SG to fund health program for uninsured students

Funded by the ‘Making Paradise Better Act’, the Student Government Health Program provides uninsured students with access to health services.


Courtesy of SG Instagram.

Former President’s Chief of Staff Nicole Abreu, Student Body President Dalia Calvillo, former Student Body President Pierce Kennamer, and former CFO Reilly Bridgers posing around the newly signed SG bill.

Isabella Mohammed, Staff Writer

As the 2023-2024 school year approaches, students can anticipate a number of new and ongoing programs due to the recent approval of a new Student Government (SG) bill, which includes the launch of a new health program for uninsured FAU students.

SG signed the “Making Paradise Better Act” (SGSB 2023-07) on May 3, 2023, which will be implemented on or after July 1. The bill was the last piece of legislation signed by former Student Body President Pierce Kennamer.

SGSB 2023-07 intends to reallocate $350,00 in unused funds during the fiscal year (FY) 22-23 to an SG revenue account. The funds will be further distributed to different SG initiatives and programs for the betterment of the student body.

“This bill ensures that our funds are being used correctly and wisely for the student body by creating programs that will benefit all students,” wrote Dalia Calvillo, the current student body president. 

According to the 2022-2023 Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Reilly Bridgers, SG restricts funds from one fiscal year being carried over to the next year. However, former CFO Kirk Meyers and Bridgers established a system that allows the reappropriation of funds under specific circumstances.

The money is only permitted to go to a revenue or reserve account with a designated purpose and it must include a rider. Bridgers explained that a rider is a rule that mandates the funds are to be used for the explicit purpose they are being sent and reserved for.

Furthermore, the riders are not allowed to exceed the budget appointed by the University Budget Appropriation Committee (UBAC) and the Senate must approve it for the budget bill in the FY of its intended use. Along with this, the funds must be transferred by either the Senate or House, depending on if the account is campus-based.

Initiatives and programs covered by the legislation include the SG health program. 

Kennamer introduced the SG health program to the Board of Trustees on April 25, where he stated that an estimated 45% of students who use FAU’s Student Health Services (SHS) are uninsured.

In accordance with SGSB 2023-07, those uninsured students will be able to seek checkups, dental cleanings, and other services offered by SHS with low out-of-pocket costs.

“This is something that we’ve kind of taken over and we want to push to our campus to make sure that no one feels like they have financial barriers, impacting their ability to take care of their own health,” Kennamer said at the meeting.

 Notably, the bill provides funds to continue the free scantron and blue book program.

Additionally, the bill includes the SG Registered Student Organization (RSO) and the Graduates and Professional Student Association (GPSA) Fee Waiver Program, which helps the RSOs and GPSAs avoid paying fees that can dig into and deplete their budgets.

Graduate student Taylor Pack feels the bill is very accommodating.

“I believe that’s a really compassionate and logical approach to putting that money to good use and of course it’s always important to ensure we are doing what we can as a student body to help one another out,” wrote Pack.

Stefan Andjelkovic, current CFO, shared that the SG Health Program has a rider of $45,000, which is projected to begin in the fall 2023 semester. 

“SG offers many programs that students can benefit from. We have seen the number of visits to the Student Health Services, and we saw a need for the program because so many students were utilizing it,” said Andjelkovic.

The legislation contains many riders that constrain the funds’ usability toward specific initiatives.  

“[The bill] establishes strict parameters for what it [the funds] can be spent on. This is clearly stated in the ‘Therefore Be It Resolved’ clauses on the bill and includes the Student Health Program,” explained Bridgers. 

All FAU students will have access to the SG Health Program, irrespective of their income, class standing, and insurance coverage as long as they are evaluated as eligible by the Student Activities and Involvement Office.

According to Bridgers, the Making Paradise Better Act is one of the more expansive bills and will have lasting effects for several years.

 “When I had the idea for the student health program, it was designed to fill the needs of underinsured low income students, and it does,” shared Bridgers. “All students pay A&S [activity and service] fees and as a result all may have access to this program pending other eligibility standards as determined by the university.”

Isabella Mohammed is a Staff Writer at the University Press. For more information on this story or others, contact her at [email protected].