Cornell's health insurance requirements
Access to health care and adequate health insurance are essential to your health, and to your ability to achieve your goals at Cornell. That's why in 1974 Cornell's Board of Trustees instituted a university policy requiring all students to have quality health insurance.
Cornell's criteria for quality health insurance are designed to ensure that all students have access to professional, timely, confidential, and affordable medical and mental health care, and are protected against costs that could undermine their education or financial or personal well-being.
Requirements for 2020-2021
(see special information for distance-learning students, below)
All full-time registered students* must have health insurance that ...
- is provided by a company licensed to do business in the United States, with a U.S. claims payment office and a U.S. phone number
- has unlimited annual and lifetime benefits (i.e., no policy maximum)
- will be in force for the duration of the academic year, or until their program ends
- provides “Federal bronze level” 40% coinsurance (meaning the plan pays 60%) or better coverage for health care where the student is attending school (Ithaca** or elsewhere)
Coverage must include:
– Inpatient Care
– Emergency Care
– Urgent Care
– Specialty Care
– Diagnostic Imaging and Testing
– Outpatient Mental Health Care
- is NOT…
– a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan without an “away from home” rider
– an out-of-state Medicaid plan
– a catastrophic ("young invincible") plan
Want to understand these requirements better? Visit Insurance Requirements Details.
**Ithaca-based students are encouraged to have in-network coverage at Cayuga Medical Center (CMC), which is the only provider of hospital-based services accessible by public transportation in Tompkins County (see insurance plans that CMC participates with).
Exceptions for distance-learning students
Students participating in online-only learning away from campus during the COVID-19 pandemic may be permitted to apply for a temporary waiver of their SHP enrollment until their in-person studies resume.
New spring 2021 students: You will be contacted by our Student Health Benefits office if you are eligible to apply for a temporary waiver.
Annual SHP enrollment / waiver process
Automatic SHP enrollment: To ensure that students have health insurance that meets the requirements above, full-time academic-year students are automatically enrolled in Cornell's Student Health Plan (SHP) each year. SHP is a platinum-level plan that meets or exceeds the university's health insurance requirements.
Waiving SHP: Eligible student who have alternate health insurance that meets Cornell's requirements may apply to waive their SHP enrollment. Students who retain their own insurance must submit a waiver application annually.
- International students are required to stay enrolled in SHP, and may not waive their enrollment (with a few exceptions).
- Students who enroll in Cornell's Student Health Plan Plus (SHP+) are exempt from the annual SHP enrollment / waiver process.
- Fully funded graduate students have SHP provided as a benefit of their program, and do not need to waive.
- Summer students and Continuing Education students have different requirements.
- Part-time students and non-degree students are exempt from the annual SHP enrollment / waiver process (please contact us with any questions).
Student Health Fee (Ithaca students only): Ithaca students who are not enrolled in a Cornell student health plan (SHP or SHP+) pay a Student Health Fee, giving them the same pre-paid access to care at Cornell Health as SHP members have (most visits / services have a $10 visit copay).
Information just for you
Please visit the following pages to find population-specific requirements and options: