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UROP is raising its pay rate for undergraduates beginning this fall by 7 percent, from $7 an hour to $7.50 an hour. This will bring the fall UROP stipend to $1,050 and the UROP stipend for summer 1997 to $3,600.
The Institute minimum student wage for non-UROP employment also rose in June from $6.75 to $7.25 an hour. This is the first substantial UROP wage increase in five years. In 1995 UROP raised its hourly rate from $6.90, set in 1991, to $7, primarily in order to send a message of encouragement to students who had been hearing discouraging news about UROP's financial situation since the previous year.
The 1993-1994 academic year was a transition period for the program. In July 1994, wages paid to UROP students by faculty from sponsored research grants-received by the majority of paid UROP students-became subject to overhead (currently 56 percent of wages plus benefits), and these stipends and UROP-paid stipends both became subject to employee benefit costs (6.5 percent). Furthermore, UROP and faculty could no longer cost-share student stipends. These changes were made necessary by new federal Office of Management and Budget regulations governing indirect costs. The changes caused an immediate 32 percent drop in UROP participation for pay and a 19 percent drop in UROP participation overall.
This year's UROP pay increase is made possible by gifts to the program which increased substantially this past year. UROP participation has also made a recovery, with student involvement for pay down by 20 percent (a 15 percent improvement on last year) and overall participation only 7 percent lower than in the days before changes in indirect-cost regulations.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 11, 1996.