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Finances for CS Ph.D. students

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This post is based upon a few recent conversations I've had with my own Ph.D. students.  Its intended audience is Ph.D. students at mid-to-upper-end computer science programs in the United States, who are either US citizens/permanent residents, or plan to remain and retire in the U.S.

Welcome to graduate school in computer science, where not only do we not charge you tuition, but we shower you with so much money that you can afford to eat, have a house over your head, and wear shirts that have fewer than five holes in them!

In fact, you can probably do better than that, and get a nice boost to being financially independent.  But it takes some advance planning.

Why Bother?
Mostly, because flexibility -- or, more crassly, "FU Money."  (You can google that in case the meaning isn't obvious.)  Getting started early on the path to financial independence lets you be in charge of your life.  You may also discover halfway through your program that there's this crazy nonp…