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Why is my stipend different from another student in my group?

Question

Hi,

I am a second year PhD in STEM field. The other day, during a conservation, I learnt somehow that my stipend for being GRA is significantly less then my group mate. I checked your website about the assistantship rates and it seems mine is actually less then basic one. I am wondering, is this simply because I am paying more tax since I am international student, or would that be any other reason like professors can pay differently to their students? Additionally, is there anything I can do about it?

Appreciate if you inform me.

Thank you.

Stipend Questioning Student


Response

Dear Stipend Questioning Student,

Each year, Cornell’s board of trustees sets the minimum stipend rate for graduate students on TA, RA, GA and GRA appointments.  For 2017-18, the rate is $12,890 per academic semester or $25,780 for the 9-month academic year.  Students who hold assistantship appointments should receive a stipend of this amount or greater.   Because the rate is a minimum, it is possible for some students to receive a higher stipend if they are supported on certain types of external grants, if the assistantship requires additional responsibilities, or if the field has a specific policy of supplementing the base stipend rate.  Some fellowship stipends (paid through the bursar instead of through payroll) may also be at a higher rate.

If you are unsure about whether your stipend meets the minimum I suggest that you first check the appointment letter that you received from your supervisor.  It should clearly provide this information.  Next, you can view a copy of your pay stub to see both the gross (pre-tax) and net take-home pay that you receive. You’ll be able to view and download your paystub in Workday. From All About Me, click the Pay icon and then select Payslips from the View menu.  As you note, taxes may be withheld based on the number of deductions you declare on your W-4 form or whether the Internal revenue Service (IRS) considers you a “nonresident alien” from a country subject to a reciprocal tax treaty.  If you still have questions please contact your supervisor,  department administrator or me directly and we can help you verify both your gross and net stipend rate.

You may also find these links helpful:

Sincerely,

Jason

Jason Kahabka, Associate Dean for Administration and Student Services