Studying at Yale and living in New Haven may become less affordable for some graduate students next year with the restructuring of the Teaching Fellow Program.
On Jan. 22, Director of the Teaching Fellow Program Judith Hackman announced that teaching fellow compensation schedules will be divided in just two categories for the 2015–16 academic year: six to 10 hours or 15 to 20 hours each week. As a result of this change, graduates in their seventh year or above, science graduate students who have already completed their teaching requirement, and master’s and professional students will earn reduced stipends per course.
TFs teaching six to 10 hours per week will earn $4,000 per term, and those working 15 to 20 hours per week will earn $8,000 per term, Hackman said in the email. In some cases, these new rates will result in significant pay decreases for TFs. For example, the highest stipend for teaching, $10,120 per term, will be reduced to $8,000 next year.
However, administrators noted that graduate students will be able to teach in three courses per term, up from the current two course per term limit.
“Next year, if they wish, [students] may teach up to three assignments, for a total of $24,000, which is about $4,000 more than they are permitted to receive this year,” Dean of Strategic Initiatives for Yale College, the Graduate School and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Pamela Schirmeister said in an email.
Still, graduate students interviewed said the reduced stipends still made living in New Haven less affordable.
“I appreciate that there are budgetary considerations but it seems to me that you have to ensure that New Haven has cheaper housing before undertaking that kind of a pay cut,” Sarah Bowman GRD ’15 said. “You cannot live in New Haven for $17,000 a year.”
Bowman, who is a TF for history professor David Blight’s “Civil War and Reconstruction” class, said the salary cuts will affect her if she decides to continue studying for a seventh year at Yale next semester. Reducing her paycheck, which is already taken up largely by housing expenses, would put pressure on her finances, she said.
The TF salary is an important supplement for many graduate students who need the money, John Calhoun LAW ’15 said in an email.
“The cuts will certainly make it harder to make ends meet,” he said.
Alice Baumgartner GRD ’19 agreed, saying for her, the cuts make it difficult to reside in New Haven without drawing on savings or securing a second job.
TF positions are “one of the few part-time jobs” that can help students pay — at least in part — for tuition, Taylor Daily SPH ’15 said.
Still, Bowman said teaching positions are already difficult for students to obtain, and asking graduate students to make up the difference by working more hours in more courses might be unrealistic.
Schirmeister added that compensating TFs $8,000 per course is substantially above the market rate, and at least $3,500 more that any other school in the Connecticut area, she said.
But Joshua Fincher GRD ’15 questioned the University’s statements that compared Yale’s compensation schemes to other schools nearby.
“Does it befit one of the wealthiest universities in the world to pay their students a salary that could qualify them for food stamps?” Fincher said.