Program Fee Students

Once you have completed your course work and your dissertation credits, your tuition bill will go way down. Welcome to Program Fee! (Alternatively, you can take 1 credit; it computes to about the same.) Unfortunately, going on Program Fee or taking fewer than 5 credits comes with its share of hassles. You are no longer automatically considered a full-time student, which affects your paycheck, your health insurance, and your loan deferment eligibility.

Because you are no longer automatically considered a full-time student, you must take the following steps every semester.

Health Insurance

When you took more than 5 credits, you were automatically enrolled in health insurance. Not anymore.

Now you must go every semester to UHS in person before the Add/Drop period is over to enroll in health insurance.

The GEO website has updated information on the precise dates for health insurance coverage, including information for graduating students.

As always, you must enroll for Dental and Vision through the GEO office.

Retirement Fees

The University will start taking retirement money out of your paycheck once you take fewer than 5 credits. For me, that meant a paycheck that was $60 less than it should have been! And when will you see this money again? Maybe never. If you do want some of it back, you have to apply for it at the end of your tenure at UMass. And because you are taking money out of the retirement fund, it will be heavily taxed.

You can avoid this by having your department secretary send a letter to the Graduate Assistantship Office informing them that the English Department still considers you a full-time student. This is standard procedure. The Graduate Assistantship Office will then go through Payroll (in Human Resources) to ensure that no retirement money is deducted from your check.

You may want to double-check with Payroll to make sure all this paperwork has gone through.

You have to do this every semester.

Loan Deferment

You probably haven’t been doing much to defer your loans since you got here. The UMass Graduate Records Office generally takes care of that for you.

Not anymore. You are no longer considered a full-time student. Once again, you have to ask your department secretary to send a letter to the Graduate Records Office, informing them that the English Department still considers you a full-time student. The Graduate Records Office will then inform the central loan clearinghouse of your status.

And yes, you have to do this every semester.

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