Especially for Parents & Families

Information for your student

Please visit the following pages for information especially for ...

The following information is for parents and family members of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students studying on the Ithaca campus.

Services & support at Cornell Health

Cornell Health is proud to be recognized as a national leader in college health. Our 250+ staff members provide medical care, mental health care, and support services available to all students on Cornell’s Ithaca campus, no matter what health insurance they have.

Our goal is to help your student be as physically and emotionally healthy as possible during their time at Cornell so they can participate fully in their college experience.

Learn more about who we are.

Frequently asked questions

Before coming to Cornell:

Cornell Health services:

Accessing care:

Costs & insurance:

Emergencies & after-hours care:

Your student's health information:

Supporting your student: 

Before coming to Cornell:

What does my student need to do before coming to Cornell?

The following items are listed on your student's New Student To Do List, along with deadlines and links for completion.  

  • New Student Health Requirements: All new students must meet the university's New Student Health Requirements, which involves submitting health information and documentation of required immunizations. The deadline for new fall students is typically mid-June (late July for transfer students). Review your student's health requirements
  • Health insurance: Cornell's Student Health Benefits office manages the university's insurance requirements process. Students must either enroll in Cornell's Student Health Plan (SHP) or, if eligible to waive coverage, show that they have alternate health insurance coverage which meets university requirements. The deadline new fall students is July 31. Review information on the Student Health Benefits website
  • Student Disability Services: Students with disabilities are encouraged to self-identify with Student Disability Services (SDS) and must request accommodations and services by the listed deadlines
  • Online alcohol & other drug education: All new undergraduate students must complete Cornell's online alcohol and other drug education course before move-in. Students are automatically enrolled in the training and must complete it before coming to Cornell. 

What should I discuss with my student before they leave for college?

Before your student leaves for college, we suggest talking with them about how they can support their health and well-being while they're away from home. Encourage them to prioritize self-care by getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, and finding healthy ways to manage stress. Make sure they know what medical and mental health services are available at Cornell Health, and how they can access care (see details below). Encourage them to start by reviewing our Especially for New Students webpage.

We invite you to visit Talking With Your Student About Health and Well-Being and Talking With Your Student About Alcohol and Other Drugs for more ideas. 

Cornell Health services:

What services does Cornell Health offer?

Cornell Health's services include primary care medical services, counseling and other mental health support, student disability services, sexual health care, nutrition services, physical therapy, and more, with a pharmacy located right in our building. Learn more about our full range of services

What kind of health care providers work at Cornell Health?

Our 250+ staff members include physicians and other medical clinicians, nurses, therapists, nutritionists, physical therapists, pharmacists, and other health care providers, as well as educators and public health professionals. 

Will my student have a primary care provider at Cornell Health?

Yes. All new students are assigned their own medical provider, called a Primary Care Provider (PCP), when they start at Cornell. Your student is encouraged to see their PCP – or a member their team – if they get sick or injured, or just want a general checkup. Students receive a welcome message from Cornell Health at the beginning of the fall semester with their PCP's name and information.

What kind of mental health support exists for students on campus? 

Our Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) staff offer individual and group counseling, drop-in consultation, and workshops. For students interested in long-term individual counseling or specialty care, we refer students to local or online providers. Additionally, our medical staff provide mental health medication management

Campus-wide options for support can be found on the Mental Health at Cornell website.

My student has a disability; how can they get support?

Student Disability Services (SDS), a department within Cornell Health, assists students with physical, medical, mental health, and sensory disabilities to ensure that they have equitable access to all that Cornell offers​. Students can initiate support by registering online with SDS.

Can my student transfer their prescription(s) to the Cornell Health pharmacy?

Yes – by law, the Cornell Health Pharmacy can accept one transferred prescription from another pharmacy. If your student has prescriptions they want to have filled regularly at our pharmacy, their health care provider can send the prescription directly to our pharmacy. Or, your student can schedule an appointment with a medical provider at Cornell Health who can take over managing and prescribing their medication. 

Can my student get their allergy shots at Cornell Health?

Yes. We do not have an on-staff allergist, but we can provide allergy shots for students who are under the care of an allergist or specialist. Students must provide their own vaccine, which can be stored at Cornell Health. Visit our Allergy Shots page for details.

Accessing care:

Who can use Cornell Health's services?

Cornell Health's services are available to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students studying on Cornell’s Ithaca campus, or on the nearby Geneva campus. Select services are also available to other Cornell community members, including visiting students, and partners and spouses of students. See details on our Who We Serve page.

When is Cornell Health open?

During the academic year, Cornell Health is open Monday-Saturday, with limited services offered evenings and Saturdays. We are open with reduced hours during intersessions. Visit our Hours page for current hours.

How do students schedule appointments?

Most appointments can be scheduled online through our secure patient portal, myCornellHealth. Students can also call us during business hours (607-255-5155) or come into our building to speak with a Clinical Administrative Assistance at the front desk. More details are available on our Appointments page. 

Can students get immediate care for illnesses, injuries, or mental health concerns?

Students who have an immediate need can come in to our building (see our hours) to get care. Calling ahead is recommended: 607-255-5155. Students will be triaged and will receive care then, or be scheduled into a future appointment.

When we're closed, students can call us 24/7 (607-255-5155) to consult with an on-call medical or mental health provider. Students may be referred to one of the urgent care clinics listed on our Emergencies & After-Hours Care page. 

Costs & insurance:

How much does it cost for students to use Cornell Health's services?

Students studying on the Ithaca campus pay just $10/visit for most Cornell Health services (no matter what health insurance they have). There is no cost for some services, including preventive medical visits and some counseling services. Additional costs may apply for pharmacy prescriptions, some lab tests, most immunizations, and travel medicine. See our Cost for Service page for details.

Your student's insurance will be billed as the primary payer for medical and psychiatry services received at Cornell Health (counseling services and sexually transmitted infection screenings are excluded from insurance billing). Remaining costs (copayments, coinsurance, & deductibles) for most services are capped at $10. Refer to our Insurance & Billing page for more information.

How do students pay for care?

Students are automatically Bursar-billed for most Cornell Health charges, unless they request to pay online (through myCornellHealth) or by phone (by calling our Billing Office at 607-255-7492). Pharmacy payments may be made at the pharmacy cashier desk. 

What does Cornell's Student Health Fee cover?

Ithaca students pay Cornell’s Student Health Fee to help support subsidized, affordable care available to all students on the Ithaca campus, regardless of what health insurance they have. (See How much does it cost for students to use Cornell Health's services? above.) Visit our Student Health Fee page to learn more.

My student isn't enrolled in Cornell's Student Health Plan (SHP). Can they still use Cornell Health's services?

Yes. All Cornell students can use Cornell Health’s services.

All Ithaca students, no matter what insurance they have, pay the same amount to use Cornell Health's services (see previous question). The only exceptions are pharmacy prescriptions, some lab tests, most immunizations, and travel medicine – for these services, the cost for students will depend on their insurance plan.

What insurance plans does Cornell Health accept?

Insurance plans that Cornell Health participates with (are "in network with") are listed on our Insurance & Billing page. However, all students – no matter what insurance they have – can use Cornell Health's services. 

Emergencies & after-hours care:

What should students do in an emergency?

If your student is experiencing a medical, mental health, or alcohol/drug-related emergency – for themselves, or for someone else – they should call 911, or call Cornell's Public Safety Communications Center: 607-255-1111

What happens if my student needs care when Cornell Health is closed?

Students can call us 24/7 (607-255-5155) to consult with a medical or mental health provider from our staff or our on-call service. These providers can help your student determine what care is needed (including providing self-care guidance) and how to get care if it can’t wait until we’re open.

For students who need care when we're closed, we list information about the local hospital (Cayuga Medical Center) and urgent care clinics on our Emergencies & After-Hours Care page. Note that transportation is not provided to off-campus health care facilities; transportation options are listed on that page.

Will I be notified if my student experiences a health-related emergency?

Yes. In emergency situations, we contact parents / guardians using the emergency contact information students provide through the new student health requirements process. Learn more about when / how we share your student's health information below.

Your student's health information:

Will I have access to information about my student's care?

The care we provide to your student is confidential, in accordance with state and federal law and professional standards. In non-life threatening situations, we must have your student's permission to disclose Personal Health Information ("PHI") to you or other family members. 

Review this information about sharing students' health information / records to understand the ways students can give Cornell Health permission to share PHI. We encourage families to have a thoughtful conversation about how to balance the need for privacy with the need for personal or financial support.

  • Our "Permission to Share Personal Health Information" form enables students to give Cornell Health permission to verbally discuss specific PHI with a family member(s) and/or other trusted individual(s) (must be renewed annually).
  • Our "Authorization for the Release of Health Records" form enables students to give Cornell Health permission to share specific PHI / health records with a health care provider, family member, school, employer, etc. (must be signed each time the student wants new information released from their records).

See our Confidentiality page for more detail. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact Cornell Health’s Privacy Officer at 607-255-7896.

Can my student sign a "blanket" authorization to share health information with parents/guardians?

No, Cornell Health does not allow students to sign a “blanket” authorization form to preemptively share their Personal Health Information ("PHI") or health records with parents/guardians. Students should use the two forms above if they want to share their PHI with a family member(s) and/or other trusted individual(s). 

Will I be notified if my student gets sick, injured, or has a mental health concern?

In emergency situations, we contact parents / guardians using the emergency contact information students provide through the new student health requirements process.

Additionally, in the event a student is found in repeat violation of Cornell’s alcohol or other drug policies – which may include transports to the hospital – the parent/guardian(s) will be notified.

In all other cases, we must have the student's permission to share information or contact a parent or family member. See Will I have access to information about my student's care? above. 

Supporting your student: 

How can I best support my student's health and well-being?

Communicate regularly with your student, and check in about their mental health and stress levels, along with their eating and sleeping habits. Encourage them to make social connections on campus and to find time to do things that bring them joy. 

Set realistic expectations. Adjusting to university life is a difficult transition, which can be reflected in a student's academic performance. Not every "A" high school student will be an "A" college student … especially at Cornell. Be supportive and focus on your student's development rather than performance (as long as they’re meeting their basic academic requirements). Praise the effort, not the outcome. Remind them of their value beyond a test score.

Encourage your student to get their free flu shot on campus each fall. If your student gets sick, urge them to schedule a health care appointment and/or visit the Cornell Health Pharmacy for supplies. 

If your student could benefit from mental health support, encourage them to see a Cornell Health counselor, or take advantage of our Let’s Talk drop-in hours. Visit our Concern for Others page for signs that indicate your student may be having trouble coping, and needs help. (Campus-wide resources for support are listed on the university's Mental Health at Cornell website.) 

We invite you to visit Talking With Your Student About Health and Well-Being and Talking With Your Student About Alcohol and Other Drugs for more ways to support your student. 

What should I do / who should I contact if I'm concerned about my student?

Non-urgent concerns:

Student Support and Advocacy Services (SSAS) in the Dean of Students Office receives and responds to concerns about students in distress – from family members, faculty, staff, and peers. When you contact SSAS, a Care Manager will reach out to the student and to you, as needed, and will collaborate with campus partners (including Cornell Health, when appropriate) to provide support for the student.  

SSAS is available Monday-Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm:

Urgent concerns (24/7):

If your concern is urgent, contact Cornell’s Public Safety Communications Center. This office connects callers with appropriate resources, including emergency response / ambulance, the Cornell Administrator on-Call, the Community Response Team, CU Police, and other resources. 

  • Call 607-255-1111 (24/7)
  • Or call 911 (connects to Cornell Public Safety from a campus phone and local emergency dispatch from other phones)