to provide health coverage free to supported grad students
David J. Craig
Beginning in the fall, the standard financial aid package offered to
full-time teaching fellows and research assistants on the Charles River
Campus will include coverage by the BU Medical Insurance Plan, the Office
of the Provost announced this month.
The medical coverage, which is estimated to be worth $975 for the 2003–2004
academic year, to date has been an out-of-pocket expense for the graduate
students who participate. The coverage also will be provided at no cost
to dean’s fellows and presidential fellows. The decision to provide
free health insurance as part of the financial aid offered to supported
graduate students — those holding fellowships or research or teaching
assistantships — was made just weeks after the announcement that
the standard annual stipend for full-time teaching fellows and research
assistants on the Charles River Campus this fall will be increased by
“Our teaching assistants and research assistants are critical to
meeting our high standards of excellence in teaching and to assisting
the faculty with sponsored research,” says BU Provost Dennis Berkey.
“We want to keep these positions fully competitive on the national
scale, so that our departments and research programs can successfully
recruit the best applicants available for admission to our graduate programs.
Also, we want our teaching assistants and research assistants to know
that the University is fully committed to meeting their needs.”
Massachusetts law requires that full-time students, part-time students
registered for 75 percent or more of a full-time course load, and international
students have medical insurance. BU undergraduate and graduate students
in these categories are automatically enrolled in the University’s
medical insurance plan, which is administered by the Chickering Group,
unless they file a waiver with Student Accounting Services and certify
that they are covered by a comparable insurance plan. Students participating
in theUniversity’s insurance plan use BU’s Student Health
Services as their primary care location; family coverage under the plan
is available at an added cost.
Starting in the fall, in each semester that a graduate student is a full-time
teaching fellow or research assistant, a credit for half the annual cost
of the University Medical Insurance Plan will be made directly to his
or her student account. For dean’s fellows and presidential fellows,
a credit for the annual cost of the plan will be made in the beginning
of the academic year.
The medical insurance credits may be taxable as income, so it could be
to the advantage of students who have alternatives for health coverage
to opt out of the University Medical Insurance Plan by filing a medical
insurance waiver form, according to Berkey. It is the students’
responsibility to report income to the Internal Revenue Service and pay
taxes as required.
As part of the new financial aid package, continuing graduate students
will receive the same coverage as entering graduate students. Those who
have alternative health coverage and elect not to participate in the BU
plan will not receive money toward that coverage.
For more information, please consult the following offices and Web sites:
Student Accounting Services, www.bu.edu/comp/saweb/medins.html,
Student Health Services, www.bu.edu/shs/pages/insurance.html,
or the Graduate Student Organization, http://people.bu.edu/gso/healthcare/.