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New Grad Student Resources

A guide to grad school and Baton Rouge for new students

Here is the graduate student orientation packet, but if you want info that's a little less vague, head on over to the main resources page

If you think there's anything that should be added to this page, please let us know at pagradorg@lsu.edu!

Map to Nicholson Hall

Monthly Budget Planning Estimate

Our offer letter salary is not equivalent to our take home pay. In the box to the right, you can see a calculation of monthly take home pay after taxes and school fees (which are required) are deducted. Multiply this by 12 for your yearly take home salary (all a rough estimate of course, but as accurate as possible). 

We know that planning your budget in a new city is hard, so here's a loose budget for living in Baton Rouge as a graduate student. Estimated costs are monthly. Most incoming TAs can afford to live on the offered take home salary, but being frugal is necessary.

Fall 2021 Fee Summary

Yearly Stipend:

Monthly Pay: 

Monthly Taxes:

Monthly Fees:                            

Net Monthly Pay: 

$23925.12

$1993.76

$138.76

$344.43

$1510.57

The yearly stipend is an average amount for students in the department. Taxes for 2020 were calculated using this website, with social security and medicare taxes subtracted (grad students do not pay these taxes). Fees were calculated for four months of payroll deduction for Fall 2020, assuming you have a tuition waiver. (Students with tuition waivers receive an additional credit of $527/semester toward the Student Excellence Fee). 

This may not be 100% correct; it's just here to give you a rough estimate of your monthly pay for figuring out living expenses (on the left)!

What the heck are all these fees and how am I supposed to pay them? 

That's an excellent question. Here's the basic facts: 

  • Fees for the 2020-21 school year are broken down here. You'll most likely be taking 9 hours, which is a full-time course load and equates to three classes a semester. In the summer this changes to 6 hours and will be all research hours. 

  • ​Fees we are required to pay are the Required Fees, Academic Excellence Fee, Building Use Fee, Operational Fee, and Student Excellence Fee. Graduate students on tuition waivers are considered residents and are not required to pay the Nonresident Fee. 
    • Still confused? Yeah, we are too. Here's the fee glossary. ​

  • Almost all of us choose to have our fees paid by payroll deduction. You won't have to pay the fees up front and they will be deducted in chunks from your pay each month. 

    • Payroll deduction happens every month except May and August. ​

  • Tuition is covered by the department if your offer letter stated that you would receive a tuition waiver (which it most likely did). You will NOT pay tuition in this case. 

    • If your tuition is covered by the department, you are also considered to be an in-state student. All fees and tuition will be levied at the in-state rates. ​

    • If you have a fellowship (from outside LSU), you are considered out-of-state and will be charged accordingly (unless the address you used when you applied to LSU was a Louisiana address).

    • Students with a tuition waiver are exempt from an increase in the Student Excellence Fee, which is corrected via a credit of $527 per semester. The fee for tuition waiver students then becomes $330, not $857, per semester. 

  • Grad students do not pay medicare or social security taxes. Just a fun tidbit for you. ​

Help! I'm freaked out about being a TA!

What are my duties as a TA? I've never taught a class before! 

First of all, don't worry! Being a TA is not hard, and as long as you stay on track with grading lab reports/tests, you will sail right through!


Being a TA typically involves teaching PHYS 2108 (Mechanics) or PHYS 2109 (Electricity, Magnetism and Optics). Your duties each week will involve:

  1. Instructing students during the lab (each section meets once a week for a 3 hr lab)

  2. Collecting, grading and returning lab reports on time

  3. During finals week, you will oversee your section for their test and grade their lab finals

 

The labs are easy, and once you have tried them yourself, you will have no trouble in guiding students through them. The experiments are not heavily involved, and your undergrad lab knowledge will be enough!
 

Each section usually has around 20 students from a mixture of different majors, and they are divided into groups of 4. As not all of them will be familiar with the theory behind the experiment, it's useful to give a short introduction to the experiment (5-10 minutes) at the beginning of the lab. At the end of the lab, each student records their findings in a lab report, which you collect, grade and return later to them. It is useful to go around the lab a couple of times to make sure no group is stuck or has no idea what to do. There are also weekly lab meetings in which the lab instructor gives you general instructions/announcements (if there are any), and you set up the equipment for the next lab, so that you know what you're doing. 

 

Alternatively, you might be assigned grading for an undergraduate class, in which case you'll typically receive homework assignments (and solutions) each week from the professor you are working with. Communication is important! Make sure you know clearly what the professor's expectations are with respect to how much time you take to grade and when you will return the graded assignments to them.

More Questions You May Have: 

Where should I grocery shop? 

  • Neighborhood Walmart (just groceries, no boats, floaties, furniture, etc): intersection of Highland Road and Lee Drive

  • Walmart: locations on Lee Drive, Burbank Drive

  • Trader Joe's: on Perkins Road near South Acadian

  • Bet-R Supermarket: Perkins Road in the overpass area

  • Winn Dixie: at Burbank and Lee Drive

  • Albertson's: off Lee Drive

  • Iverstine Butcher (for people who like locally sourced and ethically raised meats): on Perkins Road

  • Red Stick Farmer's Market (downtown every Saturday, with an art market the first Saturday of each month!)

  • Southside Produce: Perkins Road

  • LSU Dairy Store: on campus, has cheap, quality meats

Good restaurants and bars? 

  • Radio bar: just nice cocktails and lots of dogs on the patio

  • Umami: sushi, food and drink happy hour M-F 4-7pm

  • Magpie Cafe: coffee shop with food and great drinks

  • Garden District Coffee: coffee shop with snacks and great studying potential

  • French Truck: coffee shop with fancy foods and drinks

  • Hayride Scandal: good cocktails and a hilariously hipster vibe

  • Dang's Vietnamese Restaurant: the crispy duck buns at this place will change your life

  • The Rum House: taco and drink specials on Tuesdays and swings at the outdoor bar!

  • Olive or Twist: fun cocktails, great food, A++ pun game

  • BRQ: Seafood and BBQ

  • Fuzzy's Tacos: tacos and giant margaritas

  • Elsie's Plate and Pie: PIES, GLORIOUS PIES

  • Tin Roof: local brewery!

  • Gnarly Barley: in Hammond

  • Fat Cow: great burgers (veggie, fish, chicken options too), and the duck fat fries are HEAVEN

  • Bao Vietnamese: great deals on food and cute outdoor patio section

  • India's: Indian restaurant (you probably shouldn't be in grad school if you didn't guess this)

  • District Donuts: fancy donuts and coffee which is not quite as fancy

  • Albasha: Greek and Lebanese food. You must try the fried cheese

  • The Cove: a smoky cocktail and beer bar. There is smoking inside. Just to be clear

  • La Salvadorena: El Salvadoran food and all the pupusas your little heart could desire

  • Sammy's Grill: this is a great place to go during crawfish season

So, I don't have a car...

You're in luck! There are some great bus systems in town. For campus and surrounding area travel, check out the Tiger Trails bus system, which is free. You can follow the buses on the Transloc Rider App. For the greater Baton Rouge area, CATS will take you for free if you show your student ID. 

So, I do have a car...

You're in luck! Cars are very convenient! However, there are some things to consider when thinking about driving to campus:

 

Some info about having a car in Baton Rouge in general: 

  • Gas is really cheap. Some of the cheapest in the country! 

  • Roads are not well maintained. Do not bring a low-riding car to Baton Rouge or you will regret it. This also means you may have to do more repairs than you're used to. 

  • Roads flood badly, so you have to be VERY CAREFUL driving in the rain. Gigantic potholes can become hidden under water. DO NOT DRIVE ON A FLOODED ROAD, EVER. 

  • Lastly, insurance here is extremely expensive, so if you can keep your car registered in a different state, that is the best plan. 

I need a side hustle. What should I do? 

Formally, your advisor gets to determine whether you can take on work outside your official duties as their graduate assistant, but if your advisor gives you the okay, you can become a private tutor by contacting Paige Whittington (whom you have probably met already due to registration and other activities) and telling her you'd like to be added to the tutoring list. 

 

 

What is there to do around here? 

So Baton Rouge is a bit different from what you're probably used to in terms of things to do. It's too hot to go out in the summer, so our summer activities like festivals and outdoor stuff usually happen in spring and fall, when the weather is the nicest. Additionally, if you're into hiking, converting to kayaking may be a better plan since there are a ton of great places to do water activities and not too many cool places to hike. The one exception to this is the Clark Creek Natural Area, which is a gorgeous hike with waterfalls and a creek only an hour from the city. 

There are lots of festivals and Makers Markets and small cute things in Baton Rouge, and New Orleans is an easy day trip (unless you plan to drink. Don't drink and drive!). New Orleans has lots of fun things too, like the French Quarter, museums, festivals, excellent food, and etc. 

And of course, Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras season goes from the beginning of January to whenever Fat Tuesday (aka the Mardi Gras day) is. There are parades all over South Louisiana during this month or two of time, and we get off the Monday, Tuesday, and morning of Wednesday that Mardi Gras falls on. One of the best parades in Baton Rouge is the Krewe of Mutts Parade, which is all dogs in costumes. The whole season is a lot of fun and a great time to gain 10 lbs eating too much king cake, so enjoy it! 

More questions? Feel free to ask any grad student you find, or you can email us at physgradorg@phys.lsu.edu

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