Hidden cost of academe?

Karen Lee ktlee+ at pitt.edu
Mon Aug 14 15:44:03 EST 2000

Perhaps the problem with TA wages is partly tied up in location.  I know that
in Boston or NY, for example, $18,000 per year is not much to live on when
apartments in safe neighborhoods are $1000.00 per month and you pay income tax
on your stipend. (Yup, I paid federal and state income tax on mine, 10 years
ago.) I thought the article in the chronicle was a bit over the top, but most
of the people who TA'd when I did were not living well on their TA stipends.

I didn't expect to be rich, but I also didn't expect to have to choose either
an apartment near campus or a car.  You just couldn't have both on our
salaries.  My first year in grad school, I took home ~$600.00 a month and had
to pay $300.00 back to the university for housing in which I shared a one
bedroom apt. with two other people. (Bunkbeds in the living room, yippee!)

Out of the rest of the money came transportation, food, fees (more money for
the university) books, etc. There wasn't much left over.  And, I wasn't
guaranteed funding for the summer. Because I was doing research at a field
station, things were even more complicated. Perhaps things are better now than
in the 1980's, but I wouldn't bet on it.

The attitude was that we should have been happy to have any kind of support at

Karen T. Lee
Assistant Professor
Biology Dept.
Pitt. Johnstown
Johnstown, PA

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