Salary and Funding


Salaries at UCSC are very low. The typical graduate TA working three quarters earns around $17,000 a year. For reference rents for a room in a two bedroom costs $850 or 60% of income, most financial advisors recommend no more than 30% of income be spent on housing (See Housing for more information). The MIT Living Wage Project calculates that a single person needs $25,659 to live a simple but dignified life. Meaning that UCSC pays students 33% less than the living wage. Even by the university's own calculations it costs $22,764 for an in-state student to pay for room, board and, books1. Students as a result generally qualify for government welfare in the form of food stamps and Medicaid.

Graduate students are also underpaid when compared to peer institutions. The UC’s own academic council notes that the “UC offers uncompetitive stipends” 2. Even by the peer universities that the UC compares itself to salaries“ lagged behind those of its competitors by an average of $2,697”2. For International students it was noted that the “UC was even less competitive in its net stipend offers for international students: on average, the UC offer was $5,224 lower”2.



The funding environment has steadily eroded as state budget cuts have reduced TAships and available fellowships. Campus budgetary shortfalls have caused cuts at all levels of the university. Funding varies greatly by department at UCSC but it tends to follow the general trend of funding being more available in the sciences. The quality of funding with Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) positions and fellowships being the best and TAships being the worst also follows this pattern as well. Budget reductions have been felt in all departments. Humanities and social science graduates face devastating quarters where they are unpaid and are without healthcare. GSRs and fellowships have been greatly reduced in the sciences increasing time to degree completion. It has become increasingly difficult to complete research projects in all fields because of a lack of support. Students have been known to work second jobs to make ends meet because of the irregularity of funding and low pay see Salary. 

UCSC does not follow best practices by not guaranteeing funding to normal time of degree completion. It means that unlike many other institutions graduate students are not guaranteed a steady source of income during their studies. This has caused a great deal of stress for many graduate students.



1. UCSC Gradaute Cost of Attendance

2. UC Academic Council:  Report of the Taskforce on Competitiveness in Academic Graduate Student Support


UCSC Graduates Demand Equal Pay for Equal Work! 


Our monthly wage is $2434 before tax. This monthly wage is only for the 9 months of the year for which we are employed, totaling $21,906 before tax. Santa Cruz is one of the least affordable counties for renters in the country.


We demand a Cost of Living Adjustment for every* graduate student to bring us out of rent burden. 

At current rates, this amounts to an additonal $1,412 per month.** The COLA must be adjusted annually to keep up with the rental market. 


Adjusting salaries for the cost of living is common in private and public sector jobs in California.s. 


COLA is also a demand to recognize the precarity of our seasonal unemployment as graduate student workers, who make a monthly wage of $2434 but an annual wage of $21,906, because the UC Boss only employs us for 9 months out of the year. 


*Regardless of residence, visa, documentation, employment or funding status

 **Sharing a two- or three-bedroom apartment, based on median rental figures from April 2018 - August 2019 (source: Zillow Rental Index)