MIT’s Response to the GSU’s Economic Proposal

Fair wages and benefits for all employees — including graduate student-employees — are top priorities for MIT, and we are committed to reaching an agreement that is sustainable and fair for all members of the MIT community. We are also committed to ensuring the long-term financial strength of the Institute to support generations of students and employees to come.

The below summarizes MIT’s competitive compensation package for graduate student-employees, and our position on the GSU’s economic proposal.

Current Compensation Package for MIT Graduate Student-Employees

  • Total compensation in Fiscal 2023 for a doctoral RA is approximately $126,000, including salary, tuition, and benefits.
  • Highly competitive pay reflects a nearly 9% pay increase last fiscal year.
  • Current Fiscal Year 2023 minimum salary of $45,480 for doctoral RAs ranks second highest in the nation.
  • Comprehensive health insurance whose premiums are very competitive with those of peer institutions.
  • $6,500-$8,500 need-blind grants available to graduate students with dependent children.

The GSU’s Current Proposal

Economic Proposals

  • 8.75% increase in salaries for doctoral research assistants (with teaching assistant salaries set at the same rate, and RA masters at 5% less) in the first year of the contract, estimated to cost MIT $20 million annually.  
  • Additional and new benefits totaling an estimated $17 million per year.

Estimated Costs

  • Requires a total of $37 million in new annual funding from research grants, departmental funds, and MIT’s central budget.
  • Amount far exceeds the capacity within our central budget, which has been supported by 3.5% average annual growth in unrestricted revenues over the last decade, ending Fiscal Year 2022.


  • Unsustainable for MIT: Would require diverting funds from salaries paid to all other MIT employees; undergraduate financial aid; and campus health, safety, and infrastructure needs.
  • Would compromise MIT’s long-term financial strength, damaging its ability to support generations of students and employees to come.

MIT’s Current Proposal

Salary Raise

  • 5.25% salary raise in the 1st year of a new contract.
  • 3.5% and 3% respective raises in the 2nd & 3rd years of the contract.
  • This would result in an 12.2% increase over the term of the agreement, and a four-year increase of 22%, including last year’s 8.7% increase. Under this proposal, MIT graduate student-employees would continue to be among the highest paid in the nation.

Other Compensation & Benefits

  • Coverage of 84% of the cost of individual dental insurance premiums and a new vision insurance benefit.
  • Support for international students including a $1,200 payment to each international student to cover costs associated with their visas.
  • Expanded support for graduate students with dependent children: needs-based annual grants of up to $10,000 for graduate students with dependent children, in addition to existing $6,500-$8,500 need-blind grants.
  • Added vacation time and sick time, and expanded paid and unpaid leaves of absence, including:
    • Five additional vacation days for a total of 15 vacation days;
    • An additional four weeks of paid parental leave, with partial salary continuation plus full tuition and benefits continuation;
    • An additional four weeks of parental leave for non-birth parents (or birth parents who use only one month of childbirth leave), with tuition and benefits covered;
    • Up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave for the graduate student’s or family member’s serious health condition, with tuition and benefits covered; and
    • A new three-day immigration leave benefit for graduate students who are required to attend certain hearings or appointments relating to their visa status.


  • A new MIT investment in graduate students of $15 million per year.
  • Equals approximately $132,000 total annual compensation for doctoral RAs/TAs (including tuition and benefits).
  • Continues to enable our graduate students to meet reasonable living expenses.
  • Creates a fair and sustainable model for all members of the MIT community.
  • Enables MIT to remain competitive both in terms of attracting top graduate students, as well as in supporting our research enterprise, faculty, undergraduates, and staff.

Fiscal Realities: Endowment Restrictions and Trade-Offs

MIT has limited financial flexibility due to donor restrictions on endowed resources and limits on research-based revenue. This means that the choices MIT makes at the bargaining table could lead to significant trade-offs that would impact our entire community and research competitiveness — not just for today, but for years and even decades to come. The agreement we ultimately reach with the GSU must:

  • Prioritize fairness;
  • Advance the Institute’s mission rather than limit it; and
  • Preserve intergenerational equity for future students, faculty, and staff who deserve the same support from the endowment that today’s students, faculty, and staff receive.

By the Numbers

Beyond the 3,600 members of the GSU, MIT must also support:

  • Stipends for 1,500 graduate student fellows.
  • Pay for 16,000 other employees.
  • Other critical needs, including campus facilities, IT systems and infrastructure, and cyber defenses.

Moving Forward

We deeply value our graduate students — as reflected in the very competitive and comprehensive support we already provide to all graduate students, including fellows — and we share many of the GSU’s goals. At the same time, we have a responsibility to reach an agreement that is fair for everyone at MIT, today and in the future.

We look forward to our continued work with the GSU to find common ground on this important issue.