Moving Away to College May Change Your Child's TRICARE Options


Is your student heading away to college this fall? TRICARE coverage of eligible dependents extends to college students. A change of address, such as moving to a new country, city, region, or ZIP+4 code is a TRICARE Qualifying Life Event (QLE). If this QLE applies to your student, you have 90 days from the date of the address change to change his or her TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select health plan.

A QLE lets you enroll in or change your TRICARE health plan outside of the annual TRICARE Open Season. When a QLE happens for one family member, it creates a QLE for the entire family. This means all family members may be able to switch TRICARE health plans if your child moves away to college.

Update the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) with your child’s new address. Maintaining an up-to-date student status in DEERS ensures eligibility for TRICARE.

Health Plan Options

TRICARE health plan options and payment requirements depend on the location of the college your student attends, your sponsor status, and your family’s individual preferences. Use the Compare Plans tool for a side-by-side look at plan features and costs.

Children are eligible for TRICARE benefits until age 21. But coverage extends up to age 23 for unmarried children of TRICARE-eligible sponsors, if both:

  • The child is a college student enrolled in a full-time course of study at an approved institution of higher learning
  • The sponsor provides over 50 percent of the child’s financial support

To extend benefits past your student’s 21st birthday, you’ll need a letter from the school’s registrar office. The letter must confirm your child is enrolled full-time in an accredited college in pursuit of an associate’s degree or higher. Bring the letter to an ID card office. To avoid automatic disenrollment when your child turns 21, update DEERS information before his or her 21stbirthday. Check with your regional contractor after doing so to make sure there’s no break in coverage.

Studying in the U.S.

TRICARE Prime and US Family Health Plan (USFHP) enrollees attending college stateside in the same region as their sponsor may keep their TRICARE Prime or USFHP at their sponsor’s address or transfer their enrollment to their school address. However, these plans must be available in the new location, and you must still meet all enrollment criteria.

TRICARE Prime and USFHP enrollees going to college stateside in a different region from their sponsor’s residence may generally keep their TRICARE Prime enrollment in their sponsor’s region. They may also choose split enrollment and transfer their enrollment if TRICARE Prime is available in their new region. Some restrictions may apply. Check with your regional contractor for specifics.

TRICARE Prime Remote (TPR) enrollees must live at their sponsor’s qualifying residence to stay eligible for TPR. If moving away from home, TPR enrollees may enroll in TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select.

Coverage will remain the same for those enrolled in TRICARE Select, TRICARE Reserve Select, and TRICARE Retired Reserve.

Attending Service Academies

Attending a service academy means your child is covered like active duty service members and are enrolled in TRICARE Prime. Your child will get most care from a primary care manager at his or her assigned military hospital or clinic.

Studying Overseas

If your student attends college overseas alone, he or she is eligible to enroll in TRICARE Overseas Program (TOP) Select. Students who attend college overseas who are command-sponsored and live with their sponsor overseas remain eligible for TOP Prime or TOP Prime Remote. TOP Prime and TOP Prime Remote aren’t available to students living or traveling overseas whose sponsors live in the U.S.

Other Health InsuranceHealth insurance you have in addition to TRICARE, such as Medicare or an employer-sponsored health insurance. TRICARE supplements don’t qualify as "other health insurance."

Some colleges and universities offer a student health plan. Student health plans qualify as other health insurance (OHI). Keep in mind TRICARE pays second to most OHI. If your student plans to use a student health plan, tell the health care and pharmacy contractors. Update DEERS to show this OHI.

Coverage after TRICARE Eligibility Ends

Students who no longer qualify for regular TRICARE coverage may qualify to purchase TRICARE Young Adult or Continued Health Care Benefit Program coverage.

For more information on TRICARE options for college students, visit Going to College. If you have questions, you can also contact your regional contractor.
At the time of posting, this information is current. For the most recent information, contact your TRICARE contractor or local military hospital or clinic.

Last Updated 4/13/2022