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Policy: Health Insurance Subsidy for Qualified Graduate Students 

Date: 06/07/12 Policy ID: PROV-008 Status: Final

Policy Type: Executive Vice President & Provost
Contact Office: Executive Vice President and Provost (Office of the)
Oversight Executive: Executive Vice President and Provost
Applies To: Academic Division
Table of Contents: 

Policy Statement

  1. Graduate Students
  2. Schools and Departments
Reason for Policy: Defines the terms and conditions under which graduate students may qualify for and receive a health insurance subsidy.
Policy Summary: 
Definition of Terms in Statement: 

Health insurance subsidy: A payment made by a school or unit of the University to the University on behalf of a graduate student.

Qualified health insurance subsidy (qualified subsidy): A mandated subsidy funded centrally by the University and provided on behalf of a graduate student who meets the qualifications defined in this policy.

Other University Definitions:
Graduate student: An individual who has either been admitted to a graduate degree program at the University (including professional degree programs) or who has received permission to enroll and is registered for coursework (including credit or non-credit) at the University during any given academic session (including fall, spring, summer, or January terms).

Graduate assistantship: A form of graduate student employment that involves a supervised educational experience, wages, and tuition aid (see Section E, “Qualified Assistantships and Tuition Remission” of the Policy on Graduate Assistantships). Graduate assistantships at the University include graduate teaching assistants (GTAs), graduate research assistants (GRAs), and graduate administrative assistants (GAAs). [ For further detail see the policy on "Graduate Assistantships," Section 1: Types of Assistantships.]

Full graduate assistantship: A full graduate assistantship is equivalent to one-half of a full-time appointment or roughly twenty hours per week.

Qualified graduate assistantship: A graduate assistantship that is at least half of a full assistantship (that is, a quarter-time appointment, roughly equivalent to ten hours per week).

Tuition remission: The in-state tuition and all required fees paid on behalf of a student serving in a qualified graduate assistantship. Tuition remission pays only the in-state portion of an out-of-state student’s tuition charges, but pays all required fees, including the comprehensive fee, the University activity fee, the school activity fee, and, where applicable, the international student fee. (Note: This is a University definition and not the Federal definition.)

Forms of Aid:
Direct aid:
Any aid paid directly to a student, such as a stipend.

Indirect aid: Any aid awarded on a student’s behalf to the University or another third party, including tuition, fees, and health insurance subsidies.

Fellowship: Unearned aid (no work or repayment requirement) awarded to graduate students, other than those in the Darden School of Business, the McIntire School of Commerce, the School of Law, or the School of Medicine (see Scholarship). Fellowships may consist of both direct and indirect forms of aid.

Scholarship: The federal government defines a scholarship as an amount given in aid in the pursuit of study or training for which there is no obligation to perform services by the recipient as a condition of receiving the funds. While some university policies use “scholarship,” “fellowship,” and “stipend” interchangeably this policy distinguishes between the terms. At the University, scholarships area warded to undergraduate students in all schools and graduate students in the Darden School of Business, the McIntire School of Commerce, the School of Law and the School of Medicine. Scholarships may consist of direct or indirect forms of aid and are often named (e.g. The Thomas Jefferson Scholarship).

Other Terms:
General funds:
General tax revenues that are appropriated by the General Assembly for the use of the institution. These funds are restricted in various ways by the state and, in some cases, have been restricted further by the University or the state legislature to support aid for particular programs. (See also “Non-general funds” below.)

Non-general funds: Resources which are earned or generated by the University such as tuition, F&A recoveries, grants and contracts, auxiliaries, or private resources.1 The University allocates a portion of its non-general funds (i.e., tuition revenue) toward several types of graduate financial aid, including tuition remission, tuition adjustment, University grants, research remission, and the graduate student health insurance subsidy. (See also “General funds” above.)

1 For information regarding the use of non-general fund revenues (i.e., tuition revenue) as published in the Commonwealth’s current Appropriations Act, contact the University Budget Office.

Policy Statement: 

A graduate student must be offered the health insurance subsidy if he or she:

  1. earns at least $5,000 in wages as a GTA, GRA, or GAA over the course of the fiscal year; or
  2. receives at least $5,000 in fellowship (but not scholarship) funds (including tuition support from fellowship funds) over the course of the academic year.
Schools wishing to provide health insurance to graduate students who do not meet the qualifications defined above may do so by processing a health insurance subsidy through the Student Information System (SIS) using non-general funds; the award established by the Budget Office to fund the health insurance subsidy for qualified, state-funded graduate students may not be used for this purpose.

Schools wishing to supplement the single-coverage plan may award a stipend to the student sufficient to fund his or her health insurance premium.

The following students do not qualify for the health insurance subsidy:

  • graduate students employed only in other capacities by the University (such as a graduate student worker or a work-study employee or graduate students hired as instructors on the academic non-tenure-track faculty);
  • students enrolled exclusively in the first professional degree programs offered by Law, Medicine, or Darden (students enrolled in these schools may be qualified if they are enrolled either in a Ph.D. program in the school or in certain dual graduate degree programs and meet the criteria defined above); and
  • postdoctoral fellows who are not enrolled as full-time, degree-seeking graduate students.

The amount provided on behalf of each qualified graduate student through the centrally funded health insurance subsidy is defined as part of the University’s annual budget process and may be less than or equal to 100% of the premium for single coverage under the University-sponsored student health insurance program. Annually, the University evaluates the cost of the single coverage premium for all eligible students versus available University resources and reserves the right to reduce the subsidy to less than 100% if necessary.

The health insurance subsidy is non-transferable and non-refundable; unused subsidies cannot be refunded for their equivalent cash value.

A student may cease to qualify for the health insurance subsidy for reasons including but not limited to:

  • The student withdraws from the University during the course of the academic year;
  • The student is not employed in the capacity that was anticipated at the start of the academic year (i.e., the student was expected to serve in a qualified graduate assistantship during the spring semester, but in actuality was not employed in that capacity); or
  • Fellowship funds are not awarded because the student ceases to qualify for the fellowship.

If a student ceases to qualify after s/he has been offered the subsidy and has enrolled in the student health insurance plan, the University will not revoke the student’s coverage before it expires the following August.

  1. Graduate Students:
    To take advantage of the health insurance subsidy, qualified graduate students must enroll in the University’s student health insurance plan. The University pays the insurance subsidy directly to the insurance provider on the student’s behalf.

  2. Schools and Departments:
    The health insurance subsidy for qualified GTAs and GAAs is funded from tuition funds allocated by the University Budget Office. The health insurance subsidy for qualifying GRAs must be charged to the appropriate grant, while the health insurance subsidy for qualified fellowship recipients must be charged to the related fellowship. If sufficient funds are not available from the grant or fellowship, the subsidy must be funded from another available non-general fund source in the school; the award established by the Budget Office to fund the health insurance subsidy for qualified, state-funded graduate students may not be used for this purpose.
Related Information: 

Policy on Graduate Assistantships

“Graduate Students Employed as GRA or GTA and Fellowship/Scholarship Recipients Receiving Health Insurance Benefits” [Additional Information from Investment and Tax Services (.pdf)]

Student Health


Policy Background: 
Major Category: Executive Vice President & Provost Policies
Category Cross Reference: 
Next Scheduled Review: 06/07/15
Approved By, Date: Executive Vice President and Provost, 06/07/12
Revision History: This is the first version of this policy.
Supersedes (previous policy):