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Dependent Care FSA

Plan benefits

In accordance with IRS regulations, the maximum you can contribute to a Dependent Care FSA is $5,000 per year for a married couple filing taxes jointly or a single head of household; or $2,500 each for a married couple filing separate tax returns. Your contributions will be deducted from your paycheck on a pretax basis throughout the year and credited to your account on a monthly basis. If you have dual Northwestern and Northwestern Medicine appointments making you eligible for both dependent care FSA plans, it is important to keep the $5,000 total maximum in mind when enrolling.

Reimburses dependent care expenses that allow you and your spouse to work. This is NOT for dependent health care expenses. Maximum annual election of $5,000.


Dependent care University match

Employees with a family adjusted gross income up to $130,000 can apply for Northwestern matching funds by completing the Dependent Care Employer Match Application.

Northwestern's dependent care match and maximum contribution by household earnings.
Household Earnings Northwestern Election Match (%) Maximum Contribution
Up to $60,000 80% $4,000 per year
$60,001-$75,000 60% $3,000 per year
$75,001-$100,000 40% $2,000 per year
$100,001-$130,000 20% $1,000 per year

Notes: Northwestern maximum match is based off an annual election of $5,000 University matching contributions are added to a participant’s taxable wages.

Qualifying dependents

If care for a disabled spouse or dependent is provided outside the home, the dependent must live with you at least eight hours a day. Please visit the PayFlex website for a list of eligible dependents.


Newly eligible employees may enroll online through myHR within 31 days of hire. 

File a claim

You can be reimbursed for expenses with service dates from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017, while actively making contributions to the plan. The date you pay for an item or service is irrelevant.
  • Submit claims directly to Payflex using Express Claims or a paper claim form. You will not be reimbursed for expenses until after the care is provided.
  • Include the social security number or federal tax identification number of the child care provider.
  • Individuals participating in the Dependent Care Account may be reimbursed only up to the amount in his or her account.
  • Payment may be received by check or direct deposit.
  • All eligible funds for plan year 2018 must be claimed by March 31, 2019. Under Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations, any monies not claimed from the FSA as of March 31, 2019 are forfeited.
  • All eligible funds for plan year 2017 must be claimed by March 31, 2018. Under Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations, any monies not claimed from the FSA as of March 31, 2018 are forfeited.

Separation from the University

If you separate from the University, you may submit claims only for eligible expenses incurred through the end of the month in which you terminated employment. Expenses incurred after this date are not eligible for reimbursement.