For many years, the
university has made available a high quality student health insurance plan
which provides superior benefits at a very affordable price to enrolled
students, both undergraduate and graduate. As part of our continuing
dedication to reviewing all student benefits and improving and expanding
them whenever possible, we saw that there was an opportunity to make health
insurance part of the package of benefits that is offered to graduate
assistants who are supported by the university.
Starting in fall 2006, the University of Alabama has provided no cost
single coverage health insurance to all of its qualifying graduate
assistants who are funded from permanently budgeted GA lines, if the
graduate assistant applies for this benefit by the specified deadline.
Qualifying graduate assistants who choose to remain covered by another
insurance policy are not required to participate in this program. Graduate
assistants who otherwise qualify but are not funded from permanently
budgeted GA lines may have the cost of their single coverage paid from other
University sources, as described in the sections below.
The period of coverage will be for a semester and will be renewed as long as
the Graduate Assistant meets the eligibility requirements.
This program will not affect the provision of the Student Health Insurance
Plan offered by the University, which will continue to be available for
other qualifying students to purchase independently.
Graduate assistants who qualify for single coverage insurance under this
program will have the option to extend the coverage to their family, as
defined in the policy document from the insurance provider. The additional
cost must be paid directly to the Student Health Center.
The Graduate Assistant Health Benefit is NOT available
for the following:
- Graduate Fellowships
- Graduate Scholarships
- Bi-weekly appointed Student Assistants
- Interim or Summer Graduate Assistants (but see
This benefit may be made available to all
teaching, research, and other full time graduate assistants, and will be
funded by the Graduate School for graduate assistants funded from
permanently budgeted GA lines. (See “Permanently Budgeted GA Lines” below).
Where the assistantship requires 20 or more hours of work per week in the
department (0.50 FTE), the student will be eligible for full single
coverage. If the assistant is working between 10 and 19 hours per week (0.25
– 0.49 FTE), they will receive prorated benefit & from UA between half and full
coverage. No coverage is available for appointments of less than 10 hours
(below 0.25 FTE).
The graduate assistant with less than full eligibility must pay for the
difference at the time of sign up along with any additional family coverage
When assessing a student’s entitlement to receive this benefit, the combined
FTE of ALL permanently budgeted assistantships to which the student has been
appointed may be combined to calculate the level of benefit. Non-permanent
assistantships may not be combined.
The University can and may amend, delete, or expand these qualifying
criteria at any time however no change can be back-dated and will not become
effective until the start of the next policy cycle.
PERMANENTLY BUDGETED GA LINES
This benefit is paid by the Graduate School
only for assistants supported on permanently budgeted GA lines. These are
funds allocated from Academic Affairs to colleges, which may only be used
for paying assistantship stipends, and are based on a fixed number of full
time assistantships and the university’s minimum stipend rates.
If you are unsure whether your lines are permanently budgeted please check
with your college finance or budget manager or with the Graduate School.
The Graduate School already has detailed criteria for students to receive
assistantships and generally as long as the student continues to meet those
criteria and retains his or her assistantship then the health insurance
benefit will apply.
Departments do not need to complete any additional forms for
health insurance for permanent GA's - health benefits are processed with
tuition scholarships through the online GA-TOPS system.
Dean’s offices may elect to allocate these funds to departments each year
based upon their own criteria and objectives, however departments may not
use their own overhead or gift budgets to increase the number of permanently
OTHER DEPARTMENTALLY FUNDED GA LINES
Departments may use their own non-permanent
funds to provide their own additional graduate assistantships. This includes
funds such as departmental or research overhead, gift accounts, state
release dollars, etc. While there is no requirement to provide tuition
scholarships with these types of awards, the department is permitted to use
funds from the same source to cover a tuition award at their discretion.
Similarly, if funds are available from the same source as the assistantship,
the department may, at its discretion pay for health insurance under the
same terms and conditions as the permanently budgeted assistants. The same
qualifying criteria for all permanently budgeted assistantships will apply.
The current semester cost that will be charged to departments for providing
full single coverage under this program is shown on the
Where departments elect to fund the
health benefit for their G.A.'s, they will need to process that award with
the tuition scholarship through the GA-TOPS system.
In the same way that departments may choose
to use their own funds to cover the cost of the health insurance for their
GA’s, with sufficient budget available and PI and Office for Sponsored
Programs (OSP) Financial Services approval that the charge is allowable,
assistants on sponsored programs may also receive this benefit as a charge
to the grant. Please be aware that the OSP policy on Tuition, Stipends and
Other Student Payment found at
applies to payments for this health insurance.
The current semester cost that will be charged to contracts and grants for
providing full single coverage under this program is shown on the
Where a sponsored program fund is used
to cover the cost of health insurance for GA's, departments will process
that award with the tuition scholarship through the GA-TOPS system.
The university requires that all enrolled
international students must have medical insurance coverage. The student
account is normally automatically charged for this insurance in the Fall and
Spring semesters and the student is required to pay for it themselves or
provide proof to the Student Health Center that they have their own coverage
at least equal to UA's required coverage in order to waive that cost.
Qualified international graduate students who receive the UA free health insurance may substitute this benefit to satisfy the international student insurance requirement. Each
student must still formally accept this benefit by applying for the medical
insurance coverage at the Student Health Center Insurance Office, as
detailed below. If the student elects not to receive this benefit, they must
decline the offer and, as an International student, show proof of
alternative coverage to the Student Health Insurance Office, Room 210, new
Student Health Center, 750 Fifth Avenue East.
While the student may be qualified to
receive the benefit under the terms of his or her appointment,
the student is still required to
formally enroll in the program through the Student Health Center.
Generally, in qualifying to hold graduate assistantships, the students will
satisfy the academic enrollment requirements for the health insurance
Enrollment forms will be distributed by each department with the Memorandum
of Appointment. Additional copies of the form can be obtained from the
To complete the registration of each student's health benefits they must take their
enrollment form (or their waiver form if they are not accepting the award) to the Student
Health Center before the end of each semester's open enrollment period (OEP), which is:
- For Fall semester: August 31st,
- For Spring semester: January 21st.
If the GA receives this benefit for the fall semester, the coverage will run
for six months from August 1st through January 31st. If the GA continues to
receive it or is newly appointed for the spring semester, the coverage will
run from February 1st through July 31st.
SUMMER GA HEALTH INSURANCE
Remember, no permanent GA appointments in the summer and therefore there
is nothing to process for health insurance. GA's have insurance coverage
started with their spring assistantships which run through the summer.
However, non-permanent and sponsored GA's may have separate summer
appointment. We can have the following situations:
- Where a student has not held a benefits-qualifying assistantship
previously and is assigned a new benefits qualifying assistantship for
the first time for the summer, or
- Where a student is incoming newly admitted graduate student for the
summer and is being appointed to a benefits-qualifying assistantship, or
- Where a student held a non-benefits-qualifying assistantship for the
spring and who is now appointed to a benefits-qualifying assistantship
for the summer.
You do NOT process the health insurance awards through the GA-TOPS
systems. Under these situations the student will complete a United Health
Care "Voluntary Enrollment Form for Domestic Students and Their Dependents"
(NOT the GA Enrollment Form) and take the completed form to the UA
department which is paying the insurance cost. The form can be downloaded
from the UA SHC website at:
The department will then complete a Summer GA Health Insurance
Scholarship Form with the appropriate FOAPAL and take both forms to John
Chambers in the Graduate School, Box 870118.
Any domestic or permanent resident graduate
student who qualifies to receive this benefit does not have to accept it;
for example, he or she, or their spouse, may already have membership in a
health plan and wish to continue that plan. In this situation, the otherwise
qualified and approved student must still
complete the enrollment form for this program but will indicate on the form
that they are declining the coverage.
International students are still
subject to the health insurance requirements as detailed above.
TERMINATIONS AND WITHDRAWALS
Termination of an assistantship either by
the student or by the department prior to the end
of the open enrollment period will trigger automatic
disqualification from the no cost insurance benefit. Similarly, when a
student withdraws from all classes or drops his or her registration below
the required minimum hours prior to the same date, then the free insurance
benefit is terminated. Students will have the option in this situation to
continue the coverage but at his or her own cost.
International students in this situation will be
required to purchase the
university’s health insurance or provide proof that they have their own
coverage at least equal to the University’s required level.
For all students, coverage will continue through the remainder of the period
where termination or withdrawal takes place
after the end of the open
1. Permanently Budgeted
- Graduate School will use the Tuition
Award System as the basis for identifying all permanently budgeted and
- Graduate School office will forward
lists of approved students to Student Health Center.
- Departments will be responsible for
maintaining GA tuition and health insurance awards on the GA-TOPS
system, including all additions, deletions, and changes to
permanently budgeted assistantship lists.
- Departments MUST update GA-TOPS immediately for all terminations.
2. Departmental Funded
- Departments will update GA-TOPS for
all Health Insurance awards for all assistants supported on
non- permanent lines and who will receive health coverage funded by the
- Departments will record the FOAP for
the charge for providing the health insurance.
- Graduate School will verify the
assistantship qualifying criteria and then forward approved awards to
3. Sponsored Program
- Departments will update GA-TOPS for
all Health Insurance Awards including the FOAP to which the
insurance cost is allocable, for all assistants supported on external
contracts and grants and where the agreement allows the allocation of
budget to pay for health insurance.
- Sponsored Programs Financial Services will review the charge
for allowability and sufficient funds and if approved, record their
approval on GA-TOPS.
- Graduate School forwards awards to the Student
4. Student Health
- Receive enrollment forms from students
and verify entitlement to participate in program.
- Delete participants from programs
where appropriate and as notified.
- Verification will be made against
lists from Graduate School, forms from Graduate School, and forms from
- SHC will record their approval of awards and register student's
acceptance on the GA-TOPS system.
- Any unapproved applications must be
checked with appropriate source – permanently and departmental funded
assistants with John Chambers, Graduate School, sponsored programs
funded assistants with Tammy Hudson.
- Information about the program,
coverage, and the provider can be found at
the Student Health
- For any inquiries about this program
and how it will operate, the processes and procedures to be followed,
please contact the appropriate person below:
- Permanently Budgeted and
Departmental Funded Assistants:
John Chambers, Director of
Administration, Graduate School
- Sponsored Programs Assistants:
Tammy Hudson, Sponsored Programs Financial Services
- Student Health Center: Shavonne
Stines, Student Health Insurance Office