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I was recently accepted to Cornell, but their TA stipend is a nine-month stipend. According to the details "many students receive summer support through research or TAing." Can anyone tell me how "safe" this is (ie am I likely to not receive summer support if I need it?), both at Cornell and other schools?
U of Arizona told me the same thing. I asked the faculty member assigned to me for admission and he said that he does not know of anyone who wanted summer work but was not able to get it. He asked the grad secretary to confirm and I think the answer was that everyone in the last X years (don't remember how many) received full summer support. So maybe you can ask for some stats/numbers too!
I can assure you that at Cornell, as long as you are making satisfactory progress towards your degree, you will be supported. I'd be willing to bet a large amount of my own money that this is also true at any other major name-brand US program. You can't be a successful student if you don't have money to live on, and Universities have a very large interest in you being successful. The nine month thing is just a formality. You'll be able to sign up to TA over the summer or you can find an RA. It may not be your dream RA, but there are professors with more money than students who will happily pay you.