Ph.D's on Food Stamps?

Friday, May 11, 2012

It isn’t easy these days making it out on your own. And in this tough job market, there’s one route that many college graduates are turning to: going back to school. 

But, according to a recent report from The Chronicle of Higher Education, students pursuing or who have obtained masters degrees and Ph.D.’s are struggling quite a bit financially; more so than ever before, in fact. The number of these students on food stamps or public assistance has tripled in the past two years, according to government data. 

Joining us is Stacey Patton, the reporter for The Chronicle of Higher Education who brought national attention to this overlooked issue. Also with us is Elliott Stegall, a 51-year-old married father of two who teaches in the English department at Northwest Florida State College. He is currently finishing his dissertation in film studies at Florida State University and he and his family receive public assistance, including food stamps and Medicaid.

This week we’ve been taking a hard look at the financial realities for students graduating from college, the difficulty of finding a job, and the wisdom of choosing a major.


Stacey Patton and Elliott Stegall

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja and Marc Kilstein

Comments [5]

Ana M Fores from Keller, Texas

Almost 80% of professors across America are working as adjuncts, which means they are undervalued, underpaid. You can change that; sign and then share my petition to affect change.

Jun. 14 2012 11:20 PM

I'm a current graduate student on medicaid and food stamps. I argue about the irrationality of giving aid to people like me here:

Jun. 13 2012 03:28 PM

Food (card) stamps for graduate students?
Sort of like a "progressive" falsely claiming minority status and using "progressive" programs to progressively game the system and take opportunities away from those they claim to care so much about by being generous with everyone's money except their own.
If their heroes in the progressive movement do exactly that they why shouldn't they do the same?

...and when the debt hits $20 trillion the "progressive" media will ask how did that happen?

May. 11 2012 10:48 AM
Marguerite Rosenthal from Boston, MA

A major cause of the poverty problem (exploitation of adjunct faculty is how I define it) among adjuncts is that colleges and universities have, over the last 10-15 years, limited the number of full-time, tenure track faculty and are, instead, using adjuncts (temporary) faculty.
One solution: unionized faculty (both full-time and adjunct faculty).
In the state system in Mass. where I taught for over 20 years, by union contract, there was a limit placed on the percentage of courses taught by adjuncts, and adjuncts, through their union chapter, get some benefits (health insurance, e.g., depending on how many courses they teach).

May. 11 2012 06:28 AM
ACT from Cambridge

Stacey Patton misses the point when she keeps saying there aren't enough jobs for Ph.D.s. There are *plenty* of jobs (see the adjunct project's website or any university department's faculty listings). The problem is that the jobs themselves have been so degraded, in terms of security and benefits, that the workers need to turn to the government for assistance. At Northeastern University (just one of many examples), faculty are on state subsidized health insurance because the University blocks them from teaching enough classes to make them benefits eligible. To be clear - there *is* work, and there *are* customers - students paying large sums of money for degrees, but the money wasn't reaching the people at the frontlines of education, the money wasn't reaching the classroom.

May. 11 2012 06:25 AM

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