Published: Jan. 28, 2020

CU Boulder announced today a number of changes regarding student benefits and fees. Among the changes are optional dental insurance for graduate students, a new parental leave policy for graduate students and a number of fee changes for all students. 

CU Boulder’s proposed financial enhancements for graduate students on appointment—those who are teaching assistants, graduate assistants, research assistants and graduate part-time instructors—effective July 1, 2020.

  • Offer dental insurance with a campus subsidy of 91% of the total cost.
  • Provide paid parental leave of up to six weeks following birth or adoption.
  • Cover the cost of the RTD College Pass; proposed savings $152.08 per academic year

CU Boulder’s proposed changes to specified fees

  • Eliminate the Student Information Systems (SIS) fee, currently $14 per academic year for undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Reduce the Capital Construction fee, currently $245.20 per academic year, by $45.20 per academic year for undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Increase mental health by $19.08 per academic year, per campus discussions regarding mental health support for all students; RTD and Alternative Transportation by $15.88 per academic year. The University of Colorado Student Government (CUSG) Student Activity will be finalized this spring.

NOTE: These proposed changes are part of an overall budget that is pending Board of Regents review and approval in spring 2020.

Beginning in fall 2020, all graduate students who enroll in the CU Gold student health insurance plan will be offered the option of dental insurance. This is a voluntary plan, which would allow for expanded dental services and care. For those graduate students on appointment—teaching assistants, graduate assistants, research assistants and graduate part-time instructors—91% of the dental plan cost will be subsidized by the campus (equivalent to the Gold health insurance subsidy). 

The new leave of absence policy announced today allows for an academic adjustment period for graduate students who become new parents and paid leave for those graduate students on appointment.

“The aim of this policy is to provide our graduate students who are new parents with the same access to school programs and educational opportunities that other students have,” said Scott Adler, dean of the Graduate School. “We place a great deal of importance on providing a supportive environment for our students and helping them balance the demands of graduate study and welcoming a new child.” 

The policy, administered by the Graduate School, will be effective July 1, 2020. Procedures for implementing the new policy will be announced during the spring 2020 semester. Any questions about this policy should be directed to the Graduate School at

As an additional benefit for graduate students on appointment, the university plans to cover the cost of the RTD College Pass, a savings of $152.08 per academic year. 

The university also proposes to eliminate the Student Information Systems (SIS) fee, which currently is $14 per academic year, and reduce the Capital Construction fee by $45.20 per academic year. These proposed fee changes and benefits will be part of the entire budget package presented to the Board of Regents for its approval in the spring.

“These recommendations are in keeping with the university’s commitment to address affordability issues for all students,” said Carla Ho-a, CU Boulder’s chief financial officer. “They also continue our commitment to address the financial concerns of our graduate students and act on the recommendations made by the Graduate Task Force on Stipends and Benefits.”

“This is a big win for graduate students,” said Sarah Fahmy, president of the United Government of Graduate Students (UGGS) and a member of last year’s graduate task force. “We have worked on these issues for years, and while our work isn’t done, this announcement affirms the importance of our strong collaboration with the Graduate School. The school and UGGS have clearly heard ongoing requests by the graduate and professional student community.”

During the last five years, the Graduate School has worked closely with UGGS and other campus partners to address graduate student financial concerns. In that time, several key investments have been made:       

  • More than $8 million to increase base stipends for graduate student assistants.
  • Eliminated course and program fees starting in fall 2018.
  • Eliminated the athletic fee for all graduate students starting in fall 2018.
  • Covered the expense for summer RTD transit passes for graduate students on summer appointments starting in summer 2018.     
  • Steadily increased the subsidy to the student gold health insurance plan for eligible students from 70% in academic year 2014-15 to the current 91% of total cost.       

“These previous investments have had a significant impact on graduate student compensation,” said Ann Schmiesing, executive vice provost for academic resource management. “After the release of the task force recommendations last fall, Dean Scott Adler and I committed to exploring the feasibility of making further investments to support graduate students and graduate education at CU Boulder. We believe that these proposed changes in fees and additional benefits are a meaningful step in that direction.”

Adler added, “I’d like to recognize and thank the many staff and administrative offices on campus for their contributions in helping to create these new policies and initiatives. In particular, I wish to thank UGGS for their partnership as the campus continues to expand the ways we support our graduate students.”