Student Health Plan (SHP) Plan Year, Benefits and Fee Changes

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Student Health Plan (SHP) has recently expanded coverage for COVID-19 response, for all current (2019-2020 plan year) enrollees at no additional cost to the enrollees. Read more about these benefits and coverage changes. 

Impact of Calendar Reform on the SHP Plan Year

Because of the change in the academic calendar the following changes will occur to the SHP Plan Year (PY):

  • The Plan year will begin on August 1 rather than September 1, effective in the Summer of 2020 for all new enrollees to the Plan
  • Students currently enrolled in PY2020 will receive coverage through August 31, 2020
  • PY2020 enrollees who are continuing the Plan for PY2021 will be charged for 11 months in Plan Year 2021

There will be no plan policy changes related to coverage following graduation. Graduating undergraduates will remain on the Plan through the end of the Plan year and Graduate students’ coverage will continue for three months following FPO, consistent with previous policy.


New fees for SHP 2020-21 plan year are as follows:

Plan Enrollee 12 months   11 months*
Students  $2,580 $2,365
Primary dependents $2,000 $1,833
Secondary dependents $1,000 $916
*11 month rates are for 2019-2020 enrollees who are continuing the plan for the 2020-2021 plan year. This is due to the plan year beginning on August 1, 2020, this year rather than September 1, as in previous years.
Dependent plan rates are subsidized from central funds at a targeted amount equal to 75% of plan costs.

Why is the fee changing?

SHP fees are designed to match rates to expenses without assuming either a deficit or subsidy (dedicated institutional assistance) or a surplus/profit.  In other words, we attempt to forecast an annual fee that will match our claims expense for the year.  It is impossible to predict claims expense exactly, so in a given year the Plan may end the year in deficit or with a surplus. We will end the current plan year with a substantial deficit, as claim expenses have outpaced fees by a considerable margin.  The fee increase for Plan Year 2021 reflects this claims experience.

Some of the factors that have led to increased claim expenses are coverage enhancements, and/or increased utilization of certain services, including: 

Princeton’s rates for the SHP are currently the lowest among peer institutions, and will likely remain the lowest after the fee increase.  

Impact of Fee Change on Enrollees

Most students (undergraduate and graduate) will not be directly affected by the fee changes. 

Graduate students  

The vast majority (95%) of graduate students have their SHP fee paid for them alongside the tuition coverage received for fellowships and assistantships, including those paid from external grants.

  • Regularly enrolled Ph.D. students’ SHP fee is billed as part of tuition and fees and is therefore covered through the standard package of support
  • Most master’s students receive full or partial support from their respective departments
  • The Graduate School and selected departments and programs have set aside funds to assist master’s and DCE students who are not fully supported. 
  • For currently enrolled Ph.D. students who enter into a self-pay status as they progress through their program, similar mitigations will be in effect in future years.

Undergraduate students 

  • Undergraduate students receiving financial aid may apply to have their Student Health Plan included in their aid package if they lack comparable family health insurance

Additional Support

Any student who experiences financial hardship for medical reasons may apply for additional support. 

University Health Services - Special Needs Fund 

University Health Services administers the Special Needs Fund, which is for students who need assistance paying for health-related expenses that are not covered by insurance and/or they cannot afford.  If you do not have the financial resources to pay for a health-related service, call 609-258-6055 or email snfund@princeton.edu to discuss whether or not you are eligible to receive assistance.

The Special Needs Fund is supported by the Auxiliary to the Isabella McCosh Infirmary.  

Office of the Vice President for Campus Life - Peck Hardship Funding Request 

The Office of the Vice President for Campus Life can provide limited financial assistance to high financial need students who are suffering severe hardships.  If you would like to be considered for this hardship funding, please submit the following form.

Feel free to contact Victoria Byrd at vbyrd@princeton.edu  should you have any questions or concerns regarding your request.

Graduate School - Medical Expense and Health Plan Assistance Programs

The Graduate School offers financial assistance for medical expenses via two programs:

  • Medical Expense Assistance Program: which helps with unanticipated and/or prohibitive medical expenses
  • Health Plan Assistance Program:  for students on the Student Health Plan who cannot reasonably access an in-network provider. Graduate students who face financial hardship due to fee increases are also eligible for support through this program.

To apply for or learn more about these programs, contact Dean Lisa Schreyer at schreyer@princeton.edu

Contact Us

Questions or concerns about the insurance plan changes can be directed to the Student Health Plan office at shpo@princeton.edu or 609-258-3138.