17a. What does the MacCracken Fellowship guarantee?
The MacCracken Fellowship includes a full tuition scholarship, remission of registration and services fees, and full coverage of the premiums for mandatory NYU student health insurance for six years. It also includes academic year stipends for four years. The guaranteed stipend can come from various sources, including research assistantships, internal awards, external awards, and an annual stipend allowance given to us by the University, known as the Block Grant.
17b. How does the department decide which funds to allocate to each student?
The Block Grant only covers a portion of stipend costs. The department must therefore, maximize the use of available funds in order to meet financial commitments to all students guaranteed a stipend. In general, Block funding is allocated to first and second-year students. Others will receive their stipend through research assistantships and internal awards.
17c. Are there any disadvantages to receiving a research assistantship or internal award?
Full-time research assistants may not teach (see Q4 below). Half-time research assistants may teach only one section of either lab or recitation plus grading. Internal award fellows (JAGAs and Kesslers) may only teach with research center director and advisor approval. This limitation on teaching restricts a student’s ability to earn extra wage. However, there are important advantages to receiving an RAship or internal award (see Q5 below). In addition to teaching restrictions, full-time Research Assistants would not qualify for Local 2110 union benefits, which are summarized on the Local 2110 union contract page.
17d. Why can’t full-time research assistants teach?
The federal government requires a report on time-and-effort when an individual is compensated by or has agreed to contribute time to a federally sponsored project. All faculty serving as principal investigators (PI) on sponsored agreements (grants) are responsible for certifying the amount of effort that they and their employees spend on sponsored activities. Failing to comply has serious consequences, including loss of funding to the PI.
17e. Why should I accept an RA or internal award if it limits my ability to earn extra wage through teaching?
Students are not required to accept an RAship or award, but declining one can be tantamount to declining working with a particular advisor. Being selected to receive external funding indicates that the research is competitive, highly regarded by the community, and leads to greater opportunities in research and your career. When a faculty member chooses you for an RA, it reflects their confidence in your abilities and affirms their dedication to your research career. RAships also often support travel with funding allocations budgeted to cover RA travel expenses.
17f. What funds are available to Post-MacCrackens, when we are no longer guaranteed an academic year stipend?
Most students who receive a research assistantship during their MacCracken term (Years 1-4) continue to receive RA funds through to graduation (which is another advantage to accepting an RAship). Others receive internal awards through the department or GSAS. About 20% of our Post-MacCrackens receive funds solely through teaching.
17g. How much can a teaching salary provide if no other sources of funding are available?
Teaching provides a fraction of the base stipend rate and is contingent on contact hours and assignment. Salary ranges from ~$3600 - $12,000/semester, with most receiving about $9000-12,000/semester.
As funding is not guaranteed after Year 4, all students should consider saving funds as early as possible in the program. One option is to teach in your earlier years and set aside a portion of your stipend for future use.
The MacCracken Reserve program is meant to help you save funds in this way by offering students a prevailing-rate at time of withdrawal. It is important to note that this is a use- or-lose program. This means that you must withdraw reserved funds before your anticipated graduation date, eg. since you cannot receive both a GSAS Dissertation Fellowship and Reserve funds at the same time, you would lose the reserve funds if you did not withdraw them before completing your final year on the Dissertation Fellowship. You might consider just setting aside funds for future use in a personal savings account to avoid the risk of losing MacCracken Reserve funds. There are some high-yield accounts that offer rates comparable to the reserve program.
Besides teaching and saving, students can apply for GSAS dissertation fellowships and external awards. Dissertation fellowship opportunities are announced every year. We also strongly encourage students to be proactive in finding external award opportunities for themselves. Students who are interested in receiving up-to-date information regarding fellowships and awards are encouraged to join the GSAS Fellowships Listserv. This listserv ensures that you receive information on available award opportunities as they arise, as well as campus awards-information sessions, and more.