More than half a dozen Ph.D. students sat cross-legged in a circle on the grass here at Duke University last month, holding copies of their bank statements.
They had gathered to review their finances and to figure out how, together, they might pay for a plane ticket to Brazil for a fellow doctoral student whose dissertation is about a 19th-century writer from Rio de Janeiro.
They could cut expenses by eating out less, they said, and by shopping at Food Lion rather than Whole Foods. They discussed how they might bring in some money, too, perhaps by subletting the apartment of one group member.
In the Duke Collective, as some in the group refer to themselves, one person’s financial problem is everyone’s financial problem.
Facing common graduate-school money challenges, these literature and English students have turned to an uncommon solution: They have decided to pool their money, putting it into one bank account, from which each member can freely withdraw funds as needed.
Doctoral students at Duke and at universities across the country face difficulties in financing their degrees. Wide disparities exist in stipends of graduate students among institutions, within disciplines, and even within the same department. <Read more.>