UAB's Graduate Student Medical Assistance Fund

Birmingham, AL – August 23, 2010 –
After many months of hard work, we are so incredibly proud to announce that the Graduate Student Medical Assistance Fund (GSMAF) is now accepting applications from graduate students needing financial assistance for medical expenses. Eligible students include all graduate and professional students who are members of the VIVA Student Health Plan.

Over the previous three years, The Graduate Student Association (GSA) has heard from a small number of students with medical costs that far exceed the cap of our student insurance policy.  In some cases, these costs have jeopardized students’ ability to complete graduate studies. The Graduate School and the GSA believe that it is imperative to keep the VIVA Student Health insurance premium and deductible as low as possible due to the fact that many students outside of the biomedical sciences are paying for their own insurance. At the same, we are committed to assisting our friends and colleagues who have extraordinary medical costs that are not covered by our insurance plan.

In 2008, the GSA surveyed approximately 30% of UAB's graduate students regarding their health care needs and utilization. Overall, students were pleased with the insurance coverage provided by VIVA Healthcare. However, the GSA identified an important shortfall: both prescription and durable medical equipment coverage fail to meet the needs of some students, causing severe financial hardship.

Our own research and a series of meetings with UAB administrators and VIVA executives led us to conclude that VIVA Student health insurance offers competitive rates and coverage compared to other student health insurance plans. These meetings, along with advocacy from Graduate School Dean Bryan Noe and Associate Dean Jeffrey Engler, resulted in increased prescription benefits (from $1000 per year to $2000 per year). However, this was the maximum increase that the policy could withstand without a significant increase in the premium and deductible.

Thus, the GSA founded the GSMAF in order to provide financial assistance to graduate students with a demonstrable financial medical need. GSA members who led the initiative included Grace Walton, chair of the Student Health Services and Insurance Committee, Mick Edmonds, former president of the GSA, and Jeffrey Bolland, current president of the GSA. The funding for the GSMAF comes solely from donations made by UAB's students, administrators, faculty, staff, concerned community members and businesses.

The GSMAF fundraising efforts from the 2009/2010 academic year have been exceptional, with contributions from individuals and organizations, including a generous donation from Viva Health, totaling more than $25,000. The GSA plans to continue fundraising for the GSMAF as one of its primary missions, and is now busy planning our first annual silent auction fundraiser gala, to be held on November 4, 2010.

"This is one of the most well intentioned and useful student driven initiatives that I have witnessed in all of the years I have spent serving as a faculty member and in various administrative positions. Accordingly, my wife and I have made a contribution to the Graduate Student Medical Assistance Fund and I hope that many of my faculty and administrative colleagues will choose to do so as well." said Bryan Noe, Ph.D., Dean of the UAB Graduate School.

The GSA is certain that the GSMAF will serve as an invaluable resource for our graduate student community. Furthermore, the GSMAF provides a wonderful opportunity for the UAB community to show support for its graduate students.  

How to give:

This is a perfect opportunity to make a tax-deductible donation to a great cause. Please open the link below, print and complete the PDF, and return to Daphne Powell (AB 1228 via campus mail). Checks and cash will be gratefully accepted.

Charitable Gift Contribution Form

How to get involved:

Contact the chair of the GSMAF Committee for information.

How to apply for assistance:

Please click the link below for a PDF file of the GSMAF Application. If further assistance is needed with the application, please contact Cynthia Ballinger (205-975-7188) in the Graduate School Dean’s Office.

GSMAF Application

Eligibility for assistance:

Graduate and professional students who are members of the VIVA Student Health Plan and do not have supplemental health insurance may apply. Completion of an application does not guarantee funding. Financial need should be greater than $1000 and awards will not exceed $5000.  Additional information regarding eligibility and specific instructions can be found within the GSMAF Application link above.

Thank you for your consideration and should you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.