As some of you saw on Twitter, I was accepted into a PhD program last month. I'll be starting at Northeast Metropolis University (NEMU) in the PhD in Art History program this fall. I am, to say the least, delighted.
I'm in the extremely fortunate position to already be an employee of NEMU, so it didn't actually matter if I got funding or not - worst case, I do my PhD part-time for free (thanks to NEMU's 100% tuition remission for the first course/semester. The 2nd course, should I ever be so brave, is 90% covered).
In the end, I received what amounts to a good funding package for NEMU humanities departments, but which is unfortunately still a shit deal. I'll be TAing this fall for a pretty nice stipend, but the spring semester funding is only a graduate assistantship for 10 hrs/wk in exchange for tuition remission - no stipend. And there's no guarantee of funding in future years (and it sounds as though there definitely won't be any TAships available for my second year). So, for obvious reasons, I'm keeping my job and taking classes part-time - except for this fall, when I'm somehow going to juggle a full-time job with a 20 hr/wk TAship and a graduate course.
Assuming there are enough hours in the week, this is probably the best possible outcome. I like my job, but more importantly, it pays very well - more than I'll make in academia for the next 10+ years. I don't mind keeping it and studying part-time, but I had been concerned about what this would mean for teaching experience. However, now that I'm TAing a semester, I'll be at the top of the list for future semesters. I'll also be able to teach summer classes. So if all goes well, I'll have a few strong courses under my belt by the time I have to confront the job market.
In the meantime, I'm focusing on saving as much of my income as possible. Once I start the program, my loan payments will all be suspended, and the interest on all but one will freeze. (Can I just say how excited this makes me? My only monthly payments will be rent and my car!) The one that will keep generating interest is, of course, the largest one, but by this fall, it will be more or less equal to my fall stipend. And that's where my stipend will be going. By Christmas, my unsubsidized loan will be gone, and with it, my highest interest rate. And I will have paid off more than half of my MA degree.
Not bad for a first semester PhD student.