Stanford has promised to issue a one-time stipend of $1,000 at the start of the winter quarter to enrolled and funded doctoral students in the School of Medicine and the School of Humanities and Sciences, according to emails sent to these students in the respective schools.
The emails, which were signed by School of Medicine Dean Lloyd Minor and School of Humanities and Sciences Dean Debra Satz, said that both schools will provide the $1,000 stipend for qualifying students due to recent and long term bouts of affordability issues impacting graduate students.
Doctoral students in other schools, including the engineering, education and law schools, will not receive the stipend.
The announcement follows several attempts by graduate students to bring attention to issues including affordability and cost of living.
On Nov. 7, an email outlining concerns about affordability, signed by over 400 bioscience Ph.D. students, was sent to Minor and other University administrators. The email cited a survey sent to the biosciences graduate community which found that “91.8% of respondents report that their stipend does not adequately meet their cost of living,” according to the email.
The Graduate Student Council (GSC) has also been active on the issue of affordability. The GSC voted in September to approve the Bill on Affordability, which included a list of seven “action items” addressing many affordability concerns, including housing and income.
The bill compared students to residents of Santa Clara County and nationwide and identified that the income of Stanford graduate students falls into the “very low” income category. The bill also addressed specific housing issues, reporting that graduate students spend 45% of their income on housing.
The co-chairs of the council praised the University for taking action on the stipends.
“We have reached out to both Dean Satz and Dean Minor to thank them for taking leadership on this,” said GSC co-chair Emily Schell, a fifth-year developmental and psychological sciences Ph.D. student. Schell said that she and Council co-chair Jason Anderson, a fourth-year aeronautics and astronautics Ph.D. student, copied the deans from the other professional schools in their thank you email to encourage them to follow Dean Satz and Dean Minor’s leadership.
University spokesperson Luisa Rapport wrote that “the University and its individual schools are continually evaluating all financial aspects of our graduate programs and working to address affordability challenges.”
Anderson said that the council plans to continue prioritizing affordability, benefits and mental health.
“We and the graduates from the council have been working towards this affordability issue… and we have traction here,” Anderson said, “This is a really big deal.”
Anderson and Schell, who are Ph.D. students in the School of Education and the School of Engineering will not receive the stipend.
“This is a first step. It’s certainly not the final step we hope to see from the university to tackle this supportability problem,” Shell said.