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Thread: Graduate School

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    Graduate School

    I reach out to my Cyclone Fanatic brethren for assistance/information. I have a daughter who graduated from University of Illinois last spring, was awarded a Fulbright grant and is now in Germany for the year. She is applying to study for her PhD starting next fall. She has been accepted at all 3 schools she applied to, and recently visited the last of them. All three have make financial offers (fellowship for several years, TA during the others). But the school she likes the least made the best financial offer. I know you can try and get schools to up the any when getting scholarships for undergrad (maybe more so for private schools vs. public), but can you for PhD programs. All three schools are state schools (University of Texas, Indiana, and Wisconsin). She fixed them because they are the best at what she wants to study. But given they are state schools, do all TA's pretty much get the same compensation (waive tuition and then fixed amount to teach)? Any info you can share would be appreciated as Mom & Dad are paying for grad school (4 years of undergrad is all she gets).



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    Re: Graduate School

    TAs at each school should be a pretty fixed deal.

    You shouldn't have anything left to pay for. Some schools "only" pay 50% tuition plus a salary during the M.A. stage, if she has one. PhD students should never pay tuition.


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    Re: Graduate School

    Assistantships/Fellowships from my experience are generally fixed and non-negotiable.

    Some schools pay more than others for the monthly stipend. Additionally, some may cover only tuition but not fees. That can be negotiated with the major professor and given her experience as a Fulbright she would make a good case to be covered 100% for tuition and fees in addition to her stipend. (Of course, this does depend on the field of study and money the professor has available.)


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    Re: Graduate School

    Quote Originally Posted by ISUAgronomist View Post
    Assistantships/Fellowships from my experience are generally fixed and non-negotiable.

    Some schools pay more than others for the monthly stipend. Additionally, some may cover only tuition but not fees. That can be negotiated with the major professor and given her experience as a Fulbright she would make a good case to be covered 100% for tuition and fees in addition to her stipend.
    Since at least one school was talking fellowships, I'm guessing that she's not going to be in a bad position.


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    Re: Graduate School

    Quote Originally Posted by CycloneErik View Post
    Since at least one school was talking fellowships, I'm guessing that she's not going to be in a bad position.
    Exactly. Fellowships are the cat's meow!




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    Re: Graduate School

    Some things in the fine print may be worth asking about. For example, at ISU fees are covered along with tuition. At CSU (even for a PhD) they are not. Fees and "mandatory" health insurance added up to nearly $1000/semester, which makes a difference. I've negotiated raises in graduate school before, you just have to ask. The worst they will say is no. I also was on a half time research assistantship (which they basically view as full time) but was able to get another 1/4 time teaching assistantship because it was in a different department. More work of course, but I needed the money.



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    Re: Graduate School

    Thanks for the info. She really liked Texas and Wisconsin and both have offered 2 years worth of fellowship (years 1 and 4) and then a TA or researcher in years 2,3 and 5 (and 6 if necessary). The $ difference comes in what they pay you, and then what it costs to live there. Plus Wisconsin is closest enough to home to drive (only 2.5 hours north of northern burbs of Chicago), vs. Austin is a flight every time you want to visit home.



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    Re: Graduate School

    When deciding where to go the prestige of the program and the professor is very important. How well they are respected within their field can be a major factor when it come to get a job. For example, my major professor has mentored >20 grad students and every one of them has walked the stage with a job already lined up because of his reputation for training top students.

    I'm currently in Texas and the visiting part is difficult. Austin to Midway would have reasonable price flights via Southwest. Obviously not cheaper or easier than driving from Madison.




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    Re: Graduate School

    FWIW: Cost of living is higher in Madison, than Austin or Bloomington.


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    Re: Graduate School

    Quote Originally Posted by kilgore_trout View Post
    FWIW: Cost of living is higher in Madison, than Austin or Bloomington.
    I was thinking the same thing from when I was looking at programs after my M.S. Texas is very reasonable on the pocket. Additionally, no state income tax.


    Making these decisions always suck. Best of luck to your daughter.




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    Re: Graduate School

    at this stage in her career she should go to the place that will get her the best job NOT the place that will pay her the most money to go to school. Which major professor has the best track record of placing students in the type of job she wants -- this is the number one issue -- period.



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    Re: Graduate School

    They are generally set amounts, but there is often a way to sweeten the pot depending upon the circumstances. The best thing to do is simply explain that she would like to go to their school but the financial situation is less desirable. They may say that is all they can do but they may be able to improve the offer.



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    Re: Graduate School

    Can you share the area she is going into? Not all colleges within a university are the same. One thing that I've seen is research budgets for PhD students, which can be used to purchase equipment (e.g. laptop so she wouldn't need to purchase her own) and travel to conferences. Although the research budget may not help with living expenses, it could give her a leg up on the competition when she goes on the market. Perhaps that could be negotiated. I've got experience from a business school perspective if that is her area, and it sounds like others from some of the other colleges. Good luck.



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    Re: Graduate School

    I would think less of the prestige of the individual professor and rather the focus of the research that the program covers and opportunities available to a doctoral student.

    The concept of prestige is one of the things I feel is ruining higher education.

    I would tell her to study where she wants. I imagine that even though the school she likes the most offered the least lucrative financial package, that the residuals would be more than manageable and worth it.


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    Re: Graduate School

    She tells me that Texas has higher placement of their graduates for the program she will be studying. Wisconsin is good but she thinks because it is larger, Texas may have a higher placement rate because they have fewer. She is such a hard worker I have to be confident she will do well (graduated with 2 degrees from Illinois in 4 years (BS in math and BA in German), summa cum laude in both. Obviously inherited a lot from her mom.



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