BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Hundreds of graduate students on Indiana University's Bloomington campus have signed a pledge to withhold payment of their mandatory student fees amid a push to raise their standard of living.
Members of the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition, which drafted the pledge, say student fees have increased every year since 2011, while graduate students' stipends have largely remained the same, amounting to a pay cut.
Graduate students often work as teaching or research assistants while earning their degrees, and their compensation typically includes tuition remission and a stipend. But IU's graduate students are still required to pay certain fees each semester to cover things such as campus bus service.
Coalition members say the stipends just aren’t enough to cover the necessary expenses that come with attending graduate school at IU Bloomington, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made the situation worse, The Herald-Times reported.
“I hope they understand students are pushed to the wall,” said coalition member Pallavi Rao.
IU spokesman Chuck Carney said administrators have long been concerned about the costs graduate students face and will continue meeting with coalition members. He said graduate students' stipends are determined by individual schools and programs.
Coalition members would like to see stipends increased, but they have pushed to have mandatory student fees — estimated at about $700 a semester — waived for graduated students that work for the university.
Carney said failing to pay mandatory student fees on time can result in additional charges, and the university can withhold a student’s degree if the student has outstanding bills.