Investing in career development benefits employees and employers alike. Employers offer tuition assistance or reimbursement programs to retain employees, attract top talent, take advantage of tax deductions, and strengthen their company.
But, 2.5 million employees don’t take advantage of these programs. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when starting the process, but don’t miss out on having your company invest in your career development. To help you, we explain what tuition assistance is. We also include eight tuition assistance questions to ask your employer before accessing these benefits.
What is tuition assistance?
Tuition assistance or reimbursement programs enable employers to cover some or all of an employee’s education costs. You can use employer tuition assistance to fund college tuition, cover job-related skill-building courses, or professional development.
To find out if your company offers tuition reimbursement, you should speak to your manager, ask HR, or consult your employer’s education policy.
What tuition assistance questions should you ask your employer?
- How much will my employer cover? Most employers provide up to $5,250 in tuition assistance a year and receive tax deductions. However, your employer may offer more or less. Find out exactly how much they will cover and prepare to cover expenses that fall on you.
- What’s covered? Some employers only pay for undergraduate or graduate degrees. Others cover the cost of certificate programs to teach you the skills you need to advance your career. Some companies will cover textbooks and supplies you might need. Find out what your employer will cover and plan out how to handle the other expenses before enrolling.
- Is there a payment schedule? Some tuition reimbursement policies will cover the cost of a program upfront. If your employer reimburses you once you graduate you’ll need to cover the program’s costs initially.
- Do I need to maintain a certain GPA? Employer policies may include stipulations, and one of the most common is requesting employees keep a certain GPA to qualify for tuition assistance.
- Am I limited to what schools or programs I can apply to? Your employer may have a list of colleges and certificate programs approved for tuition reimbursement. If this is the case, they will share this information with you. They may also allow you to choose any program and have an approval process.
- Am I limited to specific fields of study? Your employer may only provide tuition assistance for programs directly related to your job or industry. Check with your HR rep or benefits coordinator.
- What if I am considering another job? First, don’t feel guilty about using these benefits while seeking employment elsewhere. These programs benefit your employer significantly. If you want to learn more, check out the reasons why employers incorporate tuition assistance programs to retain employees. But you need to find out how long you must remain an employee following reimbursement or graduation (without making it obvious that you want to leave). Some employers include these guidelines in their education policies.
- How can I access my benefits? You may need to sign-up through an online portal, fill out an application, get manager approval, etc. Confirm the steps you need to take for employer tuition assistance with your HR or your benefits department. Make sure to follow each step carefully so that you don’t encounter surprises.
Finally, before accessing employer tuition assistance, ask yourself: Do the programs you want to take align with your current role and career progression? Consider how potential programs will fit into your future career goals. We even suggest you discuss it with your employer; maybe a program will lead to a promotion in your future. We’ve seen it happen.
Accessing tuition assistance or reimbursement programs to enroll in a Pathstream program
Many companies are eager to invest in employees looking to learn new skills, gain new responsibilities, or pursue a promotion. At Pathstream, we’ve worked with students who took advantage of employer tuition assistance or reimbursement programs when enrolling in our programs. If you want to learn more about how you can access tuition assistance or our programs, contact us today.