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Graduate School increases stipends in 2015-16

The Graduate School has announced that Cornell’s stipend rates will increase by 2.3 percent in the 2015-16 academic year for teaching assistants (TAs), research assistants (RAs), graduate research assistants (GRAs) and graduate fellowships.

Minimum stipends for the nine-month academic year will be $24,010 for GRAs and RAs and $24,658 for TAs. Fellowship stipends range from $24,658 to $28,430 depending on academic discipline.

Since 2013, the Graduate School has offered all admitted doctoral students multiyear funding packages (full tuition, health insurance coverage, academic year stipend) valued at $46,762 to $60,282 per academic year. Many graduate fields offer additional summer stipends or academic-year stipends. Funding typically lasts three to five years; some graduate fields provide financial support for the entire period of doctoral study.

“Our funding packages are designed to attract and support outstanding students,” said Barbara Knuth, senior vice provost and dean of the Graduate School. “In addition, the Graduate School actively works to prepare students to compete successfully for outside funding that supports their research and advances their careers.”

Stipend rates are set each year with input from faculty, students, deans, external funding agencies and Cornell’s budget offices. The board of trustees sets minimum rates, but graduate fields and academic departments may increase them. To remain competitive in recruitment of top students, Cornell benchmarks its graduate stipend against private and public peer schools, and factors in local cost of living and inflationary trends.

Research degree tuition rates have remained constant for several years as part of the university’s effort to contain expenses for faculty whose grants fund assistantship packages.

In the past few years, the Graduate School and many graduate fields have increased focus on helping students to become more successful in winning prestigious fellowships. Many fields are offering formal training on grant writing or guidance on applying for National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health funding, and the Graduate School holds fellowship application writing boot camps to help students be successful when applying to external funding sources. These external awards often provide full financial support and are highly regarded as a credential on student CVs. The Graduate School also maintains a fellowship database that can be searched by area of study.

Jason Kahabka, associate dean for administration in the Graduate School, noted: “A recent New American Foundation report found that, nationally, graduate students account for 40 percent of overall student debt. We’re very pleased that at Cornell, 92 percent of doctoral students graduate with no debt associated with their graduate education. In large part, this is due to Cornell’s generous funding packages.”

Graduate stipend rate information is available on the Graduate School website.

Cornell’s Policy on Graduate Assistantships is available on the Division of Financial Affairs website.

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Joe Schwartz