Stuck in the AR trap?

The University of Chicago administration charges advanced graduate students tuition if they do not teach.  It amounts to $2,352 per school year.  Together with mandatory health insurance ($2,045) and campus fees ($714), grad students who choose to focus on writing their dissertations rather than teaching must pay $5,111 per school year to the administration.

GSU believes that this is an onerous burden on students whose scholarly and pedagogical contributions help make the U of C a great university.  Too many students have found themselves in the AR trap, with many taking extra teaching and other jobs when they would rather be focusing on their dissertations.  Currently the only ways out are independent wealth, reliance on a partner’s income, scarce dissertation fellowships, or costly loans.  GSU calls on the administration, and in particular Provost Thomas Rosenbaum, to completely eliminate AR tuition.

GSU is spear-heading a email campaign asking the Provost to do just that.  Thanks to all who have emailed already.  We’ve seen over 130 emails so far sent to the provost and cc’ed to GSU.  If you haven’t yet sent an email to the provost, you can copy the letter located here and send it to, (Deputy Provost Cathy Cohen), and cc

You can participate further in GSU’s campaign to end AR fees by applying for the first (and hopefully last) G.E.T.A. Scholarship (Graduate Emergency Tuition Aid), providing 2009-10 out-of-pocket tuition expenses.  The recipient will be chosen at random from the list of applicants.To enter this scholarship-lottery, go to Ex Libris (at the Reg. Lib) over the next few days and find GSU’s table–or send us an email at with your name, department, and contact info (email/phone). A $1 donation/entry will help cover costs.

The lucky winner will be announced at an event next Thursday (Feb. 25) at noon in Ida Noyes.

What is the history of the campaign to eliminate AR tuition?

AR Tuition Action: A Timeline

May 2007:

student committee including representatives from 32 departments and committees across the 3 divisions submits its “Proposal for Change to Current Doctoral Funding” to President Zimmer, identifying AR tuition as one of six areas in which inadequate funding support proved burdensome to students, and calls for its elimination. Graduate Student United (GSU) and the Graduate Council Graduate Funding Committee (GFC) are formed to advocate for funding for current graduate students.

May 2007 – Winter 2008:

The Provost’s Working Group for Graduate Student Life in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Divinity School convenes to review funding for current graduate students. In February 2008, the Working group releases its formal report, proposing an urgent review of the level of AR out-of-pocket tuition and notes that these charges are disproportionally large in contrast to the minimal resources used by the students.

In response to this report, Provost Rosenbaum tasks Deputy Provost Cohen on Feb 25, 2008 with convening a new Committee of faculty, students, and staff, on Advanced Residence and Time to Degree, with the intent to review the AR system, focusing in particular on the out-of-pocket tuition issue.

Winter 2008-Spring 2009:

In February, GFC and GSU organize the Apple Action: 175 students march to the Administration Building, conveying the message that change is urgently needed to graduate student funding. In the same month, GFC releases a survey of 455 respondents, listing AR tuition as one of the top four most important issues to graduate students, while giving the University the lowest rating on its response to this concern.

In May, GSU submits a petition signed by 541 students to Deputy Provost Cohen, calling for the provision of health insurance for all graduate student employees and fee remission for all students in advanced residence.

In March, GFC submits student letters on the AR system to the Committee on AR and Time to Degree, as well as its final recommendations for the elimination of AR tuition, and if within the current budgetary cycle an immediate waiver is not possible, the immediate implementation of a reduction.

Autumn-Winter 2009:

In September, the Provost’s Committee completes its report, acknowledging the need to ease the financial burden on students in AR status, without moving to eliminate AR tuition. The report recommends “redistributing teaching aid so that all advanced graduate students can benefit from these funds instead of only those students who teach … (and thus) lowering the AR out-of pocket tuition of all AR students across the University.”

In response, GSU & GFC call on the University and state that, rather than redistributing the tuition burden , tuition remission needs to be extended to all students, while ensuring proper compensation for those who teach or do other types of paid work at the University.


Letter campaign to Provost Rosenbaum to request immediate elimination of advanced residence tuition. In just the  first four days, 120 letters have been sent.

25 February 2010:  exactly 2 years after the establishment of the Committee for AR Tuition, GSU holds the first and hopefully last annual Graduate Emergency Tuition Aid (G.E.T.A.). The GETA scholarship provides reimbursement for 2009-2010 out-of-pocket AR Tuition expenses.

Mid-to late February 2010:

Provost Rosenbaum will make a decision on the Committee on AR and Time to Degree’s report.