Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Truth About Debt: PhD Debt Survey

Rebecca Schuman's recent article on the PhD debt project is a must-read for anyone working in academia, particularly with grad students, and even more for those considering grad school or contemplating leaving. Karen Kelsky is collecting debt data in a simple Google doc. Writes Schuman,
A shocking number of users also report $100,000andup; some $200,000 and over, even with a funding package. “My graduate stipend did not cover my living expenses, books, money I needed for research,” explains one user. “TA salary and fee remission not enough to support my two children,” says another. Graduate students do not usually receive funding in the summer—but are often expected to complete intensive research or exam prep—so many users also cited summer living expenses. Though Kelsky expected a substantial reaction, she says she is still “stunned” at the rate at which entries keep coming in, and “with such devastating figures and stories.”

You can bet I will be adding my devastating figures -- and they are devastating -- to this doc, and I hope you will, too. Until we can demonstrate the crippling, serious, inescapable impact that student debt is having on a generation of students (in particular, students in school for nearly a decade!), this will remain a secret shame. I'm open about my debt. I think you should be, too.

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