Do graduate students’ stipends increase along with living expenses?

Date: February 2020


Hi Deans!

Along with this new year, some prices start to change (usually raise). In my case, some days ago I received an email from the rental company of my house indicating the price increase for rent of the new year. With this in mind, I was wondering, do graduate student stipends increase along with living expenses’ increases every year? If so, when should we expect that change to happen in our stipend?

Thank you!



 Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your Ask a Dean question. Assistantship and fellowship stipends increase annually at the beginning of the academic year. The next increase is scheduled to go into effect on August 16, 2020. Typically, graduate stipends at Cornell have increased in the range of 2%-3% each year. For comparison, the Consumer Price Index considering all items has increased 2.5% in the past 12 months, and for all items excluding food and energy it increased 2.3% in that same time period.

New stipend rates for the 2020-21 year will be announced later during spring semester. Minimum nine-month stipend rates are approved by Cornell’s Board of Trustees. When the new rates are announced publicly, the Graduate School will post the information in Graduate School Announcements (our weekly e-newsletter) and on the stipend rate website.

On the website you’ll see rates are currently published for 2019-20 graduate student assistantship and fellowship stipends. The Board-approved standard nine-month minimum stipend rate is currently $27,218. With a 3% increase, for example, that would change as of August 16 to $28,035. Assistantships and fellowships also cover all tuition (including any annual increase) and all Student Health Plan (including any annual increase). Currently, that translates for most research degree students (who hold most assistantships and fellowships) to covering tuition of either $29,500 or $20,800 per year, depending on the graduate field, and $3,108 per year for the Student Health Plan.

I hope this information helps you with your financial planning. You might also find personal finance resources to be helpful, particularly budgeting resources and personal finance basics. 

Warm regards,


Barbara A. Knuth
Dean of the Graduate School