Living on a graduate stipend

Get a loan.
Unless you’ve worked full-time and stored up a considerable amount of savings, then you will more than likely need a loan to supplement your graduate assistantship. Some positions pay better than others. My assistantship as a ten month associate instructor is pretty common for doctoral students. The assistantship allows for a 97% fee remission for up to 12 credit hours in the Fall, 12 credit hours for the Spring, and 6 hours for the summer. Thus, 3% of the fees is still mine to cover. To help pay for that portion of tuition fees and help with living costs, I get a stipend that covers, just barely, the rent, food, and personal bills. During the Fall and Spring, the stipend is enough for just living, but not exactly enough for books and going out; moreover, it is no help at all in the summer. In which case, graduate students do a scramble every summer to find work for the two months we’re unemployed. It can be difficult, but doable. To survive the summer, I teach math for Upward Bound high school students and serve as a counselor for any other summer program I can find on campus. Additionally, I room with two other graduate students to keep the cost of living low. To avoid such hardships, most other graduate students get loans and live comfortably.