Oberlin College has instituted a student health fee that will be applied to student accounts as of the 2013-14 academic year.

Student Health Fee FAQ
How much is the student health fee?

It’s $200 per year.

When will the fee take effect?

The student health fee will be charged to student accounts beginning in the 2013-14 academic year.

When was the fee announced?

Oberlin College announced the new student health fee to both Student Senate and the Oberlin Review on Sunday, March 17. Senate endorsed the fee and the Review published a front-page article on April 7, providing students with important information about the new fee. Student representatives from the student advisory group for Student Health Services and the Counseling Center held office hour listening sessions during this period to answer questions and address concerns from their peers about the change. 

Do other schools have student health fees?

Yes. If a school does not have a separate health fee, they often do one of four things:

  • offer a “pay as you go” system that charges a co-pay for each visit that is billed either to the student’s insurance or, if the insurance will not cover the cost, to the student—a practice that often costs students more in the long run;
  • embed the fee as part of the insurance cost, penalizing needy students who are the most likely to be on student health insurance plans;
  • charge for services that Oberlin provides for free, and charge more for those services that have lower costs at Oberlin (an example is HIV testing, which costs up to $25 at some schools but is free at Oberlin), or
  • embed the student health fee in the student activity fee. 
How does Oberlin's fee compare to that of other schools?

We wanted to keep the new fee as low as possible. The fee at many peer institutions is much higher. Some are as high as $500. The combined costs of fees and insurance at peer institutions last year ranged from $1,340 to $2,152 and will likely increase in 2013-14 with changes to the Affordable Health Care Act. Oberlin’s combined costs of fees and insurance will be $1,104 in 2013-14.

What about the financial impact on needy or moderate-need students?

The college accounts for the new student health fee when determining a student’s

financial aid package, especially for needy and many moderate-need students. Students or parents who have questions may contact the Office of Financial Aid: call (800)693-3173  or send an e-mail to financial.aid@oberlin.edu .

Are visits to Student Health Services and the Counseling Center still free?

Yes. We have worked hard to avoid such options as the “pay as you go” system that result in a co-pay being charged to a student’s term bill for each visit. We feel that is an unacceptable option. 

Do students benefit from the new health fee?

Yes, absolutely. The fee will provide needed new resources for students that include:

  • increasing and strengthening access to clinical care at the Counseling Center;
  • increasing staffing support for current and future peer mentoring programs related to mental and emotional health as well as for the class-dean system, the staff of which are often point persons for providing support to students in need and crisis;
  • enhancing access to Student Health Services;
  • providing additional support for the increased education and outreach related to mental and emotional health and wellness;
  • providing more support for the coordination of individuals and offices charged with supporting students related to health and wellness; and
  • providing additional lower cost and free services at Student Health Services starting in 2014-15 with students themselves helping us identify the most appropriate services in 2013-14.
How did we identify these needs?

Oberlin is engaging in a multi-year strategic planning process related to health and wellness resources and initiatives. We are currently developing a vision that integrates physical with mental and emotional health and wellness. This vision also combines strong, enhanced clinical care with an emphasis on education and outreach programs, especially peer-to-peer support and mentoring initiatives.

There are also initiatives under way as part of the institution’s capital campaign to renovate and build new facilities that will enhance physical wellness resources and help integrate them with efforts related to mental and emotional health and wellness. Students continue to play an important role in shaping this vision. Many of the priorities that have shaped new resources and initiatives—some funded by the new student health fee—came from listening sessions with students over the past two years.