TRICARE Coverage for your College Student

While in college your child may be eligible for TRICARE until their 23rd birthday or until they graduate, whichever comes first. For eligibility to extend beyond the age of 21, he or she must be enrolled in a full course of study at an approved institution of higher learning and be dependent on the sponsor for more than half of their financial support.

If qualified, your child’s “student status” must be entered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) to remain eligible past age 21. Check with DEERS to see what information is needed. After eligibility ends at age 21 or 23, your child may qualify to enroll in TRICARE Young Adult.

Health care options for college students depend on where their school is located. To learn about specific coverage options for your college, enter your child’s profile now.

Ask yourself the following questions to help you decide which TRICARE plan is best for your son or daughter:

1. Where is the school located?

TRICARE Prime is only available in Prime Service Areas. Find out if the college is in a Prime Service Area by calling the regional contractor for the TRICARE region where the school is located. If it is, then your child may enroll in TRICARE Prime. If not, then TRICARE Standard and Extra are the only options.

2. How will my child get to the doctor?

Access to a health care provider is very important. If your child enrolls in TRICARE Prime, he or she will have an assigned primary care manager. He or she must make appointments with their primary care manager, or point-of-service fees may apply. Point-of-service fees increase your out-of-pocket costs.

If it’s not convenient to have an assigned primary care manager, you may want to consider TRICARE Standard and Extra. Your child will have the freedom to seek care from any TRICARE-authorized provider.

3. How much will we pay out-of-pocket?

TRICARE Prime has the fewest out-of-pocket costs, unless your child regularly uses the point of service option. With TRICARE Standard and Extra, he or she may need to pay the doctor up front for care and file a claim with TRICARE later for reimbursement.

4. Are we signing up for a student health plan?

Some colleges/universities offer a student health plan. Student health plans are considered other health insurance, so TRICARE will be the secondary payer to any student health plan. If your child plans to use a student health plan, then TRICARE Standard and Extra is the best TRICARE option.

Going home during school breaks?

You’ll need to follow your plan’s rules for getting care when traveling. If moving home for a long break, you may need to transfer regions. Check with your regional contractor for details.

What happens at age 23 or if my child graduates before age 23?

He or she may qualify to purchase TRICARE Young Adult up to age 26.

back to top