# Can you be a grad student but still broke?

I know if you work in some major cities the life expenses would be scary, but wouldn't your salary also be much higher than those less prosperous places?

Also, about those loans and mortgages... shouldn't you be able to pay them back within months?

Nope, my stipend (one of the better ones at my school) is a little less then my friend's at Cornell, so he gets to rent a house on his stipend and I get a studio with a roommate.

As a general rule, all grad students are broke. There are exceptions of course but not to many.

phyzguy
I know if you work in some major cities the life expenses would be scary, but wouldn't your salary also be much higher than those less prosperous places?

Also, about those loans and mortgages... shouldn't you be able to pay them back within months?

From your other posts, I think you may have an unrealistic expectation of how much grad students make. I saw your $16K/month figure. As said above, most grad students in the sciences make just enough to get by - usually living 2-4 to a room and eating as cheaply as possible. Outside the sciences, the situation is even worse - most grad students need to take out loans to pay for school. After you graduate, let's say with a PhD in physics, the situation gets better, but you are still not wealthy. If you are working towards an academic job you probably need to be a post-doc for 4-6 years. These pay better, but probably still only in the$40-$60K/year range. If you take a job in industry, you might have a starting salary in the$60-$90K/year range, but this would still not be enough to pay off student loans in a matter of months. Others might want to comment on whether or not my figures are reasonable. Where did you get your$16K/month figure? This is the type of salary that someone in the sciences might only make after many years of experience, if ever.

Also, about those loans and mortgages... shouldn't you be able to pay them back within months?

Pay a mortgage back in months? Wow, what sort of job are you expecting to get once you graduate?

Average UK mortgage is around £300,000 (rough estimate). To pay it back + interest in a few months would require a job earning millions per year.

Even if it was only £50,000 then it would require a job paying a few hundred thousand pound per year.

Neither of these are realistic for a graduate fresh out of uni.

EDIT: 16k a month? Are you serious? Extremely unrealistic for a graduate. In fact, I don't know of many people who earn that much per month. You really would have to be the director of a major company to pull that sort of money.

Phyzguy, your figures seem reasonable to me.

From your other posts, I think you may have an unrealistic expectation of how much grad students make. I saw your $16K/month figure. As said above, most grad students in the sciences make just enough to get by - usually living 2-4 to a room and eating as cheaply as possible. Outside the sciences, the situation is even worse - most grad students need to take out loans to pay for school. After you graduate, let's say with a PhD in physics, the situation gets better, but you are still not wealthy. If you are working towards an academic job you probably need to be a post-doc for 4-6 years. These pay better, but probably still only in the$40-$60K/year range. If you take a job in industry, you might have a starting salary in the$60-$90K/year range, but this would still not be enough to pay off student loans in a matter of months. Others might want to comment on whether or not my figures are reasonable. Where did you get your$16K/month figure? This is the type of salary that someone in the sciences might only make after many years of experience, if ever.

In another thread, somebody posted 16k per year, which is about accurate. He said "16k per year? No way, you meant 16k per month."

Gokul43201
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
As said above, most grad students in the sciences make just enough to get by - usually living 2-4 to a room and eating as cheaply as possible.
...
Others might want to comment on whether or not my figures are reasonable.
I think the only somewhat inaccurate part is the bit about rooming 2-4 per room. I don't think you're likely to see very much of that most anywhere outside of Columbia, NYU, GWU or suchtypes.

Hepth
Gold Member
I know some people at my school that were doing the 2-4 people per ROOM; but all of them (that I know) were foreign (non-north america) and they were doing it out of choice so they could send all excess money home, rather than necessity.

16k per year (assuming free tuition) is about right here too. Even in the more expensive places (NY/LA/SF/Chi) in the US you could still rent a 2-3 bedroom apartment and afford it, and food, assuming no other expenses. (There shouldn't be other expenses, you're a grad student.)

After you graduate, let's say with a PhD in physics, the situation gets better, but you are still not wealthy. If you are working towards an academic job you probably need to be a post-doc for 4-6 years. These pay better, but probably still only in the $40-$60K/year range. If you take a job in industry, you might have a starting salary in the $60-$90K/year range, but this would still not be enough to pay off student loans in a matter of months.

Others might want to comment on whether or not my figures are reasonable.

AIP is a good source for this sort of information. Check out: http://www.aip.org/statistics/trends/highlite/emp3/figure2.htm

Your numbers are pretty good. Unless your postdoc is at a university (where a good chunk of them are), then your numbers are in the $35-$45K/year range.

My parents are paying for my undergraduate and graduate studies so I would not exactly know too much on the issue... However, I do have a few friends who are graduates and primarily took out loans for their undergrad. and grad. studies, they are in entry level positions at some companies and earn, from what they have told me, around \$45k/year not including other compensations. I think it is a pretty good salary for an entry level.

Without prior work experience, two years or more, I would think it would be a few years before you paid off those student loans. It also depends on how much you took out, how much you can pay each month (not including bad times), how much of the interest you could pay down, etc... Usually entry level positions offer a minimal salary compared to those with actual experience and the degrees to boot, especially within the sciences.