Friday, September 18, 2009

So Broke!

Wow, having a fellowship can really work out in your favor! Although I knew that, I'm really feeling the effects right now. The past three years I was paid via a fellowship. Now that the fellowship has run out, I am a TA for my department. I make $600 less a month now! That is really going to make a difference in my budget. Sure, I saved money over those years, but I also didn't worry about going out to eat every now and then, or stress too much about travel expenses for all these weddings I keep going to. Yes, I'll be fine, I lived on this amount easily my first year of grad school (before I had the fellowship). But it's hard to take a pay cut!

I think the bigger worry for me though is whether or not I'll have full funding next year. I'm planning to apply for dissertation fellowships, since my department doesn't usually have enough money to pay full TA-ships to everyone who needs it, and my advisor may or may not have RA money for me. I'll be a sixth-year graduate student then, and even though that is still below the average number of years it takes to graduate in our department, many sixth-year students find themselves without full funding. People have ended up with 1/2 funding, which isn't even enough to pay the necessary bills and buy groceries! Let alone gas, medical expenses, required travel to conferences, etc. Who knew that in a wealthy area such as Computer Science, even graduate students making good progress have to take out loans just to be able to eat? I want to avoid that; I thought by being a computer scientist I WAS avoiding that, but c'est la vie.

So, thus begins my second round of fellowship applications. Hopefully I'll be as successful as I was last time! And hopefully I'll still find a way to continue to save a little bit of money this year as well. Wish me luck!

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