Guide Graduate School on a Budget

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Faculty and program directors are also devising a policy that would require mentors and departments to explain, before a grad student is accepted into a lab, how that student would be funded.

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Going to Grad School? Start Your Budget Now

The policy might also include a contingency plan outlining the steps a mentor and department would take in the unlikely event that the mentor loses that funding source. As NIH grants became scarcer, faculty, who rely heavily on the funds to support graduate students, have had to become more resourceful.


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She was forced to shrink the size of her lab. Instead of five graduate students, she now has four, and when two of them complete their degrees, she is not sure she will replace them.

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Machamer has been rebuilding her funding base through nongovernmental sources of funding, such as the American Heart Association , and a second NIH grant that is more modest than the one she lost. She has also helped two of her students apply to and win predoctoral fellowships, one from the AHA and the other from the Ford Foundation.

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Altogether, the new funding has helped her retain her current four students, although it is still significantly less than the amount the large NIH grant had provided. But some faculty members have also decided not to mentor students. Postdocs, he says, are more productive, and with competition for grants fiercer than it was, productivity is more important. Still, some faculty find reason for optimism about the future of graduate education. They are hopeful that the next annual federal budget will provide a significant increase for research funding.

Perhaps the most important viewpoint is that of the aspiring scientists who will make up the next generation of researchers. Fourth-year student Meghan Seltzer, president of the Graduate Student Association, says fiscal reality has sobered her hopes slightly. While she continues to want a research career, she no longer wants to direct a lab. Of Stipends and Science: As research funding dries up and the cost of living rises, can the School maintain the same number of graduate students? Learn more about investing. Sure, every university provides a general breakdown of costs including tuition, housing, books, and general living expenses.

But these often fail to account for all those other funny costs that can creep into a budget. And, there are plenty of those. Clubs and activities — Technically, these are optional expenses.

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But, most grad students, especially those pursuing an MBA, will tell you that optional really means you have a choice between several options. These activities flesh out the grad school experience, making it more valuable than the price tag itself.


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  • But, you choose to pursue your graduate degree on-campus rather than online because of the networking and friendships to be had. And, the relationships developed during this time are truly incredible. But, it costs money to head out for a drink, a coffee, a meal. And those costs are almost never mentioned in school cost calculators. Visas and travel expenses — Some degrees especially MBAs place a lot of emphasis on international connections and exposure.

    Budget Worksheet - The Mint Grad

    Internship and holiday periods — Many schools provide cost estimates that include only the academic calendar times. They tend to exclude the holidays when most domestic students would head for home. The housing fee may only cover ten months of the year. And what about internships? You may earn a little, but it may not be enough to cover living expenses in another city or country while holding onto a flat near the university.

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    You may need formal attire for interview events — and you may need to book flights when you proceed to advanced rounds with a company. While additional funding opportunities and scholarships can arise at any time, many students are limited to the amount they borrow the first time around. Prodigy Finance - September 18, Interested in a Prodigy Finance loan?