Domestic Partner Benefits at Big Ten Universities


Sexual Orientation in Nondiscrimination Policy?

DP Sick / Bereavement Leave? [1]

DP Health Insurance? (Year)

General Info on Benefits or Human Resources

Indiana University-Bloomington



Yes 2002

Michigan State University



Yes [10] 1997

Northwestern University

Yes [2][3]


Yes 1996


Ohio State University

Yes [PDF] [3]

Yes [4]

Yes [8] 2004

Pennsylvania State University



Yes [9] 2005

Purdue University


Yes [6]

Yes [6] 2003

University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign

Yes [PDF] [2][3]

Yes [PDF]

Yes [7] 2003/2006 

University of Iowa

Yes [3]


Yes 1992

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Yes [3]

Yes [PDF]

Yes [10] 1994

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Yes [2][3]


Yes [PDF] [5] 1993/2002

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Yes [2][3]


Yes[2] 2010


"Yes" text is, in most cases, linked to the appropriate policy or summary information at the institution. There are eleven (11) universities in the "Big Ten".

There may be additional variations in benefits across employee groups at institutions with multiple employee types, collective bargaining units (employee unions) and/or unrepresented employees.

[PDF] Link is to an Adobe Acrobat ("PDF") document.

[1] Sick/Bereavement Leave varies widely among institutions. It is sometimes two separate policies (one for illness, one for bereavement); sometimes it is managed along with a campus "Family and Medical Leave" policy (although the latter is usually a form of extended, unpaid leave); and it varies in how it defines who is covered (domestic partner, household member, spousal equivalent). The intent here is to only include those policies which would at least include a domestic partner, although policy language may not use that term, and the policy might in fact include a larger set of relationships.

[2] By state law.

[3] Policy also includes gender identity/expression. (U of Wisconsin System, February 10, 2005, page 61, .)

[4] See both policies 6.05 (FMLA) and 6.27 (Paid Leave) (PDF documents).

[5] U of Minnesota's plan previously reimbursed qualified insurance premium expenses up to a fixed amount. Since 2002, the plan provides actual health insurance that covers same-sex domestic partners.

[6] Purdue University announced plans on Sept. 13, 2002, to extend benefits to same-sex partners, effective January 1, 2003. News article:

[7] U of Illinois Trustees voted on July 17, 2003, to extend medical and dental benefits to same-sex partners of UI System employees. According to press coverage, the benefit program will reimburse employees at the U-I campuses in Chicago, Springfield and Urbana-Champaign the difference between what the employee pays to purchase coverage for their same-sex partner, and the premium the employee would pay for dependent coverage under the state of Illinois' medical insurance plan. It does not include unmarried opposite-sex partners of employees. The program could begin as early as September 2003.  As of July 1, 2006, UI System employees may enroll in actual health insurance via the State of Illinois group insurance plan.  As of February 2007, a UI employee may select either the insurance plan or the reimbursement plan, but not both; the continuation of the reimbursement plan will be examined on a year-to-year basis.

[8] Same-sex partners of faculty and staff covered, including university subsidy, October 1, 2004.  Graduate assistants, September 15, 2004. Opposite-sex partners and other qualified dependents, at group premium rates, effective early 2005.

[9]Penn State has discussed extending full health insurance benefits for 2005. Same-sex domestic partners are eligible for the health plan, according to the web site linked above.

[10] Court ruling that Michigan public universities and other public employers cannot provide domestic partner benefits not to take effect until end of calendar year or end of bargaining agreement periods. See .

Domestic Partner Soft-Benefit Policies

"Soft Benefits" refer to general, limited, non-employer-premium-funded benefits such as access to libraries, campus housing, and recreational or cultural facilities; dual-career couple/spousal hire services; and employee assistance programs. It does not include health insurance. Official campus policy across multiple soft benefits exist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison .

Effective Dates for Domestic Partner Health Insurance Coverage where known

U. of Minnesota 1993 (reimbursement plan), 2002 (insurance plan); Northwestern U. effective January 1, 1996; Indiana U. effective April 1, 2002; Purdue U. announced Sept. 13, 2002, effective January 1, 2003; U. of Illinois Trustees voted on July 17, 2003, effective September 2003 (reimbursement plan), July 2006 (insurance plan); Ohio State U., effective Sept.-Oct. 2004; Penn State U., announced plans in fall 2004, to take effect in 2005; U. of Wisconsin, announced June 2009, effective January 1, 2010.

Last Updated on January 19, 2010
By Dan Ross
Email: dross AT-SIGN
This web page:

This compilation is copyrighted 2003-2010 by Dan Ross. It may be reproduced freely with attribution.