I am working on an NSF proposal that will be my first grant proposal sent out from Northwestern with me as a listed (co-) Principal Investigator. Never mind what it’s about, for now. Part of the proposal right now is for an RA whose responsibilities will have a strong administrative component. I just got the numbers back from our grants person, and an 12-month half-time RA at Northwestern is more than $34,000 in direct costs–not counting fringe benefits–because it includes tuition as well as the stipend. You can hire a pretty competent staff person for the half-time equivalent of a $68,000 annual salary, especially given that there are still a lot of assistant professor positions in sociology that have a base starting salary lower than that. If I get the grant, I’m not sure what I will do. I’m not going to spend it on a graduate student who simply views working on the project as a job, that’s for sure, as that would make no economic sense. An advantage of my current employer is that my ability to recruit similarly-interested students to come here is not strongly tied to whether I can myself provide funding for them, as then I would probably feel compelled to use the money to invest in a student even if I didn’t feel the expenditure was in the best interest of the particular project.