Tuition Reimbursement

Tuition reimbursement, also referred to as tuition assistance, is an agreement made between the employer and employee that specifically outlines specific terms under which the employer will pay for the employee’s continuing education. Such benefits vary by company. But as many as 54 percent of employers offer some sort of tuition assistance for all employees who wish to go back to school to pursue an advanced degree or certification of some kind.

Reimbursement for Classes

Most companies will provide that only work-related courses are eligible for reimbursement, and that the class being taken must benefit the employee on a professional level in his or her career with the company. However, other companies may in fact provide reimbursement for any type of class, even if that means that the advanced degree being sought will subsequently cause the employee to leave and pursue another passion. If, however, your company doesn’t provide tuition reimbursement for the course, degree, or certification that you wish to pursue, you should speak to your direct manager or HR reporting line to see if it is something they may consider.

According to a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, the average amount of annual tuition reimbursement per employee was $4,591 in 2014. Therefore, it is safe to say that your employer will likely not provide reimbursement for receiving a graduate degree that will cost $50,000/year. But, those companies may in fact be out there. Regardless of how much the employer chooses to cover, it shouldn’t affect you in going back to school. The one most important thing to keep in mind with tuition reimburse is the fact that some companies require you to keep a certain grade point average.

When Will You Be Reimbursed

Some employers offer immediate reimbursement to the employee; however, other companies will pay the tuition to the school directly. Make sure that you are prepared to pay the tuition in the event that your employer doesn’t reimburse you until after you’ve paid. Keep in mind that some companies don’t provide tuition reimbursement until you’ve been enrolled for a period of one year.

Other Tuition Assistance Programs

If your employer doesn’t cover your entire tuition, you can also seek out other routes for tuition assistance. This can include the following:

  • Scholarships and national grants. Such national grants can include Pell Grants, Academic Competitiveness Grants, and National SMART Grants.
  • Loans. If a student cannot obtain a scholarship or grant, he or she will generally take out loans to cover the cost of tuition as well as related expenses. This can be done by filling out the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
  • Private sector philanthropists. Some well-to-do people may assist those students who are seeking out degrees in which the individual operates in. Therefore, for a wealthy software engineer, he or she may provide assistance to a student seeking out such a degree. This is generally done through some type of contest in which students apply and write a letter indicating why they should receive the money.
  • Local scholarships. There are many civic and religious organizations that give out significant amounts to those students in need.
  • Apply to many schools. The more schools you apply for, the more chance you have at receiving a scholarship or grant at one or more of those schools. Further, you may choose to go with a state school, which generally costs more than half the price of private higher educational institutions.
  • Bargain. This may sound silly, but it actually works. If you are accepted into more than one school, you may receive a better scholarship at School A. If you reach out to School B indicating that School A has offered you a better deal, School B may be anxious to award you a more financially attractive scholarship.
  • Seek out an official benefactor. This includes AmeriCorps, Peace Corp, National Health Services Corps, and ROTC programs.
  • Live at home. You can continue living at home while attending school to help save money. Instead of spending money living in an apartment or paying for room and board, it may be worth your while to remain at home.
  • Tax reduction. You can utilize tax credits when attending school, which include the American Opportunity Tax Credit as well as the Lifetime Learning Credit.

If you need help with tuition reimbursement, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.