Sunday, July 08, 2007

How Much Does a Graduate Student Cost?

What's a graduate student cost these days? That is, as a line item on an NSF grant, for a 12-month graduate student, tuition+stipend+overhead, what's a graduate student cost? (Please feel free to answer anonymously, as I'm sure this is the sort of information people are interested in but don't want to reveal by institution. And use whatever additional qualifiers are necessary. For consistency, let's say a 3rd year student.)

This question was motivated by a change made this last week in Harvard's policy regarding how graduate students were charged to grants. Previously, Harvard would pay the student the stipend and tuition money directly, and then pull tuition back out of the paycheck. With this setup, Harvard charged overhead on tuition, since it was treated the same as the student stipend. Apparently, a new federal guideline just came out prohibiting this sort of thing; tuition will now be pulled out of the grant directly, free of overhead.

I was quite pleased to hear this. I had been complaining about this practice for a number of years; as far as I know, overhead on tuition is not standard for most schools. It made Harvard graduate students non-trivially more expensive. This change makes graduate students funded by NSF grants much cheaper for me. Moreover, it also just seems to me to be the right way to do it.

Now that the change is happening, though, I'm somewhat concerned. All of a sudden the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is probably out millions in overhead that it had already budgeted. Somewhere down the line, I'm sure I'll be paying for that out of my grants somehow.

13 comments:

Suresh said...

it's roughly 50k at the U. of U, not including health insurance, which we pay separately.

HN said...

Roughly 50K here at SUNY Buffalo too.

Anonymous said...

I've heard 80K from both Purdue and an Ivy league university.

Anonymous said...

Its between 80K to 100K at MIT.

Michael Mitzenmacher said...

I have to admit, 80 seems high -- unless they're getting paid extra over the summer and there's overhead on tuition...

50 seems cheap.

What about the UC schools? In-state grad students must be inexpensive?

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike, you're asking for the numbers from other schools, but what are the costs at Harvard?

Panos Ipeirotis said...

At NYU the cost is approximately 2x the annual stipend that the student gets. (For 2.5K/mon for 12 months, the cost is 60K; for 2K/mon for 9 months, the cost is 36K)

Anonymous said...

50k seems cheap, but it's not as cheap as a free student!

Michael Mitzenmacher said...

Well, I thought people might post anonymously, and I wasn't sure it was appropriate to reveal information...

But what the heck. I guess the information is easy to get anyway. I think the cost was in the 60-70K range before; I'm not sure what it will be after the accounting change I mentioned in the post.

Anonymous said...

How many students are funded for 12 months as opposed to going off to summer internships?

Michael Mitzenmacher said...

I could be wrong, but my impression is that most theory students don't do summer internships in any given year. There just aren't that many summer internships!

I imagine most students do 1 or 2 by the time they finish, but that still means that for several summers they have to be funded somehow.

asarwate said...

At Berkeley, it's 4.5K / 12K for tuition + fees for each semester.

It's about 17K for stipend for 9 months, and if you get a 100% time appointment in summer (double time) it ends up being around 28K I think.

So the total *cost* for just tuition, fees, and stipend is 37K in state and 52 K out of state (with pre-qual-passing international students always being out of state).

Having never written an NSF grant myself, I don't know how that translates into the line-item cost, but I'm sure others would know how that works. There are also department fees like overage on disk quotas, computer maintenance, etc.

Overhead at Berkeley is a little under 50%, from what I understand.

Since the other UCs are on quarters it may work out to a different number for them.

Anonymous said...

Ph.D. programs in biomedicine and related areas (such as Bioinformatics, etc) have a big advantage in this area...the vast majority of reputable programs (and even a lot of sucky ones) have training grants which cover most of the cost of training graduate students.

I think the NLM/NIH grants give 3 full years of support for each graduate student in Bioinformatics.


Maybe you can come up with a bullshit link between your work and biology....others have tried and succeeded.