Budgeting and Taxes


  • smiling student in sweater sitting on wooden bench with her work, laptop and backpackWhen making a budget, some things to include might be rent, utilities, food, transportation (insurance, gas, car payment), and family visits.
  • Have a savings account and put away money for your future! This can help with any unexpected expenses (e.g. medical).Think about how you might be able to do that, including through fellowships, grants, TA-ships and other means. 
  • Thrift shopping or buying used items can be great ways to save money on items you might need (e.g. furniture, clothes)
  • Places to shop in Santa Cruz and online: Twice as Nice, Craigslist, ThredUp, graduate student listserv
  • Graduate students sometimes need to assume more financial responsibility for different reasons, including assisting family. In this case, setting a timeframe for each task may help you see the light at the end of the tunnel and reduce burnout. 
  • If you need to take out loans (like federal loans) to cover expenses, then you should feel no shame for doing so.


Completing your taxes is complicated, so here are some tips on how to navigate the process.

  • GSRs & TAships get taxed and show up on your W-2 Form at the end of the year.
  • Fellowships and grants are not taxed throughout the year, but any money that was not used for education expenses does get taxed.
  • Do it yourself tax preparation (e.g. TurboTax) can sometimes be challenging to navigate. Finding a tax preparer, although it can cost some money, can help you pay less in taxes at the end of the year. The Santa Cruz Community Credit Union offers free tax prep assistance. The GSA also offers on-campus tax workshops.