Some graduate students at Florida State University say they’re being exploited because the university’s healthcare coverage for teaching and research assistants fails to adequately cover their costs. The group has been in negotiations with FSU since May over just how much their healthcare stipend should be.
Graduate students say since the university requires students have full health coverage before they’re allowed to enroll in classes, they shouldn’t have to pay for a student health plan. Currently the university only covers 30 to 50 percent of a grad student’s healthcare costs. Those numbers are even lower when a grad student isn’t from the U.S. Co-President of FSU’s grad assistant labor union; Kerr Ballenger said FSU should get on board with the other schools around the state.
“Why would a graduate assistant come to Florida State when they could drive to Gainesville, get a higher stipend, full health insurance coverage and get a comparable education? This is about FSU remaining competitive,” Ballenger questioned.
Florida State did offer to increase the subsidy for grad assistants working 20 hours a week, but didn’t budge when it came to those working less. Susana Miller, the university’s chief negotiator, said the school values its graduate assistants and is eager to reach a deal.
“The university intends to continue negotiations regarding health insurance subsidies for graduate assistants with a desire of reaching an agreement in the near future,” Miller stated.
The graduate assistant union says they’ll settle for nothing less than their goal of 100 percent coverage.