Making the decision to go back to school is never easy, especially if you are a full-time employee. This is because you will have to make many sacrifices, such as giving up your free time and changing your lifestyle. However, one of the biggest concerns many people have is how they will be able to afford the cost of attendance. But there may be a way to fulfill your dream and reduce your out-of-pocket expenses by having your employer contribute to your education. Read on to find out how your company can help pay for your tuition and how to get started.
- Going back to school can help increase employee loyalty, reduce churn, increase productivity, and provide employers with a highly skilled pool of employees.
- Some companies offer tuition reimbursement compensation packages, while others have partnerships with local colleges and universities.
- Make sure your presentation includes details such as title and school, and how the program will benefit the company.
- If your proposal is accepted, be sure to take the time to review the educational contract offered by your employer.
Why Your Employer Should Participate
The key to making your employer pay for your education is compelling management of the business benefits that will result from the new skills and knowledge you will acquire. In fact, there are a number of direct benefits of employer-funded education that you can point out to your boss and your company’s human resources manager. Company benefits include increased employee loyalty, lower turnover, higher productivity, and a pool of employees with the skills necessary to take on new projects and fill leadership positions.
The idea that higher education increases productivity was made famous by Gary Becker, who won a Nobel Prize for his work on the theory of human capital. The concept was taken further by Dr. Arnaud Chevalier in a report entitled “Does education increase productivity or does it simply reflect it?” These studies offer much evidence that encouraging employees to pursue a higher education has a positive impact on a company’s bottom line. After all, since a better educated employee is qualified to take on new projects, the company will be in a position to take on additional work and generate more income.
How some companies help
An educational benefit is a tuition assistance program that helps employees and their families with higher education costs. It is typically included as a benefit in an employee compensation package and offers reimbursement of tuition costs at the time of enrollment or after the course is completed.
Many large companies have partnerships with local colleges and universities. These relationships may include developing programs that best benefit the company and its employees. Employees who are interested in going back to school can benefit from reduced tuition or employee funded education expenses at these schools.
For example, Starbucks reimburses its employees for tuition costs not covered by scholarships and financial aid if they take undergraduate courses through the Arizona State University online program. The QuikTrip convenience store chain offers up to $ 1,000 per semester in tuition reimbursement for employees, depending on how many hours they work in a store. UPS employees are reimbursed up to $ 5,250 a year in tuition costs at a selection of colleges near 100 of their locations in the US.
As an added incentive, these companies should be able to take advantage of tax credits and deductions for companies that fund employee education. Tax exemptions are generally available if the courses meet Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines and are accepted in the company’s trade or industry.
How to ask your employer to finance your education
How to introduce your boss
If you want your company to help pay for your education, be prepared to pitch the idea to your boss or hiring manager. Don’t try until you are ready with some details:
- Know the degree or certification you want to obtain
- Choose the school and courses you want to enroll in
- Create a list of ways the business will benefit from your education
Remember, you will add valuable additional skills to the company’s workforce. You will be able to make a greater contribution to your success and even generate more income. You can share your knowledge with your colleagues and orient new hires.
Don’t go in blindly, be sure to prepare a speech for your employer on the benefits of paying for your education.
Try to anticipate questions or concerns your hiring manager may have and respond in a way that speaks directly to the benefit your education will bring to the company. If your boss is worried about expenses, keep in mind that it may cost less than hiring another employee who already has the title you’re looking for.
Be prepared for this meeting. Practice making your key points and bring your notes to the meeting. If the answer is no, don’t give up. Please try again next trimester.
The education contract
If your employer agrees to reimburse you for tuition, they may ask you to sign an educational contract. Please read this document carefully and make sure there are no clauses that you do not agree with or do not understand.
For example, you may be required to commit to staying with the company for a specified period of time. The company does this because they don’t want to fund your training just to get you to go to a job with a competitor. You should sign the contract only if the time commitment is acceptable to you. One or two years may be reasonable, while a longer promise may be more difficult to keep.
You will also want to know how the tuition will be refunded. Will the company pay the tuition directly to the school or will it pay the money to you? Will they pay for it upon enrollment or completion? Will you be required to maintain a certain grade point average? If so, what if you don’t keep it?
It is also important to know what happens if you are unable to complete the course or degree for some unforeseen reason. Will you be forced to refund any tuition that has already been refunded?
The bottom line
The benefits to you of employer-sponsored education are obvious. You get an education without being burdened with costs. Your boss may need to clarify the benefits for your company. Perhaps you can even persuade your boss to make your education a test case for a future company program.