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19 minutes ago, Sandmaster said:

Not tuition usually, but the course fees and university fees are typically not covered. Those typically come out of your stipend.

I'm not sure that's typical in history departments--it certainly wasn't the case at any of the schools I considered or at my current school, and I don't know anyone who loses part of their stipend to course and/or university fees. **Are you in history @Sandmaster? I don't mean to go on about this on the basis of my own experiences, and perhaps there are schools where you'll end up paying fees, but when I was deciding where to go I came across a lot of misinformation about how much of my stipend would be "lost" to "hidden fees" and none of it turned out to be true. It's stating the obvious to say this, but, of course, it's worth checking all of this with your school(s). 

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18 hours ago, Manuscriptess said:

Generally speaking does insurance for most schools also include dental and visual?

The UC system health insurance includes medical, vision and dental. For other programs, it'd be good to ask current grad students what the insurance does and doesn't do (and what sneaky fees/copays are required).

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I am sensing a confusion in terms here, in what is understood by graduate insurance "not covering" vision and dental. If your school doesn't offer vision or dental insurance at all, yes, that's bad, get your check-ups now. But many schools will offer vision or dental insurance as an add-on to your health insurance policy. This is not fine if the add-on fee is $100/month, but for me it's far less, and I've found it totally manageable.

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I actually found that it was cheaper to get my dental care done by seeing a local dentist, rather than getting dental insurance. YMMV obviously but often dentists offer discounted/free cleanings and x-rays to someone new to the area and there are also frequently Groupon/LivingSocial deals for basic dental care. That won't cover something like a cavity or a root canal but, if your teeth are relatively healthy, it's not so bad.

From the University of Minnesota website (https://humanresources.umn.edu/graduate-assistant-employment/ga-tuition-benefits): "Your tuition benefit depends on your appointment percentage and the number of registered credits. Tuition benefits do not pay for other charges, such as lab fees, student service fees, installment fees, late charges, or late registration fees, which are assessed by Student Accounts Receivable and charged to your account. You are responsible for paying expenses not covered by your tuition benefit."

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Health insurance is very important so if UMN offers that as part of your package, it is not bad at all and totally on par for Midwest schools (except expensive Chicago).

I would talk to the current graduate students to get their thoughts on the funding that they receive. Is the stipend livable for them?  Ask them if they have roommates, pets, and cars. Those are "add ons".  Remember, these funding packages are generally aimed at single peopple without pets and cars (and any other huge regular expenses).

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I'm sort of late to this discussion, but I wanted to say, as others have commented upon, you really need to consider the cost of living. I only make slightly above $18.5k, and I have a competitively awarded GA-ship. Granted, I'm still going slightly into debt every year, but I'm also supporting a family of three on that. What you were offered, at least here, would be quite livable for a single person.

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$18,500 is an OK offer. 

I use some online comparison websites to have an idea. For example, when I moved to California I had no idea what everybody meant by 'expensive'. Was it the taxes? Rent? Gas? 

Now, $2000 for the summer is not much if they are giving you $2000/month during the academic year. How would you pay rent? Eat? Think about these things. In my case, I got a part-time job during the summer.

Did you ask if summer and conference travel is competitive? (i.e. not guaranteed?)

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10 minutes ago, AP said:

$18,500 is an OK offer. 

I use some online comparison websites to have an idea. For example, when I moved to California I had no idea what everybody meant by 'expensive'. Was it the taxes? Rent? Gas? 

Now, $2000 for the summer is not much if they are giving you $2000/month during the academic year. How would you pay rent? Eat? Think about these things. In my case, I got a part-time job during the summer.

Did you ask if summer and conference travel is competitive? (i.e. not guaranteed?)

Housing, transportation, and other factors are much cheaper, and I am currently making roughly the same amount in a much more expensive town. 

$2,000 for the summer is on top of what I am receiving in the stipend. This does not include other funding opportunities to which I can apply.

Summer and conference is guranteed.

I also have a savings and a partner making a good salary.

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3 hours ago, astroid88 said:

Housing, transportation, and other factors are much cheaper, and I am currently making roughly the same amount in a much more expensive town. 

$2,000 for the summer is on top of what I am receiving in the stipend. This does not include other funding opportunities to which I can apply.

Summer and conference is guranteed.

I also have a savings and a partner making a good salary.

It seems you've done sound research and it is a good offer for your current situation. Congrats!!! 

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