New Benefits for Medical Leaves of Absence

January 11, 2021

Dear Graduate Students,

We hope you are doing well.  With the assault on the U.S. Capitol this past week (something President Eisgruber has written about here), as well as the ongoing challenges related to Covid-19 and continued struggles in the U.S. and around the world for racial equity, we write with a bit of good news to start our communications to you in 2021 on a positive note. 

For the past few years, our offices, in very close collaboration with the Graduate Student Government (GSG), have worked on the goal of increasing the amount of time that graduate students who are approved to take a leave of absence from the University for medical reasons may continue to receive coverage under the Student Health Plan.  Until recently, a graduate student approved for a medical leave was eligible for a three-month extension of the Student Health Plan at no additional cost.  While welcome, this extension was for many students on medical leave not sufficient for the amount of time they were away from the University with medical needs. 

We are delighted to announce two significant changes to the Student Health Plan. First, effective January 1, 2021, students taking a medical leave of absence will now receive a six-month extension of the Student Health Plan at no additional cost. Second, as of August 1, 2021, when the plan year turns over, a graduate student on medical leave who requires additional time away with medical coverage under the Student Health Plan may purchase it at the normal student rate for up to six additional months.  (Students going on medical leave this month, if any, will receive an additional one-month’s coverage to ensure their coverage is also bridged to this new benefit that is effective August 1.)   In other words, going forward, a student on medical leave may now have coverage under the Student Health Plan for a full year. The fee for the additional months that a student may purchase after the initial six-month, no-cost extension will be prorated based on the number of months purchased, with the maximum of six months’ coverage costing half the annual fee for the Student Health Plan.  As is always the case, students in difficult circumstances may apply to the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School for assistance through the Medical Hardship Fund if covering the fee poses a challenge.

We are grateful to our partners in University Health Services, the Office of the Provost, and the Office of Finance and Treasury who have worked with us and the GSG to achieve this goal.  We will be updating our publications and websites this month to indicate these changes in benefits.  Any graduate students who require a medical leave will also have these new changes in benefits explained to them through the leave request process that is administered by the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School.

Best wishes,

W. Rochelle Calhoun, Vice President for Campus Life
Cole M. Crittenden, Deputy Dean and Acting Dean of the Graduate School