Stanford unveils measures to tackle affordability issues

Jan. 20, 2022, 8:57 p.m.

Stanford will implement a 3% base salary increase for eligible employees and subsidize Cardinal Care health insurance for graduate students who are research or teaching assistants, University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell announced in a Wednesday email to the community. 

The announcement of affordability initiatives come as the pandemic enters its second year and during a time of record-setting inflation rates and rising consumer prices.

“We believe these investments will meaningfully support the wellbeing of the people in our community and, in so doing, will continue to bolster the excellence of our programs and of Stanford’s contributions to the wider world,” Tessier-Lavigne and Drell wrote. 

A permanent 3% base salary increase will begin March 1 for regular benefits-eligible faculty and staff members. Effective Feb. 1 through the end of 2022, a stipend of $125 per pay period will be provided to regular benefits-eligible employees who earn a base pay of less than or equal to $150,000 a year and are required to work at a Stanford site in person. Employees with a remote or hybrid job environment are not eligible for the stipend, according to the email.

Tessier-Lavigne and Drell added that the University will also tackle high health care and education costs that graduate students face. Starting Sept. 1, Stanford will fully subsidize Cardinal Care health insurance for fellows and graduate students who are on teaching and research assistantships. 

The move comes just months after the Graduate Student Council voiced its concerns about the high cost of Cardinal Care in contrast to health insurance options at peer institutions during a Faculty Senate meeting. In addition, the University will immediately increase the maximum annual family grant for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars with dependent children from $15,000 to $20,000 and $5,000 to $10,000, respectively, according to the email.

In the spring, the University will also launch a pilot program providing short-term, transitional housing for arriving postdoctoral scholars, some of whom may struggle to obtain a lease for housing near the University if they lack credit history or a Social Security number. Additionally, Stanford will enhance the Housing Allowance Program and the Restricted Ground Lease purchase program to assist faculty in securing suitable housing, according to Tessier-Lavigne and Drell.

The measure also supports untenured faculty with “an additional year on their appointment or an additional post-pandemic leave quarter” and faculty whose research has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic with a taxable salary grant or one-time research grants.

While the new initiatives did not address affordability for undergraduates specifically, the email said that undergraduate affordability is primarily addressed through financial aid and that only 13% of undergraduates leave the University with student debt. Undergraduate affordability, they added, remains a “priority” for administrators and the Board of Trustees.

The affordability initiatives were informed by the University’s Affordability Task Force, which is charged with establishing priorities for addressing affordability issues in the Stanford community, Tessier-Lavigne and Drell wrote.

Cassidy Dalva '25 is a News Managing Editor at The Stanford Daily. A prospective economics major from Los Angeles, California, Cassidy enjoys baking, playing pickleball, and spending time outdoors in her free time. Contact her at [email protected].

Login or create an account