Dependent Care Subsidy Program

In support of the changing needs of families, the University’s Dependent Care Subsidy Program provides a tax-free subsidy to benefits-eligible faculty and staff to assist with dependent care needs.

As previously announced, the University reopened the application process for calendar year 2020. Additionally, the application period for the 2021 benefit is now open. Applications for both the 2020 and 2021 benefits are currently being accepted until Dec. 4.  Please submit your application and all supporting documentation by Dec. 4 to Human Resources Shared Services at  hrservice@syr.edu.

The Dependent Care Subsidy Program provides the following assistance to households with an annual income of less than $150,000, with an annual maximum benefit of $3,000:

  • $1,500 for children under age 6
  • $750 for older children, ages 6 through 12, who may need before/after-school or other care
  • $750 to provide for care of an adult or disabled dependent

If approved, the subsidy is deposited into a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) on your behalf and may be used to pay expenses for eligible dependent care costs provided by qualified caregivers. Subsidies awarded mid-year may be adjusted to ensure that the contribution to the Dependent Care FSA does not exceed the maximum allowed balance of $5,000.  If your spouse/partner also is contributing to a Dependent Care FSA through their employer, it is important for you to take into consideration their contributions to ensure your household contributions do not exceed $5,000 annually.

On this page:

Eligibility to Participate

The subsidy is administered through a University employee’s Dependent Care FSA. To be eligible for the subsidy, you must:

  • Be classified as a regular benefits-eligible Syracuse University faculty or staff member eligible to participate in the University’s Dependent Care FSA.
  • Be unmarried or, based on IRS rules for Dependent Care FSAs, have a spouse/partner who is:
    • Employed at least part-time;
    • A full-time student;
    • Considered legally disabled; or
    • Unemployed but actively seeking employment (must have legal authorization to work in the United States).
    • Have a total household adjusted gross income of less than $150,000 per year.
    • Have a child under the age of 13 who is your legal dependent (as defined by IRS regulations) and for whom you are financially responsible, or be pregnant (you or your spouse/partner) or planning to adopt and anticipating child care expenses for the year during which you receive the subsidy, or have an eligible dependent (regardless of age) that is physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.
    • Provided the other eligibility criteria is met, if you or your spouse/partner are pregnant or are planning to adopt a child, your Dependent Care Subsidy Application will be conditionally approved. Once proof of the child’s birth or placement of the child has been provided to HR Shared Services, the subsidy will be placed into your Dependent Care FSA upon final approval by HR Shared Services.

Eligible Expenses

The subsidy is subject to IRS rules for Dependent Care FSAs (if there are any changes in the regulations, those rules will apply), including what constitutes eligible expenses. In general, the subsidy may be used to pay for the following types of child care, as long as the care is needed to allow you (and your spouse/partner) to work, look for work or attend school full-time:

Informal Care, in which a provider is required to claim income from child care services on a tax return, including:

  • A person who provides child care in his/her home for a maximum of two children at a time, in addition to his/her own children;
  • A person or program providing care for any number of children for fewer than three hours a day;
  • A person who provides the care in the child’s home;
  • A person who is closely related to the children (includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, or first cousins, but does not include parents or siblings under the age of 19).

Regulated Care, in which a provider is regulated by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services (if there are any changes in the regulations, those rules will apply), including:

  • Licensed Day Care Center – Care is provided to six or more children for more than three hours a day, usually at a location other than a residence;
  • Registered Small Day Care Center – Care is provided to three to six children at a location other than a residence;
  • Registered Family Day Care – One provider, age 18 or older, receives a permit to care for five to eight children in a personal residence;
  • Licensed Group Family Day Care – Care is provided on a regular basis for 10 to 14 children in a personal residence by approved caregivers who are age 18 or older. A minimum of two providers must be present whenever seven or more children are in care.
  • Registered School Age Child Care – Care is provided on a regular basis to seven or more children who are under the age of 13 and who attend kindergarten or a higher grade. The cost of school tuition, lessons, tutoring and sports is not eligible. Includes care for children during non-school hours, school vacation periods and holidays.
  • Summer / Day Camps – Summer camps are regulated by the Department of Health and must have a permit from the state, city or county health department. Not all summer programs for children qualify as children’s camps. More information about summer camps can be accessed online at ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/camps/.

Application Process

HR Shared Services administers the subsidy application and approval process.  If you have questions or need a copy of the form sent to you, please contact HR Shared Services at 315.443.4042.

Filing a Claim

If your mid-year application for 2020 is approved, the subsidy will be added to your Dependent Care FSA account. Once the account is funded, the money is available immediately for reimbursement of eligible expenses incurred on or after the effective date of the Dependent Care FSA account. If a new Dependent Care FSA account is established and funded by the subsidy, only expenses incurred on or after the effective date of the account are eligible for reimbursement.

HealthEquity/WageWorks, the University’s FSA administrator, provides fast reimbursement and easy ways to file claims, including the EZ Receipts app that allows participants to file from a smart phone or other mobile device.


Every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained within this website is accurate. However, benefits are governed by legal documents (which, in certain circumstances, may include insurance contracts). If there is any difference between the information in this website and the official documents, the official documents will control. As is the case with all of Syracuse University’s employee benefit plans, the University reserves the right to modify or terminate these benefits at any time.