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Stipend enough for NYC?


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Hello,

I have been offered a place at Columbia for the following year. However, as an international student, I am not really sure how affordable it is to live in NYC on a PhD stipend. These are the conditions of my offer:

* A stipend of $29,350 during the academic year for up to five years.
* A summer stipend of $3,772 for five years, to be disbursed after the first year of enrollment.
* The Gold-level insurance premium for the Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan, as well as half of the Gold-level insurance premium for any eligible dependent

Do you think this would be enough to live in NYC without getting into debt? Thanks for the help

 
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Subtract roughly 10-15% for taxes (New York State is the highest taxed state in the country), which gives you around $25K.  Then divide that by 12 months (save your "summer" stipend for research purposes or rainy-day savings) and that's around $2079/month.  If you go with Columbia housing with around $1000, then you have $1000 to spend on food, transportation, etc.  Just know that if you choose not to live in Columbia's housing, you will want to get a monthly pass for the subway ($117/month) but don't lose it (there is no way to replace it if lost or stolen).  When I lived in NYC, I had trouble keeping my grocery bills under $200/month.

Since you are an international student, it may be tough to finance your travels home alone unless you budget very carefully.

Err on the conservative side in your first year until you figure out how you can make your budget compatible with NYC :) You'll thank yourself later.

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That is absolutely enough to live on. Cost of living in New York is high, but that stipend is scaled appropriately. You'll have to be careful with your finances, and you may want to sit down with an accountant to be sure you have a handle on what your taxes will be in your first year, but if you manage to keep your rent and utilities below $1000 a month you will be fine. If you're willing to live with at least one other person, it's easier to do that than you think, even if you choose to leave Columbia's subsidized apartments.

If Columbia offers commuter benefits, then you can sign up for a monthly unlimited ride Metrocard for $117 which will be deducted from your stipend/salary on a monthly basis, pre-taxes. If they don't offer commuter benefits (which they might not, depending on how the stipend is disbursed), then a monthly unlimited Metrocard is $121. This kind of Metrocard can be used for public buses as well as the subway, but not the PATH, AirTrain, or express buses. I wouldn't count on commuter benefits from Columbia given how resistant they've been to treating their grad students as employees. In my opinion, however, the unlimited Metrocard is worth it just for the freedom of movement it grants you--if you plan on making on average at least two rides a day in a given 30 day period, that would amount to $165 if paying per ride, versus the unlimited Metrocard sticker price of $121. It's a great deal, and I highly recommend signing up for it even if Columbia doesn't offer commuter benefits. You can also check out the other Metrocard options here.

I agree with @TMP about groceries. I try to keep my grocery bills as low as possible, and do the vast majority of my cooking myself, but my grocery budget is closer to $250/month. That said, I could eat much cheaper than that if I were willing to subsist without as many fresh veggies/fruit and gave up the very occasional meal out completely. But I don't recommend it!

If you have specific questions about living in New York, feel free to ask here or PM me! It's a great city--and I say that as someone who never wanted to live here.

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3 hours ago, Imenol said:

Hello,

I have been offered a place at Columbia for the following year. However, as an international student, I am not really sure how affordable it is to live in NYC on a PhD stipend. These are the conditions of my offer:

* A stipend of $29,350 during the academic year for up to five years.
* A summer stipend of $3,772 for five years, to be disbursed after the first year of enrollment.
* The Gold-level insurance premium for the Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan, as well as half of the Gold-level insurance premium for any eligible dependent

Do you think this would be enough to live in NYC without getting into debt? Thanks for the help

 
  •  

I'm living on less than that (I'm at NYU and I'm an international student, so taxes are taken out of my stipend every fortnight) and it is more than liveable --- when I was considering moving to NYC so many people gave me the impression that I would be struggling to get by and unless you're addicted to online shopping or caviar or something, I really don't think you will be. You won't be living in Chelsea but that's plenty of money to live on in Washington Heights. And I'm not speaking as someone who's super thrifty. 

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6 minutes ago, gnossienne n.3 said:

If you have specific questions about living in New York, feel free to ask here or PM me! It's a great city--and I say that as someone who never wanted to live here.

Ditto to this--I was not expecting to end up in NYC and parts of living here are difficult (I can't pretend that it was easy to find an apartment, and I moved a few times in my first semester), but once you work out where to buy groceries/which bars have good happy hours etc it's not the hyper-expensive metropolis that people imagine it to be!

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That comes out to about $2000 a month after taxes. That's pretty reasonable. The academic housing wouldn't be a bad option as long as all utilities are included and it's within walking distance of the academic buildings which would save you on a metrocard.  That would also ensure a certain standard of living and probably be much less of a hassle for you. Quite frankly, finding an apartment here is difficult even if you're a long term resident, but you're at an even larger disadvantage if you're an international student. The requirements are stringent to the point of ridiculousness(e.g. income of 40x the rent, bank statements showing source of income & savings, high American credit score). Every single international student I know has been made to pay 3-12 months of rent in advance, which is not only a major financial burden, but also a terrible idea as it puts you at risk if you have a bad landlord or roommate. 

New York, otherwise, is not that expensive if you're careful and you take certain precautions(buy your weekly or monthly metrocard with a debit card just in case you lose it!). Most things are actually fairly affordable and there's always something to do. Happy to help if you have any other questions. 

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I am an international student at Columbia. And it is affordable. Taxes are taken out immediately. Your monthly stipend, after taxes, is about $2400-2500, for the fall and winter semesters. I suggest to get Columbia housing, at least the first year, to orient yourself in NYC, or at least apply for grad housing and decline if you find a better deal in washington heights or brooklyn heights. With a roommate, it'll come out about $1000/month. But summers you get less. So keep that in mind. However, my Columbia housing contract also charges less for the summer months. The rent is charged by semesters not by months.  

The stipend is increased each year by 3%.

There are also summer grants that you apply for internal to Columbia, or part of the consortium with NYU. Those are not too difficult to get. You just have to be on top of applying for them. 

Good luck! 

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Hi everyone - 

Columbia admit here as well. Thanks for the valuable comments and information. 

I will end up in Columbia Housing in all likelihood and will probably aim for The Arbor if I can (the amenities make up for the distance IMO). Does anyone have any thoughts on The Arbor? 

Also, could current Columbia students (@anon1234567 !) please explain what would happen if I receive an external fellowship on the first year? I was reading up on it and found the GSAS explanations rather confusing. But it's possible I'm just losing my mind with my MA thesis... So maybe it does make sense. 

Super excited to meet future NYC/Columbia grads! ??

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Congrats on receiving outside funding! Columbia is pretty flexible with outside funding. You can either get a top off option, but this will depend on the amount of your award (up to $15,000), which means you will keep your outside funding along with Columbia funding. Or you can push off Columbia funding for one year or more, and use the award money. And then continue with your Columbia funding the following year. You can even play around. One year get external award, next year Columbia funding. You still get your healthcare funded, and all your fees, even if you push off your Columbia funding by one year or several years. Columbia funding is guaranteed , and remains yours to claim whenever you are ready. But make sure to speak to the grad director, and your future supervisor about this. They may have some useful advice. 

I live at the Arbor. PM me if you want more details about it. 

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Since we're talking housing, I have a follow up from @Caravaggista 's question if you don't mind, @anon1234567.. If we received a housing offer in our admissions letter, how likely is it that we will get Columbia housing (assuming we sign up for it on time)? I'm asking because at the university where I got my MA, housing is just first-come, first-serve, and it's essentially luck whether or not you get a place.

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4 hours ago, asmhardin said:

Since we're talking housing, I have a follow up from @Caravaggista 's question if you don't mind, @anon1234567.. If we received a housing offer in our admissions letter, how likely is it that we will get Columbia housing (assuming we sign up for it on time)? I'm asking because at the university where I got my MA, housing is just first-come, first-serve, and it's essentially luck whether or not you get a place.

Hiya! From my understanding, PhD students are *guaranteed* university housing at the Columbia rate for 5 years. The application for 2018-2019 housing is not yet available, I think, so I would assume applications will be reviewed after the deadline and not on a first-come, first-served basis. We have until June 1st, so there's still time! If you're unsure, you can always contact the GSAS liaison at UAH. 

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On ‎2018‎-‎02‎-‎26 at 7:49 AM, asmhardin said:

Since we're talking housing, I have a follow up from @Caravaggista 's question if you don't mind, @anon1234567.. If we received a housing offer in our admissions letter, how likely is it that we will get Columbia housing (assuming we sign up for it on time)? I'm asking because at the university where I got my MA, housing is just first-come, first-serve, and it's essentially luck whether or not you get a place.

Yes as @Caravaggista wrote earlier, it is guaranteed. As long as you apply, you will get it. 

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Hi everyone!

Recent NYU admit here, I see everyone's from Columbia, so if there are any NYU grads out there, please reach out! I'm an international student and have loads of questions, especially re housing!!

I do have one general question about scholarships/funding/taxes, I'm a foreign Fulbright scholar and thus will be receiving a stipend from Fulbright... is that amount taxable? I would like to start looking for housing, even if it's just to look at my options, but would like to have clear up on my budget first.

Any thoughts will be appreciated, and congratulations! :) 

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3 hours ago, amaliaov said:

Hi everyone!

Recent NYU admit here, I see everyone's from Columbia, so if there are any NYU grads out there, please reach out! I'm an international student and have loads of questions, especially re housing!!

I do have one general question about scholarships/funding/taxes, I'm a foreign Fulbright scholar and thus will be receiving a stipend from Fulbright... is that amount taxable? I would like to start looking for housing, even if it's just to look at my options, but would like to have clear up on my budget first.

Any thoughts will be appreciated, and congratulations! :) 

I’m at NYU, though don’t know of anyone else in the history department on a Fulbright so don’t know how useful I can be there, but feel free to PM.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/9/2018 at 1:48 AM, amaliaov said:

Hi everyone!

Recent NYU admit here, I see everyone's from Columbia, so if there are any NYU grads out there, please reach out! I'm an international student and have loads of questions, especially re housing!!

I do have one general question about scholarships/funding/taxes, I'm a foreign Fulbright scholar and thus will be receiving a stipend from Fulbright... is that amount taxable? I would like to start looking for housing, even if it's just to look at my options, but would like to have clear up on my budget first.

Any thoughts will be appreciated, and congratulations! :) 

I think that is a question you can ask Fulbright directly-- liaisons in both countries should give you an idea. If you are being asked to fill out a T-1099 or T-0198 (something like these) forms, then it is taxable by the US government. My guess that if you do have to pay taxes, I'd aim roughly 15% of your total Fulbright stipend.

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10 hours ago, Empress_Sun said:

Does this apply to MA students?

I believe that is a question you should ask the housing people at Columbia who are in charge of graduate housing.

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