Penn State health insurance changes for graduate and professional students

April 26, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State is moving to a new health insurance, United Healthcare Student Resources, as the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) carrier for the 2017–18 academic year in order to continue to offer quality health care benefits at a competitive price. The new carrier will offer the same plan benefits.

Students have been part of the process for making decisions about health insurance for many years. The Student Insurance Advisory Board/Council (SIAB/C), which includes representatives from the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA), the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA), the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments (CCSG), and representatives from international student organizations were invited to take part in the selection of a new health insurance carrier. These groups also provide input to University Health Services and its Student Health Insurance Office regarding the Penn State SHIP, including the selection of insurer, plan design and mechanisms to manage costs.

Graduate assistants and fellows

Graduate assistants and graduate fellows are automatically enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Plan as part of their financial support packages with the University. Penn State provides insurance premium subsidies for these students for medical, dental and vision insurance plans.

The University contributes 80 percent of the annual medical premium for graduate assistants, fellows and trainees, and 75–76 percent for dependent coverage. Last year, the rate for individual coverage was $3,296, with $2,636 subsidized, which resulted in graduate assistants and graduate fellows paying $660 for health care coverage. For 2017–18, the University contribution for graduate assistants on fall/spring appointments will be $2,734 of the total annual premium cost of $3,418 for an individual plan, which results in an increase of $2.40 per month during the 10-month period, but provides annual coverage, including the summer. This modest 3.6 percent increase is far lower than in prior years.

Graduate assistants and graduate fellows automatically enrolled can decline the coverage through the First Student website by Sept. 5, 2017. As part of a student’s assistantship or fellowship, Penn State also provides insurance premium subsidies for eligible dependents. Students can enroll their dependents through University Health Services Graduate Benefit Enrollment System. Declination of benefits and dependent re-enrollment must be completed every fall to maintain desired benefits.

Graduate students without assistantships or fellowships

Graduate students who do not have an assistantship or fellowship and would like to purchase the Penn State SHIP will need to enroll themselves and their dependents through United Healthcare Student Resources First Student website. Graduate students are eligible to purchase the Penn State SHIP if they enrolled in one or more credit hours. The Penn State SHIP is available to students at all campuses, with the exception of World Campus students. The insurance premium must be paid directly to United Healthcare Student Resources at the time of enrollment and can be paid by credit card or electronic check.

If you are unsure of your status and whether or not you have an assistantship, contact your academic department/graduate program to confirm.

International students (with or without assistantships/fellowships)

International graduate, medical and law students, and any accompanying dependents are required to either submit proof of health insurance coverage that meets a set of requirements or purchase the Penn State SHIP. More information about specific requirements for international students, enrollment deadlines and instructions for how to submit proof of insurance can be accessed on the UHS website.

About the Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan

The Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan offers students comprehensive health insurance at a competitive price with a wide network of providers across the United States.

For students who do not have health insurance or do not have adequate coverage on or near the campus they attend, Penn State strongly encourages purchasing the Penn State SHIP. Students who are unsure if they are adequately covered should contact their current health insurance provider to ask, particularly if their coverage will be considered out-of-network.

Many students arrive at Penn State uninsured or underinsured, and are not covered to receive health care services. Health care services can be very costly and unexpected expenses can be disruptive to a student’s academic progress. Students can learn more about the plan, including plan details, dependent rates and enrollment deadlines by visiting the UHS website.

Additional questions about student health insurance can be directed to the University Health Services office of Student Health Insurance at

Last Updated April 26, 2017