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Graduate Student

Second year PhD in STEM at a major Canadian institution, things are marginally better than during my Master's. Some quick math: Tuition ~$6000/yr, Living expenses (Rent with partner sharing 1 bdrm + other expenses) ~$20000/yr, Stipend + TA-ship funding ~$24000

Remaining income for one-off expenses and non-essentials = -$𝟐𝟎𝟎𝟎

Obviously, this is untenable so, I take out student loans every year. As a first-generation university student from a low-income family there is no social or family security net to fall back on to get help, and this is the situation for many students in my cohort.

If graduate school funding was $35,000 Canadian per year for all students, how would that change your life? A $35000 salary would mean I would not need to take out any more student loans, this would make my future situation much less stressful. At this point I'm still excited about a career in academic research, but my financial situation, especially in the future repayment process with a large student loan balance (+100K) from undergrad and graduate studies. In the current academic funding landscape, I'm forced to choose between my passion for research, or the financial stability of myself and my family. With aging parents and a sibling on disability (ODSP is even worse than student funding), who have little income and no retirement income from a life of living pay-check to pay-check I'm not even sure if I can even complete my PhD, but I'm hoping the house of cards stays together for a few more years so, I can finish.


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