#Students' Rights
Bursar's Office
United States of America

Due to changes in state funding, Virginia Tech has risen its graduate student comprehensive fee this year to $1051.50 per semester. Many of us do not use the services for which the comprehensive fee is being used. Most of us struggle to pay rent and to afford food. Many graduate students are well below poverty. Some of them are even on food stamps.

The reason that the comprehensive fee was raised was due to a dramatic increase in the capital fee. The capital fee is set by the state of Virginia. The money which goes into the capital fee is not given back to the university nor is it used for university related activities. We certainly understand the economic realities of budget cuts and of the recession. Everyone is being hit hard, even those who are not graduate students.

I certainly understand that the present economic climate is less than favorable; nonetheless, the average unemployment check is much higher than the graduate stipend even with the comprehensive fee and insurance costs removed (according to the US Dept of Labor, the average maximum unemployment benefit is $21,060. As a graduate student at Tech, I would receive around $18,000 per year without the comprehensive fee being removed. A large number of graduate students receive considerably less.) It should be noted that the graduate stipends will not increase again until at least 2012 if not later. Not only is this an incredible burden on the students, but it simply does not reflect inflation. Taking inflation into account, our stipends will be worth progressively less and less over the next several years.

It is vitally important for the state of Virginia that this issue be addressed. The economic and technological health of the country depends vitally upon the production of university research. In turn, university research is almost entirely dependent upon graduate students. With the increasing burden on graduate students, competent researchers will have less of an incentive to do graduate work. Many graduate students already find it difficult to perform their work and still afford food. With an increased burden, many of us will have to drop out and/or transfer to schools outside of Virginia. Therefore, to stay competitive, it is absolutely vital that this issue be addressed.

Note: Please only sign once. Thank you.

We, the undersigned, call for at least the freezing, if not the lowering, of the graduate student comprehensive fee and a re-examination of the associated budget.

We also call for a cap to be placed on the comprehensive fee into the indefinite future so that it cannot be raised again after the Fall semester, 2010.

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The Lower Comprehensive Fees at VT petition to Bursar's Office was written by Dan and is in the category Students' Rights at GoPetition.