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Grad Employee Family Benefits

The Health & Welfare Trust Fund offers a suite of benefits to support grad student employee families. This page will discuss these benefits, including the Trust Fund Child Care Reimbursement, Subsidized child care slots at CEEC, subsidized dental and vision family plan rates, on-campus lactation stations, family-friendly workspaces, and more. See our 2023-24 Info Session at the bottom of this page!

 
Trust Fund Child Care Reimbursement
The Health & Welfare Trust Fund  is one of three organizations at UMass that offers assistance with childcare expenses for student parents. We are responsible for administering the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) child care subsidy program, also known as the Trust Fund Child Care Reimbursement

The Graduate Student Senate (GSS) subsidy program and The Student Parent Programs CCAMPUS subsidy program are two separate childcare subsidies from the GEO child care subsidy program/Trust Fund Child Care Reimbursement. These benefits may also be available to you as an eligible grad student employee. Click here for an overview of all three programs.

 
Eligibility

Basic requirements:

1. Applicants must be GEO-eligible, according to the guidelines for dental and vision insurance.

2. Eligible child care includes:

  • state-licensed (or equivalent) infant, toddler, or preschool care in center based and group home-based settings

  • before and after-school based care 

  • summer camp

  • organizational/center based extracurricular activities (i.e. excludes private lessons)

  • tutoring, homework assistance and online instructional programming costs for school-aged children

  • Family, Friends, and Neighbor (FFN) informal care in (limited by a lower $3000 maximum)

Licensed care means that the State of Massachusetts' Office of Early Education & Care (or comparable state office in another state) has provided a license to your provider to operate. The state publishes a list of licensed providers.  Please check with your provider if they are not on this list, as some are exempt under the EEC guidelines. 

 

There is a $6,000 per child (for whom receipts are submitted) annual maximum on the amount a family can be reimbursed. The full eligibility requirements and guidelines for how we determine childcare reimbursements are available below.

There is a $3,000 per child (for whom receipts are submitted) annual maximum on Family, Friends and Neighbors (FFN) Informal Care receipts.

Important Documents
Deadlines

Summer 2023 receipts (June-Aug): DUE 9/15/23

Fall 2023 receipts (Sept-Dec): DUE 12/31/23

Spring 2024 receipts (Jan-May): DUE 5/31/24

Summer 2024 receipts (June-Aug): DUE 9/15/24

Predicting your Trust Fund Child Care Reimbursement

The Trust Fund cannot guarantee reimbursements because so many changing variables impact the number and amount of reimbursements per period: the number of eligible applicants, their actual total childcare costs, etcetera. However, it can be useful to review what families similar to yours have received in previous rounds of reimbursement. Please account for the fact that any other subsidy received for the same period will reduce your total reported child care costs.

Find your income level using your family size and your household's Adjusted Gross income from your last federal tax return using the EEC Parent Copayment Chart.

Please find the most recent percentage reimbursements for all income levels below:

Other Family Benefits
Family Friendly Workspace (FFW)
The FFW is a cozy, private, child-friendly workspace that grad employees can reserve to get some work done while they're on campus.
 
The space can be reserved Monday-Saturday in 2 hour increments, starting at 8 am and with the last booking starting at 6 pm. The space includes two desks with chairs, an armchair for reading, a small table and chairs for children, kid's books and toys, and a refrigerator and a bottle warmer for nursing parents.
To reserve the space, log in to your dashboard and e-sign the FFW use waiver. Once you e-sign, you'll be sent an email to reserve the space using Calendly.
 
Click here to read the policies and procedures for the FFW.
 
Location: The FFW is located in Thompson Lowrise Room 10 (behind the tower). See this map for where to enter building. If you're entering the building from the parking lot side, you will turn right and then left to access the stairs which will take you to the lower level of Thompson. Follow the signs for the lower level bathrooms. You will receive a door access code in your confirmation email. On the weekends, there is only one outside door to Thompson that is open. It is on the parking lot side of the building (the right side if you are standing at the front of Thompson).
 
Unfortunately, the Thompson Lowrise is not accessible by elevator. There are two short flights of stairs from the ground level to the lower floor.

Subsidized Childcare Slots at CEEC

For those with qualifying incomes whose children attend the University's Center for Early Education and Care (CEEC), there are free slots in the Flex-Care classroom, paid for by the Health & Welfare Trust Fund.  Get on the waiting list as soon as you can by calling the CEEC at (413) 545-1566.

Subsidized  Dental and Vision Family Plan Rates

The Trust Fund allocates funds to keep the cost of family dental and vision plans as low as possible.  The Trust Fund subsidizes over 90% of the cost of the GEO family dental plan and 100% of the cost of the GEO family vision plan. You can add a spouse, partner and/or child(ren) to both your dental and vision plans for just $100/year. That's a small fraction of the total cost of a family premium. Each family member on your plan will receive the same benefits. We also contribute funds towards keeping your UMass student health plan contributions low. 

Altus Dental Family Plan highlights:

  • 100% coverage for preventative care, like exams and up to 4 cleanings/plan year

  • 100% coverage for fluoride for chidlren 18 and younger (1 in 6 months)

  • Orthodontic for adults and coverage for children to age 19

  • Athletic mouth guards for dep children under age 19 once every 24 months covered @ 65%

  • $2250 calendar year maximum

EyeMed Vision Family Plan highlights:

  • We increased the family frame allowance from $175 to $185 to keep more money in your pocket

  • We now offer coverage for diabetic care services

Campus Lactation Station Locations

The Health & Welfare Trust Fund has purchased a breast feeding glider chair for the breast feeding spaces operated by the Office of Family Resources (OFR): Room 428 Student Union Building and Lederle Grad Research Tower. We'd like to encourage graduate student mothers to use the space!  Click here for a map of breast-feeding rooms on campus.

Using Your Wellness Reimbursement for Family

Through the Wellness Reimbursement, family can be reimbursed up to $225/year for eligible fitness and wellness costs, as long as your family members are enrolled in your other benefits (dental & vision). In other words, their wellness expenditures can be counted toward the $225 reimbursement. For example: your spouse takes yoga classes, you (as the eligible employee) have a Planet Fitness single membership, and you just purchased a new bike for your child. All of these are eligible receipts you can submit for the wellness reimbursement. Each family member does not receive their own $225 reimbursement; rather, the $225 is shared.

 

Graduate Student Health Plan vs. HWTF

HWTF does NOT manage the Graduate Student Health Plan. The student health plan is separate from your Trust Fund benefits. Still, we want to make you aware that:

  • You can add a spouse and/or children to your student health plan. Click here for a breakdown

  • If your child(ren) are enrolled in your student health plan, the student health plan provides some pediatric dental and vision benefits for them, even if they aren't enrolled on your separate Trust Fund dental & vision plans

Outschool Class Credits

Eligible grad employees with children can access up to $250/year in free online classes, camps & tutoring for children pre K-12 through Outschool, a free service for eligible grad employees and their children. Click here for more info. Click here to sign up for class credits.

2023-24 Info Session with Student Parent Programs
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