Parents & Guardians

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 Cornell’s Caring Community 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.
  • 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. Learn more about discerning between stress and distress in this article by Cornell research scientist Janis Whitlock.

If you’re concerned about your student …

We can help. Call us at 607-255-5155 to consult with a health care provider. Press 1 to talk with a nurse about a medical concern, or press 2 to consult with a Cornell Health counselor. Our staff members are experienced in galvanizing support resources for students in distress – even those who are reluctant to seek care.

If your concern is urgent, you can call us 24/7 to be connected with the on-call health care provider. The Cornell Police is also well-trained in responding to mental health crises. You can call them 24/7 at 607-255-1111.

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 "Sharing your health records" to understand the ways students can give Cornell Health permission to share personal health information:

  • Health Records Designee Authorization (by which a student can give permission in advance for Cornell Health to share personal health information with a parent or guardian)
  • Authorization for the Release of Health Records (by which a student can give permission for Cornell Health to share specific health information with a health care provider, family member, school, employer, etc.)

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 policies (which may include transports to the hospital for alcohol poisoning), 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 your 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

Cornell requires all students to have quality health coverage – whether they enroll in one of Cornell's student health plans (SHP or SHP+), or have a private insurance plan that meets Cornell’s requirements.

Ithaca students with private (non-SHP) insurance plans pay an annual Student Health Fee to give them the same pre-paid access to care at Cornell Health that SHP members have, and to help support campus-wide health programs.

Both the Student Health Plan (SHP) and the Student Health Fee give students access to most services at Cornell Health for a $10 copay. Student Health Plan Plus (SHP+) members have no copay. Learn more on our Cost for Service page and our Insurance & Billing page.