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Health Insurance Benefits for Graduate Assistants


For the 2023-24 academic year the Board of Visitors approved a health insurance subsidy rate of 88% for graduate assistants, matching the university's share of other employee health insurance programs.  The insurance covers the period from Aug 1-Jul 31, and the premium is paid fully between Aug 10-May 9. 

Contact the Student Medical Insurance office for information on enrollment, rates, coverage plans and other related information.

Students must meet the following criteria to receive this benefit:

  • Maintain at least a half-time graduate assistantship (10 hours per week) for a period between August 10 and May 9
  • Enroll in a university-sponsored health insurance plan
  • Sign up for the payroll deduction of premium payments (for your 12% contribution) by selecting the "subsidy eligible graduate assistants" option in the Aetna enrollment process 

The insurance benefit is prorated and applied in each pay period for 18 payments between August and May. Students must maintain at least a 50% assistantship for the entire academic year (for payroll periods of August 10 to May 9) to receive the full benefit amount. Students who are employed for a shorter period will receive the benefit only during the period of their assistantship. Please review the FAQ section for a more detailed explanation.

The insurance subsidy is not available to students with alternate medical coverage.

To Claim the Benefit

To claim this benefit, eligible graduate assistants must sign up for the insurance plan through Aetna and choose the "subsidy eligible graduate assistants" option. The insurance benefit will be automatically provided in a prorated amount, and the student's portion of 12%   will be deducted automatically from the student's paycheck each pay period.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Insurance Benefit

Yes. The health insurance benefit is only available to students who have purchased the university-sponsored health insurance plan.

No. The insurance subsidy is not available for non-VT-sponsored insurance plans.

No. The insurance benefit is a component of the graduate assistantship compensation. Only graduate students employed as graduate assistants (GA), graduate teaching assistants (GTA), or graduate research assistants (GRA) and who meet the above criteria are eligible.

If your appointment is effective August 10, the insurance office will do a multiple premium deduction and make the policy effective August 1. You will also receive the benefit beginning August 10. You still need to apply for the insurance during the open enrollment period that usually starts in late July or early August and ends in mid-September.

The benefit is distributed in equal amounts each pay period. If your assistantship begins later in the year, if you meet the above criteria, you will begin receiving the benefit as soon as your assistantship appointment is entered in the system. However, you will receive the benefit only for the period of your assistantship appointment.

Students who maintain assistantships for the entire academic year (August 10 through May 9) will receive the full benefit amount. If you are employed for a fraction of that time, you will receive the associated percentage of the benefit. For example, if you are on assistantship from January 1 to May 9, you are employed for one-half of the academic year. You will be eligible for one-half of the benefit.

Students who purchased the university-sponsored health insurance for the academic year are able to remain on the insurance through the end of the coverage year (Jul 31) even if they graduate in May.