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Cost of living compared to stipend...


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So I just found out I received my first acceptance (!!!) but now I have the fun process of maybe making a decision among schools.

I found this nifty website for cost of living http://www.bestplaces.net/col/

But I was wondering how exactly do I factor in the stipend and cost of living.. For example, If school A has a stipend of 15,000 but the cost of living is much below the national average, and school B has a stipend of 20,000 but cost of living is much higher than the national average, how do I really know which is the better place (financial wise)?

Any insight would be great :) Thanks!

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Your largest expense will probably be an apartment, so either check out craigslist or rent.com to get an idea of average costs. Schools may also host housing websites, where you could also find a roommate which could lower your costs.

Also look into public transport to decide whether a car is worth it or not.

I had this issue last year, where OSU offered me less money than another school, but the cost of living is so much cheaper here I'm able to save more than I could've at the other school. I'm even starting to pay off undergrad loans! Granted, in the end I did not base my decision solely on finances, as I have an SO that was also applying.

There are really just so many factors going into a decision, the best thing you can do is visit. If 2-3 schools give you actual livable stipends, you should make a decision on fit, advisor, placement rates, all that other stuff that will ultimately shape your career.

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Thanks for posting this! It has a lot of other interesting comparisons too. Of course, who knows how accurate it is...

Anyway, made me feel a little better about the difference between my current Boston salary and stipend figures from programs elsewhere. It pretty much lines up with the math I'd already been doing, but good to see some confirmation that those stipend numbers aren't as low as they actually sound!

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