Can I extend my health insurance through October?

Date: July 2017



I’m wondering if you can provide some advice for next semester. I will be defending my Ph.D. at the end of August, so I will be conferred in December. However, my postdoc doesn’t start until the end of October so I’m trying to figure out what to do about health insurance for September and October. My department is able to cover me through August, but the health insurance is cut off on 8/31. Is there any way I can extend my health insurance through Cornell even if involves paying a monthly fee until I start my new job?


Future Uninsured Ph.D. Student


Dear Future Uninsured Ph.D. Student,

Congratulations on nearing your defense and on your upcoming postdoc. We don’t want anyone to have an unexpected gap in insurance, so let’s figure out how to prevent you from living up to your screenname! We’ve had several insurance questions in our “Ask a Dean” inbox recently, which tells me that we may need to publicize more material for students who are completing their degrees, requesting a leave of absence, or withdrawing from a program. I’ll make this a priority, but for now I hope this additional information will be helpful for your planning.

All registered students are eligible to sign up for the Cornell Student Health Plan (SHP). The SHP runs from August 1 through the following July 31. Since you will be a registered student through the month of August you can enroll in the plan. In fact, you’ll see the premium has already been billed on your fall bursar statement. You will have coverage for the full year unless you actively cancel the policy. Since you are planning to defend your thesis in late August you’ll need to decide whether you want to register for the fall semester or request a leave of absence. If you register, you’ll be charged tuition so unless your field or advisor is able to appoint you on an assistantship this may not be a good option for you. You can request a leave using the Graduate School form and after considering the bursar’s tuition proration schedule. If your leave is dated before August 28 you will not be liable for fall tuition. The nice folks in the Graduate School Student Service office can help you consider the impact of delaying your leave later in the fall, perhaps allowing time for you to finish any revisions to your thesis. You may choose to remain registered if you need access to campus resources like libraries or labs.

Since you plan to start a postdoc in late October you may cancel your SHP at that time by contacting the Student Health Benefits office in writing. Details are on their website. You will receive a prorated refund of the premium, minus a $150 cancellation fee. Otherwise, students who graduate in December can request the SHP Early Termination Option and receive coverage through January 31 with proration and no cancellation fee.



Jason Kahabka
Associate Dean for Administration