Added: Ambra Iacovelli - Date: 14.02.2022 12:09 - Views: 32572 - Clicks: 5782
Graduate school has a reputation of being difficult, but when Nyesa Enakaya moved to Washington, DC, to start her PhD in chemistry at Howard University, she found the pressures were more than academic. Nearly all chemistry PhD programs come with a guaranteed income, but for some students, the money goes only so far.
Enakaya started in a stronger position than many. This arrangement will also make it possible for her to sell when she graduates. But as her first school year began, it became clear that her monthly paychecks amounted to roughly the same amount as her mortgage, HOA fees, and utility costs. She had little to nothing left over for all the expenses that typically accompany graduate school, such as health insurance, fees charged by the school, and, of course, food, let alone anything unexpected.
In chemistry and closely related fields, PhD students almost always receive financial support to cover the cost of their tuition and their living expenses. Even so, PhD student stipends in chemistry are never lavish. While many manage just fine, others quickly learn that their stipends cover much less than they expect or need. Routine costs, including taxes and health insurance, add up quickly.
A high cost of living, as in a place like the District of Columbia, undergraduate debt, and unforeseen expenses can all contribute to a financial shortfall and the stress and frustration that accompany it. However, not everyone struggles. He wanted to take time to consider his options, and he assumed that programs in the US would be too expensive for him to afford.
After deciding to pursue a PhD in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, he began looking for a strong program. In the process, he learned that the school that would become his top pick, Iowa State, offered a stipend that he believed he could live on. While US chemistry graduate students can receive funding from a of sources, for most students, the institution where they study provides a stipend as compensation for teaching or research.
To keep students focused, some institutions discourage or even forbid them from taking on outside jobs. These s, however, obscure enormous variation between both programs and students, who sometimes receive funding from additional sources, such as certain fellowships. In spring , after struggling to find accurate and up-to-date stipend information online, Emily Roberts launched the PhD Stipend Survey , which now has almost 11, entries. Roberts, who holds a PhD in biomedical engineering, cautions that a dollar amount on its own is meaningless.
The high cost of living near the University of California, Santa Cruz, drove graduate students at this institution to strike in December On July 1 of this year, Connor Brandenburg, an organic chemistry student at UC San Diego, got a raise that brought his finances nearly in line with this rule. But, within a year and a half, this share may grow substantially. In April , he will have exhausted the 2 years of on-campus housing the university allotted him as a graduate student. In addition to rent, graduate students face an expense familiar to undergraduates: fees, which some institutions levy separately from tuition.
Like so much else, fees can vary considerably between schools. The largest of these fees, the special institutional fee, is an exception. The board instituted it in , at first temporarily, to compensate for state budget cuts. While Georgia taxpayers may benefit from this shift, the accumulating fees make a difficult situation worse for Krista Bullard, a fifth-year PhD student in chemistry and biochemistry at Georgia Tech.
Like many other students, she has loans from her undergraduate degree, which add to the financial pressure. The end may be in sight, however, because she plans to graduate in May. Some institutions, including Georgia Tech, require students to purchase plans offered through the school or prove they have comparable coverage. But some programs provide free coverage. Like many other students, he made the money work through a combination of hard work, self-discipline, and, on occasion, painful trade-offs.
After moving from India, Venkatesh faced a distinct set of financial challenges: he needed to send money back home to his family and, after he got married at the end of his first year, to support his wife, whose visa restrictions severely limited her options for earning income in the US. Tight finances, as well as the demanding work culture of American academia, contributed to the most difficult part of his entire PhD experience: traveling home only twice.
Together, he and his wife carefully managed their money, and Venkatesh figured out a way to supplement his stipend. At first she made do by using her savings and credit cards. She also found work tutoring and teaching, as well as paid summer internships, and her adviser provides her with some additional funding for her research. Her success lining up outside income, however, has come at a cost. For 12 weeks, this arrangement kept her away from her research lab at Howard, where she had originally intended to focus her time and energy.
The financial prospects for future Howard students may improve, at least to a degree. This decision was based on the cost of living in the DC area, she says in an . Others besides teaching assistants may benefit too. Looking back, Enakaya says that even if she had fully understood the financial picture, and the prospect of a larger stipend elsewhere, she would not have reconsidered her decision to go to Howard.
We make it work. We definitely make it work. When undergraduates give Sarah Goh, a professor of chemistry at Williams College, lists of programs that interest them, she connects them with Williams alums. Compared with undergr, grad students pay higher interest rates and are more likely to encounter lifetime borrowing limits. When you are close to selecting a program, draft a detailed budget tailored to your individual needs and the local cost of living, says Emily Roberts, owner of Personal Finance for PhDs. As part of your research, ask current students if the stipend is livable, she says.
Before you start your program, Roberts recommends paying down any credit card or other debt and establishing a cash reserve to keep you afloat, in case it takes some time to get your first paycheck. Not only do other students know where to find the cheapest rent and phone bill, but they also may become your roommates. That can mean getting a roommate or moving, if feasible.
You may have a hard time imagining retirement right now, but Stuart and others recommend that you start putting something aside for it. Wynne Parry is a freelance writer based in the greater Philadelphia area. Few things will have more impact on your happiness and success than ing the right lab.
These strategies will help you find a good fit. This Westfield State University grad student has been on a mission to continue advanced studies in chemistry. Read about his journey to achieve his goals.
If graduate school is in your plans, research most likely is too. See how students describe their individual experiences selecting the right research advisor for them. Read how she managed multiple barriers to pursue her dream of becoming a scientist. Grad School. Graduate students quickly learn that routine expenses add up. Nyesa Enakaya's stipend from Howard University was enough to cover her housing and utilities but not other expenses. Before starting a PhD program. Talk to current or recent grad students. Learn about loans. Ask yourself whether you can afford to live there.
Prepare yourself. Talk to fellow grad students. Make a spending plan aka budget. Rightsize your housing. Establish an emergency fund. Start saving now. About the Author Wynne Parry is a freelance writer based in the greater Philadelphia area. More Grad School Articles. March 17, Choosing a Research Advisor If graduate school is in your plans, research most likely is too. Subscribe to our Newsletter Be the first to know about upcoming opportunities and chemistry related news. I would like to receive more information on programs, products, and services from the ACS via .Genuine Hungary grad seeks same
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