The IU School of Education will waive unremittable fees, or a small percentage of tuition that many IU graduate students must pay, for their fellowship students and student academic appointments beginning the fall 2021 semester, Sarah Lubienski, the associate dean for graduate studies at the School of Education, said.
The unremittable fees, which do not include mandatory fees, usually total about $1,000 per year for graduate students in the School of Education, Lubienski said. IU is the only university in the Big Ten that requires graduate students to pay unremittable fees.
“They often struggle to make ends meet during their graduate program,” she said regarding School of Education graduate students. “We wanted to help in this way since we definitely value the work that they do in our school.”
Lubienski said the School of Education is committed to keeping this change in the coming years. She said she has received positive feedback from students in regard to the elimination of unremittable fees.
Chelsea Brinda, an associate instructor and graduate student in the School of Education, said it was a huge relief when she found out the unremittable fees were eliminated.
“I’m not sure why it wasn’t just a change made for everyone,” she said. “I’m definitely really happy to see that the graduate school within the School of Ed has made that change.”
Brinda said she would like to see more secure funding for graduate student departments. She said her department, curriculum and instruction is not guaranteed funding every year, which can be a barrier to a secure income.
She said she believes that her funding may be readjusted based on performance evaluation. According to the School of Education website, education graduate students can receive funding through IU assistantships and fellowships, which can provide stipends, health insurance and tuition benefits depending on the funding package.
The main next step Brinda said she would like to see is an increase in stipends for graduate students in the School of Education. She said she and some of her colleagues have to take on other job opportunities to supplement their income.
According to a Feb. 3 document titled “Understanding Ph.D. student support at Indiana University Bloomington” from analysis done by the Office of Finance for the Bloomington campus, the university expects that students may need to rely on other sources for income.
“As with other parts of their education, students pursuing doctoral education rely in addition on other sources of funding, such as educational loans, summer employment, and partner and daily contributions,” the analysis said.
“It’s a real struggle for us,” the analysis said. “I’m really hoping that someone will be willing to listen and understand that this isn’t enough for us.”
Cole Nelson, an organizer with the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition, said he is excited the School of Education took the step, especially following the elimination of some graduate fees in the College of Arts and Sciences last year. COAS removed an average of $1200 in graduate fees last year, according to the document from Robel.
“Seeing the School of Ed follow suit was something that we were very excited to see, especially because now we are starting to see a trend that COAS started to expand throughout the campus,” Nelson said.
All IU-Bloomington schools reviewed school-based graduate student fees within the past two years, according to the analysis. Other schools decided to change stipends in an effort to aid graduate students, similar to the elimination of certain fees in COAS and the School of Education.
The Luddy School of Informatics increased graduate student stipends by 10% for this fiscal year. The Jacobs School of Music plans to increase graduate student stipends for the next fiscal year to offset program fees specific to the music school, according to the document.
Nelson said the coalition is working to find out more information about the music school stipend increase. He said the music school has not confirmed the increase with their graduate students through email, so he said he is not sure if it will happen.
“Even so, we have a number of concerns about it, at least about what we’ve learned so far,” he said.
According to the analysis, the music school stipend increase would affect 40 Ph.D. students. It is unclear whether master’s students in the music school would be affected, Nelson said.
Correction: A previous version of this story misrepresented who will receive the Jacobs School of Music stipends. A previous version of this story misspelled IU Provost Lauren Robel's name. A previous version of this story misidentified the document referred to as an analysis done by the Office of Finance for the Bloomington campus.