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Hello, I would like to talk about some funding situations.

I got an offer from UC Berkeley as below.

A stipend of $28,000 for living expenses in the first year. In the second through fifth years, the stipend,

tuition and fees become the responsibility of the mentor, and may be paid through a variety of sources,

including appointments as Graduate Student Researcher and/or Graduate Student Instructor.

It's for a Ph.D. program related to bio. I want to ask what other people's funding offers are like. (especially bio-related ones)

They told me during the interview, I could still get the money from TA if my mentor didn't have enough funding.

I'm just afraid 1. The amount of the stipend will decrease over time/ by choice of my mentor

2. I wouldn't get to work with the professor I would like to work with because of funding.

Is it common to get this kind of funding offer? 1st year guaranteed and from second year you get funding from your mentor?

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GSI pay at UC Berkeley is generally significantly less than $28,000/year. If you work a standard 50% appointment for both semesters (10 months), you would make only $16,637/year. That would be $19,964 total if you GSI over the summer, too (unlikely but possible -- usually you should be able to find a GSR over the summer at least, and there are fewer classes available to teach).

This website has GSI pay rates:


Here is what you need to find out:

1) What is the GSR pay in your department? At Berkeley, these rates are set by individual departments. In sciences with good funding, these rates are generally significantly higher than standard GSI rates (for example, physics is about $25,500/year).

2) What is the availability of GSI appointments in your department? Some departments always need extra GSIs -- others do not.

3) What is the availability of GSR appointments in your chosen subfield and with faculty you would want to work with?

Ask the professors and the student affairs officer in the department you got into, but ask grad students for the real scoop.

Berkeley has many bio PhD programs and they differ wildly in funding availability. The people I know doing microbiology are doing quite well. My friend doing ecology is in a constant struggle for funding.

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