Increasing Share of Colleges Offer Partner Benefits

College human resources group releases annual survey on benefits, which finds relatively few colleges offering paid child care and fewer paying full costs of health insurance.
September 17, 2008

The percentage of colleges offering domestic partner benefits grew gradually in 2007-8 -- a year in which the benefits received intense scrutiny from critics of gay marriage.

The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources surveyed colleges and universities and found that 42 percent offer health care benefits for same-sex domestic partners, up from 40 percent a year ago. In addition, 34 percent of institutions provide the benefits to opposite sex domestic partners, up from 31 percent a year ago.

In states where voters have approved measures to ban gay marriage, domestic partner benefits have faced legal and political challenges in the last year, but many institutions have shifted the way benefits are provided to avoid cutting off health insurance to employees' partners.

The CUPA-HR survey provides a snapshot on a range of benefits issues. At a time that many academics are urging institutions to adopt more "family friendly" policies, the survey suggests progress has been minimal.

Only 21 percent of institutions have paid leave for new parents over and above vacation and sick leave. Only 26 percent of the responding institutions provide child day-care benefits, and only 2 percent provide sick-child day-care benefits. Of those institutions that subsidize the costs of day care, the median subsidy was 20 percent.

The survey also found erosion in the minority of institutions paying the entire monthly health insurance premium for employees. Depending on the plan type, 19-27 percent of institutions pay full costs, compared to 30-35 percent a year ago.

Other findings in the survey:

  • Wellness programs are now provided by 48 percent of institutions, while 80 percent offer diet and nutrition programs.
  • PPO plans are the most common type of health plan offered, with more than 86 percent of institutions having one or more.
  • The procedure least likely to be covered by health plans is acupuncture, followed by in vitro fertilization.
  • Almost all institutions provide basic life insurance, long-term disability, paid-time off tuition assistance and retirement benefits. However, only about 60 percent provide short-term disability.

CUPA-HR releases to the public only selections from the survey. The full report may be purchased from the association.


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