Mention going back to school and you can spark a wide variety of reactions. I just graduated from college and you want me to do what? I already have a college degree, why do I need to go back to school? I don’t have time to attend college, what’s the point anyway?
These and many more questions are asked everyday by career minded people either too busy to attend or with little interest in going back to school. Tuition reimbursement is a valuable benefit offered by employers that make going back to school a smart move.
While the tax implications are the same, the tuition reimbursement program itself is handled differently by each employer. Contact your Human Resources Department to make sure that you understand how the benefit program is handled by your employer. Find out the answers to any questions not included in your employee handbook. When do you become eligible? Are classes restricted to job related duties? While most employer’s have this restriction, they do give wide latitude for determining if a course is job related. For example, an administrative assistant can make an excellent case for accounting, psychology or computer related classes. Are you required to remain with the company for a set period of time after you’ve completed classes or face repayment? Does the company pay up front or do they repay based on grades? Either way is incentive to do well in class.
If tuition reimbursement is one of the main reasons that you accepted the position, wait at least six months before discussing it with your supervisor. The best way to impress your employer is to first show that you are fully capable of performing the job you were hired to do. Most employers will conduct a six month evaluation of your performance. Use this time to discuss what type of training would be beneficial to your career. This is an excellent introduction to talking about tuition reimbursement.
If you are hesitant about going back to school, think of it as a chance to enhance your core competencies. Most career positions require skills such as researching, presentation, organization and communication. Use tuition reimbursement to enhance your core competencies in these areas.
Training and development is often an under utilized tool when considering career performance and advancement. Companies that offer tuition reimbursement recognize the important of contributing to the development of their employees. If your company does not offer tuition reimbursement, you may need to convince your supervisor of how additional training will benefit not only your performance, but the company as well.
Tuition reimbursement is a valuable benefit to not only develop personally, but to advance in your career as well.