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AY2020 Graduate Student Stipend Rates

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the 2019-20 academic year (AY2020) graduate student stipend and health insurance rates.

Stipends for Full-Time Research and Teaching Assistants

What will my stipend be for AY2020? What is the increase over the current year?

In consultation with the Provost, the Chancellor, and the School Deans, new ranges for the monthly stipends of full-time research and teaching assistants for the 2019-20 academic year (AY2020) have been established. 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).

Stipends for full-time research and teaching assistants

The graduate stipend rate will increase by 3% in AY2020.


Monthly: $3,283
Annual (12 mo.): $39,391
High Range +15%: $45,300
Low Range -10%: $35,452

SM Level
Monthly: $2,999
Annual (12 mo.): $35,992
High Range +15%: $41,391
Low Range -10%: $32,393


Monthly: $3,361
Annual (12 mo.): $40,331
High Range +15%: $46,380
Low Range -10%: $36,298

Monthly: $3,030
Annual (12 mo.): $36,363
High Range +15%: $41,818
Low Range -10%: $32,727

The cost of living has increased approximately 2.92% in the past year (3.22% for on-campus students, and 2.76% for off-campus students) based on analyses of the GSC Graduate Stipends Committee.

What will financial support be for doctoral students on 9-month and non-resident appointments?

Each School has committed to implement new policies and practices to help alleviate the financial insecurity some graduate students are facing. As part of this process, additional funding sources may be identified, and we will develop ways to assess the effectiveness of the new measures and to report on our progress. This work will be completed before next year’s GSC stipend recommendation process.

This decision was made possible through a comprehensive process involving student surveys, data analysis, and engagement with community members – including School deans, department graduate administrators, and graduate student leaders. Our thanks to everyone involved.

The work described above will draw upon future insights from the Graduate Family Support Working Group. It also addresses some of the recommendations of the Working Group on Graduate Student Tuition Models led by Professor Steve Bell, and is in keeping with the Graduate Student Roadmap strategic initiative, an effort to enhance the graduate student experience at MIT.

How will each School fulfill its commitment to implement new policies and practices to help alleviate the financial insecurity that doctoral students on 9-month and non-resident appointments are facing?

We have work to do to develop and implement School-specific policies and practices. The OVC will collaborate closely with the GSC and School leaders to work out the details before next year’s stipend process concludes. As mentioned above, this process will involve seeking student input, defining ways to measure progress, and then communicating the commitments’ provisions once they are finalized.

What about master’s students who are facing financial insecurity?

We hope to address situations with master’s students who may face significant financial insecurity in the future. The landscape here is more complex as we have many masters students in programs for which the expectations for support differ (e.g. professional masters degrees versus research-based masters degrees).

How are the stipend 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 do these stipends compare to our peer institutions?

The GSC Graduate Stipends Committee has estimated that the purchasing power of the MIT stipend is comparable to the average of eight top peers (including Harvard and Stanford).

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 and elsewhere that can supply great planning information and can help if you experience financial challenges or unforeseen expenses.

  • ARM (Accessing Resources at MIT) Coalition
    The ARM Coalition was commissioned by Vice President and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson and Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart in fall 2018 in response to work being done by CASE (Class Awareness Support and Equality) and aims to connect students with campus resources when they are struggling with financial issues.
  • Food Insecurity and Financial Hardship
    Hundreds of students have donated 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 DSL Associate Dean 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. Setting up an account is free and is available for all MIT faculty, staff, students, spouses, and partners. In addition, Student Financial Services, Career Advising and Professional Development (CAPD), and the International Students Office (ISO), also all offer guidance and workshops.
  • Families
    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.
  • Health Insurance Fees
    If purchasing the Student Extended Insurance Plan creates a financial hardship, you may be able to purchase insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector at Every Health Connector plan meets the requirements to waive the Extended Plan; the Health Connector also offers discounted coverage for eligible lower-income individuals. They can help you find a plan that fits your budget and needs.

Health Insurance

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

For AY2020 we have been able to keep health plan rate increases to 5%, on average, for students and their dependents who are enrolled in the MIT Student Medical Plan and MIT Student Extended Insurance Plan. This rate increase translates to an additional $10.42 per month for individual students and up to an additional $33.59 per month for families.

For AY2020, 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 $3,269
Student & partner $6,927
Student & dependent(s) $4,389
Family [Student, partner, and dependent(s)] $8,047

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), as well as estimating 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?

For AY2020, the copayment for acupuncture services was reduced to $10 per visit. There were no other changes in benefits or out-of-pocket costs from AY2019.

How do these rates compare to our peer institutions?

While it’s complicated to compare health insurance rates due to differences in benefits and plan-designs, MIT students tend to pay similar or lower rates than students at our peer institutions. For example, the premium for family coverage at MIT is approximately half of that at Yale, Stanford, and Harvard. MIT premiums for single students are less than at Brown and Stanford.

Tuition & Fees


Tuition for AY2020 will be $53,450 or $26,725 per term. This reflects a 3.75% increase over this year’s tuition.

Student Life Fee

The student life fee will be $340 or $170 per term in AY2020. This reflects an increase of $28.