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Developing a tuition assistance program
  • Tuition assistance programs (TAP) benefit employers by retaining employees and educating the workforce.
  • A company may establish criteria for its TAP such as maintaining a certain GPA and requiring a period of continued employment with the company after course completion.

Organizations may offer financial assistance to employees who wish to receive further education through tuition assistance programs (TAPs). Tuition assistance programs have proven to be effective tools in retaining motivated employees and creating a highly skilled workforce.

Tuition assistance programs are usually administered through an organization’s human resources department or are part of an employee’s benefits package.

Program criteria

The employer may establish eligibility criteria for such programs. That criteria may include that the employee:

  • Have a certain level of seniority;
  • Be employed for a minimum period of time before applying;
  • Finish the course of study within a certain period of time;
  • Stay with the company for a specified period of time after making use of the program; and
  • Only enroll at a specified school, in a specified course of study, or in a certain major.

Organizations may place guidelines and restrictions on such programs. For example, the TAP may only cover the tuition for courses in the core curriculum of a program, and then only in certain majors (for example, accounting, business, or finance). If a student wants to take courses outside of the curriculum, the student may need to provide proof the classes are required for the major or would pay dividends for the company.

The TAP may require that the employee repay any money received toward tuition reimbursement if the employee discontinues classes. The employee may be required to repay the money to the employer while waiting for a refund from the university, if receiving a refund at all.

Additional considerations:

  • Organizations may also require that the student/employee maintain a certain grade point average (GPA) to continue receiving the program benefits. The employer may decide to make the amount of tuition that is to be reimbursed dependent upon the GPA; for example, a company will pay 100 percent of tuition for a 4.0 GPA, but a reduced percentage for a lower grade point average.
  • Employees/students may also be responsible for the initial payment for courses upon enrollment, with the employer reimbursing the employee later, perhaps quarterly, by the semester, or after a final grade has been awarded.
  • The TAP may also require that the employee/student remain with the organization for a determined length of time after completion of a program. If not, tuition benefits may need to be repaid.
  • As an added incentive to employees, some organizations also make available tuition assistance or grants to dependent children attending college or technical schools. Again, many organizations make availability of the assistance or the amount of payment dependent upon performance in the program, such as grades.