How does student health insurance work during an internship? Do I have to take a personal leave of absence?

Date: February 2021


Dear Deans,

I have a six-month internship later this year, June – December. My student health insurance will lapse at the end of July, and I am not eligible for health insurance at the internship until September. Do I have to take a personal leave of absence? Is it possible to renew Cornell student health insurance in August if I am working full-time elsewhere, but plan to resume my graduate work immediately in December? 

Thank you,

Thinking ahead


Dear Thinking Ahead,

It’s exciting that you found an internship this year! I’ve heard from other students who are anxious to line up similar opportunities but who are anxious that the COVID situation may still cause disruptions this summer. You are correct to anticipate that you may need to take a leave of absence from your studies during this internship. That is usually required if the opportunity is paid or exceeds 20 hours per week. 

According to the Student Health Benefits website, students who go on a leave of absence are eligible to remain on the Student Health Plan (SHP) for the duration of the normal plan year that ends on July 31st. It also offers a three-month extension for students who go on a LOA between May and July:

Students going on a Leave of Absence 

Students enrolled in the 2020-2021 SHP plan year (August 1, 2020 – July 31, 2021) who go on a LOA mid-plan year may retain their SHP coverage through the end of the plan year (through July 31, 2021). Students who go on a LOA between May–July, 2021 may extend their coverage for three months into the next plan year (August 1 – October 31, 2021).

Please email us ( to learn how to extend your coverage. 

I encourage you to coordinate with the Student Health Benefits office to verify eligibility and review the premium fee structure for those extra months. Of course, you’ll be eligible to return to the regular SHP once you complete your internship in December and register as a Cornell student again.



Jason Kahabka
Associate Dean for Administration