It is possible to convince employers to pay for the employee’s education. This is a long-term goal that a company should aspire for because the employee can receive new skills that will benefit the business. There are various direct benefits to employer-funded education and HR managers are knowledgeable of these. By providing employees paid courses, there is an increase in loyalty, a reduction in employee turnover, an increase in productivity and the ability to take new projects and opportunities to showcase their skills in leading.
Higher education increases the productivity of the company. HR managers must explain to employees that when they successfully complete their further education that the company paid for, then they can take on additional projects. This enables both the employee and the employer to take on more work and incur additional revenue.
At least half of American workers receive educational benefits from jobs. Most employers also pay for courses that are considered work-related. But not a lot of employers pay for practically every course. A way to maximize your chances of getting the employer to help pay their school fees.
Check out the details of the employer’s school benefits before they even sign up for any classes. They must also make sure that the course they sign up for is qualified. They should also check with HR if there is a grade requirement that they have to maintain. There are employers that will not pay the tuition of the employee’s grades are low.
These education benefits assist the workers – whether they are full time or part-time – to get further in their careers. Research shows that the more employers invest in their employees, the more loyal the employees are to stay in the business.
How Companies Pay for their Courses
Many large enterprises have partnered with universities and local colleges. This lets them have a company-specific training that can benefit the company as well as the student. There are companies that offer scholarships to employees as well as their families and assist them in the costs of higher education. This is usually a benefit included in the employee compensation package, which is quite attractive. This is the special payment that is offered to the employee as long as he or she does enroll in that college or university.
The company can also take additional tax credits and deductions that are rooted in employee education funds. As long as the education qualifies for the IRS guidelines and is within the confines of the industry or trade, then there is no problem. Naturally, employees must check with the tax preparer so that the extent of the eligibility can be determined before a claim is made.
The most common form of educational assistance is the tuition reimbursement plan. This means that upon enrollment or completion of the education and the employee shows proof of both, the company then supplies the funds to support the former’s educational endeavors.
How to Discuss Employer Paid Courses
- Pick a degree or a diploma or a designation or certification.
- Pick a course and a school or college.
- Create a list of how the company will benefit from the employee’s education.
Here are examples:
- The employee adds new skills to the existing workforce.
- The employee is more productive and can also increase company revenue.
- The employee takes on new projects to generate more revenue.
- The employee can take on leadership and management roles in the company.
- The diploma and degree of the employee will add give prestige and add a more professional image for the business.
- The employee can mentor the incoming employees and also spread his or her newly gained skills to the employees.
The employee must anticipate the concerns or questions that the HR manager presents. He or she must answer these in a style that concludes the higher education can benefit the business. If the concern is that the education will take the employee away from work, the proper response is that the employee can take on online classes or night classes and make this fit into his free time. This already adds the skill of time management as well as an increase in productivity.
If the concern is that education is an additional expense for the company, the proper response is that tuition cost less as opposed to the training or even hiring new employees who have the certification, diploma or degree that the business requires. The employee’s education can make money for the business.
If the employee refuses, do not give up. It is possible to try again after three or four months or even next quarter.
Contract on Employer Paid Courses
If the employer agrees to reimburse the employee’s tuition, then there must be an education contract. This must be read carefully and meticulously and also discussed with the HR manager. If there are any clauses that are not understood or deemed agreeable, then it must be brought up. The employee has the right to not sign the contract if he or she does not agree with the terms.
An example of the term is that the employee agrees to stay with the business for a certain duration. The business requires this because they do not fund the training for the employee only to have him or her goes to another. The employee must be sure of what he or she wants and if it is the right time to do this, then he or she can sign the agreement.
The employee must also know how to refund the tuition. Either the company directly pays the university or the college or the money is given to the employee. Other concerns include: will the company immediately pay once the employee completes the studies? Will the employee be required to achieve and maintain a specific grade point average? What happens if the employee fails to do this?
Another important concern for the business is what is the consequence if the employee does not attend classes? This can be because there are problems due to health issues, personal nature or family matters. There are other circumstances that can also take place and prevent the employee from completing their degree or course. If that is the case, do they have to repay what the company has paid?
Four Steps to Using Employer Paid Courses
Earning a college degree and working at the same time is a smart professional move. It increases the employee’s value to the employer and also secures the former’s job. It also improves and heightens the career trajectory. As the employer works and studies to get a degree, he or she maintains the flow of income and also reduces the reliance on student loans. If the employer then offers the Tuition Assistance Program, the employee can also come out on top.
Definition of a Tuition Assistance Program
A Tuition Assistance Program is run through the employer’s HR Department. This is where employees can also take the courses and the degree that has already been paid by the employer. According to the IRS, companies can allot up to $5,250 for educational assistance every year. This results in the employer, not including the benefits with the employee’s tips, wages, and compensation that is shown on W-2. This also means that the employee does not have to list these benefits down on their ITR.
First Step: Research
Before the employee takes advantage of the employer-paid courses, they must research is there is a program that is they are qualified to take in their work setting. The HR Department is the best place to ask. If the employer provides paid courses then the employee must make sure that there is a written policy.
Here are key questions that should be asked to HR:
- What are the available and eligible college courses? Does the employer pay for undergraduate or graduate classes? Is it credit-bearing? Is it non-credit bearing? Do they accept online college classes?
- How will the courses be reimbursed? Does the company pay for the courses that the employees required to take upfront? Or does the employee pay the tuition then just request to be reimbursed upon completing the course? Who should they submit the request to? Is this on a semester basis? Is this on a per course basis?
- Should the employee meet and maintain a certain GPA requirement? What are the consequences if he or she fails a class or has no choice but to drop out?
Second Step: Sign Up for Courses
A multitude of businesses offer education benefits that have increased in terms of revenue over the last 10 years. There is a high possibility that even if the employer did not offer a tuition reimbursement plan prior, they do so right now. It is worth checking out.
Before employees sign up for the courses, they should know the following:
- Which of the courses are considered eligible? There are some employers that require the courses be taken directly because it is associated with the job. Then there are others that the courses and there are still that require the classes that is strictly business in nature. It really depends on the employer and the policy of the company.
- Are there providers that have been approved to assist financially? Employers have partnerships with approved colleges and universities and specific courses regarding the employer-sponsored educational programs.
- Does the employee have to be approved by the manager? There are employers that require sign-off from the supervisor or the manager. If this is a requirement, then he or she must determine which courses and classes are connected to the job and eligible to be reimbursed.
- What is the process for enrollment? In most situations, the employer’s tuition reimbursement program must be notified and the employee must sign up here before he or she can enroll at the preferred university, college or institution for higher learning.
Third Step: Maximize Your Benefits
Once the employee has gained approval for the educational plan from the employer, the next step is to maximize every dollar obtained from the benefit. Here are some ways to do so:
- Take classes and courses that are eligible for credit. Upgrade skills and obtain college credit that is eligible to transfer into the accredited degree programs.
- Consider options of low-cost. Employees must research the lowest possible cost for their education so when combined with the benefits that they would get from their employer, then they would completely have a full year of college at a minimum amount.
- Reduce the risk. If the employee is unsure regarding the feasibility of returning to school, then he or she must take a free trial and gauge whether they can fit school in their work life. Starting college when you are already working full time can mitigate risks when it comes to time and money.
When making the most out of the employer-paid courses program, the employee must always pay close attention to what is written. According to the IRS, there are services that can use educational benefits. There are also some benefits that cannot do this. Employers may also have additional requirements that are not written on the fine print.
Fourth Step: Measuring Progress
Whether the employee is pursuing an undergraduate or a graduate degree, then he or she must evaluate the direction that the employee will head. The employee may find that he or she is ready to lead new projects in the workplace and even apply the skills that have been acquired in the further studies program. After training, these employees may even be considered for promotions.
Making the Most of Employer-Paid Courses
If the employer offers paid courses through a tuition assistance reimbursement program, then the employees who wish to pursue further studies are definitely fortunate. They have to make sure that they make the most out of this once in a lifetime opportunity so that they can invest in themselves. They shouldn’t take this granted as well.