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Affordability enhancements at Stanford

In a message to the campus community, Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell announce new steps Stanford is taking to enhance affordability for staff, faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars

Dear Stanford community,

Though together as a community we continue to navigate the many challenges of the pandemic, we are writing today to share some good news – some new steps Stanford is taking to enhance affordability for staff, faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.

We are deeply appreciative of the extraordinary efforts of all in our community over these last two difficult years. We are also mindful of the affordability pressures facing our community, which remain a key priority for us and for the university. The new steps we’ll share below are made possible by the exceptional investment returns Stanford achieved last year. While the endowment is principally for the long-term support of the university, a portion of investment returns is available for immediate needs and makes it possible to take this next series of steps.

Our Affordability Task Force, created as part of our Long-Range Vision process, established priorities for enhancing affordability in our community. Led by Vice President for Human Resources Elizabeth Zacharias and informed by stakeholders from across the university, the task force already has spearheaded a number of affordability improvements. Its work also has informed these new initiatives that we are announcing today:

  • Special across-the-board salary increase for regular benefits-eligible staff and faculty: We will implement a permanent 3% base salary increase for each eligible employee effective March 1, 2022. In addition, we will have a regular salary program at the normal time in fall 2022. This special increase reflects the university’s gratitude for the commitment and perseverance of our staff and faculty through the extraordinary circumstances of the last two years. Details are available on the Cardinal at Work website.
  • Stipend for staff roles requiring fully on-site work: The university also will provide a supplement of $125 per pay period in 2022 ($2,750 across 22 pay periods) for regular benefits-eligible staff employees who are required to be physically present and perform all of their work duties on-site at a Stanford facility, not in a hybrid or remote arrangement, and who earn a base pay of $150,000 per year or less. This stipend will be effective Feb. 1, 2022, through Dec. 31, 2022. Employees do not need to submit a request for this stipend; school/unit HR managers will confirm which roles are required to be fully on campus and are eligible for the stipend. Details are available on the Cardinal at Work website.
  • 100% coverage of Cardinal Care for graduate students supported on assistantships and fellowships: Starting Sept. 1, 2022, Stanford will provide a 100% subsidy for Cardinal Care health insurance for graduate students who are supported on research and teaching assistantships (at 25% level or higher) or fellowships at a comparable level and who are in good academic standing. The cost of this subsidy will be funded by a combination of central university, school and other graduate aid funding sources. The Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education will distribute implementation guidelines directly to staff and faculty; more information about the Cardinal Care subsidy will be added to the Financial Aid Office website later in the year.
  • Increased family grant program for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars: These programs provide financial support for individuals with dependent children to help cover expenses such as child care, health care and rent. The maximum annual family grant for graduate students will be increased from $15,000 to $20,000, and the maximum for postdocs will be increased from $5,000 to $10,000. These increases will be effective immediately; pro-rated increases in funding will be made retroactively for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars who have received awards since September 2021. More information is available on the web about the Graduate Family Grant and the Postdoctoral Scholars Family Grant.
  • New pilot program to provide transitional housing for new postdocs: In the spring we will launch a pilot program to provide short-term rental housing near campus for newly arriving postdoctoral scholars. This temporary, transitional housing will allow postdocs to settle into their research groups and to search for permanent housing from a convenient, furnished location. This pilot, based on recommendations from the Affordability Task Force, recognizes that postdocs face barriers to housing, such as arriving without credit history and, in some cases, without Social Security numbers, as well as assessing rentals and securing a lease from a distance.
  • Series of one-time grants for early-career, pre-tenure faculty with financial needs: Recognizing the personal and financial pressures of the pandemic for many untenured faculty, the Provost’s Office will provide a series of supports for those requesting assistance. The offerings will include (1) an additional year on their appointment or an additional post-pandemic leave quarter; and (2) two kinds of grant programs: a taxable salary grant for those needing personal financial assistance, such as due to increased child care needs or costs, and one-time research grants for those whose research has been interrupted or otherwise negatively affected by the pandemic. More information on these programs is available in this letter.
  • Enhancements to faculty housing assistance: We will implement a series of adjustments to enhance the Housing Allowance Program and the Restricted Ground Lease purchase program for faculty. These will be effective Feb. 1, 2022, and are described on the Faculty Staff Housing website.

Affordability for undergraduates also continues to be a priority. Financial aid is Stanford’s main mechanism for this, and we have significantly expanded undergraduate need-based financial aid in a series of steps over the last three years. Today, only 13% of undergraduates leave Stanford with student debt, and the median amount is $13,700. Continuing to support undergraduate affordability will remain a priority for us and for the Board of Trustees.

More information about the initiatives summarized above can be found on the websites hyperlinked from each section. We believe these investments will meaningfully support the wellbeing of the people in our community and, in so doing, will continue to bolster the excellence of our programs and of Stanford’s contributions to the wider world.


Marc Tessier-Lavigne

Persis Drell