Childbirth and Adoption Accommodation
I. Policy Statement
The Childbirth and Adoption Accommodation Policy is meant to acknowledge the demands upon new parents and provide them with the relief and support they need to successfully complete their academic programs. The policy provides enrolled graduate degree candidates in good academic standing who become parents during their regular period of enrollment or during DCE status a period of accommodation during which teaching and academic obligations are suspended. Administration of and revisions to this policy are the responsibility of the dean of the Graduate School.
II. Who is Affected by this Policy
This policy applies to all enrolled graduate students.
Regularly enrolled graduate students
Degree-seeking Ph.D. students are considered to be in regular enrolled status within the defined program lengths.
In absentia graduate students
Degree-seeking students who are pursuing degree-related work but not in residence for greater than half the term.
Leave of absence
The regular defined program length has been interrupted because the student is not pursing degree-related work.
Dissertation Completion Enrollment (DCE)
A Ph.D. student who has exhausted the defined program length, but is still making progress toward degree completion and retains an enrolled status. DCE status must be taken immediately after the regular enrollment period has ended and may be granted for a maximum of four consecutive semesters. Through the annual reenrollment process, a student must apply to move into or retain this status and have the approval of both the department and the Graduate School. A DCE student is enrolled and eligible for most benefits reserved for enrolled students, but ordinarily may not enroll in courses. A marginal tuition rate that includes the student health plan in charged for a student enrolled in DCE status. DCE status is recorded on the transcript.
The Graduate School’s Childbirth and Adoption Accommodation Policy is intended to support graduate students who become parents. The policy provides for three separate accommodations: 1) a 12-week suspension of work; 2) an additional term of enrollment, should a student require it; and 3) an additional term of financial support, should a student require it. All enrolled students who adopt or give birth are eligible for part 1 (the 12-week suspension of work). Students who assume the role of a primary caregiving parent for a newborn infant or pre-school child may also be eligible for part 1. Eligibility for parts 2 and 3 depends on a student’s program and period of enrollment in that program. Students must register their eligibility with the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School prior to any accommodation.
Part 1: Accommodation of 12-Week Suspension of Work
Enrolled students who become new parents either during the period of their regular program length or, for Ph.D. students, during a DCE period are eligible for the 12-week accommodation. During the 12-week accommodation, students remain in full-time enrolled status and may continue to receive the same level of financial support, if any, they would otherwise have received if they did not take the 12-week accommodation. Students in their regular program length may also opt to take a Leave of Absence immediately following the 12-week accommodation should they need additional time with their family. Students in DCE status are not ordinarily eligible for a Leave of Absence. The full Leave of Absence Policy should be consulted.
During the 12-week accommodation period, eligible Ph.D. students in their regular enrollment period will ordinarily receive financial support at the University standard rates. For students in the humanities and social sciences, a stipend is paid at the University Fellowship rate. For students in the sciences and engineering, a stipend is paid at the University Assistantship in Research rate. Students in their regular enrollment period who hold University fellowships that pay at a higher rate will continue to receive that higher rate during the 12-week accommodation period.
Students in DCE status will have the DCE fee covered by the Graduate School for the 12-week accommodation period if it is not already covered some other way. Aside from the DCE fee, no new financial support is provided by the Graduate School to students in DCE status during this 12-week accommodation. DCE students who receive Graduate School-provided support in the form of University fellowship or an assigned Assistant in Instruction (AI) appointment will continue to receive any such support that they would otherwise have received during the 12-week accommodation period. For example, a DCE student who has six weeks of an AI appointment remaining when that student begins the 12-week accommodation will still receive six weeks of financial support at the AI rate. After those six weeks, no new or additional support will be provided, but the DCE fee will continue to be covered by the Graduate School for the full 12 weeks if not covered some other way.
Students supported on external fellowships or awards are obliged to inform their funding agency and discuss the implications of not maintaining a full-time academic commitment. While many funding agencies defer to institutional policies, some have well-defined guidelines of their own. In those cases, the rules of the granting agency prevail. Finance and Administration at the Graduate School will be available to assist in these discussions. If fellowship benefits are suspended or deferred during this period, and the appropriate documentation is submitted, the Graduate School will assume funding responsibility at the rates noted above for students still in the regular program length.
Parents who give birth are eligible for the 12-week accommodation from the date of birth of the child. An earlier date may be arranged if deemed medically necessary and approved by the Graduate School, which would then extend the 12-week accommodation to 12 weeks plus the initial pre-delivery period deemed medically necessary.
Parents who adopt a pre-school-aged child are eligible for the 12-week accommodation from the date the child is placed in the home.
Also eligible for the 12-week accommodation are students who assume the role of a primary caregiving parent for a newborn infant or newly adopted pre-school child. The 12-week accommodation, which for enrollment purposes can be granted only in one continuous 12-week block, may commence at any point that primary caregiving begins but must be concluded no later than one year after the birth of the child or, in cases of adoption, one year after the child is placed in the home.
To meet the definition of a primary caregiving parent, students must in good faith declare that for a period of 12 weeks they are spending at least 30 hours on care for their new child during each work week, defined as a period of Monday through Friday between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. each of those days. In cases where there are two parents of a new child and both are Princeton students, both may be eligible for the 12-week accommodation, provided each is either a birth parent or a primary caregiving parent.
A student may qualify for part 1 only once per child, however, more than one student parent may qualify for part 1 for the same child. For example, a birth parent who receives the 12-week accommodation may not request a second 12-week accommodation as a primary caregiving parent for the same child, but a second parent of the same child may qualify for the 12-week accommodation as a primary caregiving parent for that child. Two parents may receive the 12-week accommodation for the same child at overlapping times if both meet eligibility requirements.
Part 2: Accommodation of Additional Term of Enrollment
Ph.D. students who have been granted part 1 (the 12-week accommodation) are automatically eligible for one additional term of DCE status, should they require it and should they have a way to ensure that the cost of the additional term is covered. This extension of DCE status eligibility is applied per child. For example, a parent who gives birth to or adopts twins would be eligible for two additional terms of DCE status, one per child.
Master’s degree students in the Woodrow Wilson School, Architecture, Engineering, Near Eastern Studies, and Finance programs are not automatically eligible for an additional term of enrollment. These students have their requests reviewed on a case-by-case basis. In consultation with the Graduate School, master’s programs may recommend an extension of program length (normally to allow master’s students to finish required coursework and design or research projects) for a term.
Part 3: Accommodation of Additional Term of Financial Support
Ph.D. students who were granted part 1 (the 12-week accommodation) during their period of regular program enrollment are eligible to receive one additional term of full financial support during their DCE enrollment period. Those who qualified for part 1 by giving birth or adopting a pre-school-aged child are in all cases eligible for the additional term of support as long as the child was born or adopted prior to the end of the period of regular program enrollment. Those who qualified for part 1 by being a primary caregiving parent may also qualify for the additional term of financial support, provided that the full 12 weeks of primary caregiving occurred within the period of regular program enrollment. This benefit is applied per eligible child. For example, a parent who gives birth to or adopts twins while enrolled in the regular program length would be eligible for two additional terms of financial support.
Also eligible for the additional term of financial support are Ph.D. students who were granted part 1 (the 12-week accommodation) while in a first year of DCE status, provided that they would otherwise have been supported by fellowship funding from the Graduate School itself during that 12-week period. For example, a student in a first DCE year who gives birth or adopts a pre-school-aged child while holding a Graduate School honorific fellowship would be eligible for an additional term of financial support.
Ph.D. students who assume the role of a primary caregiving parent (as defined in part 1) less than 12 weeks before the end of their regular program length or anytime up to 12 weeks before the end of a first DCE year may also receive the additional term of financial support, provided that the full 12 weeks of primary caregiving fall in a period of time when they would otherwise have been supported by fellowship funding from the Graduate School itself. For example, a student in a first DCE year who assumes the role of a primary caregiving parent for 12 weeks that overlap with a period when the student has received a Graduate School honorific fellowship would be eligible for an additional term of financial support.
The additional term of financial support includes a stipend and DCE fee. Students receive financial support at the University standard rates. For students in the humanities and social sciences, a stipend is paid at the University Fellowship rate. For students in the sciences and engineering, a stipend is paid at the University Assistantship in Research rate.
For students in the period of regular program enrollment who qualify for the additional term of financial support, the additional term of financial support is ordinarily paid in the first semester of DCE status. If other DCE funding is available to the student (other Graduate School-provided funding, other University funding, or external funding), then the additional term of funding provided through the childbirth and adoption accommodation may be paid to an enrolled student after the first year of DCE status, as necessary.
Students may take the additional term of enrollment separately from the additional term of financial support. For example, if students take the additional term of financial support in their first term of DCE status, they would still be eligible for an additional term of enrollment at the end of the normal two-year DCE period and would be responsible for their own DCE fee and support.
Provision of financial aid for master’s degree students is at the discretion of the relevant school, department, or program.
V. Procedures (if applicable)
Procedures for the Childbirth or Adoption Accommodation (Contact Elaine Willey with any questions.)
Students who anticipate requesting the accommodation should first meet with their adviser and director of graduate studies as soon as possible to plan for their time off.
A student requesting the 12-week accommodation must submit the Request for Suspension of Academic Work for Childbirth or Adoption form to the Graduate School no less than three months before the expected due date or placement date (for adoption). Note that exceptions to the three-month rule may be arranged only in cases of adoption with prior approval by the Graduate School. A student requesting the 12-week accommodation to serve as a primary caregiving parent must make the declaration at least three months before assuming caregiving. Any student who experiences an unforeseen change in circumstances requiring them to act as primary caregiver to a child, where it would not have been possible to apply for the accommodation three months in advance of assuming this role, is encouraged to contact the Graduate School as soon as possible concerning their case.
VI. Related documents /Pages/Forms (if applicable) Request for Suspension of Academic Work
VII. Roles and Responsibilities
Dean of the Graduate School
Oversees Graduate School policies and associated procedures.
Administers Childbirth and Adoption Accommodation policy and approves the suspension of academic duties.
Responsible for completing and submitting necessary paperwork for requesting the suspension.