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AY18-19 Graduate Student Stipend Rates

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the 2018-2019 graduate student stipend and health insurance rates.


What will my stipend be for 2018-19? What is the increase over the current year?
Stipend guidelines for the Schools of Engineering and Science have been set as follows; other schools will also be consistent with the following. Please note, this is a guideline only; individual departments may deviate from these by up to plus 15% or up to minus 10% (potentially more, subject to review by the School Dean, the Vice Chancellor, and the Vice President for Research). These rates represent a 3% increase over the 2017-18 academic year.

STIPEND LEVELS RA AY18-19 Monthly Annual (12 mo.) Stipend
Science & Engineering Doctoral

Engineering (SM Level)





Science & Engineering (Contact)

Engineering (Support)





How are these rates established?
The Graduate Stipends Committee is charged with analyzing a wide range of factors related to graduate stipends, including cost of living, cost to grants, competitiveness, and community equity issues. The committee consists of two co-chairs, one of whom is a faculty member, the other a graduate student; a second faculty member; a staff representative of the Vice President for Research; a staff representative of the Vice President for Finance; and four other graduate students. This committee makes a recommendation to the MIT Dean’s Group. A decision is then made by the Provost, the Chancellor, and the Vice President for Research.

Why do stipend rates differ by department/school?
Departments have the flexibility to set their own rates within the Institute guidelines to ensure that they remain competitive within their discipline and in order to be responsive to budgetary constraints.

How does this increase compare to the cost of living?
The cost of living has increased approximately 2.45% in the past year (2.41% for on campus students, and 2.48% for off campus students) based on a cost of living survey of MIT graduate students conducted by the Office of Institutional Research, the Office of the Vice Chancellor, and the Graduate Student Council.

How do these stipends compare to our peer institutions?
Recent stipend increases at MIT have been similar to our peer institutions such as Stanford and Berkeley. A rough estimate of an MIT student’s purchasing power is on par with the average of our peer schools.

What if I experience financial issues and have trouble covering all of my needs, and those of my family?
There are a number of resources at the Institute that can supply great planning information and can help if you experience financial challenges or unforeseen expenses.

Food Insecurity and Financial Hardship
Hundreds of students have donated more than 975 guest meals to SwipeShare to support students in need. If you need immediate assistance with food—either a few meals or some groceries—or financial help due to an unforeseen or emergency expense, please contact Naomi Carton for discreet help.

Financial literacy
Each semester the OGE hosts monthly lunchtime workshops that cover a variety of financial literacy topics. Check out this semester’s workshops, including an upcoming sessions on graduate fellowships. Additionally, graduate students can inform decision-making and round out their financial knowledge with MIT’s iGrad portal. Enter and set up your own free account, available for all MIT faculty, staff, students, spouses, and partners.

Find a wealth of resources for graduate student families.

Individual grants
Need a little extra for something specific? The Graduate Student Council provides a number of individual grants for expenses such as travel, professional development, athletic and performance activities, and more.


What will my insurance rates be next year? How much is the increase over the current year?

For Academic Year (AY) 2018–19, we were able to keep student health plan rate increases to 5% percent, on average, for students and their dependents who are enrolled in the MIT Student Medical Plan and MIT Student Extended Insurance Plan. This increase translates to an additional $12 a month for Student-only coverage and an additional $31 a month for Family coverage.

For AY 2018–19, the table below lists all possible coverage categories and each one’s annual premium cost for the MIT Student Medical Plan and the MIT Student Extended Insurance Plan combined.

Coverage Category Annual Cost
Student $3,144
Student & partner $6,576
Student & dependent(s) $4,212
Family [Student, partner, and dependent(s)] $7,644


How are these rates established?
Health insurance rates are based on a number of factors—most importantly, the cost of providing health care to members. The premiums collected from all members must cover the total cost of care plus the administrative expenses required to manage the health plan. Every health plan must also maintain sufficient funds to protect against unexpected medical expenses. Each year, MIT reviews changes in the amount of health care used in the past year (utilization) and the costs of that care (unit costs). They also estimate the impact of new benefits, treatments and/or other market factors. In line with insurance industry standards, the final rates are calculated to cover these anticipated costs, along with those potential, unexpected medical expenses that are more difficult to predict.

Are my benefits changing?
The AY 2018–19 plan does not include any changes in benefits or out-of-pocket costs from AY 2017–18.

How do these rates compare to our peer institutions?
While comparing health insurance rates can be complicated due to differences in benefits and other plan-design features, the rate increase of 5% is comparable to, or lower than, rate increases anticipated at other colleges and universities in Massachusetts. In addition, the increase is much lower than the recent trend in the Massachusetts health insurance marketplace, the Health Connector, which has seen increases of 15% or more for similar plans.