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Questions for your Interview visit

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I got these from a friend who's deep into grad school already, along with some of my own concerns:

for grad students or professors: How much is health insurance and is it any good? (Does it meet the new Affordable Care Act standards? Does it include dental? If someone has had a child, even better.)

online or grad students: Is funding guaranteed 'if shit hits the fan'?  (Is funding based solely on GPA, and/or research progress, and/or on groveling to the department?) [Obviously you would want to find this answer online or from a grad student, not a PI, since that could reflect poorly on you. When I was looking for info on my home school, I read in the Math Department Grad Handbook that anyone receiving ANY funding must complete "ANY ASSIGNED SUPPLEMENTAL TASKS" at risk of losing funding, which sounds fairly crappy and arbitrary, like "Come in 7-10 on a random Friday when the professor doesn't feel like proctoring the exam".

online or grad students: Is there an off-ramp with a degree? (If you don't pass the entrance exam, can you at least graduate with a Masters?)

online: Is there a TA requirement? (I think 1 semester of TA is a reasonable requirement, but it does suck if a department expects students to TA for multiple semesters just because the stipend is low.)

for grad students, administrators, professors, or online :Are the grad students unionized?

for grad students or administrators: Housing: is there like, subsidized graduate housing? Are there accommodations for significant others or spouses or families in housing? (Or pets or handicaps, if those apply to you.)

for grad students: How livable is the stipend: Cost of housing in the area or on-campus, distance to grocery stores, etc.

for grad students, professors: "What's the town like?" can be important if it's not just "Big city life", imo.

for administrators/professors/online: Since I applied to the GRFP as a Senior in Undergrad, I also want to know what the school's policy is with external fellowships. Do students get a one-time bonus or increased stipend? If the stipend increases, will the university match it after the duration of the fellowship? (Most useful search terms to find the answer online: "external, fellowships, policy, graduate, stipend")

^^It can range wildly. Princeton's policy: you get the Princeton stipend, or the fellowship stipend, whichever is greater, plus $4,000 per year. UPenn's policy: One-time $3,000 bonus (which seems like kind of a rip-off compared to Princeton's, but I think Upenn is more of a direct-admit, so it's important in that it gives you access to basically whoever you want to work with). University of Maryland's policy didn't seem that great on paper but I may have to do the math: 50% off your health insurance and 10 credits of tuition remission, max. I can only assume the stipend part goes to the student. Meanwhile, University of Delaware had no particular policy posted. I emailed Financial Services about it.


That was a long post and it doesn't have too many questions for professors, so I'll post again when I have more for y'all.

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