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.
According 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
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