Grad Student Debt Rising

March 25, 2014; Michael Stratford
Published at Inside Higher Ed

The amount of debt that graduate and professional students are incurring to pay for their education has surged over the past several years, according to a New American Foundation report released today.

Analyzing federal data, the think tank found that the median overall indebtedness for a borrower who earned a graduate degree increased — in inflation-adjusted dollars — from $40,209 in 2004 to $57,600 in 2012. The figure includes loans from both undergraduate programs and graduate and professional degrees.

Much of that increase was fueled by students, across a broad range of disciplines, taking out more money to pay for their graduate education, according to the report, written by Jason Delisle, director of New America’s Federal Education Budget Project.


Union Election, Not NLRB Vote

By Scott Jaschik; published on 11/27/2014 at Inside Higher Ed.

Graduate teaching assistants at New York University could be represented by a union as early as next year, under a deal announced Tuesday afternoon.

Under the deal between NYU and the United Auto Workers, an election is expected next month on whether graduate teaching assistants would like to be represented by the UAW. If they vote yes, as is expected, NYU would become the first private university since 2005 with unionized TAs. Under the agreement, both sides agreed to withdraw a case currently before the National Labor Relations Board on the legal right of private university graduate students to unionize. That case had the potential to set a new precedent on the issue, which is currently governed by a 2004 ruling denying that right.

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Union Impact and Non-Impact

Published at Inside Higher Ed on October 8, 2013; by Scott jaschik.

Graduate student unionization is very much in the news these days, with the National Labor Relations Board expected to rule soon on whether graduate assistants may unionize at private universities. New York University on Friday offered a deal to the United Auto Workers unit organizing graduate students at the university under which NYU would accept a vote on a teaching assistant union but not a research assistant union. The debates over unions frequently deal with whether the nature of the student-faculty relationship deteriorates with collective bargaining, and whether unionized graduate students earn more.

Currently, there are no private universities with graduate student unions. But many public universities have them, and the authors of a paper released this year surveyed similar graduate students at universities with and without unions about pay and also the student-faculty relationship. The study found unionized graduate students earn more, on average. And on various measures of student-faculty relations, the survey found either no difference or (in some cases) better relations at unionized campuses.

The paper (abstract available here) appears in ILR Review, published by Cornell University.

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The Next Target (Graduate Students)

August 22, 2013; By Colleen Flaherty

As the new academic year begins, adjuncts at dozens of institutions across the country will be returning to campus with lighter course loads and smaller paychecks. That’s because some colleges and universities are trying to keep their hours below the threshold at which they become benefits-eligible employees under the Affordable Care Act.

And at least one university, graduate students, too, will be subject to lighter workloads for the same reasons.

Read on at Inside Higher Ed.