The Semester Begins

DAYS WITHOUT A CONTRACT: 418
DAYS UNTIL THE START OF THE ACADEMIC YEAR: 0

One part of the countdown goes away but the other, perhaps even more important countdown, will stay. Also, this semester I’m teaching an 8am class, so three days a week my usual 7am post will probably be delayed.

As it is the beginning of the semester, I wanted to link up a few items that highlight student concerns. Some of these I’ve written about before but some of this is new information:

Beginning July 1, 2012, there will be no more subsidized loans for graduate students. Subsidized loans are ones in which the government pays the interest on the loan during the time we are in school. All graduate students will be eligible for after July 1st are unsubsidized loans, where interest is charged during the time we are in school. The money the government saves from this will be mostly put into funding Pell Grants, which graduate students are generally ineligible for. Here are three informational links you may want to check out for more information:

Students to feel pinch in debt deal [CNN]
A Graduate Student Burden [Inside Higher Ed]
Chart of the Day: Student Loans Have Grown 511% Since 1999 [The Atlantic]

What are these loans paying for? For graduate students more generally: tuition, fees, books, living expenses, supplies. For graduate assistants, a large bulk of those loans go to cover fees. Fees have tripled over the last ten years and are still rising dramatically. Unfortunately, our stipends have not been keeping pace with these changes so that we end up losing money. Right now, an average doctoral student working twenty hours a week is working for nine months — but only getting paid for seven. The rest of that money is paid back to the university in fees. You can actually see a chart, made by History graduate assistant Andy Barbero, that tracks — adjusted for inflation — exactly how much fees at SIUC have gone up:

Fees Adjusted for Inflation

Fees Adjusted for Inflation

It’s a pretty scary spike there at the end and doesn’t look like it’s going to go down anytime soon.

And speaking of fees, the convocation the Southern speaks highly of is funded by fees to incoming students.

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