10/18/20 Graduate Student Financial Concerns

The Purdue Graduate Student Center is at 504 Northwestern Ave. near the Northwestern parking garage. 

Not long ago I read an article in Nature, a science and technology journal, titled “Give all Ph.D. Scholars a living wage now.” This article moved me as it is my reality, and I am sure my colleagues must feel the same.

Have you ever asked a doctoral student whether they have plans for Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other religious holiday they want to celebrate? I asked this same question to my counterpart in class today, and we resonated, “We can’t afford it.”

An even more basic question is if graduate students can afford to live in such a turbulent economy. I find myself at the local Food Finders every Saturday to obtain bread, eggs and milk.

I cannot afford to pay monthly expenses with my salary, and thus have to transfer money from my home country. I am digging into my family’s life savings to research for the university. The least the university can do is provide enough compensation to sustain happy living.

As an international graduate student, I also face problems in terms of my visa restrictions. I cannot work outside of my employment with the university, so it becomes exponentially hard to cover my studies on my own.

Purdue’s graduate students live on the brink of economic turmoil and need significant aid from the university to sustain a healthy home. With more security in our finances, we might stop thinking about finding our next meal and start thinking about our next giant leap.

I wish to keep the Boilermaker spirit high in my colleagues, and for that to be made possible, the university has to do its part.

- Akshay Khandelwal, second-year graduate student in the nuclear engineering department

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