FAU’s Graduate Teaching/Research Assistant Stipend Breakdown

In case you haven’t taken the time to figure out how much you can afford or what your monthly budget should be as an FAU Graduate Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant, we’re here to help out!

As a new graduate student, you’re probably feeling like this:

I’m sorry, in advance.

The average annual stipend for FAU GTA and GRAs is a little less than $20,000. Sounds pretty good, right? 

Well, FAU doesn’t cover your fees which means you have to pay $952.60 during the fall term, another $952.60 during the spring term, and $615.84 during the summer term as a Florida non-resident student.

That adds up to a grand total of $2,521.04 annually. Don’t get too excited Florida residents. Ya’ll still gotta pay around $1,800 annually.

So if we subtract the fees from the $20,000 stipend we initially began with, now your stipend is at $17,478.96. That’s still okay, right? 

Okay, let’s tackle rent. This one’s gonna hurt.

According to Smart Asset, one-bedroom apartments in Boca Raton rent for approximately $1,150 a month ($152 above the national average) and two bedroom apartments rent for approximately $1,587 ($308 above the national average).

Let’s face it; you won’t be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment yourself. Your best option here is to find a roommate and split the costs of a two-bedroom apartment. That leaves you with a cost of $793.50 a month (and let’s hope that includes utility costs).

If we multiply $793.50 by 12 months, that gives us a total cost of $9,522 in rent alone. If we subtract that, now your stipend is at $7,956.96. 

According to the Economic Policy Institute, food costs an average of $271 per month in Florida. Let’s multiply that by the 12 months in the year.

That gives us a grand total of $3,252 per year.

If we subtract food costs, now your stipend is at $4,704.96. 

Moving on to healthcare. I’m pretty sure you’re already aware that FAU doesn’t provide any type of health insurance to their graduate students, which means you gotta go and buy your own. And FYI, most major Florida universities DO offer their graduate students health insurance.

Did you want the insurance FAU offers to its students? The Aetna Life Insurance Company charges $3,550 for domestic students per year.

Taking into account health insurance costs, your stipend is now at $1,154.96.

Time to talk about transportation! Do you have a car and have to worry about gas prices? Will you need car insurance?

Maybe you don’t have a car. Maybe you’ll need to buy a bicycle instead (which costs an average of $350 per year) or a Tri-Rail pass (which costs $72.50 per month or $870 per year).

Given that “FAU was built as a commuter school,” it’s safe to assume that the average graduate student will have a car. This means you need car insurance and a gas budget. The average cost for car insurance in Florida is at $1,830 per year and let’s say you spend at least $70 per month on gas.

That’s a total of $2,670 per year on auto expenses alone. That brings us to a stipend of $-1,515.04. Yes, that’s right. Negative.

Worst of all, this stipend breakdown isn’t including any personal expenses that might come up throughout the year, such as furniture, a cell phone/laptop, clothing, travel expenses or books/school supplies! 

It’s time to ask ourselves when will we be given a stipend that meets the South Floridian cost of living? It’s been over a decade since FAU raised most of the GTA/GRA’s stipend!
Time to make waves, owls!

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