FAQ

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  • Q: What is Rockefeller University's relationship to Tri-I CBM?

Rockefeller University was once one of the three institutions that formed the TIRP Collaboration and in which students could rotate and choose a thesis lab. In 2005, Rockefeller changed its affiliation status with CBM and is no longer a part of the program. As a result, students may no longer choose labs in Rockefeller for their thesis. The reasons behind this change (which was initiated by Rockefeller) were mainly financial.

  • Q: Are there other Tri-I Programs?

Yes, there are several, including the TPCB (Training Program in Chemical Biology) and an MD-PhD program. The TPCB program is closely associated with the CBM because it shares some administration.

  • Q: How was Tri-I CBM established? What is the TIRP collaboration?

news article. The program was established through a generous private donation, in part to bridge the gap between the Cornell Ithaca and New York City campuses and also to encourage collaborative research amongst the institutions around Weill-Medical College.

  • Q: If I choose a lab in NYC, can I take classes at NYU or Columbia?

Probably not, but an arrangement may be possible for specific courses with the program director, David Christini. It may be possible in the near future to take courses at CUNY and possible other public institutions. There are also rumors that Sloan-Kettering may give their students access to free classes at NYU, but this has not been confirmed.

  • Q: If I choose a lab in NYC, is it possible to stay in Ithaca another year or semester to finish up coursework?

Yes, but keep in mind it will put you behind a year. Ordinarily, students are fully funded by the CBM their first year in their thesis lab, but if one starts their thesis in their third year, they will only be partly funded (PI pays the rest). Varying backgrounds may require more intense coursework, so don't be afraid to take this option if you have to. You should, however, choose an adviser at the normal time and work with that person remotely during your extra year/semester in Ithaca.

  • Is Ithaca really that cold?

No. Current faculty and staff say that the climate has gotten milder since Feynman gave his famous remarks about the weather. It is by no means paradise, but on par with New York City. If you dress warmly when the weather calls for it (hat, gloves, thick winter coat) you will be fine. Like they say in Norway, there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes. See this guide for more info.

  • How easy is it to live on the stipend?

You won't live lavishly, but you shouldn't have much financial concern either. Cooking your own food, sharing an apartment with others (Ithaca), living in campus housing (NYC), and being careful with your discretionary income will all help.

  • How much more expensive is it to live in NYC than Ithaca?

Not much. Students are provided with a significantly higher stipend in NYC which compensates for the higher cost of living in NYC. Students are eligible for subsidized housing for roughly $540 (Olin) to $730 (Lasdon share) per month. Overall, the financial situation should be similar between the two campuses.

  • May I choose a non-program faculty member (at one of the three institutions) for my thesis adviser?

Probably yes, if that person does research in the areas covered by the program or is interested in doing so. You need to speak with the program director David Christini and the professor to work it out, but it can be done.

In Ithaca, talk to Sue Bishop (skp5@cornell.edu). In NYC, talk to Margie Hinonangan-Mendoza (mah2036@med.cornell.edu).

  • What about taxes on the stipend?

The following is NOT tax advice. It's just, lets say, our thoughts on the matter.

In the past, first-year and upper-year students based in Ithaca were paid in a lump-sum each semester. This lump-sum payment was not pre-taxed which made filing taxes difficult. Fortunately, as of January 1st 2011, students based in Ithaca are now paid bi-monthly (15th and last day of each month) via the University Payroll System which withholds taxes based on the information provided on your W4 form. First-year students will complete a W4 form during orientation. Non-US citizen, first-year students will not have tax withdrawn, but MUST pay income tax, both state and federal, on the stipend. The stipend is considered "other income" -- not for services rendered, not wages -- which means it is not subject to payroll (FICA) taxes for Social Security and Medicare. Be aware that because taxes are not withdrawn, you must pay estimated tax (both federal and NY). Doing so simply entails paying the IRS and NYS Department of Taxation 1/4 of your anticipated tax burden 4 times a year (on the 15th of April, June, September, and January, in order). The forms required are easy to fill out. Failing to do so will result in a penalty equivalent to interest on the owed tax (about 8%). Detailed information on paying estimated federal tax: link.

At WCMC, taxes are automatically withheld from your stipend income and you will not have to pay estimated tax. While rotating during the Winter break and Summer semester, first-year students rotating in NYC will still be paid via Cornell University Payroll.

International students will have taxes withdrawn according to the tax treaty your home country has with the US. These students should check with Cornell's International Students and Scholars Office.

There is completely free TurboTax software available for both federal and state taxes. It is free if your total adjusted gross income is less than $30k/yr, which is most of us.

  • Q: What banks have branches in NYC and Ithaca?

M&T on N Tioga St. There are additional local banks and credit unions in Ithaca such as CFCU and Tompkins Trust. CFCU has an ATM at Statler Hall, and at common places about the Cornell Ithaca Campus. HSBC has an ATM in Willard Straight Hall and in the commons.