Grad School Decisions pt 1: Funding

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That’s our philosophy when it comes to grad school.

Stinkbrain (SB) will be going to school full time, so we will be living on my income for the next 2 years.  We’re also in the process of paying down student loans (mostly mine) and don’t want to accrue any more.  So in order for SB to enroll full time, not take out any additional loans, and actually live on one income, we need some significant funding from wherever we’ll be going.  So far, each school SB has been accepted to has offered us something, from 50% tuition to a full ride.  This is without any additional fellowships and grants he’s applied for.

Speaking of fellowships, he’s been awarded the one we’ve been hoping for.  I can’t get into any of the specifics just yet, but this fellowship comes with 20k for tuition and a 15k stipend each year.  This is super exciting stuff.  Combined with the scholarships he’s already received from the schools, tuition is now completely covered for each school he’s been accepted to.

This levels the playing field quite a bit.  We won’t need any loans or additional money to cover tuition, so that’s no longer a factor in deciding schools.  Living cost, additional stipends awarded, need of a car, and job availability for me is what we’ll use to decide where to go.

So far, Princeton would work better financially.  Their policy is that students shouldn’t have to work or teach their way through school, so they award all of their students a stipend based on need.  This stipend would cover housing costs each year.  No other schools have affordable, pet friendly, on campus housing available for graduate students & families.

However, I’m not entirely sure of job prospects in Princeton, NJ.  Hopefully, I will be able to transfer jobs or work remotely- I would love to keep working for the company that I’m with.  If not, there’s a Mathematica and ETS there so I should be able to find something.  There are also research and job opportunities at the school that I should be applicable for.

The cost of living is pretty high in DC and Boston.  The stipend from the fellowship wouldn’t cover housing costs for a year in either location, though it will certainly help.  In both cases we would be paying more for a smaller apartment.  We’re not entirely sure if either location is financially possible.  I’ve been playing with our budget for the last few days, and it seems possible but not so probable.

That being said, Princeton is our current front runner.  With their generous stipend, affordable on-campus housing, and some job potential, it looks like it may be a good fit for us for the next two years – at least financially.  They’re having a hosting program in two weeks, and we’re excited to go tour, visit a class or two, and see our housing options.  We are also trying to plan a trip to Tufts as well.  Hopefully, we will get a better feel for each school after spending a few days.

Anyone who’s gone through this previously feel free to drop me a line.  Any advice is welcome.

Stay Sassy – Mica

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