In recognition of the challenges of balancing the demands of graduate study and parenting a new child, this policy aims to improve the environment for student parents. The Graduate Student Parental Accommodation Policy (GSPAP) assists graduate students immediately following the birth or adoption of a young child. The purpose of this policy is to make it possible for a student to maintain registered full time student status, along with all the benefits of such status, while facilitating the return to full participation in courses, research and teaching.
The Parental Accommodation Policy applies to full time, enrolled Rackham graduate students who are in good academic standing, and making satisfactory progress toward completion of their degree. The policy covers the situation of students who experience a child birth or the adoption of a child under the age of 6 for whom the student has parental responsibilities. These eligibility requirements cover all three provisions of the GSPAP.
I. Extension of Time Limits to Degree or Candidacy
Eligible students are entitled to an extension of one year per childbirth or adoption to the maximum time limits to degree and candidacy as established in Rackham’s academic policies. Requests for extension of time limits must be approved by the graduate program and submitted to the Rackham Office of Academic Records and Dissertations. An extension of time limits does not guarantee a student will have Rackham and/or program funding in those terms. Students should consult with their advisor regarding funding options for extension periods prior to requesting the parental accommodation.
II. Parental Accommodation Period
All eligible students will be granted a Parental Accommodation period up to six weeks long immediately following the birth of a child or the adoption of a child under the age of 6 for whom the student has parental responsibilities; students who give birth will be granted up to eight weeks of Parental Accommodation. During this period of accommodation, the student will continue to be enrolled as a full time student. Because the student remains enrolled as a full time student and continues to pay tuition, this is not a leave of absence. It is instead a modification of deadlines and academic expectations to accommodate the student’s new parental responsibilities. The student will be able to postpone completion of course assignments, examinations, and other academic requirements. The advisor and student should consult in advance about how the student will meet academic goals and requirements. The student is responsible for ensuring that this consultation takes place. The Accommodation Period needs to be tailored to the student’s individual circumstances, and the timing of the student’s academic responsibilities.
The student must complete the accommodation period within eight weeks of the birth or adoption. The student may not divide the time period of parental accommodation for use past this time limit. If both parents are eligible graduate students, both may take the six-week accommodation period. The total accommodation period for each birth or adoption is limited to six weeks, eight weeks for the birth parent; in the event of a multiple birth or adoption, the length of the accommodation period will be limited to six weeks, eight weeks for the birth parent.
After the end of the Parental Accommodation period, students are expected to return to graduate study and resume progress toward completing their degrees. Faculty are encouraged to remain flexible in their expectations of students who become new parents, so that students can meet the demands of graduate study at the same time that they face new demands in their parental roles. Nothing in this policy can or should replace communication and cooperation between student and advisor, and the good-faith efforts of both to accommodate the birth or adoption of a child. It is the intent of this policy to reinforce the importance of that cooperation, and to provide support to make that accommodation possible.
Special Notice to International Students: Students who are attending the University of Michigan with a F-1 student visa or J-1 Exchange Visitor visa are strongly encouraged to consult in advance with the International Center about their plans during the period of Parental Accommodation.
III. Student Funding During the Parental Accommodation Period
A. Graduate Student Research Assistants
With advance planning, many GSRA assignments can be adapted for modifications of schedule that new student parents need during a Parental Accommodation Period. Faculty advisors and students with GSRA appointments are encouraged to work out the necessary adjustments as far in advance as practical. Faculty members who supervise GSRAs who become fathers and who become adoptive parents should offer flexibility to allow students to take advantage of the Parental Accommodation Period. During this period the students will continue to receive their salary or stipend, benefits, and associated tuition support.
The situation is more difficult for mothers who give birth, and must cope with the health consequences of childbirth and recovery in addition to new parental roles. Eligible graduate students employed as Graduate Student Research Assistants who experience the health consequences of pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions will be excused from their regular duties as GSRAs for a period of up to six weeks, eight weeks for the birth parent. During this period, they will continue to receive their salary or stipend, benefits, and associated tuition support. Most granting agencies provide for a limited period of reduced activity due to health or personal issues. If the regulations of the funding agency allow a six-week period, eight weeks for the birth parent, of reduced activity and absence, the grant will continue to pay the student’s support. If the granting agency regulations do not permit this, or if project deadlines require that a temporary replacement be hired to cover the student’s absence for six weeks, eight weeks for the birth parent, the student’s salary or stipend and benefits will be paid by the Childbirth Accommodation Fund at the Rackham Graduate School. Tuition costs associated with the GSRA appointment will not be reimbursed by the Fund because the accommodation period is limited to six weeks, eight weeks for the birth parent.
The Childbirth Accommodation Fund supports only students who meet the eligibility requirements, who give birth, and who have appointments as GSRAs in the academic semester(s) in which the Parental Accommodation period occurs.
B. Fellowship Recipients
Eligible students who are supported by University of Michigan fellowships will experience no change in their funding arrangements during the Parental Accommodation Period; they will continue to receive their fellowship support and benefits during the Parental Accommodation period.
Eligible students who are supported by fellowships external to the University must adhere to the rules of the granting agency with respect to absences from academic and research work. If the granting agency requires suspension of fellowship benefits during the six week Parental Accommodation period, eight weeks for the birth parent, the student will be eligible for substitute payment from the Childbirth Accommodation Fund.
C. Graduate Student Instructors or Graduate Student Staff Assistants
The terms of employment for students with GSI or GSSA appointments are covered by the contract between the University and the Graduate Employees Organization. The provisions of the contract will govern stipend and benefits for these students.
D. Graduate Students without Financial Support
Students who do not have an on-going commitment of financial support from the University are eligible for the Parental Accommodation period and automatic extension of time limits but are not entitled to funding from the Childbirth Accommodation Fund.
Students must submit requests for extension of time limits to their graduate program for approval, and to Rackham Graduate School.
An eligible student must submit a Request for Graduate Student Parental Accommodation, after appropriate consultation with her/his advisor, principal investigator, and graduate chair. The form, with appropriate documentation of the anticipated birth or adoption (a letter from the student’s medical provider with an estimate of delivery date or from the adoption agency with an estimate of adoption date), will be submitted to the student’s graduate program office for approval and to Rackham Graduate School for approval.
Payments from the Childbirth Accommodation Fund are administered by the Rackham Fellowships Office. The Principal Investigator or administrator of the grant supporting the student may request payment from the Fellowships Office. The Fellowships Office requires either verification that the regulations of the funding agency do not allow a period of reduced work load to accommodate the Parental Accommodation period or a request from the Principal Investigator for funding for a temporary replacement. Once it has been determined that the use of the Childbirth Accommodation Fund is necessary and has been approved, the Fellowships Office will provide the Principal Investigator with account information for charging the student’s salary, stipend, and benefits during the six or eight-week accommodation period. Students with external fellowships that do not permit temporary absences should consult with their graduate program office, and have that office contact the Fellowships Office directly.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is “parental accommodation?”
- Who is eligible to be considered for parental accommodation?
- What does parental accommodation provide?
- What happens if I’m a GSI/GSSA?
- Who administers the policy?
- How is parental accommodation approved?
- What is the duration of the accommodation period?
- I would like to use four weeks now and two weeks at a later date. Is that possible?
- I’m an international student. Will my visa status affect parental accommodation?
- What should I do before I apply for parental accommodation?
- How will I be notified by Rackam about my request?
- Who do I contact if I have questions?
Parental accommodation allows a registered, full-time Rackham student, immediately following the birth of a child or adoption, to have a period up to six weeks, eight weeks for the birth parent, of reduced activity and/or absence during which academic deadlines and expectations can be modified. This is not a leave of absence; the student remains enrolled full-time. In addition, students who have been granted parental accommodation are eligible to extend limits for time to candidacy and time to degree for up to one year.
Full-time, enrolled Rackham graduate students in good academic standing and making satisfactory progress toward the degree, and who have completed at least one full-time semester of their degree program, are eligible. Students must be new parents or guardians who have experienced a birth or the adoption of a child under the age of 6 as a full-time responsibility. To be eligible, a student must be the birth mother, father or partner, or adoptive parent.
Parental accommodation has three parts:
Students may receive a parental accommodation period of up to six weeks immediately following the birth or adoption of a child; up to eight weeks for the birth parent. During this period, some academic deadlines and related expectations may be modified to allow the student to meet new responsibilities as a parent.
For each childbirth or adoption, students may be granted an extension of up to one year for the time limits that Rackham’s academic policies set for achieving candidacy and finishing the degree.
Under limited circumstances, and only for instances of childbirth, the Rackham Childbirth Accommodation Fund will reimburse programs and departments for the salaries and benefits of GSRAs when funding agencies do not permit temporary absences and students are not able to meet the full-time responsibilities of their appointment. This reimbursement is also available if a project deadline requires hiring a temporary replacement during the GSRA‘s absence. The Rackham Childbirth Accommodation Fund will allow these GSRAs to receive their salary or stipend, benefits and associated tuition support during the six-week accommodation period, eight weeks for the birth parent. If funding rules allow a period of reduced activity and absence, however, the grant will continue to pay the student’s support. Similarly, in rare instances, an external fellowship may require that stipend and benefits be suspended when a student is unable to work full-time. In such cases, the Childbirth Accommodation Fund will provide the student’s salary or stipend and benefits during the six-week parental accommodation period.
Only GSRAs or holders of certain restrictive fellowships are eligible for support from the Childbirth Accommodation Fund.
Students with GSI or GSSA appointments are eligible for the Parental Accommodation Period and the one-year extension to the maximum time limits to degree and candidacy for academic requirement. The contract between the University and the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO), however, covers the terms of employment for students with these appointments.
The Rackham Dean’s Office administers the policy.
Requests for extension of time limits and Parental Accommodation require full communication with advisors and graduate chairs, and must receive approval from the student’s graduate program before authorization can be finalized. Graduate students should initiate planning within the department, and submit a request and appropriate documentation of anticipated childbirth or adoption, well in advance of delivery or adoption.
A student is eligible for parental accommodation of up to six weeks immediately after the birth or adoption of the child, up to eight weeks for the birth parent. This period is limited to six weeks, including multiple births and simultaneous adoptions of two or more children, up to eight weeks for the birth parent. This accommodation period begins on the actual date of childbirth or adoption.
The six or eight-week accommodation period must be used consecutively within six weeks immediately following the birth or adoption and may not be deferred past this time limit.
Students on F-1 or J-1 visas should consult with the International Center about plans during the parental accommodation period, and to make sure their visa status is in good standing. Since parental accommodation requires full-time enrollment status, students should remain in good visa status for SEVIS requirements.
Read the Rackham Graduate Student Parental Accommodation Policy and download the application. Students anticipating birth or adoption are strongly encouraged to talk with advisors and appropriate program administrators as far in advance of the anticipated due-date or adoption day as possible. The student and program advisor need to plan and adjust time-tables to allow the student to meet academic responsibilities; to adapt schedules for completing time-sensitive research presentations or reports; and, when necessary, to adjust schedules for coursework, qualifying examinations, grant and publication deadlines, dissertation committee meetings, and other important degree milestones. Doctoral candidates should notify all members of their committee about any adjustments to the dissertation completion calendar.
Rackham will notify relevant department and administrative offices that Parental Accommodation has been approved and the dates for which the period has been granted. Students will also receive a copy of the form once processed by Rackham. It is the student’s responsibility to work with faculty and program administrators to make arrangements for completing coursework and other academic requirements, and for how research activities will be handled before and following the period.
Questions can be directed to Rackham.Parental.Accommodation@umich.edu.