On November 23, 2021, SAC released a survey to assess the effect of inflation on DBBS students. The survey addressed past and current costs of living (e.g. housing, utility, transportation), savings, perceived financial stress and stability. Responses from 230 students (40% response rate) between November 23, 2021 and November 29, 2021 were analyzed. The survey was designed and analyzed by the SAC stipend data working group.
Major takeaways of survey results
- Rapid inflation in cost of basic expenses in 2021 have had significant financial impact on DBBS students.
- Lack of affordable housing options near campus, reduced ability to save compared to previous years, and increased cost of living have contributed to decreased financial security for DBBS students.
- DBBS students report Increased financial stress from lack of, or reduced, safety net, which has negatively affected mental health of many student respondents.
- PowerPoint of the survey results which contain more extensive analyses of survey responses are available in Box.
- In response to the survey results, DBBS Administration has implemented 6% increase in stipend for FY 2022-2023 for a yearly stipend of $34500.
Brief summary of results
More extensive summary of results, including qualitative quotes and summary of local and national trends in costs of living and wages, can be found in this PowerPoint, available on Box after you log in with your WUSTL credentials.
Majority of DBBS respondents (>80%) reported that they rent their primary residence, primarily in neighborhoods around campus (Central West End, Debaliviere, and others). Student-reported rent has increased an average of $103.5 per month overall in 2021 compared to 2022. Local data from sources such as Zumper.com indicate 10-30% increase in rent in neighborhoods surrounding the medical and Danforth campuses.
Other costs of living, including utilities and transportation costs, were also affected by inflation in 2021; this was felt by 77% of respondents, who responded “yes” when asked if they were impacted by the recent increase in inflation in costs of groceries, childcare, and recreation. Inflation in fuel prices, safety concerns, and reduced public transport service have contributed to increase in transportation costs for 59% of respondents.
Resulting reduction in financial safety net has contributed to increased financial instability for DBBS students. Over three-quarters of respondents reported reduced ability to save in 2021 compared to previous years. When asked about financial stress, 69% of respondents reported that financial stress has increased. Inflation in essential costs of living and unexpected costs were cited as major contributors to financial stress.
On December 1, 2021, SAC leadership presented the summary of survey results to the DBBS Executive Council, which included DBBS executive director Cami Spampani, Interim Dean Steve Mennerick, MSTP Director Wayne Yokoyama, and members of various programs and departments across medical and Danforth campuses. In addition to the survey results, SAC also provided several suggestions of CoL-adjusted stipend levels. The presentation was well-received by the Council.
On January 7, 2022, DBBS Announced a 6% increase in stipend levels to a total of $34500 for FY 2022-2023, reflecting the cost-of-living increases.
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