Hi everyone, I had withdrawn my PhD at the end of June which is the 18th months of my studies in Canada. I was awarded by external graduate student scholarship for $ 15000 which I was paid in 3 terms ($5000 each) - Fall 2017, Winter and Summer 2018. Each deposit was paid in the beginning of each term. For the summer term, I was paid at the end of April. This scholarship makes up a big part of my minimum stipend which is only $23000 (It was the guaranteed stipend from my department). Since I withdrawn from the program university registrar asks me to pay back the full $5000 because it was their policy for student who quits during the term. However, I had been working as a full-time student / employee as research assistant for 2 months in the summer until my withdrawal. My department has policy to give minimum stipend for full-time student but if I pay the full $5000 back, then I was basically working for free in the past two months.
Does anyone has experience like this? It is stressful for me and I felt like being taking advantages from high education system.
Refuse. There's nothing they can do if you don't still work there. They are in the wrong anyway, of course you shouldn't have worked for free.
Check what your contract / studentship agreement says. If it says you need to repay then you might want to get legal advice on the consequences if you don't - this is how major debt problems can start.
Do you have a Student Union? They should be able to advise / support you too.
Do not simply ignore this. Just because you don't work there doesn't mean you can't get yourself in a world of trouble.
A studentship is not a contract of service so normal rules about being paid to work may not apply.
You need to do this by the "book" and the book in this case is your contract. That will tell you what you do and do not have to do. Once you have done that, as advised by bewildered and TQ, your student union might be able to help.
I really doubt they will pursue this, secondly, even if they do, there's not much they can do, particularly if: you don't still work there or they don't know who you do work for; you don't own a house or if you do it's a different one to the address they have; you don't own a car or any expensive assets.
Basically, in order to recover this "debt", they would have to take you to court (threatening letters from collection agencies don't count) and they would only do so if they think you have assets of some type for them to recover. The reality is they probably won't bother.
Source: I used to work in debt recovery.
I understand what you are saying but creditors can chase you for years for debt. It's all very well saying you have no assets now but unless you always plan to rent or own nothing you can expect sleepless nights unless you get closure,
Personally I am from neither camp that you describe in your second sentence.
If I owe money I make sure I pay it on a point of principle, not just to get a creditor off my back.
Having said that, negotiating with the creditor can usually result in an agreed reduced debt (takes me back a couple of decades to when I met my wife and had to help her get out of debt).
Getting closure on stuff like this is very important for most people.
I can't imagine just walking away and hoping everything will be OK. I would be sick with worry.
It sounds as though the OP is in a slightly different situation here if she's been working as a research assistant on top of doing a PhD.
I'd assume that asking for the money back is standard in the case of a PhD withdrawal and they have not taken other things into account (or may not even know about them). I wouldn't ignore it personally, BUT I wouldn't be paying them until I've taken expert advice about the policies in place around my specific circumstances. I'd probably be looking to pay some of it back after taking into consideration how much money I would have earnt working as a research assistant (presumably part-time if I was doing a PhD as well) over those two months and after that I would be negotiating an appropriate payment plan.
Certainly I know in previous jobs I have had, they have to take into consideration that you can't pay money back in a one lump sum and will usually agree to take payments over a period of months.
Thanks for everyone.
I had paid back $ 5000 to the award Graduate Studies a few day ago. The reason is that the my department has told me that they will pay me back based on prorated to the ten months. On top of it, I am applying to upgrade my undergrad grade at this university, so if I have debt on record they won't give me admission (it sucks.)
Having said that it's been a week, I have NOT get a single response from my department. The stuffs of Graduate Studies and administrative at this university is very disorganized. Always refer my question to another / department and not to resolve any problem. It is funny how efficient and responsive when they send me a message about collecting money and is my responsibility blablabla.... they also love to use big word and punctuate sentence in a way you are a second citizen. I will keep everyone posted once I have received response.
P.S.I had experiences email other top university in Canada - U of T, Waterloo, UBC. All of them are supportive and get to the point solving problem. None of them are like this twisted school.
So after I paid back $ 5000 to Graduate Studies because my department said will recalculate my guaranteed stipend (I thought they will pay).
Finally after calling and three weeks of waiting, my department write me an email said basically they have no control during the term if I quit or not, that I am responsible for losing the $ 5000 award. They will not pay me, even though I was a full time student, and they don't care if I worked 2 months for free. What should I do? I found they are really disrespectful for not answering my email and call for 3 weeks and basically just reword what their minimum stipend mean. I felt they have fool me treating me like dirt.
They said it was the Graduate Studies policy at fault that I don't get pay. I don't feel going back and forth between this departments will have any progress. Should I tell my former PhD supervisor about this? Please help.
I think you need legal advice. Does Canada have any free/cheap advice schemes or is legal insurance covered in any insurance policies you have?
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