Employee Reimbursement

Today’s cost of achieving a higher education has not gone unnoticed. College Tuition is at an all time high which makes getting a degree or continuing your education somewhat difficult. Fortunately, some companies provide financial assistance to employees seeking continuing education.

One of the most significant and beneficial contributions a business can offer is a college tuition reimbursement program. Tuition Reimbursement, or also known as tuition assistance, is a contractual agreement between employer and employee that summaries exact terms under which the employer may pay for the employee’s higher education. Tuition assistance varies from business to business.

It usually takes a well-established company to be able to offer what could amount to $10,000 – $15,000 per semester or more for eligible employees. So don’t look for numerous start-ups to include tuition assistance as a normal part of their compensation package. However, distance learning technologies are allowing for new opportunities for workers to obtain degrees from virtual (and nonvirtual) universities at a much lower cost than traditional study programs.

Your Company May Provide 100% Funding for Your College Degree

Today’s cost of a higher education has not gone unnoticed. In fact among business and industry, the fact has been underscored many times over. Where once in-service training sufficed, there are now incentives designed to send employees back to college. One of the more costly, but effective incentives is a tuition reimbursement program.

Costly as far as monetary short-term expense for a business, but the long-term value of more highly educated personnel cannot be overstated. In fact a tuition reimbursement program goes both ways: it increases the quality of a career-life for an individual, at the same time it adds investment value to a company’s human resources.

Program Coverage and Criteria

Tuition Reimbursement depends on the criteria of the company. Typically you are required to be employed full-time and may only become eligible for reimbursement after you’ve been with a company for a year. There may be percentages of tuition reimbursement and consider yourself blessed for the 100% plan. More than likely, the courses will have to pertain to the curriculum of the company. If an employee decides to take courses out of the curriculum, they will most likely have to pay for it themselves.

Extra Costs

If an employee is fortunate enough to find a company that can offer this benefit, they must understand that it does not come without any cost to them. As some companies will pay all the expenses, some will only pay for part of the total expenses. Sponsors often do not include textbooks and other secondary costs as part of a tuition reimbursement plan. For example, many colleges and universities charge a student activity fee as part of their tuition; not a reimbursable expense. So you can expect out-of-pocket charges to be a potential few hundred dollars depending on your studies. You should always shop for discount or used textbooks before you pay for brand new. This could save you hundreds of dollars. You can find used textbooks on Amazon.com and generally on campus bookstores. Look here for additional money saving opportunities.

Many employers base the amount of payment to the grade point average (GPA) of the employee. It is typical that the required GPA is a minimum 3.5. Each point the employee’s GPA drops, the employer may decrease the compensation. Employees must also understand that they may have to pay for their education up front and the company will reimburse them upon completion. This may alter the choice of courses the employee decides to take at once.

Degrees of Reimbursement

Some companies stipulate the types of degrees eligible for reimbursement. You may be eligible only for reimbursement of programs related to an undergraduate or graduate degree, up to a certain amount, often between $1,000 and $2,000.

More companies now include certificate programs, but some do not and you may have to clear it with the HR department just to make sure. Which means you’ll still pay out of pocket for any programs you require that are not covered by your TR plan. In some cases you may be able to pursue a course or program unrelated to your job, but some companies will only repay you for courses, degrees or programs directly related to your job description.

Does Performance Count?

Your company may refuse to pay if you flunk out, so to speak, or are unable to maintain a certain GPA. Part of your role in this corporate investment program is to suck it up and perform both in work and in class.

Most companies that offer college tuition reimbursement base the amount on the employee’s grade in the course. If the employee earns a grade below a B, many companies won’t pay. In addition, some companies pay for the course at registration, but others reimburse the cost only after successful completion of the coursework. When investigating a tuition reimbursement program, ask about timing of reimbursement, since that could make a difference in how many classes you take at one time.

Reimbursement Applications

The purpose of the reimbursement application you turn into the Human Resources department is to make sure you are “reimbursed,” which means you’ve already paid for something. So, guess what? You will likely have a short-term out of pocket expense for your semester tuition before you see expense reimbursement. Expect to be required to submit copies of your tuition bill and method of payment. And, yes, since performance does count, you may also need to include official copies of course grades and overall GPA.