. So the fact that it's not going to be 30% tax is refreshing. I guess that'll leave more money left over than I initially thought. I'm guessing all this info about tax and payment will be provided by the university once you accept the admission offer? Or do you need to be able to figure this stuff out on your own?

barkin
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2017 3:14 pm

Re: How rich (or poor) are grad students?

Postby barkin » Mon Feb 20, 2017 1:49 am

University housing in UIUC does cost that much, but Daniels Hall is so close to the physics department that you'd love it.

One bedroom apartments often cost *at least* 600~700/month near campus and they are small, but you can easily find 2/3/4 bedrooms for 400~500/month/person north of Loomis lab. Most cover utilities except electricity.

Both income and sales taxes are high, like 15% and 9~10% plus/minus errors of my memory. Based on a 22194 stipend. Fica included

Foods on campus (Green street, Union, etc.) are not cheap as you may think. Gasoline (regular) is like bottled water here.

The cost of living here can vary a lot depending on your lifestyle, but is affordable in general.
Last edited by barkin on Mon Feb 20, 2017 12:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.

astroprof
Posts: 100
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:47 pm

Re: How rich (or poor) are grad students?

Postby astroprof » Mon Feb 20, 2017 10:00 am

As mentioned on other threads, you will want to ask current graduate students regarding how far the typical stipend will stretch in that specific location. For context, working 40 hours/week for 52 weeks/year at the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hr) corresponds to just over $15k/year. Your stipend will go slightly further than the minimum-wage example, since, as a student, you will not be paying FICA (social security tax). Thus, the stipend quoted ($22k/year) is well above poverty level, but not "middle class." You will need to budget (pay attention to your spending) and make some choices (vacation vs eating out a lot), but it is perfectly possible to live a good life on that stipend in most locations.

In general, graduate students do not choose to live in college dorms (exceptions being major cities, such as Chicago, NYC, Pasadena, where regular rents are outrageous). If you do elect campus housing, look for apartment options, so that you will not have to be on the meal plan (usually expensive and not-in-line with typical grad student lives). Sharing a house with other students significantly reduces the cost of rent, and can be beneficial to your social life.

TakeruK
Posts: 848
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: How rich (or poor) are grad students?

Postby TakeruK » Mon Feb 20, 2017 2:31 pm

bstrekha wrote:
HenryB wrote:Do you pay $9000/year for rent in urbana-champaign if you live alone? :wink:


Is it more? Less? According to their on-campus housing you get a 1 bedroom http://www.housing.illinois.edu/Resources/Rates/2017-2018/grad-hall-new-fall-2017 for $9,000. Although, I'll have to look up their rates for close by apartments which could be lower. Doesn't seem like it'll be higher.

But okay, cool. So the fact that it's not going to be 30% tax is refreshing. I guess that'll leave more money left over than I initially thought. I'm guessing all this info about tax and payment will be provided by the university once you accept the admission offer? Or do you need to be able to figure this stuff out on your own?


Campus housing for graduate students are often highly subsidized so it's great that you can get this rate but you shouldn't expect to have it this cheap if you live off campus. I am currently in a very expensive rental market. Here, if you rent off-campus, a 1-bedroom apartment is usually $1400-$1600 per month. If you live on campus, a 1-bedroom (not shared) apartment, subsidized by the school is about $1000-$1200 per month. Typically, people live with roommates though, you can expect to pay about $900 per month with 1 roommate off campus and $600 per month with 3 roommates on campus ($750 per month with 1 roommate on campus). My own situation for a data point: I live in a 2-bedroom campus subsidized apartment with my wife and we pay just over $900 per month. The same apartment would cost $1800/month if it was not subsidized by the school.

So if your stipend is low and your city has high rents, I would say definitely take advantage of the subsidized housing while you can. At my school, all new first year students are promised such housing (and almost everyone takes it). In your 2nd year and beyond, you have to enter a lottery (about 2/3 of students who want to stay in housing get to stay). You have about 3-4 months lead time to find your own housing if you don't "win" the lottery. But this means that you should keep this in mind for future years: can you still afford housing if you are unable to stay in the on-campus subsidized housing?

Also, depending on health concerns or other constraints, some students cannot live in on-campus housing so make sure that whatever housing cost you are comparing will meet your needs.

All of the above is just a long-winded way of saying: When pricing out housing, check both the subsidized on campus housing as well as the "open market" off campus costs. And to make sure that you are only looking at housing that meets whatever needs.

As for taxes: it's all up to you to figure it out. Some schools will have a tax workshop to help provide some information but everyone's taxes are will depend on a lot of personal things (what deductions you can take, what your resident status are, and if you're international, what tax treaties exist between your countries). This is something you can figure out after you arrive though. Just budget 10%-15% for taxes and you should be fine.

tooterfish
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon May 16, 2016 12:05 am

Re: How rich (or poor) are grad students?

Postby tooterfish » Mon Feb 20, 2017 2:35 pm

You should be fine at UIUC. Your largest costs will be housing, food, and transportation. Hopefully, healthcare will not be a big factor, but please do keep that in mind too. If you want to cut costs, ditch a car (and its insurance and gas) for a bicycle, learn how to cook, live close to campus, and live with others. Consider working in the summer to pull in another couple thousand dollars, and maybe get a credit card that accrues good points for grocery shopping or travel. Oh, and apply for grants!!

The reality is that you're not going to live a lavish lifestyle, and your savings will not steadily be pooling up. You'll be comfortable, though, and if you're smart with the money, you can either choose to build some savings or go on some travel.

I recommend recording your current consumption habits for one month to get a better idea about how much you spend. Make a few categories (groceries, eating out, entertainment, whatever) and extrapolate the data to get a sense of your yearly spend.




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