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Cash-Strapped During Conference Season

Lee Skallerup Bessette at Inside Higher Ed's College Ready Writing blog this week discusses an oft-forgotten facet of "the economic realities of getting a PhD" — conference season expenses. Attending conferences can be costly, especially for graduate students, many of whom are already pinching pennies.

"Because I have a conference before the next paycheck, this week is: Let's eat everything instead of doing groceries," Bessette said on Twitter.

"As a dual academic couple, my husband and I often have to play credit card roulette to see which one we can put a cross-country plane ticket on, or which one we should bring on a trip to pay for food," she writes back at College Ready Writing. "Our conferences all happen at about the same time, and while each of us gets reimbursed (him through his program, me through my various extra-curricular activities), we don't have the flexibility to pay for everything all at once."

In responses to Bessette's Twitter message, which she has posted to Storify, some students express their shared conference-cost reimbursement grief. "The reimbursement hustle is real," Tressie MC says, adding "it's a game — will it get here [before] credit card is due?"

Terfle says "this is why academics graduate with credit card as well as student loan debt."

Tressie MC advises that not being able to afford attending a conference is "nothing to be ashamed of." Rather, she says, it may be an opportunity to speak up: "I'd love to do that but I don't have $1,500. Is that the only way to take advantage of this opportunity?"

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