Graduate Assistants

Graduate Assistants (GAs), including Research Assistants, Teaching Assistants, and Administrative Assistants, must provide proof of qualifying health insurance coverage to meet the University’s requirement.  Eligible GAs may choose to enroll in either the Student Health Insurance Plan administered by Aetna, or the University’s health benefits plan administered by Excellus BCBS and OptumRx, Delta Dental and VSP.

Student Health Insurance Plan

For information about the student health insurance plan, the University’s requirement for all full-time matriculated students to demonstrate that they have qualifying coverage, and the waiver process, review or contact the Student Health Insurance Office at 315.443.9019 or

To see instructions for waiving the Aetna Student Health Plan, visit the Student Health Insurance site.

University’s Health Benefits Plan

The Office of Human Resources oversees the medical, dental and vision plans that are available to eligible GAs as an alternative to the student insurance plan. Information about the plans is shown below and linked to elsewhere on this site. For further assistance, contact the HR Service Center at 315.443.4042 or email

International students require medical evacuation and repatriation coverage in order to waive the Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan.  International GAs and their dependents who enroll in a Excellus BCBS plan will have 24-hour emergency travel assistance services including medical evacuation and repatriation [PDF] through Europ Assistance USA, Inc.

Eligibility for Medical, Dental and Vision Benefits for Graduate Assistants

Graduate assistants with a ten-hour appointment or greater are generally eligible to participate in the University’s subsidized health care plans. Eligible spouses/domestic partners and children can also be enrolled. The eligibility policy can be found at Consult your department if you have questions about your assistantship award.

Enrollment Periods and Qualifying Life Events

GAs can enroll in the Univeristy benefits plan within the first 31 days of the initial graduate assistant appointment effective date. The HR Service Center will send instructions on how to enroll via email to GAs with a new appointment as soon as their appointment has been submitted by their department and processed. Continuing GAs who had an appointment in the prior academic year will automatically continue the coverage they chose during last year’s Open Enrollment for the current calendar year.

Coverage will begin as of the appointment effective date (generally August 16 or January 1) and will end on the last day of the appointment (generally December 31 or August 15), unless terminated sooner due to a mid-year change.

Failure to enroll during the initial 31 day enrollment period will result in having to wait for the next annual Open Enrollment period. Open Enrollment is generally held in early November for changes to coverage for the upcoming calendar year. Changes made during Open Enrollment will be effective January 1.

Mid-Year Changes are only permitted in certain circumstances called “qualifying life events” if the change is made within 31 days of the event. Qualifying life events may include marriage, divorce, death of a spouse, birth/adoption, loss of other coverage, or loss of student status.  Returning to campus for a new semester is not a qualifying event.

Medical and Prescription Drug Plan Options

GAs may elect one of three plan options: SUBlue, SUOrange, and SUPro. All three plan options include medical benefits administered by Excellus BCBS and prescription drug benefits administered by OptumRx. These plans have a national network of participating providers.

Dental and Vision Plan Options

Eligible graduate assistants who have a full academic year appointment may choose either a preventive or comprehensive dental plan, and may add vision coverage to the dental coverage. The vision plan is not available as a separate option. Enrollment in a medical plan is not required to enroll in dental/vision.

Two-Year Enrollment Cycle for Dental and Vision

Enrollment into the dental and vision plans is a two-year commitment. The current two-year cycle ends December 31, 2018. The next Open Enrollment period for dental and vision coverage will occur in November 2018.  The same rules about dependent eligibility and mid-year changes apply to dental and vision plans.

Your Cost

SU contributes almost 80% towards the cost of GA medical coverage in the University’s health benefit plan, and you pay the remaining cost through pre-tax payroll deduction. Graduate Assistants are automatically eligible for the reduced Schedule B medical contributions. Premiums for domestic partners and their children are paid on an after-tax basis.

Contributions are listed as monthly rates; your actual paycheck deductions will be taken over the academic year and will vary based on your payroll schedule.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained within this website is accurate. However, the 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.