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Stipends


hdrher
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I'm starting to research financial aid for grad school and I have a quick question:

I know grad students usually receive a stipend for their living expenses. I've also read that most programs offer the opportunity to work as research/teaching assistants and a stipend is awarded for this also. So is the money you receive for being a RA or TA in addition to your general stipend? In other words if a school provides a $25,000 stipend do you receive additional money for being an RA/TA?

Thanks to anyone who can help me out!

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for most financial award packages offered by most departments, stipends are normally considered the compensation for the student working as a TA or RA.

the exception is a very elite financial award known as a "fellowship" which is usually a full ride + stipend without TA or RA duties (or very few duties). these are much harder to get and most departments aren't going to have a lot of these to award. competition for these will be fierce.

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There is no "general stipend" for graduate school. The school will charge tuition and fees which you are responsible to pay. If you are a highly desirable applicant they may offer you a fellowship which will pay all the costs (usually) plus give you a stipend for living expenses. You may be chosen at admission (or apply while in school) to be an RA or TA, as which they will pay all costs (usually) plus give you a stipend for living expenses in exchange for 20 or so hours per week of research or teaching. If you do not have a fellowship, RA, or TA then you have a very large bill which you need to pay plus you will need to figure out how to pay for books, travel expenses, and basic living necessities.

Please note that fellowship/RA/TA is almost always an either-or proposition - they do not generally allow fellowship holders to take paid RA or TA positions. Also note that, with the exception of national fellowships, the amounts of the tuition waiver and the stipend may vary considerably - tuition waivers can be 50-100% and in the case of a state school may sometimes only cover in-state tuition, and the stipend can be anywhere from $12k to $30+k per year.

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Besides RA or TA, which in most institutions are only available for PhD students, there are also general "administrative" assistants and part-time staff positions on-campus which has tuition benefits as well. In these cases, you will be doing 20 hours (or less) per week doing stuff that are NOT related to your research, like IT stuff, student event planning etc. In the case of a part-time staff position, health insurance is usually covered, along with 401(k) matches.

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