The Department guarantees all matriculated students five (5) years of financial support. This package includes tuition (including non-resident tuition in the first year, for non-California residents) and fees, and a stipend covering ten (10) months of the year, August through May (the first paycheck is September 1, the last June 1). This support typically comes in the form of appointment as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI), but other possibilities are available. Some students hold a fellowship, either from the University or from an outside source such as the National Science Foundation (NSF). Others may be supported on a training grant. Others may be supported as Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs), paid from faculty research grants.
How can I support myself in the summer?
GSI stipends run for ten (10) months of the year, so you have to take some steps to make sure that you have money to live on in the summer. Some students are able to save from their ten-month stipends for the July and August, and if you are able to do this – even a little – that is all to the good. If your advisor has grant support, he or she may be able to appoint you as a GSR for the summer months. Discuss the possibilities with your advisor. Some graduate students are able to serve as GSIs, Readers, or even as course instructors, in the Summer Session. Students with stipends under the minimum funding guarantee can also count on receiving summer support from the department with a Summer Research Fellowship.
I’m an out-of-state student. Do I have to establish California residency?
Yes, if you are a U.S. citizen or a U.S. permanent resident. The Department has funds to provide remission of educational fees charged to California residents, but it can provide remission of tuition charged to non-residents only for their first year of graduate study. So, during your first year of graduate study—almost as soon as you arrive—you must start taking steps to establish California state residency. The deadline for having established a year’s residency is, roughly, the start of classes of your second year of graduate school. If you do not establish California residency by then, you will be responsible for full nonresident tuition. The Department cannot pay this for you: it simply does not have the funds.
How do I establish California residency?
This is a cumbersome, but actually fairly straightforward, procedure. Basically, you have to show that you are a permanent resident of California, meaning that you have resided in California for at least one year for some purpose in addition to education (residing in California for the sole purpose of education does not qualify you as a California resident). A checklist of required documents and deadlines is available on the Office of the Registrar website: Checklist.
Because you must show, by roughly the start of instruction of your second year of graduate study that you have been a resident of California for at least one year, you must accomplish certain tasks very early in your first year of graduate study. The following list, although not complete, has examples of what you need to do.
- Show that you arrived in California before the beginning of classes.
- Obtain a California driver’s license within ten days of your arrival.
- Register your motor vehicle (if any) within twenty days of your arrival in the state.
- Register to votebefore October 1 of your first year of graduate study and vote. You can register to vote when you get your driver’s license or motor vehicle registration.
- Open a bank account at a California bank. Close bank accounts in other states.
- Obtain your UC Personnel Action Form (PAF) confirming your employment (e.g., as a GSI) during your first year of graduate study.
- Keep copies of W-2 forms (e.g., from your service as a GSI), as well as California state and Federal tax returns filed by April 15 of your first year of graduate study, and showing a California address.
- You may even be required to provide your parents’ tax returns, showing that they did not claim you as a dependent during the year in question.
Comprehensive information on establishing California residency is available on the Office of the Registrar website: Legal Residence Information. Questions about residency should be directed to the Residence Deputy.
What happens if I don’t establish California state residency by the start of my second year of graduate study?
You will pay more to attend the university! The increased amount is referred to as Nonresident Supplemental Tuition and roughly doubles what California residents pay. The Department simply cannot pay nonresident tuition after the first year. It is possible, if you are supported as a GSR, that your advisor may be able to pick up these costs from his or her research grant, but unlikely. It is most likely that this burden will fall on you, so as soon as you arrive for graduate study, get started on establishing California residency. Resident and nonresident fees are listed on the Office of the Registrar website: Registration Fees.