Employer tuition reimbursement

An advanced degree can transform your career, but the costs can be significant. Here’s the good news: your employer may be able to help with your education expenses. Companies are increasingly investing in continuing education to engage and upskill their employees. 

A 2018 report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) showed that 51 percent of employers offer undergraduate-level educational assistance benefits and 49 percent for graduate-level. 

Here are some tips for getting education support from your employer:

Find out if your company offers education reimbursement programs. 

Check the employee handbook, or set up a quick meeting with HR to understand your options. Some employers offer funding for professional certifications and college courses, but not a university degree. Others offer partial compensation by setting caps or limitations on the amount of funding.

Qualifying companies can also take advantage of tax benefits by offering tuition reimbursement. Does your company have partnerships with any universities? 

Pick the right time to ask and the right program

Asking at the right time can increase your chances of success. What’s the financial outlook of the company? Is your manager working on a particularly stressful project? Be considerate of the circumstances and make your request with the best possible timing.

Pick a program that is accredited and relevant to your role. Discuss the curriculum and specific courses to highlight how they offer tangible benefits.

Provide a complete cost breakdown

You should know exactly what the program will cost. Break down the expenses for your manager, and explain how much financial assistance you require.

Show how it benefits the company

Investing in employee education can have a positive impact on the company’s bottom line. Employers paid around $600 billion in turnover costs in 2018—and it’s expected to increase to $680 billion in 2020. However, organizations have opportunities to find more sustainable paths forward. In fact, it’s estimated that 77% of turnover is preventable.

Employee education initiatives offer a way for companies to both support their employees and improve retention. To successfully make your case for receiving funding, explain how your enhanced skills will allow you to take on new projects. Detail the ways that you will use your knowledge to improve performance, and how you’ll bring fresh ideas and approaches that can increase savings or generate new revenue options.

Present yourself in a positive light

Give details about your accomplishments and contributions to the company. Use specific examples and hard data, if possible. Emphasize that by investing in your personal growth, the company will cultivate a loyal and engaged employee. You will, in turn, invest back in the company.         

Address productivity concerns

Your manager will likely be concerned about your productivity. Pick a program that will work well with your office schedule. Online programs reduce classroom time and offer a flexible schedule that allows you to work at your own pace and time. Provide specific details about how you plan to balance your workload.  

Prove your commitment

Some companies require a grade point average to ensure continued funding. If you discontinue the program, or fail to complete it within an agreed-upon period of time, your employer may require you to pay them back. Make sure you are fully committed to the program. Offer to provide monthly updates of your learning and progress.

Demonstrate your loyalty

Many companies require you to sign a contract that you will not resign after completing the degree. Before signing a contract, make sure you feel good about the terms and conditions. Keep your end of the bargain and the result will be a win-win situation for you and the company.

Back to main page