You probably take advantage of many of your employer benefits, like health and life insurance, transportation discounts, and retirement savings. An often-overlooked benefit you may not have thought about yet is tuition reimbursement. Many employers offer tuition reimbursements and this can be an excellent way to supplement—or even completely cover—your college education costs.
There are many reasons why your employer might offer such a benefit. They receive their own tax benefit from it, in the form of a deduction under tax code section 127. Such benefits also help retain good employees, who will be excited about the idea of furthering their education. And finally, having more employees with higher education degrees is helpful for the company that then benefits from their new knowledge and expertise.
Interested in using tuition reimbursement to complete your degree and get ahead in your career? We thought so. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Talk with Your HR Department
If you haven’t already heard that your employer offers tuition reimbursement, don’t get discouraged. Simply check in with your HR manager to see if there’s anything already available. You might be surprised to find they offer more than you expected. You’ll also want to find out what the parameters of these benefits are. For example, some companies will only give tuition reimbursement for courses that directly apply to the employee’s line of work, while others generously offer to cover classes about outside interests as well.
If your company does not offer tuition reimbursement at this time, be sure to let your HR office know how you think it could benefit your company in the long run. Perhaps if it isn’t available now, but it could be sometime in the future.
Talk with Your Admissions Representative
After you’ve confirmed whether your employer offers tuition reimbursement, you’ll walk to talk to an admissions officer soon to discuss possibilities for your degree. At Antioch University, we offer a variety of federal, state, and institutional financial aid options to help make getting your degree easier than ever. Your admissions officer can tell you more about your options when you speak with them.
In addition to financial aid, Antioch University also offers flexible schedules and online classes, credit for your professional experience, and a robust system for accepting transfer credits, all of which can help lower the cost of your education to a very reasonable amount.
Prepare Your Paperwork
In addition to the financial aid forms you’ll need to complete for your degree program, your employer may have additional forms for you. Be sure to stay in touch with your HR representative to ensure you’re completing everything correctly and on time. For some companies, you may just need to fill out a simple form, while other employers may require a more in-depth application with an essay about how your educational experience will make you a better employee.
For your degree program, you’ll need to follow three steps to receive financial aid. These include creating your Federal Student Aid ID, completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and, if you’re looking to use student loans, filling out the Entrance Counseling and the Master Promissory Note.
Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to complete all the correct forms. The review process for financial aid documents may take up to two weeks for review after they are submitted, and the timeline for requesting tuition reimbursement from your employer may be even longer. Indeed, it may well need to be built into your department’s budget, so it’s a good idea to ask about it as soon as you know you are interested in completing your degree.
Consider Your Investment
Even if your employer does not offer tuition reimbursement, it’s certainly worth pursuing your degree. A recent study showed that college graduates can make up to $1 million more in earnings over their lifetime than those who do not graduate college. There are few ways to jumpstart your career like finishing your bachelor’s degree, and with online degree completion, it’s never been easier or faster to do so. And who knows? Perhaps after you finish your bachelor’s degree, you can find a company that offers tuition reimbursement for your master’s degree!