Adult Students Should Take Advantage of Tuition Reimbursement

Education is the key to job advancement and a more fulfilling career. Many companies are dedicated to helping individuals achieve their career goals by providing the opportunity to enhance job skills and education by assisting with the cost of tuition.  The ultimate goal is to help their employees gain the knowledge, skills and abilities to improve their performance and increase their chances for advancement.  One way to do this is by offering tuition reimbursement.

Tuition reimbursement is a benefit where an employer pays for an employee's continuing education.  Some companies offer 100 percent tuition reimbursement, while others may offer only a small percentage or a flat fee that covers some of the cost of a course.

Tuition reimbursement policies can vary greatly between companies.  The first thing an employee should do is find out exactly what type of policy a company has.  The information is usually listed on the company website, in an employee handbook, or in the policies and procedures manual.   Here an individual can find out the amount of tuition a company will pay for and if it will pick up additional costs for books and other fees.  The human resources department is also a place that will have the information available.

Some employers require that a program of study must be in a work-related field and should provide the participating employee with skills, knowledge and competencies applicable to their current position. However, other companies pay for classes or programs that develop professional skills that help employees grow into new positions.

For courses that are taken for credit as part of a degree program, tuition and eligible fees are reimbursed only for courses completed with a final grade of "C" or higher.  Also, the employee's supervisor usually must review and certify that the program for which the employee is applying meets specified criteria.  Finally, the human resources department usually needs to asses and approve the courses.

Typically, tuition reimbursement does not cover any fees.  These include admission and registration fees, transcript fees, test preparation fees, admission testing fees, and challenge fees.  Any book costs or travel costs (i.e., transportation, housing, meal, etc.) are generally not covered.  Also, if an employee voluntarily quits or is terminated for cause prior to course completion the company will not reimburse a student.  Finally, if an employee does not receive advance approval for a course, they may not be reimbursed.

The reason companies provide the assistance is because employees who take advantage of tuition reimbursement usually stay with the company longer.  Also, an employer can deduct up to $5,250 per employee on their taxes.  Finally, more employers are paying employee's tuition because having smarter employees helps a company stay competitive.  Because of this, The American Council of Education estimates that roughly 20 percent of graduate students and 6 percent of the much larger number of undergraduates receive some financial assistance from their employers to attend school.   Also, as many as a third of undergraduates in fields like business and engineering receive tuition assistance from their employers.

As college costs go up, employees are looking for educational opportunities as part of a company's benefit plan.     As such, companies are providing tuition reimbursement as a way to attract and keep talented employees.

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