Graduate Student

Despite being a « well-funded » NSERC student, acquiring adequate income is very challenging. First of all, there are various fees and tuition taken out of my income/stipend, or covered during parts of my degree but not others, leading to very inconsistent money coming in from month to month. This makes budgeting almost impossible. Currently, I am spending more than 50% of my income each month just for my apartment, given the rapidly rising cost of living, not to mention food, transport, etc. I am so fortunate that I worked for years to pay off student loans, build up savings, etc before doing my PhD. It has helped me weather the ups and downs, but the training system discourages these « diversions ». I am passionate about my research career, but I have been disappointed by the blatant disregard shown for the financial precarity of grad students. The entire system seems to assume you have wealthy parents or a partner to support you. This does not allow for a diverse science workforce.

If graduate funding was CAD $35,000/yr for all students, how would that change your life? As someone already making $35000/year as an NSERC student, I will say that it is also not enough money. A portion of it is taken for tuition and fees. I pay more than half of that income just to rent an apartment in my (smallish) city. Cost of food, transportation, etc is going up everyday and I want to be able to save for the future, not just keep myself alive. It would be completely untenable for me to pursue an opportunity in a larger centre like Toronto or Vancouver. I think serious reinvestment in the scientific workforce is required.

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