Dear Graduate Students,
We hope that you are staying safe and well in these turbulent times. Through our conversations with many of you, your Graduate Student Council (GSC) representatives, and our colleagues across campus, we recognize that our “new normal” can at times feel anything but, and that it comes with academic, professional, and personal costs.
We also understand that it’s creating a great deal of uncertainty for many of you. We are writing today to share the ways MIT has, and will continue to, help our graduate student community.
2020-21 Academic Year Stipend and Health Plan Rates
We have established the new ranges for the monthly stipends of full-time research and teaching assistants for the 2020-21 Academic Year (AY2021). These ranges reflect a 2.9% increase, which fully meets the cost-of-living adjustment recommended by the GSC’s Graduate Stipends Committee.
Expanded MIT Health Plans
For those enrolled in MIT’s medical plans, we are pleased to share that insurance rates will not increase for AY2021. MIT and MIT Health Plans have worked to reduce out-of-pocket costs and simultaneously expand the benefits offered by the Student Extended Insurance Plan (SEIP). Examples of some of the enhancements include support for the mental health needs of our students and expanded healthcare benefits for our transgender students. These changes, made possible through a close partnership of student representatives, the Office of Graduate Education (OGE), and MIT Medical, will reduce barriers to accessing services.
Additionally, we will make it possible for current plan members who are graduating this spring to extend their eligibility for the SEIP through the end of the calendar year. More details about this option will be shared with students who are enrolled in an MIT Health Plan soon.
Support for Graduate Students in Need
In addition to improving the benefits provided to all students, we are continuing to develop programs designed to deliver targeted support to members of our graduate student community most in need.
Short-Term Emergency Funds
We have an ongoing fund for students who are experiencing one-time, non-recurring financial emergencies, and we want to remind those in need that the Graduate Student Short-Term Emergency Fund is a resource they can turn to right now. Graduate students who, due to COVID-19, have lost paid summer opportunities such as MISTI internships, industrial and government internships, special fellowships, and summer RA or TA appointments should also apply. More information is available here.
We have also created the Summer Opportunities and Resources page which offers an inventory of internships, jobs, research, and other opportunities for graduate students, undergraduates, and post-docs.
Need-Blind Grants for Graduate Students with Children
We are advancing the need-blind Grants for Graduate Students with Children pilot we announced earlier this semester. The program’s original framework remains the same: awards ranging from $2,000 to $4,000 will be available to flexibly cover any expenses for graduate students who have children living with them. Students can apply beginning July 1 and awards will be disbursed in October.
Doctoral Long-Term Financial Hardship Funding
Last year, we shared that the school deans committed to putting policies and practices in place to address the long-term financial challenges that doctoral students who are not on full stipends may experience. Together with the deans and the provost, we have developed a process for AY2021 to identify, to assess need, and to help doctoral students with long-term financial hardships. Students can start applying on June 15, and awards will be made on a rolling basis.
We hope that the financial support steps we have taken and are building on come as welcome news during a trying period.
And we hope that you are taking good care, staying healthy, and looking forward to the not too distant future when the entire MIT community can be together once again.
Maria, Ian, and Sharon
Maria Zuber, Vice President for Research
Ian A. Waitz, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education
Sharon Casey, Health Plans Manager