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Key grad student benefit under review in latest MU budget decisions

A key graduate student benefit will be reviewed this year as part of the ongoing budget crunch at the University of Missouri.

The Office of Graduate Studies wrote it would lead a review of the graduate student tuition waiver program this year. The information comes in a 40-page document released by the Chancellor’s office this week outlining where each college and school at MU would be cutting back or protecting.

Graduate students get classes paid for in exchange for their work as graduate assistants. Those assistants work between 10 and 20 hours a week, considered quarter-time and half-time employees.

Graduate workers called it a key benefit in 2015, when the university considered ending the program for quarter-time employees. Eric Scott, co-chair of the Coalition of Graduate Workers, said he hopes whatever review takes place includes input and participation from students themselves.

“If things are going to change, who better to turn to than the people who are actually working?” Scott told ABC 17 News.

The school did not have details of the review on Friday or how it would be conducted.

School spokesman Christian Basi said the review was not a guarantee that anything would be cut, but would be a “top-down” review of the program. He said the school remained committed to helping graduate students and workers, including a stipend increase next school year.

Scott said he still feels wary about the review process due in part to the lack of details on it. He feared a resurrection of the idea to cut tuition waiver for quarter-time graduate assistants could also come back.

“If they’re just attempting to bring that back again, those problems are still present,” Scott said. “That could have a lot of bad effects on not only graduate students but on entire programs.”

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