Owner: Dean of the Graduate School
Contact: Dean of the Graduate School
Effective: 7/1/2020

Purpose

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 states that, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." The University of Colorado Boulder is committed to providing its graduate students who may become pregnant, are pregnant, who gave birth, or who are parents with the same access to school programs and educational opportunities that other students have access to.

It is the policy of the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) to support to the greatest extent possible, and in a manner consistent with the effective and efficient operation of CU Boulder, graduate students with a need for Academic Adjustment and/or Paid Parental Leave for Students on Appointment due to childbirth or adoption.

Eligibility

A graduate student requesting Pregnancy and Parenting-Related Academic Adjustment and/or Paid Leave for Students on Appointment must have substantial parenting responsibilities. Substantial parenting responsibilities are defined as pregnancy, childbirth, care of a newborn or newly adopted young child. The child may be the student’s child or that of a spouse or domestic partner.

I.  Pregnancy & Parenting-Related Academic Adjustment (PPRAA)

All eligible students will be granted a Pregnancy and Parenting-Related Academic Adjustment period of up to six weeks immediately following the birth or adoption of a child for whom the student has substantial parental responsibilities. During this period, the student who is registered at full-time status (or part time status) will continue to be enrolled at the same level. Pregnancy and Parenting-Related Academic Adjustment is a modification of deadlines and academic expectations to temporarily adjust for the student’s new parental responsibilities. The student will be able to postpone completion of course assignments, examinations, and other academic requirements. The advisor and/or instructor(s) of record and student should consult in advance about how the student will meet academic goals and requirements. The student is responsible for ensuring that this consultation takes place with each instructor (if applicable). The academic adjustment needs to be tailored to the student’s individual circumstances, and the timing of the student’s academic responsibilities.

 A. Provisions & Eligibility: Pregnancy & Parenting-Related Academic Adjustment (PPRAA)

  • A graduate student caregiver designated as having substantial parental responsibility may be released from full-time graduate study and the associated academic requirements for up to six weeks after the birth or adoption of a child. 
  • Any matriculated graduate student in good academic standing is eligible.
  • The student must complete the Pregnancy and Parenting-Related Academic Adjustment period within six weeks of the birth or adoption. The student may not divide the time period of PPRAA for use past this time limit. If both parents are eligible graduate students, both may take the six-week leave period.
  • After the end of the Pregnancy and Parenting-Related Academic Adjustment period, students are expected to return to graduate study and resume progress toward completing their degrees.
  • Nothing in this policy can or should replace communication and cooperation between student and advisor, and the good-faith efforts of both to accommodate the birth or adoption of a child. It is the intent of this policy to reinforce the importance of that cooperation, and to provide support to make that leave possible.
  • Pregnancy and Parenting-Related Academic Adjustment is not a leave of absence, and students benefitting from PPRAA will remain as registered full-time (or part-time) students. Students utilizing the adjustment period are expected to maintain registration, pay tuition and fees, remain in contact with their advisor, and engage in limited academic activity (e.g., reading), assuming the good health of the student and the infant or child.  Students may prefer to apply for a Leave of Absence for a semester or academic year.
    • Students on leave of absence are not registered for coursework, may not hold an appointment, and are not eligible for the provisions in the Paid Leave for Students on Appointment. 

II. Paid Leave for Students on Appointment

Eligible graduate students on appointments as Teaching Assistants, Graduate Assistants, Research Assistants, and Graduate Part Time Instructors (hereafter referred to as ‘Graduate Student Assistants’) will be excused from their duties for a period of up to six weeks immediately following the birth or adoption of a child. During this period they will continue to receive their stipend, benefits, and associated tuition support.

B. Provisions & Eligibility: Paid Leave for Students on Appointment

  • In order to be eligible students must be on at least a 25% appointment.
  • An eligible Graduate Student Assistant becomes a parent of a child for purposes of this policy at the time of the child’s birth or adoption.  The paid leave is not available during the period preceding the birth or adoption.
  • Funding during the leave period will be at the same level as the Graduate Student Assistant’s normal compensation up to the standard appointment level of 50% time (20 hours per week).
  • Prior to the leave, the Graduate Student Assistant must have been enrolled full-time (per Graduate School rules) with a minimum .25 FTE (10 hours a week) assistantship for at least one full semester in a graduate degree program at CU Boulder.
  • During the semester when the leave period is requested, the Graduate Student Assistant must be appointed with a minimum .25 FTE Graduate Assistantship and be enrolled full-time (per Graduate School rules).
  • Graduate Student Assistants must be in good academic standing and be making satisfactory progress toward completion of their degree. 
  • The timing of the paid leave with continued stipend and tuition support is required to coincide with the Graduate Student Assistant’s funding contract.
  • The leave period must be completed within six weeks of the birth or adoption but does not extend past the end of the contract date.
  • Foster care placement is not included within this policy. 
  • The number of children born or adopted does not increase the amount of the paid leave.
  • After the end of the leave period, it is expected that the Graduate Student Assistant will return to normal assistantship duties.

Procedures

I.  Pregnancy & Parenting-Related Academic Adjustment (PPRAA)

  1. The graduate student must inform the chair of their academic program department and their advisor three months in advance, or as early as possible, of the graduate student’s intent to seek a PPRAA.
  2. The graduate student and academic program department (via the chair and/or the graduate student’s advisor) should discuss the tentative dates the student plans to utilize the PPRAA. Family Medical Leave must also be designated if the student is eligible.[1] The tentative dates should be documented and retained, as part of the graduate student’s departmental student record. The graduate student is responsible for informing the academic program department (via the chair and/or the graduate student’s advisor) of any changes to the tentative dates within a reasonable amount of time after any events affecting such dates (e.g. childbirth). For international graduate students only: International graduate students should also discuss their intent to seek a PPRAA with the Office of International Students & Scholars to understand any impact on the graduate student’s immigration status.
  3. The graduate student should work with the instructor for each course impacted by the graduate student’s PPRAA to develop a PPRAA Academic Work Plan (“Academic Work Plan”) for that course.  The Academic Work Plan should address any adjusted academic requirements and coursework expectations for each course/registration, including modified due dates for assignments as applicable. 

    The Academic Work Plan should take into account the six-week leave dates and the academic calendar. If the semester will end before completion of coursework under the Academic Work Plan, it plan state that the graduate student will be assigned a grade of incomplete for that course and address the adjusted timeline for completion. 

    Each Academic Work Plan must be signed by the graduate student and the instructor for the relevant course. The Academic Work Plan must be approved in writing by the student’s academic advisor and a copy should be given to the program assistant and kept as part of the student record.

    The Academic Work Plan should be developed as far in advance as possible, and in any case not less than ten weeks prior to the start of the PPRAA. The academic program department chair and/or advisor may permit exceptions to the requirement that the Academic Work Plan be submitted at least 10 weeks in advance at their discretion.

 II.  Paid Leave for Students on Appointment (for students also holding a qualifying appointment)

  1. The Graduate Assistant (as defined in the Graduate Student Pregnancy & Parenting-related Policy) must inform their supervisor and the department chair in which the Graduate Assistant holds the assistantship three months in advance, or as early as possible, of the Graduate Assistant’s intent to seek paid leave.
  2. Supervisors and the Graduate Assistant will develop an Assistantship Duties Work Plan (“Duties Work Plan”).  The Duties Work Plan should address any necessary adjustments in assistantship activities and responsibilities that will support the transition of assistantship duties to other graduate students, if applicable. The Duties Work Plan must be signed by the Graduate Assistant and the assistantship supervisor. The Duties Work Plan must be approved in writing by the employing department chair and kept as part of the departmental student employment record.  The Duties Work Plan should be developed as far in advance as possible, and in any case not less than ten weeks prior to the start of the paid leave period. The Graduate Assistant’s supervisor and/or employing department chair may permit exceptions to the requirement that the Duties Work Plan be submitted at least 10 weeks in advance at their discretion. 
  3. An eligible Graduate Assistant must submit a Request for Paid Leave for Students on Appointment after consultation with the Graduate Assistant’s advisor/supervisor and employing department’s chair. The Request for Paid Leave must include documentation from a medical provider or adoption agency of the anticipated birth or adoption, as applicable. The Request for Paid Leave must be signed by the employing department’s chair and submitted to the Graduate School graduate.fundadmin@colorado.edu for approval at least six weeks prior to the leave.
  4. The Graduate School will approve the paid leave in writing. The Graduate School will forward a copy of the approval to the Graduate Assistant and the employing department chair.
  5. Eligible Graduate Assistants may submit a request to their supervisor and chair for additional unpaid leave time beyond the paid leave provided by the Graduate Student Pregnancy & Parenting-related Policy. Requests for additional unpaid leave are not covered by these Procedures and must be approved by the home department chair.
  6. Upon return from paid leave (or additional unpaid leave, if applicable), the Graduate Assistant will be returned to the same level of financial support prior to going on leave.

Additional Information & Forms

Graduate student requests for extension of time limit are not covered by these Procedures. Students who need to request an extension of time limit should follow the process for departmental endorsement and approval by the Graduate School, as outlined in that policy.

Leave of Absences are not covered by these Procedures. Graduate students who prefer to apply for a Leave of Absence for a semester or academic year may do so through the existing process. Doctoral students who have passed the comprehensive exam are eligible, and should include “parental leave” in the reasons section of the form and follow the usual approval process. Students on leave of absence are not registered for coursework, may not hold an appointment, and are not eligible for the provisions in the Paid Leave for Students on Appointment above.

Graduate Students, Departments, advisors, and supervisors who have questions about this Policy should consult as needed with the Dean of the Graduate School’s office.

Any graduate student who needs additional accommodations beyond those covered by these Procedures should contact the university’s Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance Office. Find more information about the ADA Compliance Office’s pregnancy accommodation process.

The University encourages supervisors and faculty to be flexible in their expectations of new parents so that the demands of completing a graduate degree may be balanced with new parental responsibilities. Any student who needs additional accommodation beyond what is outlined in this policy should contact the university’s ADA unit (for employment) or Disability Services (for academic).

International Students: F-1 student visa or J-1 Exchange Visitor visa holders must consult in advance with International Student and Scholar Services about their plans during the period of parental leave to ensure that they do not violate their visa restrictions.