Earning a college degree while working full-time takes a great deal of dedication, commitment and time-management.
It also takes a bit of money.
The non-profit College Board reported that for the 2017-’18 school year, average tuition costs were $34,740 for private colleges, $9,970 for state residents attending public colleges, and $25,620 for out-of-state residents studying at public universities.
Employers, though, sometimes provide education funds for employees. The specifics vary from company to company, but any aspiring student would be wise to find out if that option is available.
The reasons for an employee to take advantage of such a benefit are obvious. But what’s in it for the employer?
- Tax credits and deductions for tuition reimbursement or other types of education funding
- Helps build employee loyalty
- Employee retention tool
- Employee recruitment tool
Not only do many employers see this as a benefit with which to attract quality job candidates (and retain quality employees), it’s viewed by some as a way to increase productivity. The idea was put forth by Pulitzer Prize-winning economist Gary Becker in his 1964 book, “Human Capital.” Becker wrote that individuals make rational economic decisions, such as learning new skills or furthering their education in order to increase their earning potential, and thereby increasing their productivity.
Still, even if your employer supports continuing education, you may have to convince the company that you’re a worthwhile candidate for college and tuition benefits.
Prepare before you ask. Find out the specifics of your employer’s tuition coverage – does it only apply to certain schools or certain majors? Are tuition costs completely or partially covered? Choose your school and major accordingly.
Prepare a list of ways your continuing education will benefit your employer. Among the possibilities:
- Your new skills will make you more productive
- You’ll be capable of taking on new assignments
- You’ll be qualified to assume leadership roles
- Your education adds to your professional image and gives the company added prestige
- You can share your new skills with other employees
If your request is granted, be sure to find out what will be expected of you before signing an agreement. You may be required to remain with your employer for a period of time following graduation.
As you familiarize yourself with what will be expected of you, here are some questions you’ll want answers to:
- Will your employer require you to maintain a minimum grade-point average?
- Will your employer pay the school directly or reimburse you?
- What happens if you have to withdraw from class – will you be required to pay back your tuition?
As you dig into these details, be sure you’re comfortable with the requirements before you accept financial help from your employer. If you’re not willing to commit to your employer’s terms, you’ll want to explore other avenues for financial aid to ensure you continue your personal growth and attain your educational goals.