Especially for Parents & Families

Your student is in good hands at Cornell, and with the caring health care providers at Cornell Health. Our priority 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, and the services we provide. If your student is new to Cornell, we invite you to review two important pages for more information:

How to support your student

  • Communicate regularly – Check in about your student’s mental health and stress levels, along with their eating and sleeping habits. If your student drinks alcohol, encourage them to do so safely, and make sure they know what to do in an alcohol emergency.
  • Advocate self-care – Refer to our Health Topics section for great tips to help your students be physically and emotionally healthy at Cornell. Give a prompt in the fall for your student to get a seasonal flu vaccination before flu season hits.
  • Encourage seeking medical / mental health care if they need it – If your student gets sick or injured, urge them to schedule a health care appointment and visit the Cornell Health Pharmacy for supplies. If they need support, encourage them to see a Cornell Health counselor, or take advantage of our Let’s Talk walk-in hours. (More resources for support are available on the university's Mental Health at Cornell website.) 
  • Balance respect for privacy and offers of support – Assure your student of your respect for their privacy as they begin to navigate their own health care. Your advice, support, and/or financial assistance will continue to be important to their wellbeing, so talk now about how you will balance the needs for privacy and  support before health issues arise.
  • Be open – College is a time to try new things and learn about life. For some students, that includes experimenting with alcohol, drugs, dating, and sex. Try to be available to your student if they want to discuss these important topics, and encourage healthy behavior in a nonjudgmental way.
  • Promote problem-solving skills – Help your student think about how to approach a problem and weigh the pros and cons of possible solutions. Remind them that facing challenges, disappointments, and even failures are part of life, and can actually help us grow. Visit our Building Resilience page for more ideas.
  • 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.
  • Learn about symptoms of distress – Visit our Concern for Others page for signs that indicate your student may be having trouble coping, and needs help. 

If you’re concerned about your 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)

Your student's confidentiality 

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 information 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 personal health information. 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 advance permission to verbally discuss specific Personal Health Information (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 health information / 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)

NOTE: Cornell Health does not allow students to sign a “blanket” authorization form to share PHI or health records with parents/guardians. 

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

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.

If you have information or concerns about your student's health or health care, confidentiality laws and policies impose restrictions on you sharing information with Cornell Health. 

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.

Health insurance & cost for service

ALL enrolled students can use Cornell Health's services, no matter what health insurance they have.

Students studying on the Ithaca campus pay $10/visit for most Cornell Health services. 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.

Ithaca students pay Cornell’s Student Health Fee to help support this subsidized, affordable care available to all students on the Ithaca campus, regardless of what health insurance they have.

Cornell requires students to have health insurance that meets the university's requirements or enroll in a Cornell student health plan (SHP). Students' insurance may be billed as the primary payer for Cornell Health services, and remaining costs will be capped at $10 for most services. Refer to our Insurance & Billing page for more information.