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TakeruK

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  1. Like
    TakeruK got a reaction from William Lu in Canadian student in USA - paying taxes w/ income from both countries   
    Carthage32: Last year, I called the CRA to make sure. In my Canadian taxes, I only report my NSERC fellowship income. I do not report my tuition waiver nor do I report the top-up that my school pays for the difference between my NSERC income and my actual stipend. Maybe you should call the CRA hotline yourself in case there are differences, but the CRA representative told me that I do not have to report any non-employment based income that is provided to support graduate studies. In my tax return, I include the T4A that NSERC issues me but my line number for total taxable income is $0 (since NSERC income is not taxable and neither is the US income).
     
    To be completely clear, my income sources are:
    $21,000 from NSERC
    $9,000 from my school
    $42,000 tuition+fees waiver.
     
    To the CRA, I have $0 taxable income but I do include my T4A showing my NSERC (non-taxable) income. I also file a TL11A that my school fills out and claim $42,000 in education credits (plus the X dollars per month for being a full time student). 
     
    To the IRS, I do not have to claim my non-US income, so it's just $9,000. Tuition is also not taxable income in the US so I can ignore that too.
     
    Yes, US schools seem to be fine filling out the TL11A. In the past 2 years, tuition was billed to my student account but a credit is applied immediately and the TL11A had no problems. However, since 2014, they changed it so that the tuition is billed differently so the first version of the TL11A I asked for did not include tuition. I had to ask them to check their records and confirm that tuition is being paid from some source--they did so and sent me a corrected TL11A with all of the tuition. So, you should be able to claim the tuition on the TL11A even if you don't get it billed directly. 
     
    Finally, you have up to 7 years to file a correction on Canadian taxes. I also did not realise the tuition deduction in my first year so I filed a correction some 8 months later and it was properly accounted for. It's well worth your time, at about 15% tax credit rate, $30,000 in educational credits is worth almost $5000 in saved taxes in the future (but note the "double tax" thing above). The easiest way to file a correction is to log into the CRA's "MyAccount" (if you have this set up) and you can file a correction online--they will just ask you which line numbers you want to change. These numbers require proof though, so after you submit it, they will follow up with a request to mail in your TL11A.
  2. Like
    TakeruK got a reaction from William Lu in Canadian student in USA - paying taxes w/ income from both countries   
    Okay I am back.
     
    If you are a Canadian citizen and you are in the US for school you are a "deemed resident for tax purposes". When filing taxes as a resident, you must always file all your international income. Therefore, while you are a grad student, you will always file taxes to Canada, no matter what country pays you and what country you live in. 
     
    In addition, if you are a Canadian in the US for school, you are most likely a non-resident alien (NRA). In order to file as a "resident", you have to be in the US for a number of days per year, however, the first 5 years on F-1 or J-1 status do not count. Therefore, unless you did an undergrad in the States, it's almost certain that you are a NRA for taxes in the US. In the US (and most countries), non-resident file taxes only on US-based income.
     
    I'll just use some simplified numbers. My income is $20k from NSERC (Canada) and $10k from my school (American) plus a $40k tuition waiver. This is how I file my taxes in each country:
     
    1. Canada: I tell the CRA about all three sources of income: the $20k from NSERC, the $10k from my US school and the $40k for tuition. I also claim my tuition paid because this counts as paying my school $40k/year for tuition, then getting it reimbursed. You have to get your US school to fill out a TL-11A (see here: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pbg/tf/tl11a/README.html).They fill out this form, sign it officially and you file it with your Canadian taxes to claim the educational tax credits. At this rate, I'm going to rack up about $250k in educational tax credits by the time I finish (but it's not as good as it sounds, but that's another story).
     
    My total taxable income in Canada is $0 because all income that support graduate studies are not taxable in Canada. But I still should declare these income sources. 
     
    And you cannot NETFILE because you are not living in the US. Instead, you must use tax software (I recommend the online UFile software) and then print out the relevant forms and mail it to the CRA's International Tax Office.
     
    2. You must also file US Federal income tax. As a non-resident, I only pay US tax on US-based income but tuition waivers are tax exempt. There are some US-Canada tax treaty that might affect you. You need to use special tax software for non-residents in order to file your US taxes as a non-resident. I highly recommend these software because they automatically detect all eligibility for tax treaties. My school provides Glacier tax prep software for free to us; it costs $35/return otherwise. Worth it though. The US does not tax-exempt grad students and as a non-resident we get very little tax deductions. Most likely, we can only claim the $4000 or so "personal exemption" so you will pay about 10% tax on the remaining taxable income.
     
    In one of my years here, my US income was less than $10k and that resulted in a tax treaty being applied that made the first $10k earned tax-exempt. This was a very good year because I got all of my US Federal tax back!!
     
    You must also file by mail as a non-US resident.
     
    3. Finally, you also file US State tax. The rules vary for each state. In California, non-residents do have to declare all world-wide income if it is paid for work done in California (so the NSERC would count in this case). I paid state tax on the entire $30k income (the tuition waiver is tax exempt). State tax was the hardest because the non-resident federal tax software does not include the state tax forms (unlike the version for residents). I had to do it by hand and it took many more hours! All to find out that I still owed the State $8 in taxes! 
  3. Upvote
    TakeruK got a reaction from nautilus90 in Why do some programs (for the same subject) interview and others do not?   
    I had a similar experience. Only one school out of eight interviewed me. I'm sure interviewing gave them some information about me. But like with everything in life, the question isn't always "do interviews tell programs useful information?" but it is really, "do programs feel that the work required to conduct interviews is worth it?"
    So I am guessing that these programs have decided that they didn't need the additional information that they would get from interviews given how much it will cost them (in terms of time, effort, etc.). From experience on the "other side", interviewing is a ton of work. There was one position where we had interviewed 8 candidates. There were 4-5 people on each panel interview and they were one hour long. So that's about 40 hours of work just to conduct the interviews. Plus a few more hours to have the meeting to decide which candidates to invite to the next stage. This was for a dean position instead of a grad student, so the work was well worth it to find the right fit but I never realised how much work it is to be the interviewer until I was on a committee!
    Another reason could be that interviews are only used as a "check". They basically already decided to admit or not admit you. They just do interviews with all planned-admits to ensure they are still going to be a good fit for the program. This sounds like one of the schools you described in your list. I said that only one of my schools interviews but it turns out starting the year after me, one of the other schools that accepted me also started doing interviews, but they are these kind of "vetting" interview, rather than a selection interview.
    Or, as I think I wrote in another thread, maybe these schools only interview certain candidates that require more information to make a selection. For some candidates, it's clear that they will make the cut even without an interview so there's no point doing that. And others, there's no interview that can change their decision from a "no" to a "yes", so there's no point interviewing those either. So, just because you didn't get an interview doesn't mean that the school chose not to interview.
    Finally, perhaps schools might have noticed that interviewing didn't help them select the right candidate. If you don't know how to conduct interviews, you can just make some people way more nervous/stressed than they need to be and then you don't see their best side. Unless putting people under pressure and stress is actually a trait you are selecting for (usually not), then having a stressful interview isn't helpful. Similarly, some people are just more outgoing and confident and just perform better in-person. If this is not something you are selecting for (usually not for grad school) then interviewing can hurt the school because they might be more drawn to the outgoing types instead.
  4. Upvote
    TakeruK got a reaction from Toughcook1e in Do schools generally send out all the accepted notifications at once?   
    Here's just a hypothetical example. Suppose a school has 20 spots to fill and they know to expect about 30% to 60% of their offers will be accepted. If they go for "30%" and make 60 offers, they might be in trouble if they get 40 people showing up. But if they only make 30 offers, then they might not actually fill up the whole class. 
     
    Also, for many schools, they might not be the top choice for a lot of students (especially true if the school is at the high end of second tier or the low end of a first tier school) but they will get a lot of very strong applicants. It's hard to tell whether or not you're a top choice for a candidate. So if they make an offer to someone who got into programs they liked a lot more, they may be hoping that the person will say "oh I actually got into other programs and I'm not considering this program anymore". Although sometimes students do withdraw their "safety" school offers when they hear back from their favoured programs, not all (many?) will do this.
     
    When they first make their original 30 offers, in some years, they might hit a large fraction of people who applied to them as safeties. Or, in other years, maybe most of them do want to go and it would have been a mistake to make 50+ offers! So, it makes sense to do admission in waves--admit some number from the top of the list first, and hear back from the ones that already are planning to go somewhere else. For some of the offers I got, the first thing they asked was whether or not I was still interested in their program (they were not making me decide yes/no but just wanted to know if they were still being considered). After they hear back from the first group, then if they project that they will need more people to fill spots, they might make a second wave of admission.
     
    That's one possibility. Another possibility, which comes from the way some grant review boards operate, is that when picking the best candidates from a large field of applicants, sometimes it's very clear who the top are but not as clear who the middle ranked people are. That is, again if there were 20 spots and say, 500 applicants, the committee might unanimously agree on who the top 10 applicants are. These people might be strong enough that everyone is able to vote yes on them. So, the committee might decide to devote the first meeting to identifying these top candidates and sending offers their way first. Then, in the next meeting, they can sit down and discuss how to fill spots 11-20, where there will be disagreements and debate. This also works for the school because the top applicants will probably get a lot of positive results so they want to get their offer on the table sooner rather than later.
     
    But not all schools do admissions in waves or even have waitlists. My current program makes all of its offers in about the third week of January and that's it. There are no waitlists. They only make as many offers as they have room for and in rare cases, we get 0 new students coming in if all of the prospective students decide to go elsewhere. Usually this means a larger incoming class the following year! So, unfortunately, it's not always true that no news is good news. 
  5. Upvote
    TakeruK got a reaction from best cranberry in Advice for a first year PhD student   
    I think I just read the best / most helpful post in this whole forum! I am going to save juilletmercredi's post and read it from time to time, thanks for that!
  6. Upvote
    TakeruK got a reaction from wookie55 in Taxes on funding package for Canadian student in California   
    Hello! I am also a Canadian in California and I can answer your questions  Here are some tips, separated by country, and then some tips that relate to the Canada-US tax treaty. This is super duper long so if you want the very short answer: Expect to pay about 13% in taxes total to all US tax sources. To be safe, budget 15% of income to go to taxes and get a pleasant bonus each year when you file taxes. More details below.
    US tax tips:
    0. In California, you will pay federal taxes and state taxes. Unlike in Canada, you actually file your federal and state taxes separately and you must finish your federal tax first in order to be able to complete your state taxes.  Depending on the city, you may also pay municipal taxes. As soon as you enter the US, you should keep a clear record of every single time you enter/leave the US and separately, every single time you enter/leave the state of California. You will need this to complete your taxes and it's a pain to try to reconstruct this each year at tax season. The number of days for the federal taxes is not as important now because you will be a non-resident for quite awhile, but for the state, it's important because taxes are pro-rated by the number of days you are physically present. For each trip out of the state/country, note the day you leave, the day your return, and what kind of lodging you stayed at while away. You will need this for your tax return.
    1. Your stipend is likely going to be considered taxable income. I think there are only very few special fellowship cases where your stipend is tax-exempt. Like @UnawareInGeneral said, in the US, monies spent towards tuition and required book fees are tax-exempt. So you will NOT be taxed on your tuition waiver in the US. If you keep all receipts for required books and supplies, then you will also be able to deduct these costs from your taxable income as well. However, you must keep receipts and you must be able to prove that they are required in order to complete your class. So, for example, if you must buy a special book or if you must buy a special calculator then it's deductible. You cannot deduct things like pens, notebooks, optional textbooks, or other things aren't specially required for the class. 
    2. This Wikipedia page has a great breakdown of the US progressive tax brackets for federal taxes. Again, as @UnawareInGeneral said, as non-residents, we cannot claim a few things. In addition to their list, note that we also cannot claim the "standard deduction" of $6,350 (as of 2016). We can only claim the "personal exemption" of $4050 (as of 2016). If you are familiar with Canadian taxes, the "personal exemption" is analogous to the "personal amount" deduction we have in Canada (which is $11474 in 2016), but just worth a lot less. (And they say we pay more taxes in Canada, eh?).
    3. If you are married, you and your spouse must filed as "Married, filing separately". As pointed out above, this basically means you cannot claim dependents and you cannot take advantage of the better tax rates for families. 
    4. So, from the Wikipedia page, you see the marginal tax rates. There's an example there that you can follow to estimate tax owing too. Here's a quick guide, assuming your stipend is $25,000 per year. First, you take off the personal exemption and any deductions for books etc (from #1 above). Let's say you have no books, so it's just the $4050. So, your total taxable income for a year is $20,950. The table says the first $9,325 is taxed at 10%, so you will owe $932.50 from the first $9,325 earned. The remainder is $20,950-$9,325 = $11,625 and this portion is taxed at 15%. So this is another $1743.75 owed in taxes for this tax bracket. Unless you are making more than $40k per year, you won't ever reach the next tax bracket. So you can estimate your total federal tax owing to be $2676.25 for this example, which is approximately a 10.7% tax rate. 
    5. Now, you need to pay your state taxes. @UnawareInGeneral is correct that the highest tax bracket for state taxes is 13.3%, but as humble grad students, we will never reach this level of taxation. You can use this tax calculator from the state of California to estimate your tax owing. Enter the number after the federal personal exemption (there are other California specific exemptions too, but as non-resident, we rarely qualify for any and also our tax rate is low enough that it won't make a big difference). So, continuing this example, you would enter $20,950 into that calculator and see that your tax owing to California will be $376. This is a 1.7% tax rate. In addition, as a non-resident, your taxes and exemptions are pro-rated for the number of days you are in California.
    6. Finally, you may have to pay municipal taxes. I don't know it for all the cities. I am not sure if students have to pay the municipal tax in my city, but I know that my spouse paid about $30 in taxes for income approximately the same as a student's (but they were not a student). So this is a small number. 
    7. As also pointed out above, you do not pay FICA taxes (Medicaid and Social Security), which is around 6%. You should not pay this as a grad student, regardless of your foreign status. But being a non-resident doesn't always exempt you from paying FICA taxes. My spouse had to pay them even though we've been here less than 5 years. It's a little complicated and I admit I don't fully understand all of these details. Nevertheless, as a student, you shouldn't have to pay them!
    8. So, ignoring the tiny municipal taxes, you should expect to pay about $3050 in taxes for a stipend of $25,000 to IRS and California. This is a total tax rate of approximately 12.2%. I generally tell Canadians to budget 10%-15% for taxes. Also, keep in mind that your school will likely withhold taxes from your income. If you fill out the proper paperwork upon enrollment (they will give it to you), your withholding will be about 14%. So you should get a little bit of money back each tax season. But this also means that you should budget your month-to-month expenses to consider a 14% withholding. Sometimes, the school doesn't give you the right form and the standard practice, without this form, is to withhold the highest tax bracket from international people!! So if you are seeing a 30% or more withholding on your first paycheck, you should immediately talk to HR to sort it out.
    9. Misc. notes: As a non-resident, for federal taxes, you are only taxed on US-based income. So if you are receiving income from Canada from any source (e.g. a Canadian scholarship, a side business you might have etc.) you don't have to claim it on your US taxes. However, for California state taxes, you are taxed on any income paid to you for work in California, regardless of source. So, if you are receiving a Canadian fellowship to go to school in the US, you will pay California tax on that. But if you are making money from your side business in Canada, then it's not taxable in California.
    10. Remember, US taxes are due earlier than Canadian taxes (April 15 instead of April 30). However, you also typically get your tax forms in the US much faster than you do in Canada. This works out because you have to file your US taxes before you can file Canadian taxes. You must do them all either by hand or with tax software and then print it out and mail it in. You just need to have it stamped by the post office no later than April 15. Most schools will provide free federal tax software to international students (I think it's required to) but not state taxes. Doing state taxes by hand is a pain and I think it's totally worth the $25-$35 to pay for the software that will do it for you. If you do buy software (or via an online service), make sure it's specifically for non-resident alien taxpayers. A lot of software are only for residents and they won't help us!
    Canadian tax tips:
    1. Unless you are required to for some other reason, you probably should NOT claim non-resident status in Canada. I find that there are a lot more benefits to keeping resident status in Canada than to switch to non-resident status but you should decide for yourself after reading the list below. @UnawareInGeneral listed some of the things you can't do as a non-resident in the US and they are all negative. Similarly, when you are a non-resident in Canada, you also lose out on a lot of benefits as well. I'll get into that below. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) allowed me to keep my Canadian-resident status while I'm in the US as a student. They required my spouse to change to non-resident though because they are not a student.
    2. As a Canadian resident taxpayer living abroad, you must report all taxable worldwide income to the CRA. In Canada, graduate student stipends are not taxable if they are being used to support your graduate education. When I was in my Canadian MSc program, I did not pay any Canadian taxes on fellowships and scholarships, only Research Assistantship and Teaching Assistantship income (i.e. things where I receive a T-4 slip). However, in the United States, for my particular school, we might work as researchers and teaching assistantships, but the school is adamant that we are not employees. So, when I talk to the CRA agent (on the tax hotline) about this, they deem that since we are not working, the money is not taxable in Canada. They say I should not claim it at all.
    3. However, since you are going to a UC school where you would be unionized, I assume that maybe you might have employment income that might be taxable. I'm not sure since I've not experienced that. But I do know what happens when you do have taxable income because my spouse moved to the US with me and worked (as a "real person", not a student) so they paid taxes to the US and to Canada on their US job. What happens is that first you convert your US income into Canadian dollars. Then you fill out a form to determine your "foreign tax credits" along with your CRA tax return. Basically, you calculate how much taxes you would have owed in Canada if that money was earned in Canada. Then, you determine how much taxes you already paid to all foreign tax collectors (at all 3 levels). This counts as "paid tax credit" towards how much you owe in Canada. The point of this law is to prevent you from being double taxed. That is, if you would have owed $1000 in taxes to Canada but already paid $900 to the US, you only owe $100 to Canada. Unless you are making a ton of money in the US, you are very likely to owe less to Canada than you would in the US and therefore not have to pay any extra. Let's say it's the worst case scenario and you are taxed in Canada for all of your UC stipend. Continuing our $25,000 income example and assuming an exchange rate of 1.3 CAD per USD, this is $32,500 CAD in income. Deduct $11,474 CAD personal amount and you will be paying Canadian taxes on $21,026 CAD of income. At a 15% base tax rate, this is $3153.90 CAD in tax owing. Now, you already paid $3050 USD in taxes to the IRS and the state of California. Convert this to CAD and the CRA sees that you've paid $3965 CAD to foreign tax collectors, which is more than the $3153.90 CAD you would have owed in Canada. So you would not have to pay any extra taxes to Canada.
    4. As a Canadian resident attending school in the US, you are eligible to claim education tax credits in Canada just like you did when you were at University in Canada. You should ask your school to fill out the TL-11D form (link: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pbg/tf/tl11d/) to claim amount paid towards tuition as tax credits. Some people on these forums in other threads reported that their school refused to do this so your mileage may vary. I have been able to this at my school with little problem. You can claim this tax credit even if you don't directly pay tuition. That is, if you have a tuition waiver, it's like you were paid the money and then spent it on tuition. Tuition waivers definitely are not taxable in Canada. However, if you do have tuition tax credits and if you must pay Canadian taxes on US-income, the CRA laws require you to "spend" any tax credits (including carryover amounts from previous years) before you can apply the Foreign Tax Credit. I checked this with the CRA agent. So, in this sense, you are being "double taxed"---you won't pay more money out of pocket but you are losing credits that could have been applied later on. They are aware that the current law is not consistent with the intention of not being double taxed. The nice CRA agent said that they receive many calls about this question but until the law is changed, this is what happens.
    5. As a Canadian resident living temporarily abroad, you are also eligible for the refundable income tax credits as well as the non-refundable credits mentioned above. So by filing my Canadian taxes with a $0 taxable income, I still get a few hundred dollars per year for various refundable tax credits. 
    6. Unfortunately, as a resident filing from abroad, you may not NETFILE your CRA taxes. So you also have to mail in your paper tax forms! You also need to attach a copy of all your US tax forms with your CRA tax forms. So, you must do your US taxes first, then your CRA taxes. The order I work in is US-Federal taxes (Form 1040-NR), then California state taxes (Form 540NR) and then Canadian tax forms (Schedule T1).
    7. So, overall, you should decide whether you are better off changing to non-resident to keeping resident status in Canada. Compare the benefits of Tip #4 and #5 vs the costs of potentially losing carryover Canadian tax credits. 
    US-Canada tax treaty tips:
    There exists a tax treaty between Canada and the US where if your taxable employment income is less than $10,000 in a tax year, then you pay zero US taxes on your income. So you might be able to claim this on your first year in the US (if you arrive in September, you will likely earn less than $10,000 in the first few months). Non-resident tax software will automatically detect which tax treaties you are eligible for and help you make the claim. Note that this is not a progressive tax thing, so if you earn $9,999 USD then you are eligible and pay zero taxes, but if you earn $10,001 USD, you pay the full amount of taxes. I don't know what happens if it's $10,000 USD exactly. 
     
     
    So, I hope that was helpful. It's basically a brain dump of everything I know and what I try to tell to Canadians who come to my school.
  7. Like
    TakeruK got a reaction from forensicpsychstu in Declined schools, yet still receiving things from them?   
    It's normal. Once the offers go out, the list of offers go to many different departments and mailing lists. These other groups aren't always informed when you make a decision on your offer though. It may take some time for you to be automatically removed from mailing lists, or you may never get removed.
    The worst offender for me was 3 years after I turned down a school for a 2-year Masters program, that school called me, greeted me as an alumni and asked for a donation! 
  8. Upvote
    TakeruK got a reaction from sheoftherain in Getting off to a good start   
    I know that you are stating these opinions for yourself, and not necessarily judging other people, but you should know that when you make statements like this, you are implying that graduate students who do have other commitments (relationships, children, taking care of sick parents etc.) are not putting as much effort into grad school as you think they should. 
     
    You're definitely free to impose whatever restrictions you want on yourself, but if you want to get off to a good start, it would be a good idea to not alienate yourself from your classmates by making these kind of statements. I know you might not even mean it in the judgmental way, but it will come off that way when you say it to other people. 
  9. Upvote
    TakeruK got a reaction from Earthh in best smaller cities to live without a car   
    In big cities *with good public transportation*, it can be easier to live without a car than if you lived in a suburb. Big cities generally have your necessities closer together and lots of buses/trains/etc to get you to where you are. In suburbs, public transit is harder to find and you might have to travel quite far to get to things. I lived in a suburb for my PhD and basically everything was a 25-40 minute car ride away, or over an hour on the bus (and most places don't even have good bus routes). 
    Also, there is more incentive to avoid using a car in a big city where there might be a lot of traffic and/or very expensive parking so that walking or taking a train might be just as fast and much cheaper than driving!
  10. Upvote
    TakeruK got a reaction from TwirlingBlades in Confronting a PI about a rotation grade   
    One of the grad classes I took had one prof who graded individual problems in a homework set as 10/10 (correct) or 0/10 (not correct). I think this grading method did teach us some useful concepts/lessons for academia. For example, in some cases (e.g. getting a paper out before your competitors), the only thing that matters is whether or not you achieve your goal in the end, not how hard you tried to get there (or what mistakes you might make along the way). 
     
    Personally, I don't think this is the best grading method, but since grades in grad school do not really matter, it was not a big deal. The unimportance of grades in grad school allows for different approaches to grading and instruction (as well as different strategies on learning the material), which, overall, I find positive and refreshing. For example, few of my classes have closed-book exams where we have to cram useless materials--instead, we work on projects that are related to our own research and the reduced emphasis on grades means that we have flexibility to prioritize our research over classes etc.
  11. Like
    TakeruK got a reaction from duskyriver in J2 EAD app - letter of explanation   
    Hi! I think I might have replied to you in the past? I was in the USA on J-1 with my spouse on J-2 from 2012 to 2017 and my spouse was able to get an EAD and work and earn good money with no issues. I'm glad that you're all settled now. 
    1. I'm sorry to hear about your experience with that border agent at Pearson. The crappy thing about the US immigration system is that despite whatever rules and laws exist, ultimately, the border agent has the final say on whether you are admitted. Sometimes this power makes them do crappy things like that. In the many many entries I made to the US on J-1, I am happy to say that the majority of border agents are nice and competent. But sometimes you get an extra grumpy one and you hear stories all the time from other students encountering scenarios like yours. Hope that was your one and only really bad border crossing experience!
    One tip that I found useful: say as little as possible to these agents and answer their direct question only. My spouse and I have never been asked about the employment status of my spouse. The border agent is technically right that the J-1/J-2 status is not meant for your spouse to find work and I guess they (unfairly, wrongly) suspected that your PhD program is just a big ruse to get your husband into the USA to work as an engineer? ugh. 
    Anyways, the main reason your husband should always give for being in the USA is to accompany you as your spouse while you study in the USA. He should say this even after he has an EAD and a job. I would recommend that he doesn't even mention his desire for a job, his job, or anything about him unless directly asked. In the eyes of US immigration, his sole purpose to exist in the USA should be to be with you.
    2. Does your school provide a template letter for the EAD? Mine did. I can send you one via PM if you would like. It's very very simple and it's what you said. You need to show what your funding is and provide a simple budget breakdown. Basically, you have to show that you can support yourself and your husband with only your income. You can always tweak numbers to make it so that you have enough without having too much (but honestly, as grad students, we're not going to have too much). Then you say that your husband wants to work to further his career and to earn recreation money. I think it's also okay to say "save up for the future". You just can't say "help with rent" or "pay for food" or anything US immigration considers a living expense.
    3. There's no limit to what a J-2 can make. In fact, once the J-2 gets the EAD, the J-2 basically has the full working rights of any American and way more flexibility and ability to work in the US than the J-1. The only limit is that the J-2 status is only valid as long as the J-1 is valid. When my spouse had the EAD, they made more money than me, could work in any field for any number of hours at any location. In contrast, the J-1 can only work as part of our degree program (TA/RA etc.), on campus, and only a limited number of hours per week. Even when J-1s go for Academic Training status, we are still limited to only working in our own field. 
  12. Like
    TakeruK got a reaction from HopefulPsych2020 in CGS-M question   
    Although I am not in your field and I was not applying to the same agency (I won the CGS-M from NSERC in 2009, and CGS-D from NSERC in 2011), I agree with what @eternallyephemeral says. I would recommend that you read the selection criteria for the CGS-M very carefully.
    In particular, the research proposal is one factor in the "Research Potential" criteria, which has a weight of 30%. If you look at the list of "indicators of research potential", you see 7 items, and only 2 are related to the research proposal: "Relevance of work experience and academic training to field of proposed research" and "Significance, feasibility and merit of proposed research". 
    The first indicator is not really something you can do much about, because you can't change your work experience and academic training. However, this does mean that if your experience thus far as been in subfield X, you should write a proposal for subfield X, instead of subfield Y. **Note: Back in 2009 and 2011, you are not obligated to work on the actual proposed research at all, but that may have changed. I wrote my proposal for something completely different from what I actually did work on.
    The second indicator is the important one. In a 1-page proposal, you basically have room for just 3-4 paragraphs and you want to spend one paragraph on each of those three criteria (significance, feasibility, and merit). Remember the audience for your proposal---they aren't going to be experts in the topic you're proposing for. A good format for a short research proposal is something like:
    1. First paragraph, demonstrate why the area of research is interesting or noteworthy.
    2. Second paragraph, introduce the specific problem you are studying and why we want to know the answer. Paragraphs 1 and 2 should include a few citations to other studies working on the same problem so that you can later demonstrate how your proposed research will fit into the field's knowledge.
    3. Third paragraph, discuss your plan to answer this question and why your plan will work. You can discuss general methods here and cite other works that have used the same methods successfully. But you don't have to have specifics like the details you asked about. 
    4. Fourth paragraph (this can be combined with the above), discuss your expected results. If you are proposing an experiment with multiple possible outcomes, discuss what each outcome would teach you and show that this is a worthwhile thing to do (i.e. you gain some knowledge no matter what, whether it's finding evidence for some hypothesis or a null result constraining other ideas etc.). Here is where you connect back to your introductory paragraphs and show how your new findings fit into your field.
    ---
    The detailed instructions for this year's CGS-M research proposal are copied below (hopefully it's clear how the 4-step framework fits this prompt).
    Provide a detailed description of your proposed research project for the period during which you will hold the award. Be as specific as possible. Provide background information to position your proposed research within the context of the current knowledge in the field. State the objectives and hypothesis, and outline the experimental or theoretical approach to be taken (citing literature pertinent to the proposal), and the methods and procedures to be used. State the significance of the proposed research to a field or fields in the health sciences, natural sciences and/or engineering or social sciences and/or humanities, as appropriate.
  13. Upvote
    TakeruK got a reaction from Phoenix88 in How early is early in moving to a new school and how late is late?   
    You could request such a thing but my experience is that most building managers/supers don't really want to spend their time doing this and many of them don't know how to do such a thing. But it will depend a lot on the market. If there are 5+ people viewing each unit, then why would they bother with the virtual tour thing when they can easily rent to someone who will do things the normal way.
    You said that you were planning on getting an apartment with a roommate---will your roommate arrive in town before you? Maybe they can check it out in person instead. Or, maybe a friendly grad student in your new program would be willing to come see one or two places in person on your behalf. If none of that works and you don't want to take the risk on it not being a real place, you can hire a broker to do this on your behalf. I've not hired such a person before but typically they charge $300 or so per day and they would be willing to do research, call up places and view them all for you if you are going to pay them for all those hours. But some of them would be willing to just spend the day visiting places, taking pictures and sending them to you in a report at the end of the day. 
    It's not cheap, but if having human eyes on a location is critical for you, $300-$500 is definitely a lot cheaper than flying out there yourself and better than losing your security deposit to a scam (or being stuck in a long lease).
  14. Upvote
    TakeruK got a reaction from Phoenix88 in How early is early in moving to a new school and how late is late?   
    It really depends on your own personal preferences/priorities. I know many grad students that arrive just 1 week or even a few days prior to the start date and stay in a motel or AirBnB until they sign a lease. For me, this is cutting it way too close and I would not have the peace of mind I need to start a new program if I didn't know where I would live! In addition, I know some students who do this but then end up paying way more for rent and/or live in a really bad place because of limited availability and they get stuck with either affordable but really crappy places or decent but very expensive places. But it also depends a lot on the housing market so I'd talk to some current grad students and find out. 
    Note that in one place I lived, it was a major college town and all of the hotels/motels are 100% booked the week before term starts because everyone is there to help move their kid into college. So be aware of those things too (i.e. you might want to at least go out 1-2 weeks in advance). 
    I might have said this above or elsewhere, but these apartment-hunting trips can be done over a few days and cost about 1 months rent. I worked during undergrad (and my Masters program was well funded) so I had the savings to sacrifice one month's rent to ensure peace of mind and I felt it was a good investment before signing a 12 month lease (it could potentially cost a lot more in time and/or money to be stuck in an unhappy place for a year or to break the lease). However, if you don't have savings, then this might not be a viable option.
  15. Upvote
    TakeruK got a reaction from Phoenix88 in How early is early in moving to a new school and how late is late?   
    Again, the exact time depends on how the housing/rentals market work in your specific area. Ask some current grad students to find out the best time to go. 
    We did this three times if you include my postdoc. For my MSc program, we spent 3 days; for my PhD program we scheduled 5 days and for my postdoc, we spent 4 days. The MSc trip was short because we didn't have much money. The PhD trip was longer because 1) we were anxious about moving to a new country and 2) we stayed with our friends in town so a longer trip only cost more for food, not much else. The postdoc trip length was set based on the amount of time we were able to spare (we did it during my thesis writing), the fact that my employer was paying for it, and that there is a very very low vacancy rate in the city we were moving to.
    In all cases, we set up as many appointments as we could before leaving. For the months ahead of the trip, we scouted out listings online, pretending we were moving the next month. This gave us a good sense of what time of the month there were the most listings. So we scheduled our trip for that time of month when it was for real. Then about a week before we left, we called every place that had a listing to set up a visit. We checked the listings twice a day and made more calls as the trip went on. And we continued doing it while we were there too, in addition to just driving around and looking at signs. 
    For my MSc and PhD programs, we looked at around 6 places before we found something that worked. And at both of these programs, the place we chose was not something we knew about beforehand---it was a place we found while we were there. However, the management company that owned them were known to us beforehand, so it was helpful to have seen ads from them before so that we knew to look for their buildings when we were in town. For my postdoc move, we ended up looking at 12 places before finding one that worked. It turned out to be one of the few places that we did schedule ahead of time. Some of our other pre-scheduled appointments got cancelled just before our time because the person who saw it before us took the apartment. There was one showing where we were one of 12 couples looking at the same place at almost the same time. 
  16. Upvote
    TakeruK got a reaction from Phoenix88 in Needy Undergraduate RAs   
    I want to just emphasize that while I (and many others) view training undergraduates as service, it's certainly not like this all around. (Maybe I didn't make that part clear enough!). At my current school, there is a fund specifically made to pay for undergraduate researchers so that they can gain experience. In Canada, the equivalent of the NSF also awards money to professors to subsidize undergraduate research for the same reason. But there are definitely also research positions in the sciences that are also like what you say here. Especially as budgets shrink and departments are rewarded for activities that bring in money (e.g. lower level survey classes). But many faculty members are also arguing for the importance of valuing research mentoring too!
  17. Upvote
    TakeruK got a reaction from historyofsloths in Getting off to a good start   
    I know that you are stating these opinions for yourself, and not necessarily judging other people, but you should know that when you make statements like this, you are implying that graduate students who do have other commitments (relationships, children, taking care of sick parents etc.) are not putting as much effort into grad school as you think they should. 
     
    You're definitely free to impose whatever restrictions you want on yourself, but if you want to get off to a good start, it would be a good idea to not alienate yourself from your classmates by making these kind of statements. I know you might not even mean it in the judgmental way, but it will come off that way when you say it to other people. 
  18. Upvote
    TakeruK got a reaction from Phoenix88 in Advice for a first year PhD student   
    I'm in a MSc program, but in Canada, everyone starts grad school as a MSc student, graduates, and then applies for PhD programs (which can be at the same or a different institution). I'm finishing up my second and final year now.

    First -- your question about time: It really depends on your program / department / research group / supervisor as well as your own goals in academia. For me, almost all of my research work can be done remotely (although I prefer to work in the office) so I really only need to go to school to attend class, TA, talk to my friends, attend seminars, and meet my supervisor. None of these things happen outside of 9-5 so I tend to stick to a 9-5 ish schedule and do extra work from home if necessary. I usually try to not do any "work" outside of 9-5 and not take my "work" home. However, I don't count course-work as "work" and I try to do that at home so it doesn't cut into research time too much. But if you work in, say, a chemistry lab, you might have stricter requirements as to when you need to be in the lab.

    Many of my friends in school have dogs. Some of them take a break in the middle of the day to go home and walk their dogs or see them, if they live close. I try to treat grad school as a "job" -- unless there are deadlines approaching, I don't feel bad leaving at ~5pm even if there is stuff left to be done since it will still be there tomorrow! I know this means I'm not working to my fullest potential, and I'm okay with that. I'm not aiming to be the best in my field, and I choose to have other priorities.

    Which comes to the second thing I want to say -- grad school is as much work as you want it to be. To use a cliche -- you will get out of it what you put in. So it's important to think about what you want to get out of your PhD program and then schedule your life accordingly! I think it's really important to budget your time and energy so that you don't neglect your priorities (whether it's courses, research, teaching, family, dogs, whatever). I think graduate school is hard enough even when you have a positive/healthy mindset, so maintaining whatever makes you happy is important.

    I got some advice from my mentors (previous supervisors) that I thought was really valuable. They said to pick your supervisor and project in a way that will help you get a post-doc job (if that is the goal after PhD). If so, your PhD project will be the strongest argument you have for yourself when you apply for jobs. Pick something that will be interesting to people ~5 years from now, don't work on a super specific field that only you or your supervisor cares about (instead, do these as side projects). You don't have to love your thesis topic, just don't hate it! Next, make sure your project contributes to the field in a meaningful way, so that ideally people will start to connect the concepts you are working on with your name.

    As for picking supervisors, my mentors told me that I should find someone who is a good mentor, not just a good researcher. We will need to trained in other skills such as how to write papers really well, how to apply for grants, how to give compelling presentations, how to get ourselves known. Many good researchers have these abilities but not everyone is good at teaching these abilities too. Also, if possible, find someone who will care about their students' success and will give us opportunities like attending conferences and so on. If you have an external scholarship and thus your supervisor may not pay you at all (or very little), it's common in the physical sciences to actually negotiate non-salary things like having a budget for travel or equipment, and so on. (Last piece of advice -- apply for external fellowships whenever possible, even if you are already funded by internal means. You probably won't get any more money, but you will get a lot more freedom and independence).

    Those were some of the important (in my opinion) things I've learned in the last 2 years as a graduate student and from many conversations with my mentors while applying for PhD programs for this fall! Hope that gives you some things to consider
  19. Like
    TakeruK got a reaction from lao.tzu in Leveraging Funding   
    In my opinion, you should not ask for more funding until you are certain you want to go there. At the graduate school level, leveraging funding is not a way to make all the schools increase their offers. Instead, the correct (in my opinion) process is to first pick the school you want to attend (School A). Then, decide how much money you need to attend that school and let the School A know that you really want to attend, however, you don't think you can afford to live on the stipend because of X, Y, Z reasons. If you have a offer from another similar school (similar in both ranking/prestige and cost of living) then you can "leverage" them by saying something like "Well, School B offered $BBB per year, can you match that?". If School A agrees to match it, you should accept School A right away. If they can only go part of the way or cannot match it at all, then you'll have to decide if A with the lower stipend or B with the higher stipend is better for you. But you should not use School A's slightly increased offer to leverage yet another school! 
     
    (And depending on field, yes it could matter if the school is upset at you for wasting their time trying to find you funding just for you to use it to leverage a third school. Even if you don't go there--you'll see the same people around over and over again in your academic life).
  20. Upvote
    TakeruK got a reaction from Phoenix88 in Advice on Approaching Issue of Credit?   
    @angesradieux: Thanks for the additional details. I see why it's frustrating that these two additional people were added. I am glad to hear that you are still the first translator though. I think it's still worth it to follow up with the professor and find out how the credit will be shared (and also whether the royalties will be split in additional ways). Maybe these two additional people did provide a small amount of work but will not receive anything other that credit on the title page?Again, I need to preface this with the caveat that I'm in a very different field but it still sounds very much to me that this project was "owned" by the professor the entire time. One major clue (to me) that it is the professor's ownership is that he was the one that sent the email to you and the original author declaring how the royalties will be split. In addition, the professor recognized that your translation was your work and that you were free to pursue it independently. However, you did not, which to me, signifies that you are comfortable with him taking charge of the project and using your work with appropriate credit and compensation. And finally, when you were making these translations, you were sending them to him, chapter by chapter for him to edit. This is another sign that shows, to an outside observer, that the prof is the one in charge. 
    Sorry if the above sounds like I'm placing blame on you. I am not trying to say that, just explaining from a third person's perspective why the situation seems like it's one where you provided a service that was essential for the "boss" (i.e. the prof) to complete the work. But this doesn't necessarily mean you need to be consulted with every major decision.
    In terms of moving forward, I agree with fuzzy. Decide what you need to get out of the situation and ensure you get what you need. Some things are not really worth fighting against. If financial compensation is important and these extra people are going to get more than their share of the royalties, then it's something you might want to bring up as a concern (depending on how much and if it's a fight worth fighting). But if your main concern is that you don't want to see these two other names on the title page, then I don't think that's an effective fight to fight at all. Having more people share credit doesn't diminish how much credit you'll get for the work. And if you fight it, you might turn out to be in the wrong (e.g. maybe the prof asked these two extra people to double check your work or something) and this could hurt your ability to get good recommendations from your prof and maybe even these new people. What is worth more to you?
    Finally, I think this experience is also a valuable lesson on making issues of credit and authorship more clear at the beginning of a project. Whenever I lead a project and I ask for a piece of analysis or work from another researcher, I always make it clear that I would want to include them as a coauthor in the initial invitation. Similarly, whenever people ask me to use my code or analysis on this piece of data, I usually ask for authorship in exchange for my time and efforts. (Sometimes, if it's a new collaboration, I might provide some sample results first to see if it fits their needs and analyze the rest once they agree to include me as a coauthor).
  21. Like
    TakeruK got a reaction from Phoenix88 in How many publications do you aim to have by graduation?   
    This will vary even within the same field! Here are some examples within my field. The numbers are not really "average" numbers, but the number of papers you'd publish in order to be competitive for the top postdoc positions. I don't include other numbers because we rarely have a minimum paper count to graduate and if you're not aiming to go into academia, then your paper count isn't as important. The degree length is about 5-6 years.
    If you are an astronomer that works on building instruments to go on telescopes or designing software to run telescopes, you might have 1 or 2 papers at the end of your degree. 
    If you are an astronomer works on from large survey sets that takes several years to complete then you might have 2-3 papers by the end of your degree.
    If you are an astronomer that works on specific stars or planetary systems, then you might end up with one paper for each system, which could be like 4-5 papers.
    And if you are a theorist that works on new ideas of star/planet interactions, then you might have 6 or more papers.
    How do committees evaluate these differences? Having your letter writers talk about the work you put into the paper is important, especially if you are in one of the subfields that produce fewer papers because each paper takes a lot more effort.
    Also, committees do consider the number of years in your degree. Writing 4 papers in 5 years is more impressive than 4 papers in 6 years, with all else being equal.
  22. Upvote
    TakeruK got a reaction from Faith786 in How many publications do you aim to have by graduation?   
    I didn't publish at all during my Masters. Most thesis Masters program don't even require that Masters research work be original research (i.e. it can just be a project that is a proof of concept, a literature review type thing, or something that reconfirms a previously known result using your own code/new code----this usually is a precursor project to PhD work).
  23. Like
    TakeruK got a reaction from Faith786 in Publishing in predatory journals?   
    If you're asking, here are the reasons I would give to sway someone against publishing in a predatory journal:
    1. You are being scammed. You are paying money for something that is objectively worthless. There is a reason they are predatory journals, not just low impact factor journals. 
    2. Putting legitimate work into these scam journals helps to legitimize these scam journals. It might lead to other honest researchers thinking that this journal is more legitimate and consider them. People who choose to publish in these predatory journals anyways is part of the reason why it's not always unambiguous that a journal is a scam.
    3. These journals have little peer review, or it's just a joke. Putting your work there and then passing it off as a "real" journal article is unethical. 
    4. If you want to put some low impact work online for others to see, there are other ways you can do this for free or for a very low cost, through legitimate and easy means. For example, in my field, there is a no fee, no peer review (other than editorial review) journal for "research notes" that are for things like null results or partial analysis that can't be completed but would be useful to share.
    5. If you are knowingly spending grant money on publishing charges of predatory journals, then you are wasting the grantor's money (whether it's a private fund or tax dollars). I think this is also unethical/irresponsible use of granted money.
  24. Like
    TakeruK got a reaction from Rtwoneday in April 15 resolution   
    As @meep95 said, when a school tells you that they follow the April 15 resolution, it means that they won't require you to make a decision before April 15. In return, if you say yes to them before April 15, other schools who are part of the resolution will not allow you to accept their offers until you are "released" from this first school. However, to clarify, it is not a contract. There are no legal obligations on either party and there are no structures in place to enforce it. 
    Of course, if you say yes to a school and then change your mind, you will likely burn bridges. So there are tons of reasons to *not* do this, but I just want to make it clear that it's not at the level of a contract. 
    meep95's advice is the best one: Since you are more interested in your waitlisted school, wait and see what happens. Don't accept any offers until you are sure that your waitlisted school will not make you an offer before April 15. You might have to wait until April 14 or 15 to be able to accept the first offer. 
    I'll also add a few more pieces of advice. You can probably imagine a deadlock scenario where you are waiting to hear from your waitlisted school, while someone who is accepted to that school is waiting to hear from one of the schools you've already been accepted to. Since everyone is waiting on the other to make a decision, nothing gets done. Therefore, I would also advise you to do the following while waiting:
    - If you have more than one offer, review them all and decide which one of these offers is your top choice. Decline the other offers so that those waitlists can move (if those schools have waitlists). Similarly, if you have not heard from some of the other schools that are no longer as favourable to you as the ones you have offers, then withdraw your applications from those schools too. Basically, you don't have to wait until you hear back from every single application in order to start making some decisions.
    - Get in touch with your top choice schools that have waitlisted you. You can tell them that you are very interested in their program. If they haven't told you anything yet, then this is a good time to ask about their expected decision timelines. If they already told you that you are waitlisted, then on April 10 or something, just contact them again and let them know that you remain interested in their program. Hopefully at this point, they will have some idea whether or not you'll get off the waitilist. If they say it's unlikely, then you might want to accept the offer you have on April 15. If they say that they might be able to make you an offer on say, April 18, then ask your first school for an extension to April 15, explaining the situation.
  25. Upvote
    TakeruK got a reaction from Psychological Yam in Using admissions as leverage?   
    I might not understand what you mean by "leverage". From my interpretation, I would say I don't think it is a good idea to use other admits as "leverage" on other schools. Few schools are going to care that University XYZ already made their decisions, so they should make their own decision faster. Also, few schools will think "well, this person was accepted by Top University X, so we better accept them too, if Top University X wants them!"
     
    I think it's a very terrible idea to just flaunt your acceptances at other schools and hope something good happens to you.
     
    Here are instances where I think it would make sense to tell other schools about other offers:
     
    1. It just comes up in a conversation between you and the other school. No need to hide your results.
     
    2. The school that accepted you (let's call it A) has given you a short deadline and you want to know an estimate of decision timelines from the other schools. Then, you can politely let the other schools know that A has given you a deadline and you want to know approximately when a decision will be ready so that you can ask A for an extension. [i would not do this until about 2 weeks before the deadline though]
     
    3. You are visiting School A and you know from the past (or from the website) that another school in the area is having a visit weekend at near the same time. You might want to ask the other school about their decision timeline so you know when to book flights etc.
     
    4. You are ready to make a final decision and you like School A the most, however, another school, B, has offered you a better financial package. You can then ask A if they can match or at least increase their offer. However, in my opinion, you should only do this if you will absolutely say yes to A if A agrees to increase your offer. You should not try sending the best offer to all your schools and seeing which one will give you the highest value. The whole argument for an increase in stipend is that "you like A the most, but need more funding", and you can't say this truthfully to all schools.
     
    In my opinion, you don't have to keep your offers a secret, but I don't think you should try to use your offers to force other schools into any actions other than ones that are necessary (e.g. to extend a deadline). Don't wave another offer around just so the other schools get back to you a week earlier so that you panic less etc. Calm down and relax! Also, don't just wave other offers around in an attempt to make yourself look better to other schools. I am pretty sure this will not work. Instead, think about what you want (matching offer? finding out about visit days? etc.) and ask for it directly, mentioning your previous offers if relevant.
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