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NU raises stipends for grad students

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Northwestern University announced today that beginning this fall, the base stipend paid to Ph.D. and MFA students in the graduate school will increase to $29,000 a year from the current $22,992.

The University is investing $6.25 million in additional funds annually for this raise in the level of the stipend. The move is expected to enhance the quality of student life, promote enrollment of top applicants and improve faculty recruitment and retention while furthering research.

The increase, which becomes effective Sept. 1, marks another major investment in graduate education"  President Morton Schapiro said in a letter announcing the raise.

“Graduate education is a key component of Northwestern’s research mission, and graduate students are critically important members of our community, who contribute great dynamism and creativity to our research and academic environment,” he added. “Graduate students support the research of faculty, teach and mentor undergraduate students, contribute to the discovery of new knowledge and collaborate with postdoctoral fellows, staff, administrators and community members.”

In a separate letter announcing more details of the decision to the University graduate community, Dwight McBride, dean of the graduate school, said the increase "will aid us tremendously in maintaining our place among our very competitive group of institutional peers."

McBride, who is associate provost for graduate education, observed that the increase will help “further TGS’s diversity and inclusion goals,” and he noted it will also “level the local playing field between schools, academic disciplines and departments for current students.”

While data show Northwestern typically is more successful recruiting students in the life sciences and physical sciences, mathematics and engineering, the raise will help increase the numbers of graduate students recruited to Northwestern who also get accepted into peer schools — especially in the arts and humanities and social and behavioral sciences.

Andrew Zimmerman, a fourth-year graduate student in the physics department, is researching the quantum phase transition of superfluid 3He at temperatures that get within a thousandth of a degree of absolute zero. “A higher stipend will definitely make things easier for graduate students, especially those who have families,” he said. “It also will encourage graduate students to live close to campus in Evanston, instead of Chicago.””

Laura Carrillo, a third-year student in the sociology department, is focusing her research on inequality in — among other areas — race and ethnicity, education and housing. “I am really excited about the stipend increase, which will obviously have a positive impact on my life,” said Carrillo, who has a 7-year-old son. “It will make it much easier for me to pay necessary expenses, including housing, my car and my son’s schooling without struggling.”

For first-generation Ph.D. students who “rely entirely on the promise of a fully funded education,” she added, the stipend increase is especially meaningful, because it “enables us to be more self-sufficient without having to seek a second job.”

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