Credit Enrollment, Program Fees, and keeping your Health Insurance at UMass
You should only register for program fee if you are NOT funded by the department or other UMass department. In other words, if you will not be teaching here and have fulfilled your dissertation credits, program fee is the way to go.
If you ARE funded by UMass and register for program fee, you get classified as some sort of temporary employee and AUTOMATICALLY enrolled in a retirement plan that takes around $60 from each paycheck. That's $120 a month, which is a lot! This is a state requirement, so you cannot opt out of it. Then if you want to withdraw this money from the account, you end up losing most of it to taxes. But you can avoid it by registering for some dissertation/thesis credits. Just remember that if you register for less than 5 credits, you must go to health services to physically enroll in the health plan. If you do happen to register for less than 5 credits, you will still be considered full time, and will not have to pay into the retirement plan. The price difference between program fee and 4 credits is low…something like $30, if I recall.
You need to always maintain full-time credit status, this means being enrolled for 9 credits.
*As soon as* you are done with coursework, ask the GPD to write a letter to the Graduate School saying that you are now done with coursework, and fulfilling course requirements full-time in other ways (e.g. dissertating). This enables you to register - and pay for - just one credit. **If you want health insurance, though, be sure to register for 5 credits.
**The fees for 5 credits versus 9 credits is not a huge amount - maybe a couple of hundred of dollars/semester - but enough not to register for more credits than you have to!
***You may register for less than five credits as some international students have in the past and continue to do, but make sure you have the GPD write a letter to the Graduate School as described above. You will also need to go to the UHS to sign up for insurance if you are GEO eligible and have less than 5 credits.