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Curriculm Vitae (CV) Template for PhD Students

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Resumes and cvs.

Depending on the type of job, you will need to create a curriculum vitae (CV) or a resume. Both documents put your qualification in writing, but they are used for different audiences and use a different format.

When to use a Resume

In the United States, most employers use resumes for non-academic positions, which are one or two page summaries of your experience, education, and skills.  Employers rarely spend more than a few minutes reviewing a resume, and successful resumes are concise with enough white space on the page to make it easy to scan. 

For more information on developing your resume, please visit  Optimal Resume and Cornell Career Services’ Career Development Toolkit . Students often find it helpful to review resumes from graduate students who got their first job outside of academe.

When to use a Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A CV is a longer synopsis of your educational and academic background as well as teaching and research experience, publications, awards, presentations, honors, and additional details. CVs are used when applying for academic, scientific, or research positions. International employers often use CVs as well.

A CV is a comprehensive statement emphasizing:

  • professional qualifications
  • accomplishments
  • special qualifications

A CV can vary from two pages to several pages. Professionals seeking academic positions and non-academic positions in science, higher education, research, and health care typically use a CV. It is also used to seek a fellowship or grant and is expected for some positions overseas. Consult with faculty members in your field to determine what is expected and appropriate for your field.

Guidelines for Preparing a CV

  • The order of topics in a CV format is flexible.
  • Arrange sections to highlight strengths for the position you are seeking.
  • Elaborate on accomplishments and skills within categories.
  • List items within each category chronologically, the most recent appearing first.
  • Include additional headings when appropriate to reflect certifications/licensures, workshops/training, languages, book reviews, etc.
  • Present information in an easily accessible and attractive style.
  • Faculty advisors are the most knowledgeable resource for determining what constitutes effective content in your discipline.
  • For formatting assistance and to see more examples of  CVs, visit the Cornell Career Services Library in 103 Barnes Hall. The following books also may help:  How to Prepare Your Curriculum Vitae  and  The Curriculum Vitae Handbook .
  • Non-academic samples from the University of California, San Francisco
  • Academic samples from the University of California, San Francisco
  • Samples from Columbia University
  • Samples from University of Pennsylvania
  • Chronicle of Higher Education’s CV Doctor

Electronic Version of CV

When sending electronic versions, attach a file or cut and paste the CV into the text of the email message. State your objectives and career interests in the first few lines since they may be the only items seen on a screen. Other tips:

  • Use language and acronyms recognized in your field.
  • Avoid using bold, italics, underlining, lines, or graphics. Use all caps for emphasis.
  • Put your name at the top followed by address and each phone number on a separate line.

Many employers use websites for applicants to apply for positions. Although each form may be different, some elements may be similar. Save parts of your CV in a format that can be cut and pasted for each individual web-based form, such as saving a bulleted list of work experience.

Transforming Your CV into a Resume

You may need both a CV and a resume for your job search. Sending the appropriate document (CV or resume) tells employers that you can distinguish the differences between the academic and non-academic environments and that you can adapt your skills to either environment. Most employers in industry prefer a resume. When rearranging your CV to make it a resume:

  • Do not exceed two pages.
  • Re-evaluate your experience. Think creatively about how your academic experience can be translated into the necessary skills for a non-academic environment. Consider skills of project management, leadership, teamwork, effective communication, and meeting deadlines. 
  • Choose action verbs to describe your experience.
  • Put your strengths first. List your professional experience or your degree first, depending on which is most important for a specific position.  
  • Include a well-written job objective; state the type of position and work setting you are seeking, skills or abilities you possess, and long-term goals. Be sure that your resume supports your job objective.
  • Emphasize skills and accomplishments.
  • List relevant presentations, publications, and papers, but not all. 
  • Have someone proofread it.

phd student in cv

  • How to write an Academic CV for a PhD Application
  • Applying to a PhD
  • The purpose of an academic CV for a PhD application is to provide a summary of your educational background and demonstrate the research skills and relevant experience you have that make you capable of undertaking a PhD.
  • It should be divided into nine sections : (1) contact information, (2) research interests, (3) education, (4) research and work experience, (5) teaching experience, (6) relevant skills and experience, (7) publications and conferences, (8) professional memberships, (9) referees.
  • It should ideally be up to two pages for a new research student, but can extend up to four pages if required.
  • The smaller details matter more than you think – write concisely, use consistent formatting, avoid jargons and general statements, check spelling and grammar, and have at least one academic to proofread it for you, ideally in the same area you are applying to.


So you are nearing the end of your current degree or making a return to education, and you’ve decided to make your next step a PhD. While the road ahead will be filled with much excitement, you’ll need to secure your position first. This will all begin with a strong PhD application and an equally impressive academic CV and personal statement or cover letter.

Together with your personal statement or cover letter, your CV will show who you are as an individual and what you have to offer. It needs to be concise, correctly formatted and well written to convince your preferred university and supervisor that you are the right student for the project.

This step-by-step guide will get you on your way to creating an outstanding academic CV for your next PhD application. We’ll discuss the sections your CV should be structured into, what each of these sections should include, and how it should be written. We’ll also give you valuable tips that are sure to get your readers’ attention.

What Is an Academic CV?

When applying for a PhD position, it’s common for the university to request a curriculum vitae (CV) from you to accompany your application.

An academic CV may appear similar to a standard CV used for job applications, but they are two relatively unique documents.

Where a standard CV focuses mostly on what your previous responsibilities have been and what you have accomplished to date, an academic CV concentrates on your academic background, achievements and experiences . Your academic CV will be used by a PhD supervisor to determine whether you can meet the challenges associated with undertaking a demanding PhD research project, as not everyone can.

How to Write an Academic CV for A PhD Application

A good academic CV should be broken into nine section headings:

  • Contact Information
  • Research Interests / Personal Profile
  • Research and Work Experience
  • Teaching Experience
  • Relevant Skills and Experience
  • Publications and Conferences
  • Professional Memberships
  • Referees / References

Below, we discuss what each of these sections should contain and how they should be written.

1. Contact Information

Start your CV by providing your contact details. All of the following should be included:

  • Full name  – Your name should be your document title, formatted in bold and centralised text.
  • Email address and contact number
  • Location  – Your town/city and country, e.g. ‘Birmingham, UK’, will be sufficient; it’s not necessary to provide your full home address.
  • Profiles  – Include a link to any professional profiles you may have, such as LinkedIn or ResearchGate.

NOTE:  Some individuals include a profile photo but be careful before doing so. While this would be expected in some countries such as those in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, this would not be the case in other countries such as the UK and US. This is because it can lead to complications with labour and anti-discrimination laws and potentially cost you your application. We therefore strongly advise you to look into the norms and regulations of the host country before deciding to do so.

2. Research Interests / Personal Profile

For an academic CV written for a PhD position, your ‘research interests’ section will double as you ‘personal profile’. As a brief introduction to yourself, this will be an important section as it sets the first impression of you for the reader.

Use bullet points or a brief paragraph to summarise who you are, your relevant qualifications, your research interests and your relevant skills and experience. When writing this section, your focus should be on two aspects: demonstrating your  ability to conduct a PhD  and your  enthusiasm for the project .

To create an impactful research interests’ section, adhere to the following:

  • Tailor to each research project you apply for:  One of the easiest ways to do this is to read the project description attached to the PhD advert, identify two to three of the most prominent keywords, and incorporate them into your writeup.
  • Keep it short:  This section is only an introduction, so keep it concise and punchy over long and detailed; 50 – 60 words is a good target.
  • Make every word count:  As 50 – 60 words isn’t much, be as specific as you can. Avoid clichés such as “I am committed to research and have a high attention to detail” at all costs; not only are they generic and overused, they also don’t provide the reader with any useful insights into you.

3. Education

A PhD CV is all about academic achievements and qualifications, so your education section should be given high importance and form the bulk of your CV, especially as it will be used to determine if have the core skills required for the position.

Working in reverse chronological order, provide a breakdown of your current academic qualifications. For most of you, this will be an undergraduate Bachelor’s degree and a postgraduate Master’s degree.

When listing your qualifications, provide the full name of the degree, the degree type, and the duration in terms of its start and end year. You do not need to limit this to your past qualifications; if you’re currently studying or taking an external course, include them as well, but state that they are ongoing and provide an expected grade if you have one.

If your degree is relevant to the PhD project you are applying to, include a list of the modules you completed and your corresponding marks; the same applies to your final year dissertation project.

Note:  If you list your relevant modules, streamline their names by removing any course codes. For example, “FN01 Fluid Dynamics” should become “Fluid Dynamics”. Course codes are only used for internal purposes, and each university will have its own system, so remove them to avoid any possible confusion.

Feel free to also list your GCSEs, A-Levels or other relevant academic qualifications if applicable to the field you are applying to, however, this isn’t necessary, and most supervisors will not ask for them. The exception to this is if your university degree is not directly related to the project you are applying for, but your previous qualifications are. In these cases, include them to help demonstrate the suitability of your academic background.

Finally, list any honours, awards and prizes that you have won or any other notable academic achievements that will help to strengthen your application.

4. Research and Work Experience

Your research and relevant work experience is just as, if not more, important than your educational background. This is because most applicants applying for the position will have similar qualifications, so your research experience can often be the deciding factor when all other things are considered equal.

Your research experience may include both paid and voluntary, full-time and part-time work, as well as university project work. However, in all cases, the experience you mention should be relevant to the project you are applying for or have helped you develop skills that make you a more capable researcher. For example, it’s not necessary to mention your time in retail, but any previous time as a laboratory or teaching assistant or teaching support absolutely will be.

If you any discuss research that you have done as part of your studies, present them as individual project listed in reverse chronological order, as before. You can also include research projects you are currently working on, regardless of how developed they are.

When discussing any projects, include the following:

  • What the project was about,
  • What research methods you used,
  • The skills you gained,
  • Any notable achievements or outcomes.

5. Teaching Experience

Since one of the main career paths after a PhD is an academic career, teaching experience can significantly strengthen your academic CV. However, it is generally accepted that not all applicants will have teaching experience, but if you do, include it here.

When discussing your teaching experience, state what level it was at, e.g. undergraduate or postgraduate, and what it involved, i.e. marking, teaching, supervising or organising.

6. Relevant Skills and Experience

This section should describe all other skills and experiences that will help strengthen your application.

They should be specific to the PhD project or demonstrate your potential to become a competent researcher. This includes:

  • Technical skills and experience, e.g. the use of computer software packages or research equipment common to the project you’re applying for.
  • Non-project specific courses you’ve sat, e.g. an academic writing and communication course.
  • Languages you know with their proficiencies noted.

7. Publications and Conferences

Most students won’t have academic publications, but if you do, list them here. Formal publications can include anything from journal articles, which is most likely to an adaptation of your final year dissertation project if you do have one, and published reports. If you have these, list them in reverse chronological order using the reference system adopted by the university you are applying to, as this is what the PhD supervisor will most likely be used to.

If you aren’t a published author or co-author, you can still include other text publications that you may have been involved in, such as online articles, magazines, newsletters and blogs. The topics of these publications should relate to your field or academia in general and be written in a formal tone that showcases your critical thinking and writing skills.

If you’ve ever given a conference presentation, include it here with details of the name, date and location of the conference, the title of your presentation and a summary of what it was about.

Even if you haven’t presented in conferences, you should still list any you have attended, including any seminars or talks. This is a useful way to illustrate your interest in the subject and your commitment to gaining new knowledge within your field.

TIP:  If you haven’t attended many conferences or seminars, consider attending several upcoming ones relevant to the research area you’re interested in. Not only is this a great way to learn more about the field in terms of its latest developments and gaps, but it can also be an effective way to make your academic CV more relevant if it’s currently light on research experience.

8. Professional Memberships

Being affiliated with an academic group, society or professional body demonstrates your enthusiasm for your field and for connecting with other like-minded individuals within the community.

When listing these, include the name of the group, the associated membership dates and the position you have held within it.

9. Referees / References

Your references will form the last section of your academic CV.

Your PhD application should specify the number of referees you should include, but if it does not, try to include at least two, but ideally three.

Two of the referees should be academic, with most students choosing their personal tutor and their final year’s dissertation project supervisor. It can be other staff members, but the essential requirement is that it is someone who knows you well enough to be able to substantiate your abilities and character.

If you don’t have two academic referees, you can use a professional referee as long as they are still relevant to the project you are applying for. This will most likely be the case for those who have worked in industry for some time before deciding to return to education.

When creating your reference list, list your referees in order of relevance and how well they know you, not in alphabetical order. This is so if only the first referee is called upon, it will be the individual who can provide you the most useful reference. The following information should be provided:

  • Professional title,
  • Name of current university,
  • Phone number and email address.

It’s imperative that you first seek permission from the individuals before listing them as a referee. It would also be beneficial to send them a copy of your CV, cover letter and application form so they can familiarise themselves with the broader details in case they are called upon.

Tips for Creating a Standout Academic CV

Research CV for PhD Application - Tips

No matter how impressive your academic achievements are or how much experience you have accumulated in your field, the PhD supervisor may never find out if your CV is too difficult to read. With this in mind, here are a few tips for achieving a high degree of clarity:

Formatting for Clarity

  • Highlight key information through the use of bolding, italics and underlining, but be careful not to overdo it so that it loses its purpose.
  • Keep your formatting consistent throughout, such as indentations, font type and font size, vertical spacing and margins.
  • Insert page numbers on each page.
  • Avoid jargon and abbreviations to maximise clarity.
  • Avoid splitting sections across two pages.

Keep It Concise

  • Try to limit your CV to two pages and not more than four. If you need to go over two pages, make sure the most important information is on the first two pages.
  • Avoid dense paragraphs, overly long sentences and generic statements. The aim is to pass on essential information in a way that doesn’t require the reader to have to extract it themselves. This leads to the next tip,
  • Use bullet points whenever possible, they’re easier to digest than paragraphs.

NOTE:  Remember that you will also submit a cover letter or personal statement alongside your CV, so don’t feel the need to cover everything to a high level of detail here as you will have the opportunity to do so elsewhere.

Check and Revise

  • As a rule of thumb, the academic CV you submit as part of your PhD application should be the third or fourth version you produce. Try to keep a day or two between each version so that you always approach it with a fresh perspective.
  • Proofread for any spelling and grammar mistakes. Although this will seem like we’re stating the obvious, a small mistake can be enough to jeopardise your chances considering that there will be many other high-profile candidates for the supervisor to choose from.
  • Have your document checked, first by an academic such as your tutor, and second by a professional proofreader or by an advisor from your university’s careers team. The former will check for technical issues, the latter for common curriculum vitae formatting, spelling and grammar mistakes.

Save in PDF Format

If the submission method allows for it, convert your CV to PDF format. This significantly reduces the likelihood of compatibility and reformatting issues when opened by the supervisor.

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PhD Student CV Examples

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PHD Student CV Example and Template

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PHD Student CV

Education professional with a strong belief in life-long training and smart university practices. Committed to developing new initiatives to take advantage of innovative technologies for the betterment of humanity. I work easily and effectively with international as well as regional strategic partners. Pivotal in site methodologies in compliance with safety, quality & cost control standards. Possess competent cross-functional skills and ensure on-time deliverable within pre-set cost parameters.

  • PHD Doctorate in Structural Engineering

Michigan State University

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering.
  • Dissertation: "Probabilistically- Based Models to Represent Loads due to Shipping Activities".

M.Sc in Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering

Stanford university.

  • Master of Science in Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering.
  • Thesis: "Design and Reliability of Pre-stressed Columns".

B.Sc. in Civil Engineering

  • Structures Emphasis.
  • Work Experience

PhD Researcher

Bamboo creative.

  • Develop probabilistic models to represent loads due to human activities.
  • Work on random vibration theory and reliability principles that are used to develop load models to represent human loads on structures.
  • Collect data from a force platform and a floor system.
  • Suggest design criteria for assembly structures.
  • Develop software to facilitate the calculation of individual and group human loading for predefined motions.

Research Engineer

  • Prepared and presented a synthesis of the best knowledge available on different bridge elements, summarized various practices, and provided recommendations that relate to each bridge element.
  • Provided an abstract of all research projects related to bridge engineering and/or maintenance for the last 30 years in the State of Michigan.
  • Developed a report on the probabilistic characterization of ground anchors in the reliability of navigation systems.
  • Reviewed, evaluated, and characterized the reliability of ground anchors and suggested the statistical parameters to describe the behavior of anchors over a structure's lifetime.
  • Developed dynamic loads produced by occupants of public assembly structures.
  • Responsibilities included gathering a large sample of forces due to human movements.
  • Trained undergraduate assistants to maintain data acquisition system used to measure human loads.
  • Developed code to convert measured deflection to force-time histories.
  • Prepared a final report to the National Science Foundation (NSF) on the status of the research project.

Project Engineer, and Design Engineer

Penguin random house.

  • Prepared and gathered site survey data.
  • Managed the construction of 1000 housing units @ $14,000,000; responsibilities included construction management, preparations of reports and contract documents, planning and coordination of detailed phases of the project, and preparing the engineering documents needed to finance the project.
  • Tasked with construction and finishing of several multiple family rental projects; responsibilities included civil drafting, site work, foundation, and superstructure.
  • Designed multiple-family units, mosques, and the completed structural design of 35 10-story residential buildings.
  • Developed a computer program to facilitate the design of reinforced concrete.
  • Wrote construction progress reports.
  • Supervised and ensured the quality of concrete mix produced on the site.

Academic & Business Development

  • Team leadership
  • Research & analysis
  • Smart university initiatives
  • New academic business development

Strategic Planning

  • Change management
  • Capacity building
  • Operational excellence
  • Strategic planning & analysis

Presenting & Writing

  • Proposal writing
  • Author of 6 books
  • Keynote speaking
  • Awareness building
  • Expanding knowledge and utilization of all matters related to the business of organizations/corporations/universities to identify new opportunities/prospects, and driving business growth and requirements.
  • Developing strategies for future planning of strong/smart education and training programs.
  • New initiatives for academia, vocational training, and corporate world and developing world.
  • Increasing awareness on the use of technology-enhanced education and training to empower change, reform, and advancement of emerging economies.
  • Initiating elaborate business development plans, designing, and implementing processes to support business growth, through stakeholders and market definition.

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StandOut CV

  • PhD Graduate CV examples

Andrew Fennell

With a PhD behind you, you’re in prime position to secure a great job and begin your career from an advanced starting point.

But PhD graduate roles are competitive in nature, so you need to stand out in the application process.

Your CV needs showcase the plethora of skills you’ve gained alongside your academic achievements and soft skills.

Our PhD graduate CV examples and writing guide will help you to do this, and get hired.

Guide contents

  • Structuring and formatting your CV
  • Writing your CV profile
  • Detailing work experience
  • Your education
  • Skills required for your PhD Graduate CV

Bold CV builder - small

PhD Graduate CV example 1

PhD Graduate CV 1 - page 1

PhD Graduate CV example 2

PhD Graduate CV 2 - page 1

Before you start writing your own CV, take a look at the example PhD Graduate CV above to give yourself a basic understanding of the style and format that recruiters and hiring managers prefer to see.

Also, take note of the type of content that is included to impress recruiters, and how the most relevant information is made prominent.

PhD Graduate CV structure and format

If you focus on the written content of your CV but ignore how it actually looks, your efforts could end up wasted.

No matter how suitable you are for the role, no recruiter wants to spend time squinting and trying to navigate a badly designed and disorganised CV.

Instead, make sure to organise your content into a simple structure and spend some time formatting it for ease of reading – it’ll get you in recruiter’s good books from the get-go!

CV format and structure

Formatting Tips

  • Length: Think that submitting a five page CV will impress recruiters? You’re wrong! Even if you’ve got tons of experience to brag about, recruiters don’t have time to read through overly detailed CVs. Keep it short, concise and relevant – a CV length of 2 sides of A4 pages or less is perfect.
  • Readability : Columns, lists, bullet points, bold text and subtle colour can all help to aid the readability of your CV. Your overarching goal should be to make the content as easy to read and navigate as possible, whilst also aiming to make your key skills and achievements stand out.
  • Design: Your CV needs to look professional, sleek and easy to read. A subtle colour palette, clear font and simple design are generally best for this, as fancy designs are often harder to navigate.
  • Avoid photos: Logos, profile photos or other images aren’t necessary and rarely add any value – save the space for written content, instead!

Structuring your CV

When writing your own CV , break up your CV content into the following key sections:

  • Name and contact details – Place them at the top of your CV, so that employers can easily get in touch.
  • CV profile – A punchy sales pitch of your key experience, skills and achievements to reel readers in.
  • Core skills section – A bullet-pointed snapshot of your abilities.
  • Work experience – A well-structured list of your relevant work experience.
  • Education – An overview of any relevant qualifications or professional training you have.
  • Hobbies and interests – A short description of any relevant hobbies or interests (optional).

Now I’ll guide you through exactly what you should include in each CV section.

CV Contact Details

Contact details

Tuck your contact details into the corner of your CV, so that they don’t take up too much space. Stick to the basic details, such as:

  • Mobile number
  • Email address – It should sound professional, such as your full name.
  • Location -Just write your rough location, rather than your full address.
  • LinkedIn profile or portfolio URL – If you include these, ensure they’re sleek, professional and up-to-date.

PhD Graduate CV Profile

Grab the reader’s attention by kick-starting your CV with a powerful profile (or personal statement , if you’re a junior applicant).

This is a short introduction paragraph which summarises your skills, knowledge and experience.

It should paint you as the perfect match for the job description and entice recruiters to read through the rest of your CV.

CV profile

Tips for creating an impactful CV profile:

  • Keep it brief: Recruiters are busy, so to ensure your profile is actually read, it’s best to keep it short and snappy. 3-5 punchy lines makes for the perfect profile.
  • Tailor it: If recruiters don’t see your suitability within a few seconds, they may close your CV straight away. Your CV profile should closely match the essential requirements listed in the job ad, so make sure to review them before you write it.
  • Don’t add an objective: If you want to discuss your career objectives, save them for your cover letter , rather than wasting valuable CV profile space.
  • Avoid cliches: Clichés like “ blue-sky thinker with a go-getter attitude” might sound impressive to you, but they don’t actually tell the recruiter much about you. Concentrate on highlighting hard facts and skills, as recruiters are more likely to take these on board.

What to include in your PhD Graduate CV profile?

  • Summary of experience: Demonstrate your suitability for your target jobs by giving a high level summary of your previous work experience, including the industries you have worked in, types of employer, and the type of roles you have previous experience of.
  • Relevant skills: Highlight your skills which are most relevant to PhD Graduate jobs, to ensure that recruiters see your most in-demand skills as soon as they open your CV.
  • Essential qualifications: If you have any qualifications which are highly relevant to PhD Graduate jobs, then highlight them in your profile so that employers do not miss them.

Quick tip: Your CV is your first impression on recruiters, so it’s vital to avoid spelling and grammar mistakes if you want to appear professional. Use our partner’s CV builder to add pre-written content that has been crafted by recruitment experts.

Core skills section

Next, you should create a bullet pointed list of your core skills , formatted into 2-3 columns.

Here, you should focus on including the most important skills or knowledge listed in the job advertisement.

This will instantly prove that you’re an ideal candidate, even if a recruiter only has time to briefly scan your CV.

Core skills CV

Work experience/Career history

Next up is your work experience section, which is normally the longest part of your CV.

Start with your current (or most recent) job and work your way backwards through your experience.

Can’t fit all your roles? Allow more space for your recent career history and shorten down descriptions for your older roles.

CV work experience

Structuring your roles

Whilst writing your CV, it’s essential to look at it from the eyes of a recruiter.

If they’re met with giant blocks of text which are impossible to navigate, they might get frustrated and skip onto the next CV.

Instead, make use of the 3-step structure shown below, to give them a pleasant reading experience.

Role descriptions

Start with a 1-2 sentence summary of your role as a whole, detailing what the goal of your position was, who you reported to or managed, and the type of organisation you worked for.

Key responsibilities

Next up, you should write a short list of your day-to-day duties within the job.

Recruiters are most interested in your sector-specific skills and knowledge, so highlight these wherever possible.

Key achievements

Lastly, add impact by highlight 1-3 key achievements  that you made within the role.

Struggling to think of an achievement? If it had a positive impact on your company, it counts.

For example, you might increased company profits, improved processes, or something simpler, such as going above and beyond to solve a customer’s problem.

At the bottom of your CV is your full education section. You can list your formal academic qualifications, such as:

  • GCSE’s

As well as any specific PhD Graduate qualifications that are essential to the jobs you are applying for. Note down the name of the qualification, the organisation at which you studied, and the date of completion.

Interests and hobbies

The hobbies and interests CV section isn’t mandatory, so don’t worry if you’re out of room by this point.

However, if you have an interesting hobby , or an interest that could make you seem more suitable for the role, then certainly think about adding.

Be careful what you include though… Only consider hobbies that exhibit skills that are required for roles as a PhD Graduate, or transferable workplace skills. There is never any need to tell employers that you like to watch TV and eat out.

Essential skills for your PhD Graduate CV

Tailoring your CV to the roles you are applying for is key to success, so make sure to read through the job descriptions and tailor your skills accordingly.

However, commonly desired  PhD Graduate  skills include:

  • Analysis – Showcase your skill with analysis of data, using mathematical and modelling concepts.
  • Leadership – Your CV needs to specify how you have developed interpersonal and leadership skills, and the potential you have for the future.
  • Project management – Employers are looking for evidence of your successful and organised project management skills.
  • Research – Your CV is an opportunity to display your tenacity for research and the ability to apply research in practical ways.
  • Self-management – Demonstrate your work ethic, ability to problem solve and take initiative, and how you also allow room for collaboration and team work.

Writing your PhD Graduate CV

Creating a strong PhD Graduate CV requires a blend of punchy content, considered structure and format, and heavy tailoring.

By creating a punchy profile and core skills list, you’ll be able to hook recruiter’s attention and ensure your CV gets read.

Remember that research and relevance is the key to a good CV, so research your target roles before you start writing and pack your CV with relevant skills.

Best of luck with your next application!

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How do I refer to my PhD studies in my CV; under education or experience?

I am currently updating my CV before applying for postdoc positions (and grants) and got a bit puzzled about a small but possibly important detail.

The chapters I have on my CV are Education, Experience, Extracurricular/Voluntary Work and Publications. While I am not forced to keep this structure, I find it very logical and rather neat, so unless there is a good reason to do so I will probably keep the structure.

Now, to the question, I am not sure if I should include my PhD years under education or under experience. Not sure if it's the same elsewhere but over here in Sweden, the years as PhD student counts as both education and full-time employment. I think there are points to both sides of the coin.

The work I have done as a PhD student is quite relevant for the type of stuff I will be applying to hence an argument for listing under work experience. Besides I am not too happy about the last entry in my "Experience" section to be from 4 years ago, as it stands looks a bit like I am "fresh off the school".

Is there a generally accepted way to tackle that?

posdef's user avatar

  • Are the sections ordered as you wrote them? For example, in my CV (and those of many people in my field), the order is Publications, then Education (including PhD), then everything else on a second page no one hiring postdocs will ever care about. –  user4512 Nov 3, 2015 at 0:12
  • @ChrisWhite right now yes, that's the order, but the idea is to change the order depending on the type of place i apply –  posdef Nov 3, 2015 at 11:40

3 Answers 3

I put it in both places. Under Education I list my time as a graduate student, and under Experience (as "Appointments"), I list my time as a Graduate Research Assistant. I've seen this on lots of CVs in the US. Both are true, and both convey the right meaning.

Bill Barth's user avatar

  • 1 I disagree with putting into both places - takes away space and confuses the reader. –  Elchin Nov 2, 2015 at 16:56
  • 6 @Elchin I don't think I have ever seen one that doesn't do this. They are conveying two different things. Not every PhD student works as a RA and not every PhD student works as a TA and some students work as both at different times. –  Austin Henley Nov 2, 2015 at 16:58
  • 1 @Elchin During my PhD I was a RA. I have a contract. Both thing are distinct, related but distinct, and true. In my CV, I put my phd on education and my time as RA as experience as well.. –  Fábio Dias Nov 2, 2015 at 17:02
  • 1 Makes sense, however to conserve space you could put your employment while doing your PhD as subfields. It would also make it easier and more chronological to read. –  Elchin Nov 2, 2015 at 17:05

Education . Under sub-points you can list the part-time positions you held, such as research assistant, or teaching assistant. I personally keep experience field for my full-time roles and internships.

Elchin's user avatar

  • 2 Please note that PhD studies is a full-time, state employment here, as I have stated above in question body. –  posdef Nov 2, 2015 at 16:59
  • True, but the main purpose of the PhD is still education, isn't it? I've lived in Germany where PhD is treated the same way, but the main purpose is still education, rather than employment. –  Elchin Nov 2, 2015 at 17:00
  • But it is also to collect working experience as a researcher. And you do a lot of "work", it's not studying subjects by attending lectures. So why would it not count as work? I think that is what the question is ultimately about –  Mayou36 Jun 10, 2021 at 11:22

There is a fine line here that needs to be drawn. Surely, you do research during your PhD, but that is still a part of your education - you are being taught how to do research, and are (at least formally) being supervised in doing so. Generally, the experience part refers to the work experience you possess, over and above the experience you have acquired as a part of your education. Sometimes, people specify this explicitly, by mentioning that research experience during PhD, or acquired in the duration of PhD (e.g. any guest faculty position before PhD defense) won't count as teaching/research experience being sought by them, so it is easy to perceive what they are talking about. But even when they don't, it makes sense to write it in this manner, since you would anyways be talking about your research during PhD while talking about it in the education section. So, if there is someone who doesn't want this kind of a distinction, he can anyways get that info from your CV. As far as teaching assistantship experience is concerned, it is definitely acquired during the PhD period - you can put it, and while that indicates some exposure with teaching and supervision, it isn't the kind of experience that they are seeking anyways.

IMO, writing the same thing twice in a CV is definitely not advisable, at least according to me.

So, tl;dr - Answer - In the education section.

299792458's user avatar

  • I don't write the same thing twice. Under "Education" I write, roughly: "1/1998 - 5/2004 Ph.D. Aerospace Engineering, UT Austin" and under "Appointments and Fellowships", I write "1/1998 - 10/2003 Graduate Research Assistantship, Aerospace Engineering Department, The University of Texas at Austin, Firstname Lastname, Supervisor." Each takes about a line and a half and doesn't tend to bloat out my CV too much. –  Bill Barth Nov 2, 2015 at 20:55
  • @BillBarth well that sort of implies you have two explicitly defined positions though, one as a PhD student and one as a RA. –  posdef Nov 3, 2015 at 11:42
  • 1 @posdef, that's exactly what I had. 20 nominal hours per week of each. I recognize that OP's situation is considered a single full-time role. Even knowing that, I wouldn't have a problem seeing a CV that had pieces of each listed in two places. I look in both sections for both parts of such a job when I'm reviewing candidates for research positions. –  Bill Barth Nov 3, 2015 at 14:10

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Write an academic CV

This section outlines key points to remember when preparing a CV and covering letter and highlights how to present your education and experience for academic jobs in teaching and research.

When you write your CV and cover letter you will face lots of choices about what material to include and how to present it. You need to use your judgement to make decisions which will demonstrate your experience most effectively. 

Academic CVs

An academic CV can be longer than the two pages which is standard in other sectors but it should still contain the most important information at the start. 

If the application is for a research only position then you should emphasise your research experience, publications, contributions at conferences, research funding you have won and any relevant technical skills. 

If it is for a research and teaching position (lectureship) then you should also give details of any teaching and tutoring experience. 

The headings below describe the typical content of an academic CV.  


your PhD, first degree and Masters, if you have one  

probably no need to list school qualifications, but if you do, put those that counted for entry to higher education only 

for your PhD you should summarise your research to date, include the names of your supervisor(s) and details of any funding obtained. If you have a viva date or target submission date note that

title, grade achieved, and dissertation title is usually enough for Masters and first degrees

give more detail about courses you have taken if they demonstrate a wider subject knowledge that could be of use if applying for a teaching post

Experience (Research)  

if you are including this section you can choose to give full details of your PhD research here, and only dates, title and supervisors under the education section

include any research experience in addition to your PhD, such as research assistant or technician roles 

give details of the subject area if relevant, and your methodology and technical skills  

mention any funding obtained, and your supervisor or research leader

Experience (Teaching) 

provide details of any tutoring, demonstrating or lecturing

mention courses taught and level, e.g. Sociology 1 or Cell Biology 2

show involvement with developing courses, marking and assessment  

for a teaching application, you could include your teaching methods and philosophy, and any feedback received   

invited or guest lectures could be included  

Additional experience  

The focus should be on your research and / or teaching experience but you can also include briefly other work that can: 

demonstrate the skills being sought for the job

show you can successfully manage work and study 

fill any chronological gaps in your history

Experience (administration)  

demonstrate that you will be a supportive colleague, willing to make a contribution to the administrative work of the department

list any administrative experience you have such as helping to organise a seminar programme or conference or committee membership

Publications and presentations 

Published, peer-reviewed publications or monographs will often hold the most weight but early on in your career you will mention other things to illustrate your research activity and impact.  

peer-reviewed publications

contributions to books

book reviews

can include those accepted for publication but not yet published

if this section is a bit slim you could include submitted articles to show your intention to publish

inclusion in conference proceedings

presentations or posters at conferences -mention if these have been invited presentations

Interests / other activities  

This section is not essential in an academic CV but could be used to include: 

positions of responsibility that demonstrate some of the skills the employer is looking for that have not been covered elsewhere 

hobbies and interests that say a bit about you, but only very brief details


when applying for advertised jobs, you will usually be expected to provide full contact details (name, relationship to you, address, e-mail and telephone) for 2 - 3 referees at least one of whom will be your PhD supervisor

think carefully about who you ask to act as a referee. It can be useful to have someone who is well-known in your academic field but only if they know you well and can comment positively on your abilities

make sure you brief your referees well on what you are applying for and give them an up-to-date copy of your CV to ensure they are aware of all the contributions you have made to your department / research area

Watch our Quick Guide to academic CVs which covers the basics of what to include in an academic CV: 

Narrative CVs

In recent years, some research-funding applications have required submission of a CV in the narrative format. Read more in the Narrative CVs for research and innovation blog from our Research Office, which includes a link to the Resume for Researchers template developed by the Royal Society. Also, the Institute for Academic Development offers helpful information on narrative CVs and what steps to take to create your own.

Narrative CVs for research and innovation 

Narrative CVs - Institute of Academic Development

The covering or supporting letter

This is your opportunity to show your motivation for the position and demonstrate that you meet the person specification for the job. For academic jobs a covering letter may be longer than one page and should if at all possible be addressed to a named person rather than ‘Dear sir or madam’. You should use your covering letter to address:  

why you are interested in this institution and department or research group - they want to know that you are genuinely interested in working for them and are knowledgeable about the teaching (if relevant) and research interests of staff within the department 

why you are interested in this position and how it fits in with your career plans 

what you have to offer in terms of research and / or teaching experience, qualifications and skills - use good examples to back this up

your ideas for the future in terms of research direction, and your potential to attract funding and publish - particularly important for research-only jobs or teaching jobs at research-intensive universities

You don’t need to repeat your CV, but you should draw attention to key points to encourage the employer to read it. 

Using generative AI to create your CV or cover letter

Technologies such as ChatGPT can provide a reasonable basic structure for you to build upon, but what they give you is unlikely to be tailored convincingly and will be bland and generic, and unlikely to impress employers. Use them as a support and starting point if you like - but edit their product to make the end result your own.  

Remember these points:

  • adapt the content generated, to make it more closely related to you -otherwise it will lack impact
  • be cautious about submitting any personal data, as whatever you put in could be in the public domain 
  • you may be risking plagiarism, as these systems incorporate, in their output, content produced by other people without acknowledging or referencing them 

The Bayes Centre at the University has produced general guidance on the use of AI .

AI guidance for staff and students - Bayes Centre, University of Edinburgh 

Statement of Purpose, Personal Statement, and Writing Sample

Details about submitting a statement of purpose, personal statement, and a writing sample as part of your degree program application

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Statement of Purpose 

The statement of purpose is very important to programs when deciding whether to admit a candidate. Your statement should be focused, informative, and convey your research interests and qualifications. You should describe your reasons and motivations for pursuing a graduate degree in your chosen degree program, noting the experiences that shaped your research ambitions, indicating briefly your career objectives, and concisely stating your past work in your intended field of study and in related fields. Your degree program of interest may have specific guidance or requirements for the statement of purpose, so be sure to review the degree program page for more information. Unless otherwise noted, your statement should not exceed 1,000 words. 

Personal Statement

A core part of the Harvard Griffin GSAS mission is to identify and attract the most promising students to form a dynamic and diverse community. We are committed to educating individuals who reflect the growing diversity of perspectives and life experiences represented in society today and who will contribute to our commitment to sustain a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive environment. Please share how your experiences or activities will advance our mission and commitment. Your statement should be no longer than 500 words.

Writing Sample 

Please visit Degree Programs and navigate to your degree program of interest to determine if a writing sample is required. When preparing your writing sample, be sure to follow program requirements, which may include format, topic, or length. 

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This graduate student workshop is an engaging session designed to help with the essential skills and knowledge to create or further develop an impactful resume, CV, or cover letter. Throughout the workshop, participants will learn the fundamentals of resume and CV writing, exploring effective strategies to highlight their academic achievements, co-curricular experiences, and personal accomplishments. They will gain insights into tailoring their resumes for different purposes, whether it is applying for part-time positions, internships, or full time jobs. By the end of the workshop, participants will have a solid foundation to build or expand their resumes and CVs confidently. We invite you to attend this workshop.

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If you are interested in careers outside of academia, you will want to create a resume for job, internship, and networking opportunities. This workshop will cover how to convert an academic CV into a resume, while highlighting transferable skills and relevant experiences. This session is part of the Career Design coaching lab series - for more information please visit: https://careers.northeastern.edu/career-design-weekly-schedule-grid/

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You Might Be Closer to Student Loan Forgiveness in 2024

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More than 800,000 longtime federal student loan borrowers who were in repayment for at least 20 or 25 years saw their student loans erased in July as a result of the income-driven repayment (IDR) account adjustment . Millions of newer borrowers will benefit from the program in 2024, even though they won’t get loan forgiveness just yet.

“The IDR account adjustment puts everybody closer to the statutory [student loan] cancellation that they could be eligible for under the income-driven repayment plans, regardless of whether or not they enrolled in an IDR plan in the past,” explains Kyra Taylor, a staff attorney focused on student loans at the National Consumer Law Center.

Even if your loans aren’t automatically forgiven, the account adjustment will move you closer to the end of your repayment period and closer to forgiveness if you sign up for an IDR plan, which typically takes 20 or 25 years of full monthly payments.

For borrowers who’ve been in repayment for less than 20 or 25 years, here are answers to questions about the IDR account adjustment, and steps they can take to get the most out of it.

When will the IDR adjustment happen if I don’t get automatic forgiveness?

Borrowers who receive IDR credit under the account adjustment — but not enough to automatically qualify for forgiveness — will see their payment count updated sometime in 2024. The Education Department has not given an exact date yet.

How much IDR credit will I get?

To find out how much credit toward IDR forgiveness you’ll receive under the one-time IDR account adjustment, you can tally past payments yourself. Generally, borrowers get IDR forgiveness after 20 or 25 years on an IDR plan, or 240 or 300 monthly payments, which are capped at a certain percentage of their income.

Log in to your Federal Student Aid account at StudentAid.gov to see how long you’ve been in repayment. For detailed information, including descriptions of specific forbearance or deferment periods, request your account history from your servicer.

The adjustment will include the following past periods, through August 2023, toward the number of monthly payments needed to reach forgiveness:

Any month a borrower was in repayment, even if the payments were late or partial. The type of repayment plan doesn’t matter.

Time spent in forbearance, either periods lasting 12 or more consecutive months or a cumulative 36 or more months. 

Any month spent in deferment, other than in-school deferment, before 2013.

Any month spent in economic hardship or military deferments on or after Jan. 1, 2013.

Any months in repayment, forbearance or a qualifying deferment before a loan consolidation.

Any months spent in COVID-19-related forbearance.

Past months spent in default will generally not be included in the recount, though borrowers who enroll in the temporary Fresh Start program to get out of default will get IDR credit from March 2020 through the date they leave default.

Once student loan payments resume in October, only full, on-time payments under an IDR plan will count toward the forgiveness finish line. You won’t earn IDR credit for any months you skip payments during the 12-month student loan on-ramp .

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How to benefit from the account adjustment

The account adjustment will be automatic for most borrowers, but some borrowers need to take an extra step before the end of 2023. If you want to benefit from the account adjustment to reach loan forgiveness more quickly, you must sign up for an IDR plan.

Consolidate your loans if necessary

Borrowers with certain types of loans will need to consolidate them into direct loans by the end of 2023 to receive the account adjustment.

These types of loans must be consolidated to receive IDR credit if they don’t reach the forgiveness threshold:

Commercially managed FFEL Program loans, i.e., those held by companies like Navient.

Perkins loans. 

Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program loans. 

Parent PLUS loans.

To check the types of loans you have and start the consolidation process, log in to your Federal Student Aid account and start a direct loan consolidation application .

If you consolidate loans that were in repayment for different periods of time, the new consolidation loan gets the maximum amount of IDR credit that accrued among the loans, Taylor explains.

Enroll in an IDR plan

Federal student loan borrowers will need to start making payments again this fall. Interest resumed on Sept. 1, and bills will come due in October.

For borrowers who anticipate having a leftover balance after the account adjustment, enrolling in an IDR plan now is very important, says Mike Pierce, executive director of the Student Borrower Protection Center, a nonprofit that advocates for student debt relief. This will allow borrowers to continue making progress toward IDR loan forgiveness once payments restart, he says.

Borrowers can choose from four IDR plans: Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR), and the newest IDR plan, Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE). Use the Federal Student Aid office’s loan simulator tool to compare repayment plans and determine your best fit.

SAVE is a good option for most borrowers. Benefits include halved monthly bills for most borrowers with undergraduate loans, no compounding interest if you make regular payments and faster forgiveness for borrowers with smaller balances.

Some middle- or low-income borrowers could even see $0 monthly payments under SAVE, while working toward loan forgiveness. For these borrowers, SAVE “is basically an extension of the payment pause that you just have to fill out some paperwork for,” Pierce says.

Parent PLUS borrowers are only eligible for the Income-Contingent Repayment plan, which is the “least generous” of the four IDR plans, says Taylor. Monthly ICR payments can be high: they’re capped at 20% of the borrower’s discretionary income, rather than 5% to 10% under the other three IDR plans.

Borrowers with parent PLUS loans should see how close they are to cancellation and whether it's worth it to consolidate and enroll in ICR as a step toward loan forgiveness, Taylor explains.

What if I’m enrolled in Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

Borrowers enrolled in Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) are on a slightly different account adjustment timeline.

If you have at least one approved PSLF form, you may see your payment count adjusted as early as the fall of 2023. Servicers will continue to adjust PSLF counts monthly until the final adjustment in 2024.

Under the account adjustment, you’ll get PSLF credit for any month, dating back to October 2007, in which you had qualifying employment and were in a repayment status, regardless of the payments made, loan type or repayment plan. Borrowers who qualify for PSLF get loan forgiveness after just 10 years, or 120 monthly payments.

The account adjustment is automatic for all PSLF-eligible Direct Loans, including consolidated and unconsolidated parent PLUS loans — but borrowers with commercially or federally held FFELP loans must consolidate them before the end of 2023 to receive the adjustment.

Use the Federal Student Aid office’s PSLF Help Tool to certify periods of employment and track progress toward loan forgiveness under PSLF.

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Student loan borrowers face plenty of questions, budget woes, as October bills arrive

Destiny Cook, 29, assumes she'll need to juggle a $159-a-month student loan bill into her budget once payments resume this fall. The Eastern Michigan University graduate would have owed basically nothing if President Joe Biden's plan for far-reaching student loan forgiveness had not been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

But that was the hope a year ago. Now, it's time to figure out how to pay the bills ahead.

What's most frustrating for Cook is that as of early September she still hadn't gotten a bill or even an email alert with details outlining when her payment is due and what she'd actually owe. Her loan servicer changed in the past year and emailed her earlier in the year.

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She logged into her account at Nelnet, where all  Great Lakes  student loans were transferred in 2023, but there the information says her next payment is due Nov. 13, which really didn't make sense.

All the big headlines about student loans talked about payments resuming in October, a month before her payment would supposedly be due.

"I don't understand that date. But there's still no amount next to it," said Cook, whose loans were with Great Lakes before the pandemic-related pause. Calling her servicer was on her "to-do" list to make sure she paid in October, if she had to pay in October.

Once she got time to call and connect with the customer service team at Nelnet a few weeks later, she asked specifically why her account listed Nov. 13 as a due date? The answer was odd: “This was determined by your cycle date.” But the phone representative did confirm that Nov. 13 is correct and confirmed that she'd owe $159 per month — the same as she owed when she was with Great Lakes. All  Great Lakes  student loans have been transferred to Nelnet. 

"It's going to be like a hot mess," Cook said, referring to the massive restart in student loan payments this fall.

How many face student loan payments again

Plenty of challenges are ahead for an estimated 40 million federal student loan borrowers as payments resume in October now that the federal student loan payment pause that stretched out roughly three and a half years comes to a halt.

About 864,000 student loan borrowers in Michigan had hoped for student loan forgiveness at some level as part of the now-dead, $400 billion forgiveness plan announced in August 2022. They now face resuming their student loan payments in the weeks ahead.

Due dates will differ but most borrowers will see their payments resume sometime in October.

In some cases, the start date can end up in November or December but that typically involves recent graduates who got their diplomas in May or June, according to Mark Kantrowitz, a student loan expert and author. Their six-month grace period would end in November or December, respectively, he said, so that's when that repayment starts. 

Cook graduated in 2016 so her Nov. 13 payment date is still a stumper.

Borrowers are told by the Education Department that they will get a bill, with their payment amount and due date, at least 21 days before the bill's due date. Billing dates vary by borrower. It's best to pay attention to your own paperwork, not information from a friend.

Roughly, 1 out of 4 borrowers nationwide have a  new student loan servicer  and won't be dealing with the same servicer they had before the COVID-19 pandemic pause began in March 2020. Some will need to take time to figure out what they owe and when they owe it. Their first place to go is the U.S. Department of Education website at StudentAid.gov. Borrowers also can use a loan simulator  there to calculate student loan payments across other repayment plans.

Michigan borrowers tend to have more student loan debt than many borrowers in other states, according to the Education Data Initiative. The average student loan debt is $36,116 in Michigan. About 52% of borrowers are under age 35. Michigan has a total student loan debt load of $51 billion, according to the Education Data Initiative.

Renters could face particular financial stress

Cutting back on spending is clearly going to be part of the picture for many people who face a restart of student loan payments after a lengthy hiatus. Money that might have been spent toward buying a car or going on vacation — or even going out to eat with friends — will be diverted back to old debts.

Young consumers who face high costs when renting an apartment or home are likely to find the restart particularly stressful, according to a report by Moody's Analytics. Some may even choose to move to lower cost housing or move in with friends or family.

Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's, told the Detroit Free Press that the end of the student loan payment moratorium in October is projected to reduce annualized real GDP growth in the fourth quarter by an estimated 0.2%. The impact on consumer spending and the economy, he said, will be meaningful but small when it comes to the nation's gross domestic product.

Overall, Zandi expects a soft fourth quarter, with growth at 0.8%. He's projecting a strong third quarter where the GDP grows at an annualized 2.8%. The UAW strike that began on Sept. 15 at three plants run by the Detroit Three in Michigan, Ohio and Missouri, and grew to an additional 38 plants across 20 states on Friday, could impact economic growth further, depending on how long that strike continues.

Zandi estimates that some $75 billion in student loan payments are scheduled to resume annually, with the average payment of about $300 per month. Ultimately, though, Zandi expects that much less would be paid. Several million borrowers are likely to not pay their bills and eventually go delinquent. And several million others will opt for income-driven repayment plans, such as SAVE, and be required to pay less money each month.

More: Biden's SAVE plan for student loan repayment may seem confusing. Here's how to use it.

Some borrowers can dip into savings or other sources of income to pay; others might delay resuming payments as nonpayments won't be reported to credit bureaus at this time.

Many borrowers on tight budgets aren't sure how they'll pay the bill after taking on new debt, including mortgages and car loans. Others remain stuck in lower-paying jobs and will seek ways to lower those monthly payments, including signing up for Biden's new SAVE plan.

Betsy Mayotte, president of the Institute of Student Loan Advisors, said inflation has driven many costs — groceries, rent, clothing, cars and other goods — higher than three and a half years ago when the payment pause began. And yes, some borrowers may have experienced "some lifestyle creep," she said, that will make it more difficult to fit a student loan payment back into the budget.

Mayotte's most worried about borrowers not even knowing that a repayment is due — or understanding that interest is building once again on their loans. Rates will vary based on when you took out the loan. Federal student loan rates are often in the 4% to 6% range.

Other borrowers might not realize that they can still get out of default through the end of September 2024 by signing up for a one-time, temporary "Fresh Start" initiative offered by the U.S. Department of Education. You can go to myeddebt.ed.gov or call 800-621-3115.

Borrowers in default can get back in good standing and improve their credit by enrolling in "Fresh Start" and then become eligible to sign up for a more affordable income-driven repayment plan.

Mayotte also is worried about borrowers falling for scams because they are overwhelmed by the situation and options. Or making snap decisions because they're unsure what to do or frustrated by delays in getting answers from their loan servicers.

Some borrowers will be better off, she said, aggressively trying to pay off their student loans as soon as possible. "Others will find that pursuing a forgiveness program is a better long term strategy," Mayotte said.

She expects borrowers to run into challenges, given that the restart is a once in a lifetime event.

"Tens of millions of borrowers are all reentering repayment at the exact same time," Mayotte said.

While loan servicers and the Education Department have done what they can to prepare, she said, no industry could be ready for all of their customers coming back to make payments at once with no delays. "So here we are," she said.

How to get student loan payments lower than they were in 2020

On the plus side, many borrowers will be able to deal with substantially lower monthly payments than they faced before the pandemic, thanks to efforts to encourage borrowers to consider signing up for the SAVE plan that promises affordable payments.

The new SAVE plan, launched officially in August, gets some payments down to $0 a month; others with modest incomes could be looking at payments of less than $75 month or less.

A single person without children making less than $32,800 could qualify for a $0 payment; a family of four or more with income below $67,500 could qualify for $0 payments under the SAVE plan.

In Michigan, some 143,600 student loan borrowers already are set up to reduce their monthly payments through the brand new SAVE income-driven repayment plan, according to information released Sept. 5 by the U.S. Department of Education. The figure reflects both those who signed up on their own and those who were automatically shifted over from an earlier income-driven repayment plan, called REPAYE.

More than 4 million student loan borrowers nationwide already are enrolled in SAVE.

As a nod perhaps to the reality that there will be some glitches along the way, a temporary "on-ramp" to repayment will be in place from October through Sept. 30, 2024, to protect financially vulnerable borrowers who miss payments. No action will be taken then that could result in declaring a loan in default or otherwise hurt a borrower's credit. 

Borrowers are advised to resume making their payments — or sign up for income-driven repayment plans to lower their payments — as soon as possible. The 0% interest rate on student loans offered during the pandemic pause is gone; interest resumed building in September.

How the end of a car loan could help a Michigan borrower

Cook, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in public relations in spring 2016, began paying on her loans in November of that year. She's on a 10-year repayment plan at $159 a month. She's not certain but believes she started out with about $14,000 in student loans.

After the pandemic-related pause, she would have roughly six years of payments left to pay off the debt in full, Kantrowitz said.

The bulk of her $10,080 in remaining student loans would have been wiped out and forgiven under Biden's plan.

Cook remains upbeat and confident that she'll figure out how to come up with the extra cash each month.

She expects she'll give up spending on some little things, like coffee and maybe not eating out as often. It won't hurt, either, her 60-month car loan at $567 a month will be paid off in September, too. She bought a 2018 Jeep Compass. She will use that money toward savings and put more money each month than what her payment requires toward her college debt to pay it off quicker.

"I don't feel super stressed out about it," said Cook, who is a senior public relations specialist for the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

She isn't dealing with high rent or a mortgage. She's living at home in Tecumseh with her mom. Only drives into Ann Arbor for her job about twice a month. She makes roughly $70,000 a year. She's not married and has no children.

And she's also thankful that she put a lid on her total student loan borrowing by attending Washtenaw Community College for the first two years when she had no clue what major she wanted to pursue in college.

Her mother paid for Cook's community college bills out of pocket. Her mother also took out loans when she went to Eastern but her mother has paid those loans off.

Cook paid a bit of money toward her own student loans during the pandemic but she ended up asking for a partial refund, as she could, last year when it seemed like she qualified for $10,000 in student loan forgiveness under Biden's plan.

Cook was disheartened on news of the Supreme Court's 6-3 majority ruling that the Biden administration overstepped its authority by pushing forward with its costly debt relief plan.

For many borrowers, repayments would have resumed now even if the Supreme Court allowed forgiveness plans to go through. Many borrowers owed much more than the debt that would have been forgiven.

As part of negotiations in Congress in May to raise the nation's debt ceiling, a deal was struck on ending the payment pause that began in March 2020 as part of economic-relief efforts during the pandemic.

More: Michiganders react to Supreme Court rejecting student loan forgiveness plan

More: US Supreme Court blocks student loan debt forgiveness: What happens now

Under the sweeping Biden forgiveness plan, which was struck down by the Supreme Court, many borrowers with an annual income during the pandemic of under $125,000 for individuals — or under $250,000 for married couples — would have been able to see up to $10,000 in federal student loans forgiven.

If they had a Pell Grant in college, they would have been eligible for up to $20,000 in debt cancellation under the forgiveness plan that the Supreme Court rejected.

Cook researched the new SAVE plan to lower her monthly payments on her undergraduate student loans but from what she saw her monthly payment wasn't going down and looked like it could go up for her under SAVE based on her steady income, lower level of debt and lack of dependents.

"It wasn't as simple as it was made out to be in the initial email from the Department of Education," she said.

Most borrowers will see their payments lowered by the SAVE plan, but not everyone. Borrowers need to study their own numbers at an  online loan simulator  at StudentAid.gov/loan-simulator. See StudentAid.gov/save to study the details relating to the  SAVE plan.

But again, Cook acknowledged, she feels OK going forward.

"$159 isn't hurting me. I'm not in crippling student loan debt," Cook said. "I cannot do other things if I am really hurting to pay for these loans."

More: Thousands of Michigan student loan borrowers already signed up for new SAVE payment plan

Why many young borrowers will go out less often

Many borrowers face bigger bills and far fewer options.

Samantha Diehl, 29, of Lansing, expects that she'll end up trimming back on streaming services, which now cost her about $55 a month, and going out with friends or eating out.

She took time to seriously review her old bills and totaled up that she's been spending about $500 eating at restaurants. Not any more if she's to pay $313 a month on her student loans. Her first student loan bill is due Oct. 9. Her highest interest rate on her loans is 4.66%.

Diehl, who graduated in 2017 from Michigan State University with a degree in kinesiology, is a communications manager for Meridian Township and owes about $21,400 in federal student loans.

She had Pell Grants in college and would have qualified for seeing $20,000 in student loans forgiven under the now-defunct Biden forgiveness plan. But that's no longer on the table.

She has other expenses that she can't cut: Her rent, around $1,005 for a one-bedroom, one-bath flat in downtown Lansing. Her utilities that add up to around $170 a month. She's single and has no children. She makes about $60,000 a year.

During the payment pause, she took out a car loan in early 2022 with a payment of $222 a month to buy a used 2015 Jeep Cherokee TrailHawk. She has been paying $300 a month on the car loan to pay down that debt more quickly.

She figures she can pay the student loan bill, though, if she sticks to a much tighter spending budget. Right now, she's not planning to turn to the SAVE plan.

"I know what to expect, but now I'll just have to implement it," Diehl said.

Contact personal finance columnist Susan Tompor:  [email protected] . Follow her on Twitter  @ tompor .

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Student loan borrowers face plenty of questions, budget woes, as October bills arrive

Destiny Cook, 29, of Tecumseh outside of a coffee shop in the town on on Friday, September 1, 2023. Cook is ready to start repaying her student loan again, expecting it could be $159 a month. She had trouble getting an exact figure when looking at her account through Nelnet. Cook has been preparing for making the payments by saving some money on the side from her public relations job at the University of Michigan.



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