Cornell Requirements

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.


All full-time registered students* must have health insurance that ...

  1. is provided by a company licensed to do business in the United States, i.e. the policy is brokered and underwritten in the U.S, has a U.S. claims payment office, and a U.S. phone number.
  2. has unlimited annual and lifetime benefits (i.e., no policy maximum)
  3. will be in force for the duration of the academic year, or until their program ends
  4. 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
  5. 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

*These requirements do not apply to part-time students. Summer students and Continuing Education students have different requirements.

**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). 

    Annual SHP enrollment / waiver process

    SHP is a platinum-level plan that meets or exceeds the university's health insurance requirements.

    All students enrolled in a full-time residential Cornell program are required to confirm enrollment in SHP or submit a waiver.

    Annual SHP enrollment: Each year, students enrolled in a full-time residential Cornell program should confirm enrollment prior to the start of the academic year if selecting SHP.

    Waiving SHP: Eligible students who have alternate health insurance that meets Cornell's requirements may apply to waive their SHP enrollment. The waiver approval applies to the current academic year, and students who retain their own insurance must submit a waiver application annually

    Learn more about waiving SHP.

    Automatic SHP Enrollment: If a student does not confirm enrollment or, if eligible, receive an approved waiver, the student will be automatically enrolled in Cornell's Student Health Plan (SHP) as part of university policy requiring all students to have quality health insurance. (Exception: Some students may be eligible for SHP+)


    Information just for you

    Please visit the following pages to find population-specific requirements and options: