How much are graduate students at UCSB paid?
As you are no doubt aware, graduate student funding varies a great deal based on department and program year and from student to student. Some students are able to find on-campus jobs and intra- and extramural fellowships to supplement their guaranteed funding. Most students combine funding from multiple sources in a given academic year. Many of us have trouble finding summer employment on campus and summer support is rarely included in guaranteed funding packages. Additionally, many of us do not conform to the unspoken assumption underlying our compensation that graduate students are young, healthy, ablebodied, single, childless, and free of other financial responsibilities. You may want to talk to your students directly about their specific compensation and financial challenges.
This academic year, the pretax salaries for common graduate student positions are:
- Teaching Assistant: $2,435 per month, or $21,912 per year (50 percent appointment, nine months)
- Teaching Associate: $2,551 per month, or $22,957 per year (Step 1, 50 percent appointment, nine months)
- Graduate Student Researcher: $1,729 per month, or $20,742 per year (Step 1, 50 percent appointment, twelve months)
These rates are standard across all UC campuses, regardless of local cost of living.
How would a graduate student COLA benefit faculty?
In addition to providing graduate students with a standard of living that offers them security, stability, and dignity, a graduate student COLA would benefit faculty in the following ways:
- Incoming graduate students would be more likely to accept their invitations to join our programs. Rent burden in Santa Barbara County is such a serious issue that it deters incoming students from accepting their offers of admission. A COLA would demonstrate to prospective graduate students that the university takes the rising cost of living seriously, and enable faculty to continue to recruit talented prospective students who will contribute to department life.
- Graduate students would be able to focus on their work. Many graduate students get less than the amount required to cover their basic needs through their current stipends. They need to make up this shortfall, sometimes through a combination of additional on- and off-campus employment, student loans, and credit card debt. Extra jobs cut into our time for teaching and research, while debt is a major source of stress and sets us up for future financial precarity, possibly long after we leave the university. Both are significant distractions that inhibit our productivity, work quality, and degree progress. A COLA would help us mitigate these difficulties and produce work that reflects the best of our abilities. This would allow you, our teachers and mentors, to see us thrive and enable you to offer us professional advice without the interference of these severe material challenges.
- Graduate students would be able to maintain our unpaid support of campus activities. Graduate students provide services to our departments and the university above and beyond our paid positions, including a great deal of mentorship to undergraduate students. A COLA would give us the time and resources to continue to contribute to department and campus life and be partners to faculty in cultivating a rich educational environment both within and outside the classroom.
- The university would materially support diversity, equity, and inclusion, in line with its stated mission. Students with disabilities, first-generation students, students of color, students with dependents, and international students are hit the hardest by the present cost-of-living crisis. These students may be less likely to have family support to supplement their stipends (many also send money home to support their families), more likely to face housing discrimination and higher housing costs, and less likely to be able to work additional jobs to supplement their income. International students are generally not permitted to take on additional off-campus jobs and have restricted work hours during academic quarters. In addition, they are often expected to progress through their programs more quickly than domestic students or face the prohibitive cost of unwaived nonresident supplemental tuition. A COLA would enable these students to continue to participate in graduate education and contribute their labor to the university on an equitable basis. In turn, this support would make departments more capable of living up to their values.
- COLA support now helps prevent the need for escalation in the future. If the university recognizes campus support for our initiative and agrees to provide an adequate standard of living for graduate students, there will be no need to escalate our actions and our work can proceed without disruption.
Do grad students expect campus departments to offer them more funding?
Graduate students understand the significant bureaucratic challenges faced by our departments and this is part of the reason we have decided to advocate for our concerns directly to the university administration. We see this as an issue of widespread structural neglect by the university and UC system and, as such, we do not see a comprehensive solution to the problems we face as the responsibility of individual departments.
How can I support the COLA movement at UCSB?
- Don’t break the picket line: requesting that your graduate students do any other work that is not directly related to their own research and degree progress, grading in the place of your TAs or taking on any other struck labor, submitting grades if your TA is withholding them as part of the strike.
- Attend our weekly meetings and upcoming actions to lend your voice to our organizing efforts. We welcome and encourage faculty allies to attend our meetings so that our organizing efforts can be informed by your perspectives and insights as fellow members of the campus community. Your physical presence at our COLA actions is also a huge show of support.
- Add your name to our:
- Read our letter to faculty, demand letter to UC administration, and these FAQ and circulate widely.
- Follow us on social media (@ucsb4cola on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), share our content, and invite your friends to follow us.
- Send letters of support from your departments, and your campus organizations us to share on our website and social media channels. We also encourage letters of support from individual faculty members. Contact us here.
- Talk with your colleagues here and at other UCs about graduate student living conditions and the COLA movement, direct them to resources like this website, and encourage them to get involved.
- Hear out and support any graduate students in your department who come to you with their concerns about COLA participation.
- Read statements of support for strikers from other faculty and departments.