Harvard Graduate Student Council Struggles with Depleted Budget

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The Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Student Council (GSC) is facing budgetary challenges as it has exhausted its budget for the 2023-2024 academic year.

A recent budget report revealed that the GSC is unable to fulfil “a majority of student needs” and lacks funds for unforeseen expenses in the remaining seven weeks of the semester.

GSC President Jessica Chen cited the increased funding needs for in-person events and activities post-pandemic, along with more graduate students seeking funds for research conference travel, as the primary reasons for the budget constraints. The GSC is grappling with the financial strain and is considering a student fee increase, the first in many years.

Currently, all GSAS students contribute a $25 annual student fee, generating around $100,000 for the GSC’s yearly budget. However, this fee has not been raised since 2011 and is one of the lowest among Ivy League institutions.

The GSC allocates a significant portion of its budget to support professional development opportunities and community-building events for graduate students. Nevertheless, the limited funding leads to intense competition for research awards, with most grants available to only 10 to 25 percent of applicants.

Harvard Graduate Student Council Struggles with Depleted Budget

To address the budget shortfall, the GSC is contemplating a student fee increase. The options under consideration include maintaining the current fee, raising it to $35 to match inflation rates since 2011, or increasing it to $75 to meet overall student needs. The decision will be made through a vote during the upcoming open meeting.

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The challenges faced by the GSC highlight the evolving financial landscape in a post-COVID world, necessitating adjustments to meet the increasing demands of graduate students at Harvard.

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