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Stipend negotiation?

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Yes, but easy with the language of "negotiate". Make a polite request. If it's really the case, indicate that this might influence your decision. But understand that faculty will be bemused at the notion of you making a huge life/career decision for what is at most going to be a couple of thousand dollars per year. Granted that's a lot of money to a grad student on a poverty wage, but to negotiate successfully you have to put yourself in the other person's shoes so ask yourself what would make a persuasive case. 

 

I negotiated my funding offer when I started grad school and can speak to this point from Prof. Nooruddin. Programs are not inclined to move on the base stipend amount. Also, if you've signaled that a program is your top choice, they will not consider it a credible "threat" for you to choose a lesser program over a small sum of money.

However, you can request something like summer funding or a semester of fellowship. I even managed to negotiate the latter at a place where I got in off the wait list.

 

If you're thinking about negotiating, you could ask current and recent grad students about their experience with departmental norms around funding.

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Yes, but easy with the language of "negotiate". Make a polite request. If it's really the case, indicate that this might influence your decision. But understand that faculty will be bemused at the notion of you making a huge life/career decision for what is at most going to be a couple of thousand dollars per year. Granted that's a lot of money to a grad student on a poverty wage, but to negotiate successfully you have to put yourself in the other person's shoes so ask yourself what would make a persuasive case. 

 

 

I beg to differ. I agree that treading carefully, being polite, and understanding that the person you are talking to may not be in a position to make such decision is important. But let's be real. This is a market place. And while it sucks, money is important--for EVERYONE. The faculty member you talk to is not paid by candies and nuts. Chances are that he also negotiated his current position. That doesn't mean they will be ready to negotiate and improve their offers, but even if they can't do anything, they'll understand, and won't look down on you for trying to get a better offer. Everyone wants better salaries, better conditions. There's no shame in it. PhD students are human beings too.     

 

You're both right. I think my idea of 'negotiation' in this regard really means 'a polite request'. Equally whether they are willing to even discuss the matter is perhaps quite dependent on what their current class yield looks like?  

 

The key thing is not create a bad impression as the DGS will probably remain an important person for several years within the program program and you certainly don't want to sour things from the beginning!

Edited by AuldReekie

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Don't get me wrong. As a grad student, I served as steward and on the steering and bargaining committee for one of the best and second-oldest grad unions in the country (the Graduate Employees Organization - GEO - at Michigan). I'm all about grad students getting paid. But negotiation 101 is that you have to have leverage to succeed. And annoying a DGS with demands that are not in her power to grant is not standing up for your right to be paid; it's shooting yourself in the foot. So do your homework, figure out what's important to you, and ask for it. But if you think you can parlay an offer from somewhere else to get them to raise your stipend well above your peers, well, best of luck.

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I'm not trying to negotiate my stipend, but I *am* asking if they can help get my wife a job at the university. :)  Hopefully, some baksheesh can change hands among departments, and they can get it done.  They're certainly trying.

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23 minutes ago, changeisgood said:

I'm not trying to negotiate my stipend, but I *am* asking if they can help get my wife a job at the university. :)  Hopefully, some baksheesh can change hands among departments, and they can get it done.  They're certainly trying.

Wow. I wish I could ask for something like that. But in my case there'd be at least a three-month wait for a J2 work permit for her...

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35 minutes ago, changeisgood said:

I'm not trying to negotiate my stipend, but I *am* asking if they can help get my wife a job at the university. :)  Hopefully, some baksheesh can change hands among departments, and they can get it done.  They're certainly trying.

 

as long as it isn't for a TT job, it should work out. :)

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1 hour ago, VMcJ said:

Wow. I wish I could ask for something like that. But in my case there'd be at least a three-month wait for a J2 work permit for her...

Isn't it the case that she can apply to change her F-2 visa to J-2 once you're already settled in the U.S.? If that's what she wants, that is. I work in an international student services office at my university, and it seems that those types of processes move quicker when one is actually inside the country.

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3 minutes ago, dagnabbit said:

Isn't it the case that she can apply to change her F-2 visa to J-2 once you're already settled in the U.S.? If that's what she wants, that is. I work in an international student services office at my university, and it seems that those types of processes move quicker when one is actually inside the country.

I don't understand. Isn't it better to go to the US already on a J-2 visa? I could be F-1 or J-1, it doesn't matter to me. I'm only planning to ask for J-1 status because of her, since F-2s are not allowed to work.

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3 minutes ago, VMcJ said:

I don't understand. Isn't it better to go to the US already on a J-2 visa? I could be F-1 or J-1, it doesn't matter to me. I'm only planning to ask for J-1 status because of her, since F-2s are not allowed to work.

Ah I'm sorry, I didn't understand that you were shooting for J-1 status. That's a better idea, yeah.

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2 hours ago, advark said:

 

as long as it isn't for a TT job, it should work out. :)

Oh, not at all.  She's a non-TT lifer in Math (although some small LAC might be willing to give her tenure at some point with no research requirement).  She just likes teaching calculus.

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Many thanks for those who shared nice info on stipends. I have one question to ask.

I got accepted by a PhD program and they offered me a partial funding package (partial remission of tuition for the first two years). For me, the rest of the tuition is such a burden that I will have to consider other programs with a full-funding offer.

The program is my first priority and they say I'd better negotiate on my financing(I guess the person I am emailing with is the administrative director of the department).

I was kind of surprised at the fact that I can (and have to) negotiate. So, I clarified that the program is my first priority but I feel burdened by the amount money not covered by my financing package. The administrator relied their funds are all committed at the moment but there is a chance that adjustments are made as it becomes closer to April 15.

So, what should I do? I made it clear that the program is my top priority and I feel burdened by the uncovered tuition. If it is a 'negotiation', what could I offer them?

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5 minutes ago, concrema said:

Many thanks for those who shared nice info on stipends. I have one question to ask.

I got accepted by a PhD program and they offered me a partial funding package (partial remission of tuition for the first two years). For me, the rest of the tuition is such a burden that I will have to consider other programs with a full-funding offer.

The program is my first priority and they say I'd better negotiate on my financing(I guess the person I am emailing with is the administrative director of the department).

I was kind of surprised at the fact that I can (and have to) negotiate. So, I clarified that the program is my first priority but I feel burdened by the amount money not covered by my financing package. The administrator relied their funds are all committed at the moment but there is a chance that adjustments are made as it becomes closer to April 15.

So, what should I do? I made it clear that the program is my top priority and I feel burdened by the uncovered tuition. If it is a 'negotiation', what could I offer them?

What do you mean by "offer them?" You give them nothing. If they cannot fully fund you, you do not accept their offer. You will have to wait it out and potentially do a second cycle. You should not enter a PhD program if you are not fully funded. 

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7 minutes ago, advark said:

What do you mean by "offer them?" You give them nothing. If they cannot fully fund you, you do not accept their offer. You will have to wait it out and potentially do a second cycle. You should not enter a PhD program if you are not fully funded. 

I'm in a similar situation. But then, what do they mean by 'negotiate'? 

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Sorry for bumping an old thread.

Just got accepted to one of my top choices but the stipend seems to be pretty low (in fact I am not quite sure if it is low since the city is not the biggest one but having looked at the average rent, it seems so). It is my only acceptance as of now - 1 acceptance, 4 rejections and 5 pending applications.

I certainly do not have the leverage here, but, still, the financial aspect is my only reservation. I would accept the offer in a heartbeat, otherwise. Should I bring it up nevertheless? We will have a conversation over the phone in the coming weeks. What is the worst thing that could happen? Can they rescind the offer? What is the etiquette here? Any strategies? I do not want to come across too greedy to the coordinator but this is a 5-year commitment and I do not want to eke out a living or, worse, go into debt at this point of my life, really.

Thanks in advance.

Edited by devotee

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18 hours ago, devotee said:

Sorry for bumping an old thread.

Just got accepted to one of my top choices but the stipend seems to be pretty low (in fact I am not quite sure if it is low since the city is not the biggest one but having looked at the average rent, it seems so). It is my only acceptance as of now - 1 acceptance, 4 rejections and 5 pending applications.

I certainly do not have the leverage here, but, still, the financial aspect is my only reservation. I would accept the offer in a heartbeat, otherwise. Should I bring it up nevertheless? We will have a conversation over the phone in the coming weeks. What is the worst thing that could happen? Can they rescind the offer? What is the etiquette here? Any strategies? I do not want to come across too greedy to the coordinator but this is a 5-year commitment and I do not want to eke out a living or, worse, go into debt at this point of my life, really.

Thanks in advance.

As you note, you do not have much leverage. And even for those who have leverage, exercising it can really put a poor taste in the mouth of your future colleagues. If the financial concern is really the primary obstacle to accepting the offer, though, it might not be bad to bring it up in a conversation with your POI. Say something along the lines of "I'm excited and honored to have received this offer, and I would like to attend. However, I am concerned about the financial offer, and worried about securing a comfortable standard of living. Can you point me towards any information on how other graduate students make the financial package work? Are there additional sources of funding?"

And before you do any of that, make sure that you ask some current students in the department about how they make ends meet. My current institution has a stipend that is very low compared to our peer institutions. However, almost all graduate students find it is enough -- we have a lower cost of living, most students receive some form of summer funding, etc. Feel free to PM me for more details.

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On a rather different note - how do you guys define 'low' funding? Say - 5 years of guaranteed funding with $20,000 each year - is that considered low? Sorry if I asked a stupid question, I'm new to this

Edited by irgradcafe

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2 minutes ago, irgradcafe said:

On a rather different note - how do you guys define 'low' funding? Say - 5 years of guaranteed funding with $20,000 each year - is that considered low? Sorry if I asked a stupid question, I'm new to this

This depends on the city. 20k is low for living in New York City, but can be considered high for living in Oklahoma City. MIT has a living wage calculator that can give you a better idea of the local cost of living in various cities.

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1 hour ago, Warelin said:

This depends on the city. 20k is low for living in New York City, but can be considered high for living in Oklahoma City. MIT has a living wage calculator that can give you a better idea of the local cost of living in various cities.

I'm not sure what living situation you are in or what salary history you have, but $20k, for a 12-month stipend, is very low almost anywhere. $20k is equivalent to being paid $9.62 an hour (using 40hrs/wk, 52 wk/yr). I didn't check every location in the US, but the living wage calculator you provide gives $11.04/hr ($23k yearly) as the living wage for a single adult, even in Mississippi. In New York City, it's $15.07/hr ($33k annually), and even in Oklahoma City, it's $11.27/hr. $20k is below the living wage there; it's not remotely "high". The $3k difference between the living wage and a $20k stipend offer might seem small, but at the margins, a few thousand dollars matters. 

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28 minutes ago, upsy said:

I'm not sure what living situation you are in or what salary history you have, but $20k, for a 12-month stipend, is very low almost anywhere. $20k is equivalent to being paid $9.62 an hour (using 40hrs/wk, 52 wk/yr). I didn't check every location in the US, but the living wage calculator you provide gives $11.04/hr ($23k yearly) as the living wage for a single adult, even in Mississippi. In New York City, it's $15.07/hr ($33k annually), and even in Oklahoma City, it's $11.27/hr. $20k is below the living wage there; it's not remotely "high". The $3k difference between the living wage and a $20k stipend offer might seem small, but at the margins, a few thousand dollars matters. 

I never claimed that a 20k stipend was high. I said it could be considered high depending on where the program is located. In some places, living on 20k without roommates is doable. In other places, you'll need a roommate or two and/or a long commute to make it work. The living wage calculator also includes higher medical costs (which most universities provide within their funding package at a much-reduced cost) as well as taxes which are higher than the stipend would require. As a general rule of thumb, you don't pay social security taxes or medicare taxes when you're on a fellowship because you're exempt. Most universities also don't consider you "full time" for their records. Grad Students are usually seen as individuals that work 20 hours per week and most universities don't provide stipends for the full 12 months but rather at 9, 10 or 11 months. Some universities provide additional opportunities for summer funding which also allow you to increase your stipend. 

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On 2/9/2019 at 10:24 PM, StrengthandHonor said:

As you note, you do not have much leverage. And even for those who have leverage, exercising it can really put a poor taste in the mouth of your future colleagues. If the financial concern is really the primary obstacle to accepting the offer, though, it might not be bad to bring it up in a conversation with your POI. Say something along the lines of "I'm excited and honored to have received this offer, and I would like to attend. However, I am concerned about the financial offer, and worried about securing a comfortable standard of living. Can you point me towards any information on how other graduate students make the financial package work? Are there additional sources of funding?"

And before you do any of that, make sure that you ask some current students in the department about how they make ends meet. My current institution has a stipend that is very low compared to our peer institutions. However, almost all graduate students find it is enough -- we have a lower cost of living, most students receive some form of summer funding, etc. Feel free to PM me for more details.

Thank you very much mate. Asking for additional sources seems to be the better way here.

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