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Graduate Student

I am an NSERC Funded PhD Candidate. I'm an expert in my research area, a mentor for undergraduate students, and a course instructor. Yet, I live in a family friend's basement because I can't afford the cost of living in Waterloo. How do I have this "prestigious" award, and I can't afford my own place at the age of 28? I am expected to conduct myself at the highest of standards... but, I get paid below the poverty level? The expectations of a PhD student are far too high for the level of pay we receive. Not to mention, we are not ALLOWED to have another job while receiving NSERC. Otherwise, I would get a part-time job to pay off the 10+ years of post-secondary debt I've accumulated (~120K on tuition alone). I enjoy learning, I enjoy teaching, but the lack of funding is a huge deterrent for individuals to want to stay in higher education. The phrase "that's out of my pay grade" has never been more real, but unfortunately, we have no option but to live through it.

If graduate funding was CAD $35,000/yr for all students, or CAD $60,000/yr for all postdocs, how would that change your life? I am currently looking into Post-Doc opportunities. $60K/year as a post-doc would make moving in with my significant other much more realistic - I am currently the limiting factor in our decision to get a place together since I don't make enough money to hold up my end of the rent/mortgage. $60K/year would also make having a family a lot more realistic. There is already a lack of support for women in science, and now it's even harder for us to have children because we can't afford it. How are intelligent individuals supposed to continue pro-creating more intelligent little humans, if those people can't even afford to have kids?

Additional comments: If it wasn't for the fact that I enjoy learning, researching, teaching, mentoring, etc. then I would have left my PhD a long time ago. I complain all the time how I make PENNIES... I have friends in France and Australia who pay 1/16th the amount in tuition, and make a LIVING wage to complete their PhD's. They are paid like experts - because they are experts in their field. It's absolutely insulting we aren't being paid for our expertise.



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