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The Colonel John W. Pershing Annual Military History Lecture, Wednesday, March 26, 4 p.m., SMG Auditorium

Week of 21 March 2003· Vol. VI, No. 25

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University to provide health coverage free to supported grad students

By 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 $500.

“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/.


21 March 2003
Boston University
Office of University Relations