Incoming Graduate Students

What's important to do once you arrive? What don't you have to worry about?

Disclaimer: this info reflects students' experiences. We try to provide you with the most accurate information. However, we cannot guarantee that this is the case. Please visit the relevant campus offices if you have any concerns.


The English Department is pretty good about pointing you in the right direction on this. Unless you are independently wealthy, you really do need funding to attend graduate school. A Teaching or Research Associateship includes a stipend, health insurance, and tuition and fee wavers.

Most English graduate students get TOs in the Writing Program. Some work with the Renaissance Center, receive fellowships, or find other campus positions.

For more info:
Graduate Assistantship Office
Graduate Employee Organization (GEO), the UMass graduate student labor union
The Writing Program


If you are registered for more than 5 credits, you will be automatically enrolled in the UMass Health Insurance program. If you have a TA, it is most likely that you are a GEO (Graduate Employee Organization) member automatically. As such, most of your health insurance fees will be waived. These fees may appear on your bill in the beginning of the semester, but they will be waived once your TAship is processed.

Your Vision/Dental insurance works a little differently. You have to actively enroll in these plans, and the dates of coverage do not follow the academic year. They begin in November and last a year. If you are an incoming graduate student and have not worked in a GEO position, you are not eligible until November. For more information, see their Info for New Students.

If you have family members you would like on your plan, you can enroll them for additional fees.

More info:
GEO Health Insurance Page

Parking Permits

You can apply for a parking permit at a reduced rate if you have a GEO-eligible TAship. The Parking Services office may want to see a copy of your contract. Even if your contract has not been signed by all of the necessary departments yet, you can still ask your hiring department for a photocopy.

Most English graduate students park in Lot 33 (green lot). It's a bit of a hike—about 10 minutes. You'll want to get on the wait list for Lot 32 (blue lot) as soon as possible.

For more info:
Parking Services

Paying Tuition Bills

Chances are, you have looked at your Spire account and seen enormous sums due. Perhaps you have even received an outrageous bill in the mail. If you have signed a contract or will sign a contract for a TA, don't worry. The tuition and fee waivers will be processed in due time. It can take awhile for your contract to travel to all of the necessary departments and for your bill to be adjusted. Students with GEO-eligible positions pay the Graduate Senate Tax, Service Fee, and a small portion of your Health Insurance Fee. Incoming students also pay a one-time Entering Fee.

In any case, remember that the graduate student bill deadline occurs in October. You do not have to pay immediately.

If you have a GEO eligible TAship, you can also pay your semester bill by payroll deduction if you file the paperwork by the deadline.

For more info:
Bursar's Office
Graduate Employee Organization (GEO), the UMass graduate student labor union

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