Cornell Requirements

Insurance requirements during COVID-19 distance learning 

PLEASE NOTE: Currently, Cornell’s insurance requirements will apply to students enrolled in the Fall 2020 semester. If Cornell makes the decision to hold all classes online this fall, these requirements may change slightly. Please check back for the most up-to-date information.

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

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

  1. 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
  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

Learn more about these requirements – updated in spring 2019 – including the rationale behind each requirement, and Cornell's efforts to improve options for accessible in-network care for students on the Ithaca campus.

*These requirements do not apply to part-time students and non-degree 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

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.


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: