From the AR BLUES FORUM, CO-Sponsored by Graduate Students United and the Graduate Funding Committee
I. Summary of recommendations from the Provost’s Committee on AR and Time to Degree:
The following recommendations were the basis for the open forums in October, and will guide the Provost’s decision:
1. AR Tuition (reduce it, but don’t eliminate it): The report maintains that AR out-of-pocket tuition allows graduate students to contribute to and access University services in our advanced residency years, and encourages us to finish faster. The report acknowledges that AR tuition rates have increased to a burdensome amount. They recommend: reducing AR tuition for all graduate students, but not eliminating it (recommendation #1). They suggest an end to AR out-of-pocket tuition waivers to those who teach on campus and a redistribution of the savings to reduce AR tuition for all AR students (recommendation #2).
2. Teaching (more access, but limit amount, take out loans): Centrally and publicly list available teaching jobs on campus. At the same time, create limits on the amount of teaching a student can do in any one year. Students shouldn’t be dependent on teaching to cover their financial responsibilities. We should make up the difference with loans (recommendations 4 and 5).
3. Structural/Admin changes (more advising, support, fellowships, changes to funding and ER): Divisions and departments should help grad students plan their financial resources better and understand their financial responsibilities; increase the number of fellowships and add 50 new summer research fellowships; include health insurance and tuition coverage in all internal funding awards; allow banking of the 5th year of funding; eliminate ER after the 13th year; extend the GAI to all divisions (recommendations 3, 6, 8-12, 13-15).
II. Summary of counter -recommendations by students-at-large, and by GSU members:
These two main areas of concern came out of the open forums and ongoing student discussions. We can continue to push for these!
- Eliminate out of pocket AR tuition: It is too high, it keeps us from finishing our degrees on time and it creates undue financial stress. The University says we should contribute to our education, but it doesn’t recognize how much we contribute through teaching (at still not-so-high wages), working in other campus jobs (at low wages), and through our intellectual labor for the University. Eliminating AR out-of-pocket tuition would not be a huge burden for the University (it only makes for 0.15% of the University operating budget), yet it would relieve a huge burden on students ($2300 a year, if you can’t teach).
- Extend tuition waivers: If AR tuition is not going to be eliminated, then reduce it significantly and extend the waiver system. Don’t get rid of the out-of-pocket tuition waiver for those who teach! We don’t make enough as it is. A better plan is to extend tuition waivers to ALL students who work on campus. Don’t limit the amount we can teach if we still have to pay AR tuition (in addition to healthcare and just basic living). Taking out $30,000 in loans at high interest rates is unacceptable.
- Suspend out-of-pocket tuition immediately, then get rid of it or keep it very low: Grad students in AR are hurting now! While we wait for a decision, we are still paying what everyone agrees is an unreasonably high AR out-of-pocket amount. So, suspend this amount now. Then eliminate it for good, or reduce it significantly and extend the waiver system!