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In a Return to Historical Rates, GSAS Increases Ph.D. Stipends by 3 Percent

Lehman Hall is the main building for the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Lehman Hall is the main building for the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. By Jessica M. Wang
By Shera S. Avi-Yonah, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: March 6, 11 p.m.

In an email to graduate students Monday evening, Interim Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Emma Dench announced that stipends for Ph.D. students will increase by 3 percent in the upcoming year.

The new number marks a return to historical rates after an unusually low increase of 1.5 percent last year, which GSAS Dean Xiao-Li Meng attributed to poor returns on Harvard’s endowment. Of the past nine years, eight have seen 3 percent increases.

“I am thrilled to announce this increase and want to thank my colleagues at GSAS and our partners across the University for their efforts to continue enhancing support for our students,” Dench wrote.

GSAS plans stipend rates in conjunction with the Graduate Student Council, which provides feedback to the School’s proposals.

“GSAS undergoes a financial aid budgeting process that takes several months and involves input from many constituents, including and most importantly students,” GSAS Dean for Finance and Administration Allen D. Aloise wrote in email. “Now that process is complete, we are pleased to be able to offer the increase.”

In 2016, Aloise previously wrote that factors taken into account for stipend increases include tuition grants, housing, and health care costs for students.

Sperling’s Best Places, a firm that provides cost of living indices for cities across the U.S., estimates that Cambridge’s score is 198, compared to a national average of 100. The cost of living near Harvard is also considerably higher than many peer institutions—New Haven scored of 107.7 and Hanover, NH scored 154.5.

Harvard University Housing announced in January that rents in University housing, where some graduate students live, will increase between zero and three percent next year.

Following last year’s low rate, graduate student unionization advocates cited lower increases as a reason collective bargaining would materially benefit graduate students. In an email to students, representatives from Harvard Graduate Students Union-United Auto Workers expressed qualified support for this year’s increase, arguing that collective bargaining would protect wage stability in future years.

—Staff writer Shera S. Avi-Yonah can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @saviyonah.

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