This document is intended to clarify DUSP's financial aid policies and provide information regarding the cost of education and living expenses you will need to plan for as a graduate student at MIT. Please read through all the information presented here to answer questions you may have about financing your education.
Please note, prospective students should refer to these documents, and information from DUSP headquarters staff — not well-meaning students or faculty! — for reliable information and advice regarding financial aid.
Each year Program Groups in DUSP are allocated a share of the Department's financial aid resources for the incoming class; both admissions and financial aid decisions are made at the Program Group level, based on factors including merit and need, as well as applicants' fit with ongoing research projects within their respective Groups. DUSP allocates its entire pool of financial aid resources for the incoming class during this process (with the exception of funding designated to support internships and a number of hourly-paid student jobs — more on both of these later); thus, initial offers of financial aid or admission with no aid cannot be supplemented or enhanced to match competing offers from other universities or meet applicants' individual needs. In the event a prospective student declines our offer of admission with financial aid, that aid will be reallocated to the next eligible candidate in the Program Group.
Education and living costs in the Boston/Cambridge area are high; with limited resources, we strive to establish a balance between our dual goals of providing “meaningful” financial aid packages that substantially reduce the costs of the program for students, and funding as many students as possible. Given that the need for financial aid far outweighs our available resources, we are unable to provide offers of funding for many highly deserving students.
DUSP provides financial support to MCP students in the form of either Graduate Assistantships (with a research work obligation) or Fellowships. Your admission letter specifies whether you have been offered any financial aid, and if so, which type. Financial aid offers are for the two years of the MCP program unless otherwise specified in the letter, contingent upon maintaining good academic standing. The tuition portion of an Assistantship or Fellowship is credited directly to the student's account, as is the extended health insurance if applicable. Stipends are paid over the 9-month academic year on the final working day of each month. Students will be asked to complete direct deposit information for these payments.
These financial aid packages cover a designated portion of tuition costs, full cost of single student extended health insurance, and a monthly stipend. The work requirement for graduate assistantships follows MIT policy, which is 20 hours/week for full time, and hours are prorated for any position less than full time. Most department-supported assistantships are half time (50% effort), with a work requirement of 10 hours/week and an estimated stipend of $1,400 per month for the 2017–18 academic year, beginning September 1, 2017 through May 31, 2018. Students will receive more detailed information regarding the terms and conditions of these research appointments during the summer. The tuition and insurance portion of the assistantships are credited directly to your student account.
Tuition fellowships cover a designated portion of tuition costs, and are credited directly to your student account.
Both of these programs are supported by departmental funds and are available to all students. Unlike graduate assistantships and fellowships, however, students apply for these positions on a semester-by-semester basis. Students seeking hourly paid jobs and off-campus internship positions should check regularly for postings on Plaza, DUSP's electronic bulletin board. The positions are typically posted at the start of each term.
Each semester the Department hires several students to work as teaching assistants or research assistants on an hourly basis. Students submit weekly timesheets for hours worked. Typically these positions require about 10-12 hours per week; the hourly rate for the 2017–18 academic year is $20.
All MCP students are eligible to participate in the Department's off-campus internship program, which places students in public, non-profit or private agencies on a semester-by-semester basis. Compensation is dependent on the length of the internship and is in the form of a fellowship stipend. Typically, students complete 12-week internships and receive a $3,500 fellowship stipend paid over the course of the semester on a monthly basis. (Note: fellowship stipends do not incur tax withholding and students do not receive tax forms from MIT; it's up to individuals to declare the income and pay taxes on the fellowship stipend.)
The financial aid types listed above are, with few exceptions, all supported by centrally budgeted departmental funds. Below is some information regarding non-departmental financial aid options students may elect to pursue. While departmental aid is awarded at the time of admission and can be factored into prospective students' decision making, the opportunities for non-departmental funding described below most often become available sporadically and unpredictably.
Students who have been awarded departmental financial aid may apply for sponsored RA positions and non-departmental fellowships; in this case, the funding may either supplement OR supplant the financial aid award from the Department for the relevant semester, depending on the specific circumstances.
Each year a limited number of Research Assistantships on externally-sponsored projects are available through individual DUSP faculty members who have a research grant or contract, and occasionally through faculty from other departments with overlapping areas of interest. All students may apply for these positions, regardless of financial need or degree program. The terms of these positions vary widely: some may be full time or half time and cover a proportional amount of tuition along with a monthly stipend; others may pay only a stipend, or be paid on an hourly basis. Sponsored research assistantships sometimes require specific skills, and principal investigators seek to hire the most qualified student(s).
The Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE) at MIT maintains a list of fellowships, both internal and external, on their website http://odge.mit.edu. Prospective students interested in pursuing fellowship opportunities should carefully consult this resource, noting that many of the listings have very specific eligibility requirements, and application deadlines that have already passed for the upcoming academic year. A note regarding the listings under “ODGE Fellowships”: as stated on the website, nominations for these fellowships must be submitted by an MIT department. Each year DUSP proactively reviews all admitted student applications for eligibility, and nominates the most competitive candidates. Prospective students who have been selected by the ODGE as recipients of a fellowship will be notified immediately upon our learning of the awards.
Students admitted with or without aid are eligible to apply for loans at any time. Students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents are not eligible for federal government loans, but may qualify for a private education loan. The procedures for applying for loans at MIT are outlined on the Student Financial Services web page below. Loan applications are processed and administered centrally at MIT; the Department is not involved in any phase of applying for or administering loans. Questions should be directed to:
Student Financial Services, Room 11-120
phone: 800-537-6012; fax: 617-258-0700
The cost of completing the two-year MCP program, including tuition, fees and living expenses, makes careful financial planning a necessity. Students enter the program with widely varying amounts of undergraduate debt and available personal finances, and very different levels of comfort regarding the amount of additional debt they may have to assume to complete the program. Anecdotally, some students report having been encouraged to “just enroll, and figure out the finances later....” However, students who enroll without a plan, or who have a high level of discomfort financing their education with loans, find that financial concerns substantially detract from their overall educational experience. DUSP is unable to provide full financial aid packages (covering full tuition and living costs) for any MCP students, and as stated previously, DUSP does not maintain a reserve of financial aid to allocate to students who find themselves in financial difficulty; there are no easy remedies for such situations.
We encourage you to make use of the materials and worksheet provided by DUSP HQ at admission to develop a plan, and to calculate your expenses that must be supported by personal finances and/or loans.
Q — I've been admitted without financial aid (or with aid that doesn't meet my needs); what are my chances of getting additional aid?
A — Following the April 15 response deadline for students with financial aid offers, any aid declined will be allocated by Program Groups to the next eligible student in that Group. We are unable to predict your chance of receiving any further financial aid, but will notify students with aid offers asap.
Q — I've received a more generous financial aid package from another university, but MIT/DUSP is my first choice; can DUSP match it?
A — Unfortunately, DUSP cannot make counteroffers of additional aid; we allocate the total available to incoming students.
Q — When, where and how can I apply for sponsored RAships?
A — These positions become available unpredictably, and potentially at any time during the year. Faculty post positions on Plaza, and sometimes fill positions by word of mouth. As a student, you can let the faculty members in your Program Group, and particularly those whose research interests are similar to your own, know that you would be interested in a research position if available.
Q — Can I supplement my financial aid from DUSP with a sponsored RAship or other non-DUSP aid?
A — In general, yes, as long as total work requirements do not exceed 20 hours per week, and both academic and work performance are satisfactory.
Q — I have financial aid that covers a portion of my tuition; do I need to pay my full tuition bill and be refunded?
A — No, you need only pay that portion of your bill that is NOT covered by your financial aid award. We try to process the awards in advance of the first tuition bill being mailed, but cannot always make the deadline. If your tuition bill does not reflect the tuition you will be receiving as financial aid, you may simply deduct it from your bill and pay the amount you owe.
Q — How do I receive my fellowship stipend or RA stipend?
A — The email confirmation of your fellowship or RA appointment will contain information about direct bank deposit for your stipend. Stipends are paid monthly at the end of each month.
Q — Will I need to fill out an I-9 Form (employment eligibility) at MIT? Will I need a US Social Security number as an international student?
A — All students admitted with RA funding must complete an I-9 form at the I-9 desk in the Card Office in W20 no later than September 1. We highly recommend that all other students also complete the I-9 form in the first few days of the term, in the likely event you will be employed at MIT at some time during your program. International students will need to apply for a US Social Security number. Please check the Student Financial Services website http://web.mit.edu/sfs/jobs/getting_hired_and_paid_by_MIT.htmlfor detailed information and instructions.
Additional questions concerning this financial aid policy should be addressed to:
Karen Yegian, Administrative Officer
Phone: (617) 452-2865
This financial aid policy is set each year in consultation with the department head, the administrative officer, and the MCP Committee. Except for the specific commitments made in award letters, the Department may change aspects of this policy as necessary.
The financial aid information contained in this document is the policy that applies for students admitted to the MCP program for the fall of 2017, and supersedes all previous statements of the Department's financial aid policy for MCP students.