Graduate students work for the entire academic year. Our fall, winter, spring, and summer quarters are filled with teaching, research, and writing. Yet many of us are left scrambling during our fifth year, faced with an unfunded summer. We want to continue working to support our dissertation research during this period, but find limited opportunities to do so. Many of us struggle to make ends meet at precisely the time when we should be most academically productive.
We, the signatories of this petition, call on The Graduate School to guarantee fifth-year summer funding for all doctoral students, either through fellowships or work opportunities.
While Northwestern contributes considerable resources to graduate development, this investment does not get us to the finish line. Over 70% of Northwestern PhD students graduate in the 6th year and beyond. Even if we have secured sixth year funding through teaching, fellowships, or tenure-track jobs, many graduate students go through a period where they are unfunded. Hit with a $7,500 pay cut, some of us take on additional jobs to make rent and meet healthcare costs. Others have difficulty documenting their income for rental applications, visas, or financial agencies. These obstacles can delay our research and extend time to degree.
Far too many current and former graduate workers have stories of how this unfunded summer disrupted their lives and scholarship at a critical point in their careers. Northwestern University Graduate Workers (NUGW-AFT-IFT) and the signatories of this petition call on the university to do the right thing and fund us for the full five years!