Postdoctoral Scholars/Fellows at the University of Iowa are engaged primarily in research unique from either students or faculty members. Therefore, there are two classifications for Postdoctoral Scholars and Fellows.

  1. Postdoctoral Research Scholars (appointment code FP01)
  2. Postdoctoral Research Fellows (appointment code FP02)

The University Benefits Office will send a welcome email when the appointment begins. This email will include information regarding what benefits you are eligible for and how to make your elections.

Available Benefits

Health and Dental Insurance

Coverage begins the first day of the month after your hire date. The University of Iowa contributes toward the cost of health and dental insurance for Postdoctoral Research Scholars and Fellows. You may enroll in the student health and dental insurance plans offered to our employed graduate students. The premium is based on the plan you elect and who is covered on the plan. 

You may choose from two health plans (UIGRADCare and SHIP) and one dental plan. 


The Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) is a Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan that provides coverage for preventive care, hospitalization, surgery, maternity, well-baby/well-child care, emergency care for accidents or illness, medically necessary physician care, prescription drugs, and mental health. 

Providers: Alliance Select PPO

SHIP Plan Details


The UIGRADCare plan is a comprehensive health care program that covers hospital, medical, surgical, outpatient, and other health care services such as physical therapy. Coverage is also provided for routine physicals, newborn care, well-child checkups, and prescription drugs. 

Providers: Must use Student Health or UI Health Care only.

UIGRADCare Plan Details

Student Dental Plan

All students may receive coverage through the Student Dental Plan, a 3-tier Delta Dental of Iowa provider network. Covered services include checkups, teeth cleaning, cavity repair and tooth extractions, endodontic services, periodontal services, and more.

Providers: Care can be obtained from any provider

Dental Plan Details

 2024 Monthly Premiums

Rates are effective September 1, 2023 - August 31, 2024

Student PlanEmployee OnlyEmployee + SpouseEmployee + ChildrenFamily
Student Dental$3.75$14.10$20.10$24.00

How to Enroll

You should have received a welcome email from the University Benefits Office. In this email, you will find a link to the enrollment form, which you will need to print and complete. Please send it back to so your enrollment can be processed. Please contact our office if you did not receive the welcome email. 

Mandatory Retirement Plans

Postdoctoral Scholars are required to participate in a retirement plan. Serious consideration must be given to choosing a retirement plan, because your choice is an irrevocable decision that must be made within 60 days of your hire date. As a default, you are enrolled in IPERS, and if you do not elect TIAA, your IPERS election will remain.

There are two plan options for US citizens and lawful permanent residents:

  • IPERS (the Iowa Public Employees' Retirement System) - Defined Benefit Pension 401(a) Plan
  • TIAA (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association) - Defined Contribution 403(b) Plan

You can research each plan more on the Retirement Plan Options webpage. 

Employees who are international scholars will automatically be enrolled in TIAA. 


Health and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts

Any Scholar or Fellow who has income subject to state and federal tax withholding may participate in these accounts. For more information on them, along with the advantages of participating and the enrollment process, visit the Flexible Spending Account website. 

Workers' Compensation and Disability

Workers' Compensation covers postdoctoral scholars only. Postdoctoral fellows, however, are not covered because this type of appointment is not classified as a university employee. In addition, the University's long-term disability insurance covers neither Scholars nor Fellows.

Retirement and Social Security

Retirement Plans

Postdoctoral Research Scholars (FP01) MUST participate in a retirement plan. Therefore, the employees will be defaulted into IPERS (the Iowa Public Employees' Retirement System) except those considered foreign scholars.

Suppose the Scholar would prefer to participate in the TIAA retirement plan. In that case, they may log on to Employee Self Service, select the Retirement Enrollment link under the Benefits section, and make their election within 60 days of their hire/eligibility date. Foreign scholars will automatically default to TIAA.

To review the differences between IPERS and TIAA, please visit the Retirement Plan Options webpage. 

The retirement plan election is a one-time opportunity and cannot be changed after the 60-day enrollment window.

Postdoctoral Research Scholars may also save extra for retirement by participating in the 403(b) VRSP and/or the 457(b) programs if they have taxable income. To review your options and instructions on how to enroll, please visit the Voluntary Plan Options.  

Social Security

Postdoctoral Research Fellows (FP02) are exempt from payment of FICA (Social Security) and Medicare taxes; therefore, they are also exempt from the payroll deduction for IPERS or TIAA. Federal and State tax deductions will not be withheld from paychecks; however, the individual may still be responsible for the payment of taxes. Individuals in this category are not eligible to participate in a VRSP.

Paid Leave

Postdoctoral Scholars at the University of Iowa are entitled to annual paid leave of 15 working days and annual sick leave of 18 working days but do not accrue vacation and are not entitled to vacation pay. The agency supporting a Postdoctoral Fellow may require different policies. The appointing department is responsible for arranging and accounting for leave for Postdoctoral Scholars.

Well-Being Services

Postdoctoral Scholars and Fellows and their family members are eligible to receive services from the Employee Assistance Program and the University Counseling Service

Access to University Facilities and Activities

Postdoctoral Scholars/Fellows will receive a university identification card. This card provides access to library and information resources, cultural and athletic events, and the ability to charge items to a university billing account.

More information for Postdoctoral Scholars/Fellows can be found on the Office of Postdoctoral Scholars website.

Annual Notices

Federal law requires the University to broadly disseminate certain policies to faculty, staff, and students on an annual basis. The University of Iowa Benefits Office is committed to being environmentally friendly whenever possible while still accomplishing our objectives, so we have moved these notice