MIT East Campus - Kendall Square Gateway | Cambridge

chrisbrat

Active Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2015
Messages
839
Reaction score
213
Counterpoint: Nobody asked MIT to build graduate student housing in the heart of Kendall Square. Also, many graduate students are international students with rules stating that their spouses cannot work in the U.S., thus making it outright unaffordable.

MIT is not-for-profit with a 17 billion endowment and 3.5 bil operating revenue. Should MIT be trying to make profit off the backs of its most vulnerable? Because that is what this looks like.
i worked at student financial services at m.i.t. and most work as teaching or research assistants, a substantial number receive fellowships and stipends, and -- at least when i was there -- about 90% graduate with *zero* debt to the school. these students are not broke and these rents are not "outright unaffordable." the school wants these scholars. it would be flat-out stupid for m.i.t. to make it difficult for the world's brightest to attend and live on/near campus -- and they make it easy to do so.
 

George_Apley

Not a Brahmin
Staff member
Joined
Jan 22, 2012
Messages
4,599
Reaction score
979
i worked at student financial services at m.i.t. and most work as teaching or research assistants, a substantial number receive fellowships and stipends, and -- at least when i was there -- about 90% graduate with *zero* debt to the school. these students are not broke and these rents are not "outright unaffordable." the school wants these scholars. it would be flat-out stupid for m.i.t. to make it difficult for the world's brightest to attend and live on/near campus -- and they make it easy to do so.
To clarify: are you saying that these world's brightest students can afford these rents because they're coming in with wealth, or that MIT is subsidizing them to such a degree that the institute is essentially paying itself the rent?
 

chrisbrat

Active Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2015
Messages
839
Reaction score
213
To clarify: are you saying that these world's brightest students can afford these rents because they're coming in with wealth, or that MIT is subsidizing them to such a degree that the institute is essentially paying itself the rent?
it should be noted (or maybe should HAVE been noted, by me) that my time there was immediately after graduation, in an entry-level position, and that i only know what the deal was -- or was explained to me -- lo those many years ago.

that said, it would be more the "B" scenario in your "is it A or B" question.

think about it -- how smart, in the larger scheme (and, generally speaking, most folks don't equate m.i.t. with statements like, "boy, the people at that school sure are stupid!") if a prospective "world's brightest student" was like, "well, i'd sure like to go to m.i.t., but the rents and costs of living are too high, so i guess i'll go to cal tech instead"?

so, yes, they in effect "pay [many] students to attend grad school" via teaching and reasearch assistantships. those lucky enough to be awarded fellowships have it considerably easier than that.

im no expert on any of this -- like i say, i'm just tossing in my two cents from my brief time at financial services years ago -- but a quick glance at the current site would seem to suggest that the summary i outlined from way back when still holds largely true today.
 
Last edited:

Equilibria

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2007
Messages
4,517
Reaction score
866
it should be noted (or maybe should HAVE been noted, by me) that my time there was immediately after graduation, in an entry-level position, and that i only know what the deal was -- or was explained to me -- lo those many years ago.

that said, it would be more the "B" scenario in your "is it A or B" question.

think about it -- how smart, in the larger scheme (and, generally speaking, most folks don't equate m.i.t. with statements like, "boy, the people at that school sure are stupid!") if a prospective "world's brightest student" was like, "well, i'd sure like to go to m.i.t., but the rents and costs of living are too high, so i guess i'll go to cal tech instead"?

so, yes, they in effect "pay [many] students to attend grad school" via teaching and reasearch assistantships. those lucky enough to be awarded fellowships have it considerably easier than that.

im no expert on any of this -- like i say, i'm just tossing in my two cents from my brief time at financial services years ago -- but a quick glance at the current site would seem to suggest that the summary i outlined from way back when still holds largely true today.
But the counterpoint to that is: there's a whole petition on this, presumably run by students (Eastgate residents). If students were as happy with this arrangement as MIT is, why would we be hearing about it at all?
 

stefal

Active Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2015
Messages
897
Reaction score
399
I'm guessing that it could be affecting a specific group of students. Research stipends and funding are on a department basis, and as such, you can expect that computer/data science and nano researchers are going to be receiving larger stipends than the MArch students. So while the decision to increase rent if "they aren't paying for it" may not affect a good amount of students, it's likely also affecting a good number of other students.
 

Gameguy326

Active Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Messages
293
Reaction score
30
MIT has only offered 10-15% discounts to students afaik right now, on a temporary 1 year basis. They have made no other offers to increase this place's affordability. If they have a plan they should come out with it.
 

Gameguy326

Active Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Messages
293
Reaction score
30
I'm guessing that it could be affecting a specific group of students. Research stipends and funding are on a department basis, and as such, you can expect that computer/data science and nano researchers are going to be receiving larger stipends than the MArch students. So while the decision to increase rent if "they aren't paying for it" may not affect a good amount of students, it's likely also affecting a good number of other students.
CS students make around 3200 take home per month.
 

Equilibria

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2007
Messages
4,517
Reaction score
866
CS students make around 3200 take home per month.
Which again raises the question: MIT knows what its students make. This is not market-governed housing. Why would the price-gouge people when they set the amount those people have to spend?

The only plausible answers are (a) they aren't and we don't have all the information or (b) they're stratifying their grad students based on how many other sources of funding some of them have (read: their parents or their governments).
 

whighlander

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
7,588
Reaction score
532
I think people would have been satisfied if they built that graduate student housing elsewhere on campus at the same time as the KSI, if they knew the rents would be priced like this.

The thing is high rents here don't even make sense. It's not like MIT had to acquire this land. It's not like building here costs extra.
Gameguy -- MIT is building graduate student housing at several sites on campus. Due to its age and location in the midst of all the new construction -- Eastgate has to go. Due to its special role as family housing -- the replacement has to also offer the kind of space needed to have a family while you are a student. That means a location close to the main campus and of course also close to the Sloan part of the Campus. There are very few places that meet that criterion. Then it is just a matter of recovering the cost of construction and operations -- new building higher total cost === higher rent
 

whighlander

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
7,588
Reaction score
532
Which again raises the question: MIT knows what its students make. This is not market-governed housing. Why would the price-gouge people when they set the amount those people have to spend?

The only plausible answers are (a) they aren't and we don't have all the information or (b) they're stratifying their grad students based on how many other sources of funding some of them have (read: their parents or their governments).
Equilibria -- when you are accepted to MIT for graduate school the assumption is that you pay nothing in tuition and fees as that is covered by your employment as a Research or Teaching Assistant. Funds for the former come from a grant received by you faculty boss*1 -- the PI. Meanwhile funds for the latter [teaching] come from general department and institute funds [which pay the salaries of the professors while they are teaching or on sabbatical].

Some of those general operating funds come from undergraduate tuition, some from the income from the endowment, and some from the cost of doing research at MIT. Each project funded by say NIH to look for a vaccine for the new virus gets a haircut of about 100% of the personnel costs -- known in the parlance as Overhead. Some of that money ends up paying students who are not on a research stipend. However, the goal of both students and faculty is to get the students covered by a research grant or for the Best and the Brightest an externally funded Fellowship [such as NIH or NSF].

Ultimately, as a graduate student you need only pay for food and a place to sleep and maybe a trip home for the holidays. You are not studying to make money now -- that's for the future.

*1
the PI could receive funding for contract research and use that to pay the students and post docs
 

stefal

Active Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2015
Messages
897
Reaction score
399
I can't tell if you're trying to answer Equilibria's claim/question in a convoluted manner or just trying to say you know how research is funded. MIT (and you) know where the money comes from and where it goes, and MIT knows the amounts being dispersed.

So why price gouge their own students, that "they're" paying, when they control the rent?

A good amount of this money, as Whigh points out, is grant money, endowment money, federal funding, etc. (i.e. A lot of it is not MIT's). Since MIT knows the amount these students are making, they know how much they they can charge and indirectly bring back into the school, in essence, bringing the grant money intended for the student back into MIT for whatever MIT wants to spend it on. If you're a student that's accepted into a grad program with a stipend, you'll sign on immediately. Most students don't care so much about the money they stand to profit. If all goes well, they stand to go through school comfortably and graduate from one of the most well-known and innovative universities debt free. That's a huge plus.
 

fattony

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2013
Messages
1,958
Reaction score
118
I suspect that the school cannot charge rents that are vastly different than market rate (at least not unless they have a bed to offer every single graduate student and their families in a closed ecosystem). Otherwise the lottery for student housing essentially becomes a lottery for a massive windfall. That's not what student housing is supposed to be.

When I went to grad school (not around here), graduate housing was cheaper than off-campus, but also kind of dumpy. It was in line with the real-estate market that it was a part of and stipends were enough to live modestly on- or off-campus. Eastgate was probably sufficiently dumpy to justify the extraordinarily low rent. The new building won't be. The school may be able to undercut the market a little, but ultimately the solution is to increase the stipends to a livable level for the area.
 

whighlander

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
7,588
Reaction score
532
I suspect that the school cannot charge rents that are vastly different than market rate (at least not unless they have a bed to offer every single graduate student and their families in a closed ecosystem). Otherwise the lottery for student housing essentially becomes a lottery for a massive windfall. That's not what student housing is supposed to be.

When I went to grad school (not around here), graduate housing was cheaper than off-campus, but also kind of dumpy. It was in line with the real-estate market that it was a part of and stipends were enough to live modestly on- or off-campus. Eastgate was probably sufficiently dumpy to justify the extraordinarily low rent. The new building won't be. The school may be able to undercut the market a little, but ultimately the solution is to increase the stipends to a livable level for the area.
Fattony -- I think the answer is it depends on the U the market for housing and misc market forces.

My first housing at the University of Texas in Austin -- just 3 months out from MIT -- was in something called the "Long Horn Dorm" -- it was a privately owned and operated dorm. From my remembering it -- it must have been a Motel in an earlier existence. It was also by far the cheapest housing you could find within a half mile of the University of Texas Campus. I think that I paid $40 per month for a room. There was no kitchen and two rooms shared a bathroom in between them. For another $10 a month you could have a dorm fridge and a phone. I stayed there for one semester until I found a better deal -- a room in an old house owned by the mother of a Korean graduate student.

By the way Eastgate at least a few decades ago [roughly 7 years after the above] was quite nice. Due to a fortuitous situation --- I and my new bride spent our honeymoon on the 26th floor of Eastgate -- It offered one of the absolute best views from Cambridge imaginable -- you would be paying $1500 a night for a view like that today!!
 

Gameguy326

Active Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Messages
293
Reaction score
30
I suspect that the school cannot charge rents that are vastly different than market rate (at least not unless they have a bed to offer every single graduate student and their families in a closed ecosystem). Otherwise the lottery for student housing essentially becomes a lottery for a massive windfall. That's not what student housing is supposed to be.

When I went to grad school (not around here), graduate housing was cheaper than off-campus, but also kind of dumpy. It was in line with the real-estate market that it was a part of and stipends were enough to live modestly on- or off-campus. Eastgate was probably sufficiently dumpy to justify the extraordinarily low rent. The new building won't be. The school may be able to undercut the market a little, but ultimately the solution is to increase the stipends to a livable level for the area.
Isn't a lottery where a few students benefit better than a system where all grad students have really rough rents?

I agree increasing stipends would also be good. They can increase every stipend by $1,000 at only 2-3% of MIT's operating budget.
 

BeeLine

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 7, 2012
Messages
11,284
Reaction score
5,105

atlantaden

Senior Member
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,135
Reaction score
136
Damn, I love this cantilevered design! Thanks, Beeline for these great pics!
 

Top