The Financial Aid Office began offering student health insurance grants to eligible members of the class of 2024 for the 2020–2021 academic year and now has begun providing these grants to eligible members of the class of 2025. The grants, which were previously only awarded to international and independent students on financial aid, cover University health insurance for students who do not have adequate coverage from a different provider.
These health insurance grants typically benefit students who are on state Medicaid plans and whose coverage does not transfer to the state of Connecticut.
“From a health perspective, we want all students to have access to insurance that will cover them for routine exams, labs, x-rays and medications, etc. while they are at Wesleyan,” Director of University Health Center Joyce Walter wrote in an email to The Argus. “Many low income students rely on Medicaid, but if it is from out of [Connecticut] it will only cover emergency services. Having a grant assures our students have coverage for all of these services while at Wes.”
Director of Financial Aid Bob Coughlin explained that high need students were disproportionately unable to opt out of the University-sponsored health insurance plan.
“Prior to the health insurance grant initiative, these students faced additional administrative and financial obstacles as a result,” Coughlin wrote in an email to The Argus. “They either needed to enroll in the university-sponsored plan and incur additional expenses, or they needed to take initiative on their own and navigate the state system to enroll in HUSKY, CT’s Medicaid plan. Both of these options created additional stress and anxiety for students.”
Coughlin expressed how pleased he is to be able to award these grants to an expanded group of students.
“Approximately 40 students per class, or 10-15% of students receiving need-based grant support, are benefitting from this initiative,” Coughlin wrote. “Students entering with the Class of 2024 and beyond with parental incomes of $60,000 or less who are not able to opt-out of the university-sponsored health insurance plan are eligible for this funding.”
Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez ’96 highlighted the benefits of the University-sponsored health insurance on reducing financial stress.
“This initiative is important because it removes a significant financial burden, allowing our highest need students without comparable health insurance to begin their academic careers at Wesleyan with the assurance that they will be well cared for while on campus,” Gonzalez wrote in an email to The Argus.
Gonzalez and Coughlin are both members of the Financial Aid Strategy Working Group, which was formed in 2019 to bring senior administrators together to determine how best to financially support students and address any concerns. Together, this group determined the necessity of instituting health insurance grants for domestic students, as well as for international and independent ones.
“Almost immediately after I stepped on board, I learned that among the chief concerns of our highest need students were covering the cost of health insurance and the challenges they faced securing care while away from their home states,” Gonzalez wrote. “Bob Coughlin and I brought these concerns, along with a proposal, to the Financial Aid Strategy Working Group…[who] found our case, which was anchored in the lived experiences of our students, compelling and agreed to support the initiative.”
Coughlin emphasized that the initiative demonstrates the University’s commitment to supporting every student to the best of its ability.
“This initiative is the direct result of constructive conversations I and other administrators had with students about the financial obstacles they were facing while attending Wesleyan,” Coughlin wrote. “Through these conversations, it became clear that there was a gap in meeting a student’s actual need. Financial aid at Wesleyan is based upon the philosophy that all students should be able to attend Wesleyan regardless of ability to pay. I am grateful that these conversations have led to the implementation of this exciting initiative!”
Rachel Wachman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.