The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

CUPA-HR Testifies Before Joint Committee on ACA Issues


Because the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s employer mandate does not specifically exclude most student workers, it poses a dilemma for colleges and universities. If they offer employee healthcare benefits to student workers, institutions will incur substantial increases in administrative load, costs and liabilities that will ultimately increase tuition costs. If they don’t offer employee healthcare benefits to student workers, institutions will have to cut on-campus work opportunities for students – a move that would have a particularly negative impact on students who have limited resources to pay for college.

This issue was highlighted in CUPA-HR’s testimony on June 3 before the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee regarding the impact of the ACA on colleges and universities. Barbara Carroll, CUPA-HR chair-elect and head of human resources at North Carolina State University, testified on behalf of CUPA-HR.

Carroll, who was part of the CUPA-HR team that met with the Treasury Department and IRS in January to discuss these issues, shared two solutions proposed to the Treasury by CUPA-HR and others:

  • The Treasury could issue guidance that clearly exempts students from the ACA employer mandate, or
  • The Treasury could deem an institution to be in compliance if it offers its students coverage under an ACA-compliant student health insurance plan (SHIP).

Although Carroll’s spoken testimony focused primarily on issues related to students, her written testimony also referenced the ACA’s impact on part-time professionals and concerns about the ACA’s excise tax, often referred to as the “Cadillac tax.”

For an in-depth look at the current rules around student workers and the ACA, see the article “Student Workers and the ACA” from the Winter 2014-15 issue of CUPA-HR’s The Higher Education Workplace magazine.