Mike Rowe, a graduate student of the University of Minnesota was confused. He received a new insurance card in the mail and a fee of $950 charged to his student account. He almost threw away his old card before realizing this was a mistake.
Many Graduate students were automatically enrolled in the University of Minnesota's Student Health Benefit plan and many of them were charged $950 in their student accounts.
AdvertisementAccording to University, there are policy mandates - students in the degree program, and registered for more than 6 credits, were routinely registered for the Student Health Benefit Plan.
Graduate assistants could enroll in different programs after verifying their positions and eligibility for the Graduate Assistant Health Plan - said Student Health Benefits Director, Susan Jackson.
Due to the process change, this semester saw more cases with these charges. Earlier students were allowed to self-report their insurance, but some studies indicated that 10% of them were reporting their insurance incorrectly.
Hence, she had to manually verify insurance enrollment and eligibility. Since this takes time the charge of $950 was placed on some graduate student accounts temporarily.
Wes Burdine, a graduate student, realized this charge later and though confused was not surprised, "I've been frustrated enough with the University's bizarre policies that unfortunately, I'm used to it by now," he said.
Robb St. Lawrence said this charge would have an impact on graduate students - financially, "We're financially strapped by the nature of being grad students, so no one was rushing to pay their fees ... if someone had, they would have been charged that extra $950," he said.
St. Lawrence said most graduate students in the Department of English were charged, which he said is about 100 people. He felt there was an issue with communication and transparency.
"We didn't hear anything from anybody ... there was no warning, it was just a $950 fee," he said. "It was really dumb that no one told us about it."
According to Jackson, her office tries to complete the verification process before the tuition is due, but manually processing 4000 students slows the process. "It's more of a workflow process," Jackson said. "It's not a mistake."
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)
Cody Nelson, Feb 2013
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