Students Studying Abroad

Cornell requires all students to have quality health insurance (see Cornell's Requirements). The following information explains how these requirements apply to students studying abroad outside of the United States. 

Automatic SHP enrollment for study-abroad students

Each year, all full-time Cornell students – including those who plan to study abroad – are automatically enrolled in Cornell's Student Health Plan (SHP) to ensure that they have health insurance that meets Cornell's requirements. Exception: Some students may be eligible for Cornell's Student Health Plan Plus (SHP+).

SHP and SHP+ provide excellent international coverage, with benefits available to you at the participating provider care level. See "Using SHP / SHP+ abroad" below for more detail.

Waiving SHP

Eligible domestic students who have alternate health insurance that meets Cornell's requirements may apply to waive their SHP enrollment. Students must submit a SHP waiver application annually to demonstrate that their insurance meets the university's requirements. Learn more about waiving SHP.

Using health insurance while abroad

University-sponsored travel

All registered travelers on Cornell-related international travel are fully covered – at no cost to the traveler – under Cornell’s accident, sickness, and emergency care insurance plan.

This insurance acts as primary coverage (will be used first and supersedes all other medical insurance) for urgent and emergent medical expenses and emergency mental health expenses, among other expenses, and works in tandem with Cornell’s 24/7 travel assistance.

Personal/recreational travel

Students traveling outside of the United States for personal/recreational reasons should secure their own travel assistance plan to use for urgent and emergent medical and mental health needs; to find a doctor or health care facility; or for assistance with medical evacuations or guarantees of payment. Some travel assistance plans may offer primary coverage. Gallagher Student Health provides some options for coverage.

Cornell's international travel insurance or any personal travel assistance plan does not, by itself, meet Cornell's health insurance requirements, and cannot be used to waive SHP. 

Using SHP / SHP+ abroad

Cornell's Student Health Plan (SHP) and Student Health Plan Plus (SHP+) provide international coverage that supplements the university's international travel insurance, including coverage for any covered international medical and mental health claims at the in-network rate. Members must pay upfront for emergent or routine (non-emergency) services and then submit the claim via the Aetna Student Health member portal. Reimbursement checks will be mailed directly to the student member.

  • expenses incurred during personal travel or vacation not related to a Cornell travel trip
  • routine (non-emergency) or ongoing medical or mental health care, which is not covered by Cornell’s international traveler's insurance

Learn more by visiting our Using SHP Abroad or Using SHP+ Abroad page.

Students with private insurance 

Some U.S. insurance plans – even those that meet Cornell's requirements –  provide limited coverage abroad. If you have private insurance (i.e., you are not enrolled in SHP or SHP+), be sure you understand your plan's international coverage before you travel.

When on University-related travel, Cornell's travel insurance (see above) that insurance provides coverage for urgent and emergent medical expenses and emergency mental health expenses. However, if you anticipate needing routine or ongoing care while abroad, you should research what your insurance plan covers, what costs you are responsible for (especially those you are responsible for paying up front), and how to file a claim for reimbursement if necessary.

If your insurance company cannot provide you with appropriate coverage, you can purchase an additional policy to cover you while you are abroad (to supplement your private insurance plan and Cornell's travel insurance).  Gallagher Student Health offers some travel assistance policies, which you may want to consider. You may also speak with your study abroad advisors.

Certain countries or programs may provide or require their own health insurance coverage. But in most cases, this coverage does not meet Cornell’s requirements, so you may need to be covered by two or three policies while abroad.

Please contact us.