Graduate stipend recommendation to increase by 3 percent

Actual department rates may differ

The Office of the Vice Chancellor announced a 3 percent increase in graduate student stipends for 2018-2019. The decision is partially based on Graduate Stipend Committee presentations on Feb. 27 and March 12 which included a 2.45 percent increase in cost of living, according to Nicholas Triantafillou G, chair of GRC Housing and Community Affairs Committee, in an interview with The Tech.

The focus on support by the committee this year diverged from previous years, which focused more on stipends to attract graduate students, according to Triantafillou. He said that the committee and the administration discussed methods to ensure that all graduate students can live off of their stipends. Specific groups discussed were those who only receive 9-month stipends, those who only receive half stipends, and graduate students with children. Of graduate students with children who took the 2017 Graduate Student Life Survey, 50 percent said that their income was not sufficient to cover household expenses (compared to 22 percent of graduate students without kids who had the same response).

To arrive at 2.45 percent, the committee used the consumer price index data for Cambridge along with housing cost estimates from a rental marketplace website to estimate cost of living increases for various categories, like food, transportation, and housing. They used survey results for graduate student expenses to estimate the fraction of expenses in these categories, and combined the two datasets to arrive at 2.45 percent. The committee did not factor more local effects, such as the closing of Star Market, into the analysis.

Historical data from the Graduate Stipend Committee shows that in the past ten years, stipends have seemed to track or surpass cost of living estimates made by the Graduate Stipend Committee. However, the amount declared by the Office of the Provost is just a guideline for departments within the School of Science and School of Engineering, which can pay 15 percent above or 10 percent below the recommended amount. Heather Konar, Communications Officer at the OGE, said that “other schools are expected to be consistent with these rates.”