FAQ

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How do I get the most out of my visit weekend at Caltech?

How do I join a group?

How do I change groups?

What fellowships are offered to chemistry graduate students?

How does taxation work when I'm paid by a fellowship?

Do I have a retirement account as a student at Caltech?

Where can I find out more about the Caltech student health insurance?

I'm moving to California from a different state/country. What are three things I should about living in Pasadena?

Additional questions

 


 

How do I get the most out of my visit weekend at Caltech?

Please see our guide on chemistry visit weekends.

 

How do I join a group?

First-year chemistry graduate students are allowed to join a group during the first week of December. Students will need to complete this form and submit it to Crellin 167 to be officially admitted to their group. For more on what questions to consider as you make this decision, please see our guide on picking a group.

 

How do I change groups?

To officially change groups, you need to fill out the Change of Advisor form on the Graduate Studies Office website under Current Students, Forms, Petitions. This form needs to be signed your new advisor and the Chemistry Option Representative, Brian Stoltz.* Submit the completed and signed form to the Chemistry Graduate Studies Office (Crellin 167).

For more on what to think about if you are considering changing advisors, please refer to our guide on switching groups.

* You can have the Chemistry Executive Officer, Sarah Reisman, sign your form in lieu of the Option Rep's signature.

 

What fellowships are offered to chemistry graduate students?

There are a number of external fellowships offered to chemistry graduate students. The most common two graduate fellowships for which Caltech graduate students apply are the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) and National Defense Engineering and Science Graduate Fellowship (NDESG). An extensive list of additional fellowships for which students can consider applying has been compiled by the Graduate Studies Office and can be found here.

https://www.gradoffice.caltech.edu/financialsupport/external

 

How does taxation work when I'm paid by a fellowship?

There is an annual workshop regarding taxes during graduate student orientation in September. If you have immediate questions regarding how your taxes may change on a fellowship, please contact Lisa Flores (Lisa.Flores@caltech.edu) in Human Resources for more information.

 

Do I have a retirement account as a student at Caltech?

Yes and no.

As students, we cannot contribute to a 401(k), the usual retirement account for employees with matching contributions from your employer. However, if you are paid through payroll, you may be eligible to contribute to a 403(b), a voluntary retirement account without matched contributions by your employer. If you have an external fellowship, you are typically ineligible to contribute to a 403(b). Please contact the Caltech Human Resources Office for more information.

In addition, be on the lookout for workshops by TIAA-CREF, the agency that organizes the retirement accounts of Caltech staff and eligible students, for more information. These workshops take place throughout the year.

 

Where can I find out more about the Caltech student health insurance?

There are several resources on the Caltech website regarding student health insurance, including the Caltech Health Benefits page (https://benefits.caltech.edu/health/students). If you have questions about the student health plan, please email hrbenefits@caltech.edu with your concerns.

 

I'm moving to California from a different state/country. What are three things I should know about living in Pasadena?

1.     California is earthquake territory! The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that the southern California area receives about 10,000 earthquakes a year. The good news is most of these are so small that we don't feel them. However, you should be prepared for larger magnitude earthquakes. Make your own emergency kit for your home or apartment and talk to your family or roommates about what to do in the case if an emergency.

Don't know what to do during an earthquake? Or not sure how to plan for future earthquakes? There is emergency preparedness drill and fair every year that can help you feel more prepared for the next big earthquake headed our way. Check your email for more information.

2.     Southern California is undergoing exceptional drought conditions. This designation ("exceptional") is the highest drought warning for the state. Please conserve water while you live here! This includes turning off the water while you brush your teeth, minimizing water use for dish washing, and fixing water leaks promptly.  If you notice leaks anywhere on campus or in your Caltech-owned apartment, submit a work order through AIM on access.caltech.edu as soon as possible.

3.     Grocery stores and supermarkets will no longer provide plastic bags for any groceries you buy. The county of Los Angeles, of which Pasadena is a part, has recently passed a number of regulations banning the use of plastic bags in supermarkets with the goal of minimizing the number of bags that end up in the ocean or landfills. When you go to buy groceries in Pasadena, make sure to bring your own reusable bags with you as you will have to pay for paper bags otherwise.

 

Additional questions

Still have questions that were not answered on this page? Don't hesitate to contact Alison Ross or the CGSC student representatives with your questions! We are happy to answer what questions we can or to direct you to the appropriate resource to find your answer.