The cost of a summer


in Economics, Geek stuff, Toronto

The PhD student funding mechanism at the University of Toronto varies a bit depending on whether you are part of the standard funded cohort, receiving a scholarship like the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, or in some other situation. Still, the basic setup is similar for most people: you probably get three lump sum payments per year, from which you must pay your tuition if it is not automatically deducted. You then receive monthly paycheques for eight months out of the year, as compensation for work as a teaching assistant (TA).

As a PhD student, you are basically expected to do academic work over the summer, but only a minority of people get work as TAs. That makes financing the summer a challenge. It’s possible to do paid work outside the university, but quite challenging to do so if you have academic research obligations and (in your first couple of years) comprehensive exams to prepare for.

I moved out of Massey College for the summer because it is a relatively costly residence with no summer meals. Instead, I spent the span from May 9th until August 21st in University College’s Morrison Hall. Rent for the span was $2,130. In addition to rent, I had to buy food a few gifts, pay my cell phone bill, pay for transportation, and so on. I also did a few short trips over the summer: notably, a few days in Montreal for my brother’s graduation and a day in Ottawa for my friend Andrea’s wedding. All told, non-rent expenses were about $2,869.89 – akin to $27.58 per day.

With after-tuition income of about $15,000 per year, I can’t afford to spend so much on summers for the rest of my PhD. I suppose I will need to work, or win a bigger scholarship.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Milan September 6, 2017 at 3:52 pm

Another summer has passed with no scholarship funding, funding from U of T, or teaching assistant work.

My net change in assets since March has been over $5,000 though some of that has been from a drop in the value of my investments (only about $400 though). That net change includes a bit over $800 earned from photography.

About $3,600 of the expenditure was rent, plus perhaps $400 for my cell phone. The rest, food, transport (including two trips to Ottawa), gifts, a dentist visit, web hosting, fees for the Canadian Political Science Association conference, badly needed replacement Blundstone boots, books, etc.

I will have at least one TA position for the next two terms and should theoretically get a paycheque this month. However, there is a paperwork problem of a kind I have encountered before, which previously kept me from being paid for months.

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