Frequently Asked Questions - Benefits

OFFICERS

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Select a tab to view questions and answers about specific benefits topics for Officers. 

To understand basic benefits terminology, use our glossary as a reference.

Need more help? Ask HR

faq

Open Enrollment

Medical

If you are currently enrolled in medical coverage through the University, your 2019 coverage will automatically roll over for 2020. You do not need to re-enroll, though we do encourage you to review your options.

If you are an Officer, for the most part, the four medical plan options—the High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), Choice Plus 80 plan, Choice Plus 90 plan and Choice Plus 100 plan—will continue to work the same way. However, beginning January 1, 2020:

  • Infertility benefit eligibility expanded. Go to our Women's Health page for more details.
  • Preventive care will now be covered out-of-network at 60% of 190% of the Medicare Maximum Allowable Charge.

Go to columbia.welcometouhc.com/find-a-doctor and search for your current providers.

  • Diagnostic tests and imaging outside the hospital
  • Physician and surgeon fees in the hospital and in an outpatient facility
  • Home health care
  • Skilled nursing care
  • Durable medical equipment

No, unless you elect a new medical plan. Otherwise, use your existing ID card at physician offices and pharmacies to identify yourself.

Only in-network preventive medical care is covered at 100% with no deductible. Preventive drugs are subject to a copay but no deductible. 

For non-preventive services, before the HDHP starts to pay for covered expense, you must meet the in-network deductible of $1,500 individual/$3,000 family for non-preventive medical and prescription expenses. 

There is no individual deductible or individual out-of-pocket maximum if you elect family coverage (more than one covered person). 

After you reach the deductible, any additional medical expenses are shared between the Plan and you—90% Plan/10% you. 

When your deductible, coinsurance and prescription copays reach the in-network out-of-pocket maximum, the Plan pays 100% of your remaining in-network covered services, including prescription drug costs for the remainder of the calendar year. HDHP participants can go to any medical provider in the UnitedHealthcare (UHC) Choice network and can contribute to an HSA on a pre-tax basis through payroll deductions.

For more details, see the Health Deductible Health Plan. 

Tax Savings Accounts

The IRS has strict guidelines regarding FSAs. Only a balance of up to $500 in your Healthcare FSA can be rolled over for the next plan year. It is important to estimate your out-of-pocket healthcare expenses carefully. To help spend what you’ve allocated for the year, your full annual Healthcare FSA election amount is available at the beginning of the year, even though contributions are prorated and made throughout the entire calendar year. 

If you leave the University or become ineligible for benefits, you can only be reimbursed for expenses incurred prior to your employment end date or the date you became benefits ineligible. Any remaining funds will be forfeited. 

There is no rollover at the end of the year for the Dependent Care FSA, and only amounts contributed are available for reimbursement.

Yes. You may participate in both an HSA and Dependent Care FSA if you elect the HDHP. Remember to enroll each year during Benefits Open Enrollment. You cannot, however, contribute to both a Healthcare FSA and HSA during the same calendar year.

Yes, you may enroll in the T/PRP or change your monthly contribution at any time. Your 2019 monthly contribution will automatically roll over into 2020. After Open Enrollment, changes made on or before the 20th of the month, will be effective the first of the following month. A change made after the 20th of the month will be effective the first of the second month following the change date. For example, a change made on January 20 will be effective February 1, but a change made January 21 will be effective March 1.

Full-time, benefits-eligible Officers with an Annual Benefits Salary of $125,000 or less in 2020 are eligible to receive up to a $4,000 contribution from the University to a Dependent Care FSA

You must also have a dependent child under the age of five, not yet attending kindergarten who has been verified by the Columbia Benefits Service Center as an eligible dependent and meets the definition of an IRS tax dependent. The benefit will be pro-rated if elected as a new hire or with a Qualified Life Status Change. There is a limit of one Child Care Benefit per family. However, you may also contribute pre-tax personal funds to the Dependent Care FSA up to a combined total account of $5,000.

For 2020, you must make an election during Open Enrollment to continue participating in the HSA. Your current election will NOT automatically roll over for 2020. You may enroll or change your HSA contribution at any time during the calendar year, provided that you continue to meet the eligibility requirements.

Your pre-tax HSA contributions for 2020 cannot exceed $3,550 for Yourself only coverage and $7,100 for Yourself and Spouse/Same-Sex Domestic Partner/Child or Family coverage. If you are at least age 55 and you are not enrolled in Medicare, you can make “catch-up” contributions up to an additional $1,000.

Under IRS regulations, if you enroll in a HSA you cannot participate in any Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (FSA), including amounts rolled-over from a prior year. In addition, if your spouse participates in a Healthcare FSA that permits reimbursement of your unreimbursed medical expenses, you will not be eligible to establish or contribute to an HSA until you are no longer covered by your spouse’s Healthcare FSA.

Finally, you will not be eligible to contribute to an HSA if you are covered by a medical plan that is not an HSA-qualified High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), such as an employer's non-HDHP. Note that you can contribute to an HSA if you are over age 65 but only if you are not enrolled in any part of Medicare, including Part A. Also, same-sex domestic partners cannot reimburse themselves for their partner’s or their partner’s children’s unreimbursed medical expenses.

You cannot access funds in your HSA until you have contributed to them.

If you do not participate in the High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) for 2020, you cannot make any additional contributions to the HSA for 2020. However, you may continue to use any balance in your HSA to reimburse yourself for any unreimbursed medical expenses for yourself or your eligible dependents.

Health & Welfare

Questions about Your Health & Welfare Coverage

You will receive a UnitedHealthcare ID card (covering medical and vision benefits) approximately three weeks after enrolling.

Visit www.myuhc.com to download and print a card.

Your Annual Benefits Salary, calculated as of July 1 each year, is the greater of: a) your annual base salary in effect on July 1; or b) your gross compensation, including certain additional and private practice compensation, for the 12 months prior to June 30. It’s used to determine medical contribution rates, Child Care Benefit eligibility, Life Insurance coverage and Long-Term Disability coverage amount.

Log in to CUBES and click the Alerts tab to find the Dependent Verification page to upload documentation. Or send via secure fax to 844-301-7225. If you do not have access to scan or fax documents, contact the Columbia Benefits Service Center for instructions.

No. Opposite sex domestic partners are not eligible.

Log in to CUBES and go to your Profile. Select "Life Insurance Beneficiaries," then click and follow prompts, or change your allocated percent for existing beneficiaries. Don’t forget to save your updates.

Go to benefits vendor contacts, and under Dental Providers, the links will direct you to external provider search sites.

You can search for in-network providers, and confirm the network status of providers on UHC’s Find a Doctor or Facility page.

Scroll down the page to "Columbia University Medical Providers" or "Columbia University Behavioral Health Providers” for a list of Columbia doctors who provide in-network services through UHC only for Columbia’s employees and their dependents.

Preventive care includes routine well exams, screenings and immunizations intended to prevent or avoid health problems. Go to Preventive Care for more information.

Under the Choice Plus 80, Choice Plus 90 and HDHP plans, deductible and coinsurance apply for labwork and radiology and imaging, including when part of an office visit.

For the Choice Plus 100 plan only, outpatient lab and radiology will incur a $150 copay if done in a hospital. Alternatively, if you use a freestanding outpatient facility (non-hospital; non-hospital affiliate), coverage is 100% after the deductible. There is no copay at designated New York-Presbyterian (NYP) hospital locations for outpatient lab and radiology services. Please see the list of locations.

Under the Choice Plus 80 and 90 plans, deductible and coinsurance apply for labwork and radiology, even if done as part of an office visit.

Yes. When the in-network out-of-pocket maximum is reached, the Plan covers 100% of in-network, covered expenses. Under the Choice Plus 80, 90 and 100 plans, your in-network deductible, coinsurance and medical and prescription copays apply to the out-of-pocket maximum. Your out-of-network expenses also accumulate toward your in-network out-of-pocket maximum.

Under the High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), your in-network deductible, coinsurance and prescription copays will apply to the in-network out-of-pocket maximum. Out-of-network expenses are accrued separately.

If you reach the out-of-network out-of-pocket maximum, the Plan will increase coverage of eligible expenses to 190% of the Medicare Maximum Allowable Charge (MAC).

Call 855-427-4682 to speak to a patient care representative, specialty-trained pharmacist or nurse, 24/7. BriovaRx, the OptumRx speciality pharmacy, delivers specialty medications by mail. If you use any other pharmacy, you will be responsible for the entire cost of the medication.

Vision coverage is included if you elect Columbia-provided medical coverage. To locate an in-network provider, log in to myuhc.com and select "Benefits & Coverage," "Vision," "Vision Benefit Highlights," then "Find a Provider."

If you visited an out-of-network provider, complete a UHC Out-of-Network Vision Claim Form and mail or fax—with related receipts—to UHC.

Tax Savings Accounts

Questions about Tax Savings Accounts

If you are enrolled in the HDHP medical plan and do not have  a Healthcare FSA (including rollover amounts and/or a spouse's FSA) or non-HSA qualified medical coverage, including Medicare, you can sign up for an HSA. Enrollment in a Dependent Care FSA does not impact HSA eligibility.

The IRS sets a limit on annual contributions. For 2019, if you have Yourself-Only HDHP coverage, the annual contribution limit is $3,450. For all other coverage tiers, the annual limit is $7,000. If you are at least age 55 and not enrolled in Medicare, you can contribute up to an additional $1,000. 

Once you elect your annual HSA amount, it will be deducted in equal installments from your paychecks throughout the calendar year. You will not be able to access funds in your account until they have been contributed.

In 2019, you can contribute up to $2,700 to a Healthcare FSA and up to $5,000 to a Dependent Care FSA. Unlike Healthcare FSAs, Dependent Care FSAs work on a household—not individual—basis. If your spouse also has a Dependent Care FSA, you cannot exceed $5,000 between your two accounts.

Dependent Care FSA funds can pay for eligible dependent day care expenses.

Healthcare FSA funds can pay for eligible healthcare expenses. 

Learn more about FSAs

Unless you opt out on MyUHC.com, amounts you owe for medical, vision, prescription drug and/or dental claims under the Columbia-provided plans will automatically deduct from your Healthcare FSA. 

After enrolling in an FSA, check the mail for a Health Care Spending Card (a debit card with a declining balance equal to your annualized contribution). This card is linked to your Healthcare and/or Dependent Care FSA accounts. It can be used at participating providers. 

If you do not use the card, you may submit a claim directly to UHC. You will receive a check at your home mailing address, or you can sign up for direct deposit.

Unused Dependent Care FSA funds are forfeited at the end of the calendar year (you have until March 31st of the following year to submit).

Up to $500 in unused Healthcare FSA funds can roll over from one year to the next, if you are an active, benefits-eligible employee, and do not enroll in the Health Savings Account (HSA)

A monthly dollar amount of your choice, up to the annual IRS limit, is deducted pre-tax from your pay.

Learn more about Transit/Parking Reimbursement 

Pre-tax deductions for University and New York-Presbyterian (NYP) parking spaces are separate from the EBPA T/PRP benefit. You may participate in both programs if you also park outside of the University or NYP space for work purposes and your combined pre-tax deductions do not exceed the monthly IRS limit.

Unused T/PRP contributions roll over for use in future months, but you cannot use more than the IRS limit in any given month. However, you may never be reimbursed for transit or parking expenses in an amount above the monthly IRS limit. 

Example: Your monthly railroad ticket costs $280 and you contribute the monthly maximum IRS allowable amount of $265. You go on vacation for the entire month of July and do not stop contributions. Your T/PRP August balance  would be $530 but, per IRS regulations, you can only use $265 per month. You could stop contributions for a month, to bring down your balance to $0. This is especially important to remember if you are considering leaving the University.

If you do not incur enough eligible expenses before you leave the University, to bring your balance to $0, you will forfeit any unused funds.

Tuition

Tuition Exemption

Q. Who is eligible?
A.
 You and your eligible family members are eligible for Tuition Exemption if you are a regular Full-Time Faculty or Officer of the University (including Officers of Instruction, Administration and Libraries and Research), and you have met the applicable waiting periods.

Q. Is there a waiting period?
A.
 Eligibility depends on your hire date and years of service. As an Officer, you must meet a service requirement of two (2) years of regular full-time continuous service before you become eligible for Tuition Exemption for yourself. You can print your Tuition Eligibility Form from the CU Benefits Enrollment System ("CUBES") to determine if you have met the waiting period. After the waiting period is met, your eligibility begins at the start of the next full term that begins after the eligibility date.

Q. What happens if I have a break in full-time continuous service?
A.
 If your break in service is greater than 31 days, your rehire date or reappointment date will be used to measure your years of service and waiting period. You will need to re-meet the applicable waiting period(s). However, if you have been involuntarily moved to part-time employment, you will not have a break in service for twelve (12) months.

Q. Can I take courses if I haven’t met the two (2) year continuous service (waiting period) to be eligible for Tuition Exemption or courses above the Tuition Exemption limit?
A.
 Yes. As a supplement to the Tuition Exemption Benefit, a reduced Employee Rate for tuition cost is available at Columbia University only. You are responsible for 65% of the tuition cost and a fee, 35% of your tuition is exempted. You must be accepted and enrolled in the school you wish to attend.

Q. What does the Tuition Exemption Benefit cover?
A.
 The Tuition Exemption Benefit Program pays undergraduate or graduate tuition costs for Officers each term, depending on date of hire, degree matriculation and waiting period as outlined in the Tuition Exemption Benefits Policy. Print your Tuition Eligibility Form from CUBES to determine exactly what you are eligible for. 

Q. How is tuition paid?
A
. When you submit your eligibility form to CU Student Financial Services, Teachers College or Barnard College Bursar’s Office, your tuition will simply be exempted.

Q. What is meant by degree matriculation?
A.
 Degree Matriculation refers to being officially accepted and enrolled in a degree program.

Q. Are Post-baccalaureate certificate programs covered?
A.
 Yes, at Columbia University only. Post-baccalaureate and Graduate Certificate programs, registered with the New York State Board of Education, are considered graduate degree programs for Tuition Exemption Benefits purposes. Certificate of Professional Achievement Program are considered non-degree programs for the purposes of Tuition Exemption Benefits for Officers.

Q. How does the Tuition Exemption Benefit cover courses taken during the Summer Term?
A.
 The Summer Term at Columbia comprises several sessions. Individual summer sessions do not count as separate terms. Tuition Exemption covers your available number of courses spread out over the entire Summer Term.

Q. What courses are not covered under the Tuition Exemption Benefit?
A.
For courses that are not covered under the Tuition Exemption Benefit, see Page 8 of the Officer Tuition Exemption Benefit Policy.

Q: If I am laid off, how will it affect my eligibility for Tuition Exemption?
A:
 Tuition Exemption for that term will not be revoked. However, Tuition Exemption will not be granted for any subsequent term. For other status changes, review pages 8-10 of the Officer Tuition Exemption Policy.

Q. Can I drop a course without losing the Tuition Exemption benefit?
A.
 Yes, as long as you drop the course before the end date of Change of Program Period each term.

Q. Can I take courses if I haven’t met the two (2) year continuous service (waiting period) to be eligible for Tuition Exemption?
A.
Yes. The Reduced Employee Rate is a supplement to the Tuition Exemption Benefit for Officers, before having met the waiting period. The Reduced Employee Rate for tuition cost is available at Columbia University only.  You are responsible for 65% of the tuition cost and all fees, 35% of your tuition is exempted. You must be accepted and enrolled in the school you wish to attend. (See Reduced Employee Rate for Officers)

Q. If I want to take courses above what’s covered under the Tuition Exemption Benefit for my Officer group, can I take additional courses?
A. Yes. The Reduced Employee Rate is a supplement to the Tuition Exemption Benefit. The reduced Employee Rate for tuition cost is available at Columbia University only.  You are responsible for 65% of the tuition cost and all fees, 35% of your tuition is exempted. You must be accepted and enrolled in the school you wish to attend.  (See Appendix: Tuition Benefit Supplement – Reduced Employee Rate for Officers)

Q. Is my spouse or same-sex domestic partner eligible for Tuition Exemption benefits?
A.
 The eligibility of your spouse or same-sex partner depends on your date of hire. Spouses and same-sex domestic partners of Officers hired, rehired, appointed or promoted after July 1, 2011, are not eligible for tuition exemption benefits. If you were hired as an Officer on or before July 1, 2011, your spouse/same-sex domestic partner is eligible for Tuition Exemption of 100% of tuition cost each term for an undergraduate degree program that began by the Fall Term 2011 at Columbia only, until that degree is completed. Spouses/same-sex domestic partners who have received a bachelor’s degree from any accredited academic institution are not eligible for this Tuition Exemption Benefit. 

Q: If I am laid off, how will it affect the Tuition Exemption eligibility of my spouse or same-sex domestic partner?
A.
 Tuition Exemption for that term will not be revoked. Tuition exemption will not be granted for any subsequent term.

Q. When are my children eligible for Tuition Exemption benefits?
A.
 Eligibility of your children to receive Tuition Exemption benefits depends on your hire date and years of service.

  • If you are hired, rehired, appointed or promoted to Officer after July 1, 2011 – you must complete four (4) years of regular full-time continuous service, without a break in service longer than 31 days, before your children are eligible. Once the waiting period is met, your children are eligible to receive Tuition Exemption of 100% tuition for the next full term that begins your eligibility date
  • If you are hired, rehired, appointed or promoted on or before July 1, 2011 – you do not have a waiting period before you children are eligible to receive Tuition Exemption of 100%.

Q. Do my children have to meet certain eligibility requirements?
A.
Yes. Eligible children must be:

  • 25 or under, at the time they begin matriculation for their undergraduate degree; and
  • Be the biological child, adopted child, step child or under legal guardianship of:
    • A regular, full-time Officer of Administration, Instruction, the Libraries or Research; or
    • The spouse or same-sex domestic partner of a Full-Time, regular Officer.

Q. How does my child remain eligible for Tuition Exemption?
A.
 Until the end of the month in which your dependent child turns age 26, your child must maintain matriculation in the degree program they started in order to be eligible to for the Tuition Exemption Benefit.

Q. Does my child have to be registered in an undergraduate degree program to be eligible?
A.
 Yes, your child must be registered in an undergraduate degree program at Columbia College, Barnard College, the School of General Studies or the Fu Foundation of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Q. Is there a limit on the number of semesters for which my child can receive the Tuition Exemption benefit?
A.
 There is no limit on the number of semesters for which an Officer’s child can receive the Tuition Exemption Benefit at Columbia University, as long as the courses are credited toward the child’s first undergraduate degree. Note: There is an 8-semester limit for Tuition Exemption at Barnard College.

Q. Is my child eligible for graduate-level Tuition Exemption Benefits?
A.
 Eligibility for graduate tuition depends on your date of hire, rehire, appointment or promotion as a regular Full-Time Officer:

  • If you were hired after June 30, 1993 – there is no Tuition Exemption for graduate school or graduate-level courses for your child(ren).
  • If you were hired between July 1, 1987 - June 30, 1993 and you have been continuously (regular full-time) employed by the University since then – your child’s Tuition Exemption Benefit for graduate school or graduate-level courses is equal to 50% of tuition cost, regardless of age, financial dependency or marital status. Note: Children of Officers employed in the Law School are not eligible for this benefit and those of other Officers may not use the benefit for courses in the Law School or at Teachers College.
  • If you were hired before July 1, 1987 and you have been continuously employed (regular full-time) since then – your child’s Tuition Exemption Benefit for graduate school or graduate-level courses is equal to 100% of tuition cost, regardless of age, financial dependency or marital status. Note: Children of Officers employed in the Law School are not eligible for this benefit and those of other Officers may not use the benefit for courses in the Law School or at Teachers College.

Q. What if both parents are Officers at Columbia University?
A. 
 If you are both Officers hired, rehired, appointed or promoted after July 1, 2011, your child can only receive Tuition Exemption through one parent’s eligibility. If you were both hired, rehired, appointed or promoted on or before July 1, 2011, and have not had a break in continuous service more than 31 days after July 1, 2011, your child can receive Tuition Exemption benefits through both parents. The two benefits will be added together, up to no more than 100% tuition cost. A separate Tuition Exemption Form must be submitted for each Officer.

Q. What if my child wishes to study abroad, will it be covered by Tuition Exemption?
A.
 Yes, if the courses count toward the undergraduate degree and Columbia or Barnard College bills for the tuition costs. If another accredited academic institution bills for the tuition cost, it would not be covered under Tuition Exemption, but may be eligible under the College Tuition Scholarship (CTS) benefit.

Q. If I am laid off, how will it affect the Tuition Exemption eligibility of my child?
A.
 Tuition Exemption for that term will not be revoked. Tuition exemption will not be granted for any subsequent term.

Q. How do I apply for Tuition Exemption?
A.
You must complete the application process at the beginning of each term. You must submit your Tuition Eligibility Form for yourself and/or your eligible dependents:

Columbia Programs
Scan forms for email submission – tuitionexemption-students@columbia.edu or in person at:

  • Morningside Campus: 205 Kent Hall
  • Medical Center Campus (CUMC): 1-141 Black Building

Barnard College Programs
Email bursar@barnard.edu or submit in person to Milbank Hall, Room 15

Teachers College Programs
Email bursar@tc.columbia.edu or submit in person to Thompson Hall, Room 133

You and/or your eligible dependents must be accepted and enrolled in the school you wish to attend.

Q. What if my graduate courses are job related?
A.
You must complete and certify the Job-Related Graduate Education Certification form, for either a Degree Program or Non-degree graduate-level courses. Your supervisor must sign to certify your graduate level education is job-related. You must then attach the Job-Related Certification form to your Tuition Benefit Eligibility Form, and submit both documents to CU Student Financial Services.

Scan forms for email submission: tuitionexemption-students@columbia.edu or in person at:

  • Morningside Campus: 205 Kent Hall
  • Medical Center Campus (CUMC): 1-141 Black Building

Q. What if the name of my eligible dependents does not appear on my Tuition Exemption form in CUBES?
A.
 If you need to add a dependent, log in to CUBES, using your UNI and Password, authenticate your access with DUO, On the HR Benefits landing page, select “Profile”, then “My Dependents”, then select  "Add Dependent". Be prepared to scan and upload proof of relationship using the "Upload Documentation" link on the My Dependents screen.

If you are unable to upload documentation, you may fax your documentation to 844-301-7225. If you have any additional questions, please contact the Columbia Benefits Service Center at 212-851-7000. Once the documentation is verified and your record is updated, you will be able to print the Tuition Exemption Benefits forms. Qualifying forms of proof include:

  • Spouse/Same-sex domestic partners – marriage certificate; see the Benefits Highlights for guidelines
  • Dependent child – birth certificate, adoption papers or guardianship papers
  • Child of a same-sex domestic partner – birth certificate, adoption papers or guardianship papers, and domestic partnership documentation as described in Benefits Highlights.

College Tuition Scholarship (CTS)

Q. What is the College Tuition Scholarship (CTS) benefit?
A.
The CTS benefit pays 50% of a student’s undergraduate tuition at accredited higher education institutions outside Columbia (up to an annually defined limit), for up to eight semesters (or the equivalent trimesters or quarters). 

Q. Who is eligible?
A.
Your children are eligible if you are a regular Full-Time Officer of the University (including Officers of Instruction, Administration and Libraries and Research).

Q. When can I get CTS for my child?
A.
 There is a waiting period which is based on your hire date and years of service.

  • Officers who were hired on or prior to July 1, 2011 — do not have a waiting period
  • Officers who were hired after July 1, 2011 — are eligible to receive CTS for the next full term following the completion of four (4) years of continuous regular full-time service.

Q. What does accredited academic institution mean?
A.
The institution must be recognized by the American Council on Education.

Q. How many semesters are covered?
A.
 Eight (8) semesters (or the equivalent number of trimesters or quarters).

Q. Are winter semesters covered?
A.
 The CTS program will cover a student for winter terms, but the winter semester will count against the eight (8) semester limit.

Q. Are courses during the summer covered?
A.
 The CTS program covers courses in the summer term. This is in addition to the eight (8) semesters (or the equivalent number of trimesters or quarters)provided the summer courses are taken after your child has matriculated for the first semester. In addition, summer courses must be taken during the years in which the student is eligible for the fall or spring term CTS, and before the degree is completed.

Q. Are study abroad programs eligible for CTS?
A.
Yes. To be eligible for CTS, the study abroad program must be sponsored by an accredited institution. Study abroad programs are either for a full semester or summer term. Additional requirements include:

  • Your dependent child must continue to be matriculated in an undergraduate degree.
  • The courses taken as part of the Study Abroad Program are credited toward the undergraduate degree at the college or university your child is attending.
  • The Study Abroad Program is not billed through Columbia University.

Q. What if my child has awards or scholarships?
A.
 First, the Actual Tuition Cost is calculated, which is equal to the Tuition cost, minus tuition-specific awards, scholarships, grants, etc. Other awards, scholarships and grants which are not tuition-specific and which may be applied to all other cost and fees, such as housing, are not deducted from tuition expenses.

Q. I’ve retired from Columbia University; do my children remain eligible for this benefit?
A.
 To retire with this benefit, an Officer must be 55 years or older and have completed ten (10) years of regular full-time, continuous service (as an Officer) after age 45. Your children are eligible for the CTS benefit in effect for active Officers at the time the CTS application is submitted.

Q. How do I apply for the CTS benefit?
A.
 Please refer to the CTS Checklist. The following forms and documentation must be completed and submitted to EBPA as part of your College Tuition Scholarship (CTS) benefit. CTS applications without the required documentation will not be processed until all required documentation is received. This documentation must be submitted each term. Required documentation for your application includes:

  1. Form: Tuition Scholarship Outside of Columbia University for Dependent Children (Active Officers: Print your College Tuition Scholarship - Checklist & Application Form from the CUBESRetired Officers: use the CTS Application Form for Retired Officers)
  2. Copy of the itemized tuition bill, along with official documentation of any grants and/or scholarships your child is receiving. Please include the college or university mailing address.
  3. Summer term documentation (if applicable), including a Student in Good Standing Letter (Sample Letter).

Please note: Applications can be submitted no earlier than July 1 for the start of the fall semester.

If your child is not listed on this form – To apply for College Tuition Scholarship Benefit, your dependent child’s name must be listed on the form.

If you need to add a dependent, log in to CUBES using your UNI and password and enter your UNI and password ; then, confirm your access using multifactor authentication (DUO). Once logged in, select “Profile,” then “My Dependent” and finally, choose "Add Dependent." Be prepared to scan and upload proof of relationship using the "Upload Documentation" link on the My Dependents screen.

If you are unable to upload documentation, you may fax your documentation to 844-301-7225. If you have any additional questions, please contact the Columbia Benefits Service Center at 212-851-7000. Once the documentation is verified and your record is updated, you will be able to print the College Tuition Scholarship (PTS) Eligibility & Application Form.

  • To apply for the benefit, complete the College Tuition Scholarship (CTS) Checklist & Application form. You must complete all sections and sign date the form.
  • Provide the itemized tuition bill: You must request a copy of the itemized tuition bill, along with copies of official documentation for any grants and/or scholarships for the term for which you are applying. Please include payment mailing address for the college or university’s Bursar’s Office or Financial Services.
  • Summer term documentation, if applicable: If your child is taking summer courses, please provide written proof from the college or university on the institutions letterhead that your dependent child is a student in good standing and that the summer courses are part of his or her academic program. Please see the Student in Good Standing Letter (Sample Letter).

Q. How long does it take EBPA (CTS benefit administrator) to process a completed application and to send the CTS award payment to the college?
A.
 Please allow up to 15 business days for CTS awards to be processed and paid.

Q. If I have questions about my CTS application or the status of the payment processing, who can I call?
A.
Please email EBPA at tuition@ebpabenefits.com, or call EBPA Customer Service at 1-888-456-4576.

Q. How will I know the CTS payment has been made to my child’s college or university?
A.
 EBPA will send you a CTS Claims Payment Notification letter by mail confirming the CTS amount paid to your child’s college or university.

Primary Tuition Scholarship (PTS)

Q. What is the Primary Tuition Scholarship (PTS) benefit and whom does it cover?
A.
 The PTS benefit pays between 10% and 35% of your dependent child’s tuition in grades K-8 at a private school within the five boroughs of New York City, based on family income, or 50% of your child’s tuition for grades K-8 at The School at Columbia University. 

  • If you were hired on or before 7/1/2011 and both parents are eligible Officers – you can receive two scholarships simultaneously, adding up to 70% at a private school or 100% for grades K-8 at The School at Columbia.
  • If you were hired after 7/1/2011 and both parents are eligible Officers – you can receive one scholarship per child.

Q. Who is eligible for the PTS benefit?
A.
 You are eligible if you are a regular Full-Time Faculty or Officer of the University (including Officers of Instruction, Administration and Libraries and Research). If you are a visiting Officer of instruction or research, or you are a Postdoctoral Fellow or Clinical Fellow, you are not eligible for PTS. Both you and your child must live within the five boroughs of New York City and the accredited private school must also be located within the five boroughs of New York City.

Q. When will my child be eligible for the PTS benefit?
A.
 Immediately. There is no waiting period. 

Q. How is the academic year defined for PTS?
A.
 The academic year for PTS runs from September to June (10 Months).

Q. What if I am newly hired after the start of the school year?
A.
You will be partially covered for a school year. You will receive a percentage of the PTS, based on your month of hire.

Q. Is there a limit to the number of scholarships I can receive?
A.
You may receive as many scholarships as you have eligible children.

Q. Does the PTS benefit cover tuition and other program fees?
A.
 No. It covers only tuition for grades K-8. Other fees such as health services, food, student activities and books are not covered. If the bill from the school combines these fees, you must request from the institution’s bursar that the tuition fees be displayed separately.

Q. Will PTS cover nursery school or pre-kindergarten?
A.
 No, nursery school and pre-kindergarten are not covered under the PTS Policy.

Q. If my child needs to repeat kindergarten will PTS cover a second year of kindergarten?
A.
 Yes. If a child's school recommends that a child repeat a grade, a PTS will cover a second year of a grade on a one-time per child basis, assuming that documentation of the school's recommendation can be provided.

Q. How is qualifying income determined?
A. The total tax you pay is subtracted from your taxable income*, resulting in the qualifying family income, which is used to determine the percentage of tuition covered (10%-35%). *The most recent year’s federal, state and city income tax return(s) of the child’s family are used.
     Note: Does not apply to PTS for The School at Columbia University.

Q. What if I do not wish to submit tax return information?
A. If you do not submit tax return information, your PTS will be 10% of the school’s tuition. (Established Administrative Practice)

     Note: Does not apply to PTS for The School at Columbia University.
 
Q. What happens if my employment status changes?
A.
 If you have a status change that is one of the following: layoff, involuntary termination, involuntary transfer to Part-Time employment, voluntary resignation or voluntary transfer to Part-Time employment, leave of absence, promotion to Officer, retirement or death, please consult the PTS Policy; or contact the Columbia Benefits Service Center by sending an email to hrbenefits@columbia.edu or by calling 212-851-7000.

Q. I’ve retired from Columbia University; do my children remain eligible for this benefit?
A.
 To retire with this benefit, an Officer must be 55 years or older and have completed ten (10) years of Full-Time continuous benefits-eligible service (as an Officer after) age 45. You are eligible for the benefit in effect at the time the PTS Application is submitted

Q. How do I apply for the PTS benefit?
A.
 Please refer to the PTS Checklists. The following forms and documentation must be completed and submitted to EBPA as part of your Primary Tuition Scholarship (PTS) benefit. PTS applications without the required documentation will not be processed until all required documentation is received. This documentation must be submitted each term. Required documentation for your application includes:

  • Form: Tuition Scholarship Outside of Columbia University for Dependent Children, specifically the Primary Tuition Scholarship (PTS) – Eligibility & Application Form (Active Officers: Print your PTS Form from CUBESRetired Officers: use the PTS Application Form).
  • Copy of the itemized tuition bill, along with official documentation of any grants and/or scholarships your child is receiving. Please include the school's mailing address.
  • Financial Information: Copies of last year’s federal, state and city tax returns for the child’s family, if applicable.

Please note: Applications can be submitted no earlier than June 1 for the start of a new primary school year.

Q. How do I apply for the PTS benefit for the School at Columbia University?
A.
 Please refer to the PTS – The School at Columbia Checklist. The following forms and documentation must be completed and submitted to EBPA as part of your Primary Tuition Scholarship (PTS) benefit. PTS applications without the required documentation will not be processed until all required documentation is received. This documentation must be submitted each term. Required documentation for your application includes:

  • Form: Tuition Scholarship Outside of Columbia University for Dependent Children, specifically the Primary Tuition Scholarship (PTS) – Eligibility & Application Form (Active Officers: Print your PTS Form from CUBESRetired Officers: use the PTS Application Form).
  • A copy of the first page of your Enrollment or Re-Enrollment contract from The School at Columbia, confirming your child's seat.

Please note: Applications can be submitted no earlier than June 1 for the start of a new primary school year.

Q. Where do I find the forms and how do I provide the documentation?
A.
 All forms are on CUBES and the HR website.

Q. How long does it take EBPA (PTS benefits administrator) to process a completed application and to send the PTS award payment to the college?
A.
 Please allow up to three weeks for PTS awards to be processed and paid.

Q. If I have questions about my PTS application or the status of the payment processing, who can I call?
A.
Please email EBPA at Tuition@ebpabenefits.com or call EBPA Customer Service at 1-888-456-4576.

Q. How will I know the PTS payment has been made to my child’s school?
A.
 EBPA will send you a PTS Claims Payment Notification letter by mail confirming the PTS amount paid to your child’s school.

Q. When should I submit the Reimbursement form?
A.
 You should submit the application to EBPA as early as possible, preferably before the beginning of a school year. Note: EBPA cannot process applications for the fall before June 1 each year.

Q. What is the Primary Tuition Scholarship (PTS) benefit and whom does it cover?
A.
 The PTS benefit pays 50% your dependent child’s tuition in grades K-8 at The School at Columbia University.

  • If you were hired on or before 7/1/2011 and both parents are eligible Officers – you can receive two scholarships simultaneously, adding up 100% for grades K-8 at The School at Columbia.
  • If you were hired after 7/1/2011 and both parents are eligible Officers – you can receive one scholarship per child.

Q. Who is eligible for the PTS benefit?
A.
You are eligible if you are a regular Full-Time Faculty or Officer of the University (including Officers of Instruction, Administration and Libraries and Research). Both you and your child must live within the five boroughs of New York City.

If you are a visiting Officer of Instruction or Research, or you are a Postdoctoral Research Fellow or Clinical Fellow, you are not eligible for PTS.

Q. When will my child be eligible for the PTS benefit?
A.
Immediately. There is no waiting period.

Q. How is the academic year defined for PTS?
A.
 The academic year for PTS runs from September to June (10 Months).

Q. What if I am newly hired after the start of the school year?
A.
 You will be partially covered for a school year. You will receive a percentage of the PTS, based on your month of hire.

Q. How do I apply for the PTS benefit for the School at Columbia University?
A.
 Please refer to the PTS – The School at Columbia Checklist. The following forms and documentation must be completed and submitted to EBPA as part of your Primary Tuition Scholarship (PTS) benefit. PTS applications without the required documentation will not be processed until all required documentation is received. This documentation must be submitted each term. Required documentation for your application includes:

  • Form: Tuition Scholarship Outside of Columbia University for Dependent Children, specifically the Primary Tuition Scholarship (PTS) – Eligibility & Application Form (Active Officers: Print your PTS Form from CUBESRetired Officers: use the PTS Application Form).
  • A copy of the first page of your Enrollment or Re-Enrollment contract from The School at Columbia, confirming your child's seat.

Please note: Applications can be submitted no earlier than June 1 for the start of a new primary school year.

Retirement

Questions about Retirement Savings & Financial Planning

The University Retirement plan is a defined contribution 403(b) plan where the University makes contributions to your retirement plan on your behalf. The contributions are based on your age and service with Columbia University. You do not need to make contributions to this plan.

The VRSP is a defined contribution 403(b) plan that lets you contribute toward your retirement savings through convenient payroll deductions. You are eligible to participate on your date of hire and can contribute on a pre-tax and/or a Roth after-tax basis up to the IRS annual limit.  If you contributed to a 403(b) or 401(k) plan at a previous employer on either a pre-tax or Roth basis, you can roll over your contributions to the VRSP.

You can select from a wide choice of investment funds for your contributions through the investment carrier you select, either Vanguard or TIAA-CREF.  Please contact the carriers directly to review the investment choices available to you via their contact information below.

The University offers retirement planning workshops several times a year that are designed to give participants an overview of the financial and retirement planning process.  The workshops provide education on several topics including, taxation, income requirements and estate planning. You may register on the Benefits website under “Events.”

In addition to the workshops, the University’s investment carriers provide one-on-one counseling.  You can register at the appropriate vendor websites.

The Office of Faculty Retirement supports all Columbia faculty on all campuses.  You can find Information on: planning for future retirement, initiation of immediate or phased retirement, and activity following retirement. Go to faculty-retirement.columbia.edu for more information.

SUPPORT STAFF

Ask HR

Select a tab to view questions and answers about specific benefit topics for Support Staff. 

To understand basic benefits terminology, use our glossary as a reference.

Need more help? Ask HR

Frequently Asked Questions for Support Staff

Open Enrollment

Medical

If you are currently enrolled in medical coverage through the University, your 2019 coverage will automatically roll over for 2020. You do not need to re-enroll, though we do encourage you to review your options. If you are Non-Union Support Staff, your medical options will change in 2020; if you do not enroll, you will be defaulted to the Choice Plus 90 plan.

For all medical plans, beginning January 1, 2020:

  • Infertility benefit eligibility expanded. See Women's Health for more details.
  • Preventive care will now be covered out-of-network at 60% of 190% of the Medicare Maximum Allowable Charge.

For TWU Local 241 members: There are no changes to the medical plans 

For Non-Union Support Staff: The Choice Plus 100 plan is no longer available. If you do not log in during Open Enrollment, you will be defaulted to the Choice Plus 90 plan.  

For Local 2110 members: The Choice Plus 90 plan deductible and out-of-pocket maximums have increased. Additionally, you may elect a new medical plan option: the Choice In-Network plan.  

For SSA members: The Choice Plus 90 plan deductible and out-of-pocket maximums have increased. There are no changes to the Choice In-Network plan. 

Only if you elect a new medical plan. Otherwise, use your existing ID card at physician offices and pharmacies to identify yourself.

Tax Savings Accounts

The IRS has strict guidelines regarding FSAs. Only a balance of up to $500 in your Healthcare FSA can be rolled over for the next plan year. It is important to estimate your out-of-pocket healthcare expenses carefully. To help spend what you’ve allocated for the year ,your full annual Healthcare FSA election amount is available at the beginning of the year, even though contributions are prorated and made throughout the entire calendar year. 

If you leave the University or become ineligible for benefits, you can only be reimbursed for expenses incurred prior to your employment end date or the date you became benefits ineligible. Any remaining funds will be forfeited. 

There is no rollover at the end of the year for the Dependent Care FSA, and only amounts contributed are available for reimbursement.

Yes, you may enroll in the T/PRP or change your monthly contribution at any time. Your 2019 monthly contribution will automatically roll over into 2020. After Open Enrollment, changes made on or before the 20th of the month, will be effective the first of the following month. A change made after the 20th of the month will be effective the first of the second month following the change date. For example, a change made on January 20 will be effective February 1, but a change made January 21 will be effective March 1.

Fulll-time benefits-eligible Non-Union Support Staff, full-time members of 1199 Medical Assistants and full-time members of Local 100 with an Annual Benefits Salary of $125,000 or less in 2020 are eligible to receive up to a $4,000 contribution from the University to a Dependent Care FSA

You must also have a dependent child under the age of five, not yet attending kindergarten who has been verified by the Columbia Benefits Service Center as an eligible dependent and meets the definition of an IRS tax dependent. The benefit will be pro-rated if elected as a new hire or with a Qualified Life Status Change. There is a limit of one Child Care Benefit per family. However, you may also contribute pre-tax personal funds to the Dependent Care FSA up to a combined total account of $5,000.

Health & Welfare

Questions about Health & Welfare Coverage

You will receive a UnitedHealthcare ID card (covering medical and vision benefits) approximately three weeks after enrolling.

Visit www.myuhc.com to download and print a card.

Annual Benefits Salary is the greater of a) the base salary in effect on each July 1; or b) the prior 12 months’ gross compensation, to June 30. It is calculated as of July 1 each year and goes into effect the following January 1. Your Annual Benefits Salary is used to determine your life insurance coverage and eligibility for the Child Care Benefit.

Log in to CUBES and click the Alerts tab to find the Dependent Verification page to upload documentation. Or send via secure fax to 844-301-7225. If you do not have access to scan or fax documents, contact the Columbia Benefits Service Center for instructions.

No. Opposite sex domestic partners are not eligible.

Log in to CUBES and go to your Profile. Select "Life Insurance Beneficiaries," then click and follow prompts, or change your allocated percent for existing beneficiaries. Don’t forget to save your updates.

Go to benefits vendor contacts and click the links under Dental Providers, which will link you to external provider search sites. 

You can search for in-network providers, and confirm the network status of providers on UHC’s Find a Doctor or Facility page.

Scroll down the page to "Columbia University Medical Providers" or "Columbia University Behavioral Health Providers” for a list of Columbia doctors who provide in-network services through UHC only for Columbia’s employees and their dependents.

Preventive care includes routine well exams, screenings and immunizations intended to prevent or avoid health problems. Go to Preventive Care for more information.

Under the Choice Plus 80 and 90 plans, deductible and coinsurance apply for labwork and radiology, even if done as part of an office visit. 

For SSA and TWU-member Choice In-Network plans, outpatient lab and radiology will incur a $150 copay if done in a hospital. Alternatively, if you use a free-standing facility outside of the hospital, you will be covered at 100%. 

For Non-Union Support Staff in  the Choice Plus 100 plan, the deductible will apply for lab and radiology completed in a non-hospital setting. If done in a hospital, a $150 copay will apply. 

For the Choice In-Network and Choice Plus 100 plans, it is important to note that there is no copay if you use certain designated New York-Presbyterian (NYP) hospital locations for outpatient lab and radiology services

Yes, once you reach the in-network out-of-pocket maximum, the Plan covers 100% of in-network covered expenses. Your in-network deductible, coinsurance and medical and prescription copays apply to the out-of-pocket maximum. Your out-of-network expenses will also accumulate toward your in-network out-of-pocket maximum. 

If you reach the out-of-network out-of-pocket maximum, the Plan will increase coverage of eligible expenses to 190% of the Medicare Maximum Allowable Charge (MAC). 

Call 855-427-4682 to speak to a patient care representative, specialty-trained pharmacist or nurse, 24/7. BriovaRx, the OptumRx speciality pharmacy, delivers specialty medications by mail. If you use any other pharmacy, you will be responsible for the entire cost of the medication.

Vision coverage is included if you elect Columbia-provided medical coverage. To locate an in-network provider, log in to myuhc.com and select "Benefits & Coverage," "Vision," "Vision Benefit Highlights," then "Find a Provider."

If you visited an out-of-network provider, complete a UHC Out-of-Network Vision Claim Form and mail or fax—with related receipts—to UHC.

Tax Savings Accounts

Questions about Tax Savings Accounts

In 2019, you can contribute up to $2,700 to a Healthcare FSA and up to $5,000 to a Dependent Care FSA. Unlike Healthcare FSAs, Dependent Care FSAs work on a household—not individual—basis. If your spouse also has a Dependent Care FSA, you cannot exceed $5,000 between your two accounts.

Dependent Care FSA funds can pay for eligible dependent day care expenses.

Healthcare FSA funds can pay for eligible healthcare expenses.

Learn more about Support Staff FSAs

Unused Dependent Care FSA funds are forfeited at the end of the calendar year (you have until March 31st of the following year to submit).

A monthly dollar amount of your choice, up to the annual IRS limit, is deducted pre-tax from your pay.

Learn more about Transit/Parking Reimbursement 

Pre-tax deductions for University and New York-Presbyterian (NYP) parking spaces are separate from the EBPA T/PRP benefit.

You may participate in both programs if you also park outside of the University or NYP space for work purposes and your combined pre-tax deductions do not exceed the monthly IRS limit.

Unused T/PRP contributions roll over for use in future months, but you cannot use more than the IRS limit in any given month. However, you may never be reimbursed for transit or parking expenses in an amount above the monthly IRS limit. 

Example: Your monthly railroad ticket costs $280 and you contribute the monthly maximum IRS allowable amount of $265. You go on vacation for the entire month of July and do not stop contributions. Your T/PRP August balance  would be $530 but, per IRS regulations, you can only use $265 per month. You could stop contributions for a month, to bring down your balance to $0. This is especially important to remember if you are considering leaving the University.

If you do not incur enough eligible expenses before you leave the University, to bring your balance to $0, you will forfeit any unused funds.

Tuition

Tuition Exemption Benefit

Q. Who is eligible?
A.
 If you are on the payroll as a member of the Full-Time or Part-Time Support Staff* you are eligible for the Tuition Exemption benefit. Waiting periods may apply.

*Note: SSA Part-Time employees are not eligible for Tuition Exemption benefits.

Q. What does the Tuition Exemption Benefit cover?
A.
 The Tuition Exemption Benefit for Support Staff applies during the academic year to undergraduate or graduate classes at Columbia University, Barnard College and Teachers College. Eligible spouses, same-sex domestic partners, and dependents may receive the unused portion of a Support Staff member's benefit, but only at Columbia. The academic year is from September to May.

Q. Does the Tuition Exemption Benefit cover courses taken during the Summer Term?
A.
 Yes, at Columbia only. Summer courses at Barnard College and Teachers College are not covered.

Q. How is tuition paid?
A
. When you submit your eligibility form to the school's billing department, your tuition will be exempted and you will see a Tuition Exemption Benefit credit on your Student Account. You are responsible for paying all fees—for example, course fees and textbook and residence fees, where applicable.

Q. Can I take classes during work hours?
A
. If you are taking courses during working hours, you must have your supervisor's approval.

Q. Do I have to be accepted and enrolled in the school I wish to attend to be eligible for tuition exemption?
A
. Yes, to receive the Tuition Exemption Benefit, you must be first accepted and enrolled in the school you wish to attend. Consult your Collective Bargaining Agreement or the Tuition Exemption Policy to confirm what's covered.

To Print Your Proof of Eligibility – Log in to CUBES with your UNI and password. Select "Actions," then "Print Your Tuition Eligibility Form." Next, click "Tuition Exemption - For Yourself," then print, complete and sign the form.

Submit the form to your school's billing office as follows:

  • Columbia Programs: Student Service Center
    • Morningside: 205 Kent Hall
    • CUMC: 1-141 Black Building
  • Barnard College Programs: Room 15 Milbank Hall
  • Teachers College Programs: Room 133 Thompson Hall

Q. What is meant by degree matriculation?
A.
 Degree Matriculation refers to being officially accepted and enrolled in a degree program. You must be first be accepted and enrolled in the school you wish to attend before you may use the Tuition Exemption Benefit.

Q. Are Post-baccalaureate certificate programs covered?
A.
 Yes, Post-baccalaureate certificate programs are covered under the Tuition Exemption Benefit.

Q. What courses are not covered under the Tuition Exemption Benefit for Support Staff or their family members?
A.
For courses that are not covered under the Tuition Exemption Benefit, go to your union's Tuition Exemption Overview page, where you can view "Courses Not Covered."

Q: If I am laid off, how will it affect my eligibility for Tuition Exemption?
A:
 Tuition Exemption for that term will not be revoked. However, Tuition Exemption will not be granted for any additional term, unless you are reinstated. Please refer to the Support Staff Tuition Policy for additional status changes and how they affect your Tuition Exemption Benefit.

Q. Can I drop a course without losing the Tuition Exemption benefit?
A. Yes, you can drop a course. However, to avoid any possibility of financial responsibility and to avoid having the course count toward your Tuition Exemption Benefit limits, you must arrange with your school and the Registrar to drop the course before the close of Change of Program Period.

Q. What courses are not covered under the Tuition Exemption Benefit for spouses or same-sex domestic partners?
A.
 Courses not covered include:

  • All short -term, intensive and fee-based courses in which the instructor is paid on the basis of the number of students registered in the course
  • Non-Credit Courses
  • Courses with no point/credit value
  • Applied music courses (i.e., musical instrument instruction)
  • Course numbers beginning with the letter "Q" or "N," unless such a course is taken to fulfill a degree requirement
  • Any courses you audit

Q. Can my spouse or same-sex domestic partner drop a course without losing the Tuition Exemption benefit?
A.
 Yes, your spouse or same-sex domestic partner can drop a course, however, they need to arrange with the School and the Registrar to drop it before the close of Change of Program Period to avoid any possibility of financial responsibility and to avoid having the course count toward their Tuition Exemption course limits.

Q. Is the undergraduate Tuition Exemption Benefit for my same-sex domestic partners considered taxable income?
A.
 Yes. The value of any Tuition Exemption Benefit for your same-sex domestic partner is treated as part of the Support Staff's taxable income by the Federal Government and, therefore Columbia University will withhold taxes.

Q. When are my children eligible for Tuition Exemption benefits?
A.
 Eligibility of your children to receive Tuition Exemption benefits depends on your years of service, as there are waiting periods for Support Staff who are non-union and those covered by a collective bargaining contract. Waiting periods are as follows:

Two (2) years of continuous employment for Support Staff before children are eligible for the Tuition Exemption Benefit:

  • Non-Union Support Staff
  • Local 2110 UAW
  • 1999 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East SSA area (Medical Center)
  • Local 199 SEIU (Clerical & Cafeteria Units)
  • MEBA
  • MM&P

Four (4) years of continuous employment for Support Staff before children are eligible for the Tuition Exemption Benefit:

  • Local 100 UNITE HERE (Faculty House)
  • TWU Local 241 (Maintenance & Custodial and Security Officers)

Q. Does my child have to meet certain eligibility requirements?
A.
 Yes, provided you are a Full-Time or Part-Time Support Staff member, or the spouse or same-sex domestic partner of a Full-time or Part-time Support Staff member. Eligible children must be:

  • Matriculated in a Bachelor's or Master's Degree Program only; and
  • Be your biological child, adopted child or stepchild, or under your legal guardianship.

To receive Tuition Exemption, your child must also be matriculated into an undergraduate or graduate program at Columbia only, and will be eligible only for the unused portion of your Tuition Exemption benefit, based on your Support Staff Group, Full-Time or Part-Time, What's Covered for Children. Please refer to your Collective Bargaining Agreement for specifics.

Q. Can my child take courses as a non-matriculated student at Columbia?
A.
 Yes, as long as your child has completed high school and is registered as a degree candidate at an institution outside of Columbia, he or she may be able to obtain admission as a non-matriculated student at Columbia. Proof of matriculation status at the other school is required.
Note: Your child must present to the Benefits Service Center a letter on the external institution's letterhead, stating good standing and that the course being taken is to fulfill part of the child's academic program.

Q. Can my child drop a course without losing the Tuition Exemption benefit?
A.
 Yes, your child can drop a course; however, they will need to arrange with the School and the Registrar to drop it before the close of Change of Program Period to avoid any possibility of financial responsibility and to avoid having the course count toward the Tuition Exemption course limits.

Q. Is the undergraduate Tuition Exemption Benefit for my same-sex domestic partner's dependent children considered taxable income?
A.
 Yes. The value of any Tuition Exemption Benefit for same-sex domestic partners' children is treated as part of the Support Staff's taxable income by the Federal Government and therefore Columbia University will withhold taxes.

Q. How do I apply for Tuition Exemption?
A.
You must be accepted and enrolled in the school you wish to attend. You must complete the application process each term, by submitting your Tuition Eligibility Form for you and/or your family member, with related materials, to the appropriate school office during the Change of Program Period. The timing is important to ensure your Student Account reflects the Tuition Exemption Benefit credit, to avoid late fees.

Q. How do I determine my eligibility and that of my family members?
A.
Print your Tuition Benefit Eligibility Form from the CU Benefits Enrollment System. For family members, you will also need to print and complete this form.

Q. What if my graduate courses are job related?
A.
If you are enrolled in graduate-level courses or a graduate degree program that is related to your job, you must submit the Job-Related Graduate Education Certification form to Student Financial Services before the end of the Change in Program Period to avoid your benefit being taxed above the Federal annual limit of $5,250 per year. Please be sure to attach your Tuition Benefit Eligibility Form, and then submit as follows:

  • Morningside: 205 Kent Hall
  • CUMC: 1-141 Black Building

Q. What if the name of my family member does not appear on my Tuition Exemption form in the CU Benefits Enrollment System?
A.
 Only dependents that have been verified with the Columbia Benefits Service Center will be displayed on the Tuition Exemption—for Your Dependents Form. You will need to submit proof of relationship to the Columbia Benefits Service Center, which may consist of the following:

  • Spouse/Same-sex domestic partners – marriage certificate; see the Benefits Highlights for guidelines
  • Dependent child – birth certificate, adoption papers or guardianship papers
  • Child of a same-sex domestic partner – birth certificate, adoption papers or guardianship papers, and domestic partnership documentation as described in Benefits Highlights.

Once your dependent status is verified with the Benefits Service Center, you will be able to print out the Tuition Benefit Eligibility Form for the appropriate dependent.

Retirement

Questions about Retirement Savings & Financial Planning

The University Retirement plan is a defined contribution 403(b) plan where the University makes contributions to your retirement plan on your behalf. The contributions are based on your age and service with Columbia University. You do not need to make contributions to this plan.

The VRSP is a defined contribution 403(b) plan that lets you contribute toward your retirement savings through convenient payroll deductions. You are eligible to participate on your date of hire and can contribute on a pre-tax and/or a Roth after-tax basis up to the IRS annual limit.  If you contributed to a 403(b) or 401(k) plan at a previous employer on either a pre-tax or Roth basis, you can roll over your contributions to the VRSP.

You can select from a wide choice of investment funds for your contributions through the investment carrier you select, either Vanguard or TIAA-CREF.  Please contact the carriers directly to review the investment choices available to you via their contact information below.

The University offers retirement planning workshops several times a year that are designed to give participants an overview of the financial and retirement planning process.  The workshops provide education on several topics including, taxation, income requirements and estate planning. You may register on the Benefits website under “Events.”

In addition to the workshops, the University’s investment carriers provide one-on-one counseling.  You can register at the appropriate vendor websites.

The Office of Faculty Retirement supports all Columbia faculty on all campuses.  You can find Information on: planning for future retirement, initiation of immediate or phased retirement, and activity following retirement.

Go to faculty-retirement.columbia.edu for more information.