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Going to College

When enrolled in college full time, children are eligible for regular TRICARE benefits until their 23rd birthday or graduation, whichever comes first.

  • The "student status" must be reflected in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). 
  • Visit MilConnect to see what information is needed.

Health care options depend on where the school is located and the sponsor's military status. Parents and children should ask the following questions to help decide which TRICARE plan to use in college:

Health Plan Options

1. Where is the school located?

TRICARE Prime is only available in Prime Service Areas. Check the school's ZIP Code online or call your regional contractor to see if the school is in a Prime Service Area.

  • If so, your child may enroll in TRICARE Prime.
  • If not, TRICARE Standard and Extra may be the only option.

The US Family Health Plan is another Prime option available in designated US Family Health Plan areas.

2. How will my child get to the doctor?

If enrolled in TRICARE Prime, your child will have an assigned primary care manager (PCM). He or she must make appointments with their PCM, or point-of-service fees may apply.

If it's not convenient to have an assigned PCM, you may want to consider TRICARE Standard and Extra. Your child can visit any TRICARE-authorized provider and will have more flexibility when home during school breaks.

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

TRICARE Prime has the fewest out-of-pocket costs, unless you use the point-of-service option. With TRICARE Standard and Extra, you may need to pay the doctor up front for care and file a claim with TRICARE later for reimbursement. But, you can still save money by visiting a network provider.

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

  • Some colleges and universities offer a student health plan.
  • Student health plans are considered other health insurance, making TRICARE the second payer.
  • If you plans to use a student health plan, then TRICARE Standard and Extra is the best TRICARE option.

Keeping Minimum Essential Coverage

Your child has the minimum essential coverage required under the Affordable Care Act when covered by any of TRICARE's health plan options. To keep minimum essential coverage after regular TRICARE coverage ends, your child has the following options:

Last Updated 4/16/2014