Get Your Boss to Pay for College

The Scoop on Tuition Reimbursement

Before you apply for that student loan to pay for your degree or graduate training, try asking your boss for tuition. Many employers offer tuition reimbursement for schooling that advances career-based credentials. The process is not complicated and often the employer's terms are not overly restrictive. Many bosses are glad to pay for training that ultimately benefits their organizations.

Tuition reimbursement programs are generally offered for certification or degree training that adds to pre-existing employee schooling. Most likely, you won't find employers that help you go back and complete unfinished degrees. But many will pay as much as 100 percent of your tuition for moving forward. What's the catch? You may have to sign an agreement promising that you'll stay with your company for a stipulated amount of time after completing your schooling.

Applying for Tuition Reimbursement

Many companies offer tuition assistance--even if they don't pay 100 percent of the costs. Some even cover schooling for part-time employees. You may be required to pay the tuition up-front, and receive reimbursement upon successful completion of your degree. Other employers reimburse in installments as your grade point average is reported to your human resources department.

The first step is to visit your HR department (in a large or medium-sized company) or your supervisor and ask if a tuition assistance program is in place. If so, look over the terms carefully. You may find a range of benefits depending on the length of company service, your total costs, and out-of-pocket contributions.

Find out what will happen if you're forced to discontinue school because of family or work emergencies. Determine if your company will pay for all the anticipated courses in your degree program or only those that immediately impact your existing job. What happens if you choose to leave the company before working the time stipulated in your tuition reimbursement contract?

Make Your Case

If you're asked to sell your potential schooling to your supervisor or boss, be prepared to offer a cost-benefit analysis, including:

  • How your training will increase your skills directly applicable to success in your current role
  • How your degree will qualify you for management, increasing your productivity and the corporate bottom line
  • How your training will improve the performance of the employees around you.

Also, be ready to show your employers that attending school will not interfere with your current work. Suggest enrolling in part-time or self-paced online degrees. Let them know exactly how you can incorporate your learning into your current position while you train.