Most LPL graduate students are considered to be out-of-state students in the eyes of the bursar's office. This means that you are assessed an in-state tuition charge as well as a substantial out-of-state tuition charge.
However, working as a graduate assistant or associate provides full tuition remission, i.e. you will not be responsible for any of these tuition charges. The only student fees that you will be charged with are semester fees associated with the Student Union, Rec Center, etc. that total up to a few hundred dollars per semester. Make sure you pay these fees before the start of classes each semester to avoid any late fees. See the University page on Costs & Financial Assistance for more information.
How to pay: Payment of fees can typically be done online through UAccess Student Center. Fellowships (because they are disbursed by the University) will usually have the fees reimbursed at a later date or perhaps deducted automatically---but don't assume this!! Check with Lynn Lane in the Business Office (621-6966) and/or the Bursar (621-3232) before the late date for payment to make sure you're paying in the correct manner.
Your actual salary will depend on what type of funding you receive and whether you have passed your orals. Students who have not passed their orals are not considered doctoral candidates yet and are called "Graduate Assistants." Once you've passed your orals (and filled out the appropriate forms), you're a Ph.D. candidate and a "Graduate Associate." People who are supported by the department as Research Assistants/Associates (RAs) or Teaching Assistant/Associates (TAs) during the academic year are responsible for finding a research situation to be paid over the summer. If you can't find summer funding, see the grad student funding rep or the department head. If you cannot find funding on your own, there are arrangements that can be made with the Department itself. The Departments official position is that any student in good standing will be supported.
During the academic year, most graduates are employed as 1/2-time RAs or TAs, or as a 1/4-time RA and 1/4-time TA. Stipends for a 0.50 FTE TA or RA at the assistant level at LPL are $18,000 for the academic year, and $19,000 at the associate level. These numbers are up-to-date for the 2016-2017 academic year.
During the summer, most graduates are employed as hourly research employees, with your research advisor acting as a supervisor. You are responsible for arranging summer employment, so talk with your advisor to make sure that your summer funding situation is what it should be. If you're having trouble finding summer employment, talk to other faculty members, the Academic Office, or the Department Heads. The department guarantees full funding for the year (inlcuding summers) for your first 5 years as a graduate student as long as you are in good academic standing.
Your annual salary depends on whether or not you have passed your Ph.D. qualifying exam. Once you pass your orals, your annual salary increases slightly.
Taxes are withheld from your biweekly RA/TA paychecks.
If you have been awarded a fellowship (NSF, NESSF, etc.), your stipend is typically distributed to you in a couple lump sums, one at the beginning of each semester. Remember, income taxes are typically not withheld from these lump sums and the entire amount is considered to be taxable income, so be sure to keep that in mind when filing your taxes (see below). You must pay estimated taxes quarterly to avoid paying a fee (the IRS fee is waived the first year of the fellowship, and when you file most free tax preparation software will help you calculate how much you should pay quarterly for the following year and will generate the estimated tax payment forms for you).
If you have an NSF, you will receive $34,000/year (up-to-date for 2016-2017 academic year), and includes tuition, fees, candidacy fees, health insurance, and $500/year for travel. You will get paid 3x per year (beginning of each semester, and at the beginning of the summer).
If you have a NESSF, you only receive $24,000/yr, so you will likely do 1/4 time RA or TA both fall and spring at LPL to make an amount comparable to other grads. By doing a 1/4 RA or TA, 1/2 your tuition is waived and you get health insurance. In recent history, LPL has always covered any tuition that is not otherwise covered by NESSF or RA/TA, but they do not guarantee that this will always happen in the future.
Make sure you talk to the Academic Office and inform them about any Fellowships that you earn, as well as if you have any concerns about any substantial tuition charges that you think you may have to pay as a Fellowship student. LPL's unofficial policy is to make ensure that no student on a Fellowship is "punished" financially through tuition/health insurance charges, resulting in earning less money than he or she would have made by simply NOT being on fellowship. So, if you are on a fellowship, you shouldn't have problems but if you suspect you do, go talk to someone and they will help you sort it out!
Taxes on a Fellowship
This does not constitute legal advice, and you should always do your best to consult with the IRS.
The following information is from a grad spending waaay too much time (40+ hours) each April trying to understand the IRS documentation as it applies to graduate fellowships:
As mentioned above, fellowships are taxable income, and it can be confusing to know how to file given you will *not* get a W2 form. Fellowships get listed as "wages, salaries, tips, etc" (on line 7 for the 1040 form), and you put SCH on the dotted line to indicate "scholarship" money. You will not get a W2 or documentation, so you will need to know how much you got paid by the fellowship.
The only tax form you will get from the university is a 1098T. This document is really lame, and seems to be for information only, which can include stuff from the prior or next tax year (since it is calculated based on financial stuff for academic years, i.e. if a tuition bill gets sent during December for the Spring semester, which is in a different calendar/tax year). Seems like this form is generally used for educational credits, which we don't qualify for anyways since we aren't the ones paying our tuition. So, I (Ali) have not found a way to utilize this form to figure out a) how much I actually got paid, or b) how much of the money listed is for my actual qualified tax-deductable educational expenses (which would be any books, fees and supplies I actually paid for - but not living expenses). I've ended up having to figure out these amounts by hand - so keep track of receipts, bursar's account information, etc for how much you've spent on educational supplies, and how much money that went into your bank account is the deposit from the fellowship for your stipend. Leave time to do this, or keep a spreadsheet throughout the year where you keep track of these things.
You will need to do quarterly estimated taxes since nothing is being withheld throughout the year. These are due April 15 (tax day), June 15, September 15, and January 15. You can set up to have them automatically pay online through EFTPS. So, keep this in mind when setting aside time and money for taxes, as you will also need to pay your first estimated tax bill for the following tax year at the same time as you file your taxes for the previous year. Also, to pay online with EFTPS, you will need to enroll early enough that they can snail-mail you some sort of pin number. There is software that allows you to file your taxes online but you may have to pay money for their services if you have stocks, capital gains, etc. If you're willing to do the forms yourself, you can file your federal tax returns for free online by using Free Fillable Forms and then pay with the EFTPS service.
Basically, you will likely end up owing about $3000 total for federal taxes on a fellowship. This is obviously easier to pay if you do it as quarterly estimated taxes throughout the year, rather than getting hit with it all at once the next April. Plan to set aside about $600 at those four times of the year for each of these estimated payments, and then still another $500 or so for when you file your taxes after deducting your quarterly estimated taxes from the previous year (if you are filing for a year where you have already started doing quarterly estimated taxes). On a fellowship, you will also likely owe ~$700 for AZ state taxes (you will not need to do quarterly estimated taxes for the state).
After 12 consecutive months of residence in the state of Arizona, you may be eligible to become a resident. For the most part, this means you're not responsible for out-of-state tuition anymore, only in-state tuition. This is highly desirable in order to save both you and the Department money. Residency is sometimes rather difficult to obtain--make sure you have as many things as possible on the list that the Residency Office gives out. This includes: leases or home ownership, Arizona driver's license (or Arizona ID card if not a driver), Arizona vehicle registration, Arizona voter registration, State and Federal Tax Forms for the last two years, Bank statements for the last two years, Financial aid information for the last two years, Pay stubs for the last two years, Resident Alien Card or Visa, if applicable, Any other documents which you feel would support your claim to Arizona residency. You will have to write a paragraph about why you moved to AZ and your intent to stay after you graduate. Call the Residency Office for more information or consult this webpage for more information on changing your residency status. (Catherine E. successfully petitioned to change her residency status - feel free to ask her questions about it too).
Sources for travel funding
UA email newsletter: email@example.com Subscribe at: http://uits.arizona.edu/services/email/email-lists/help/subscribe
GPSC Travel grants (http://www.gpsc.arizona.edu/travel-grants)
- $500 toward a meeting
- 6 chances to apply per year, but you are only eligible to win it once a year
- These are judged by grad students, so volunteer to judge to get an idea of what they are looking for (this could also perhaps give you an edge when you apply).
Soffen Travel grants (http://SoffenFund.org)
- $500 toward a meeting
- Offered twice a year with application deadlines in spring and fall
Curson Travel Award (formally known as the Shandel) is an LPL internal travel grant generally for summer travel (http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/graduate/fellowships/94) - Due March 15ish
- Recipient will be required to write a report about the trip.
- LPI career development award (look for the link on the LPSC website) - Due the day after LPSC abstracts.
- Recipient wil be required to volunteer for four hours during LPSC. They make some effort to accommodate your schedule, but are very inflexible if you are not happy with the times they assign you.
- It seems like students who have submitted two LPSC abstracts have a better chance of winning this.
WISE travel stipend (http://wise.web.arizona.edu/content/travel_stipends)
- Typically $200 - $600 toward a meeting
- Requires matching funding from your advisor/department
- Deadline May 1
- AGU Student travel grants (see AGU website for details) - Due the day after AGU abstracts.
- Uwingu PhD Student Travel Grants (www.uwingu.com) - has only been offered once so far, was due on April 30, 2014
- For graduate students to present their research at a conference the year they finish their PHD.
Travel grants are often announced in the PEN newsletter: http://planetarynews.org
See also: GradGuidebook:Conferences#Expenses