The Obamacare requirements for employer-purchased healthcare have claimed their latest victims: Alabama graduate students.

And they aren’t the last group of graduate students likely to be impacted, either.

As the new academic year begins, adjuncts at dozens of institutions across the country will be returning to campus with lighter course loads and smaller paychecks. That’s because some colleges and universities are trying to keep their hours below the threshold at which they become benefits-eligible employees under the Affordable Care Act.

And at at least one university, graduate students, too, will be subject to lighter workloads for the same reasons.

Earlier this summer, the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa sent e-mails to graduate students announcing that they no longer could work more than 20 hours per week, universitywide, due to the Affordable Care Act. The act defines full-time employees as those working 30 hours a week or more, on average. Large employers such as colleges and universities that don’t offer those employees health care will be subject to hefty, per-employee fines.

“The Health Care Reform Act [sic.] includes provisions which will directly affect elements of previous employment policies for all student employees,” reads Alabama’s new Graduate Student Employment Policy. “This new policy is based on recommendations from human resources professionals and is consistent with policies now adopted by many other national institutions impacted by these changes.”

Previously, a cap on student work hours was in place within various university departments, but no limit was enforced universitywide. Teaching assistants teaching 20 hours per week could work additional hours within other programs or services, for example.

It’s unclear how many students the new policy will affect. A university spokeswoman said the majority of students work 20 hours per week or less, and that graduate teaching assistants and research assistants are eligible for individual fully or partially subsidized health care. But nationally, many graduate students work long hours — longer than officially recommended by their universities — to try to earn enough money to minimize borrowing, support families and for other reasons.

Experts said Alabama’s move could signal a coming trend.

“We haven’t heard from other schools that this has been happening, but it sounds like it could be the start of people thinking about it,” said Meredith Niles, director of legislative affairs at the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students and a graduate student of ecology at the University of California at Davis.