Compensation and Benefits

MERIT Compensation Guidelines



Each MERIT Scholar will be supported for a maximum of three years. The annual amount of each stipend is based on the recommended stipend levels for individuals receiving support through institutional or individual National Research Service Awards (NRSA) at Fiscal Year 2013 levels.



  • VIVA Health Insurance  MERIT Scholars are status 21 employees
    VIVA Health is the health care plan provided for MERIT Scholars. The premium for either single or family coverage is paid by the University. Coverage under UAB's group health care plan must be elected on either the first day of appointment or the first day of the month following the date of appointment. The postdoc has 31 days from their starting date to complete hospital insurance forms either by participating in orientation or by scheduling an appointment with the Benefits Department. Some form of health insurance coverage is mandatory and proof of insurance is required if the University's health insurance is not elected. VIVA Health also covers medical evacuation and repatriation of remains for international postdoctoral scholars.
  • Postdoctoral Met Life Dental Basic Option
    Preventive and diagnostic are covered at 90% UCR. Basic services are covered at 90% UCR subject to a $25.00 deductible. The MERIT Scholar's monthly premium is $19.18 for single coverage and $44.16 for family coverage.
  • Postdoctoral Met Life Dental Comprehensive Option
    In addition to the basic dental benefits, the comprehensive plan covers major services at 60% UCR subject to the deductible. Orthodontics is covered at 50% UCR up to a $1,000 lifetime maximum per patient. The MERIT Scholar pays the full monthly premium of $35.92 for single coverage or $82.74 for family coverage.
  • Retirement Plan - TIAA/CREF 
    Teachers Insurance & Annuity Association/College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA/CREF). Eligible to participate in the TIAA/CREF 403(b) program on an matchedtax sheltered basis up to 5%. The program offers the individual a choice as to the distribution of the total deposit to be placed in TIAA (fixed annuity) or CREF (variable annuity). Available to postdoctoral employee (status code 21) only.


Travel Allowance


There is an allotment in the grant of $750 per MERIT Scholar for allowable travel expenses, including transportation, hotel registration, and meals, to a scientific meeting. In addition, each MERIT Scholar is allotted $750 for travel to the annual IRACDA meeting. Scholars should notify The Office of Postdoctoral Education if costs exceed the provided allotment. As a general policy, second or third year Scholars should present a poster or talk at each meeting they attend. First year Scholars are encouraged to attend appropriate scientific meetings for professional development and may also submit abstracts for posters or presentations.


Institutional Allowance

Newly recruited First Year MERIT Scholars receive a $750 laptop computer allotment. Second and Third Year MERIT Scholars are provided $275 each year (grant fiscal year is July 1 – June 30) to spend on research and teaching related items; allowable expenses include books, and laboratory and teaching supplies. All purchases against the annual allowance must be made through Office of Postdoctoral Education. Any unspent monies will be returned to NIH.