Corporate tuition assistance – whether through an upfront employer contribution or employee reimbursement – is a long-established education benefit. In fact, did you know that 92% of U.S. employers offer some sort of educational benefit1, but nearly half of consumers don’t ask their employer to help pay for learning costs2?
If you want to earn your degree while in the workforce, make sure you ask about this important employee benefit. Whether you’re looking to learn new skills for your job or to earn a degree necessary for a promotion or career advancement within your company, here are six important tips to keep in mind when convincing your employer to pay for continuing your education.
1. Do Your Homework in Advance
Does your company already have a tuition assistance program in place? Is there a culture of pursuing further qualification? Taking a look at your company’s education benefit policy will make it easier for you to determine whether it’s possible to convince your employer to pay for continued education, and what the requirements are for that benefit.
2. Have a plan in place. Know which college you wish to attend, the degree program you want to pursue, the exact cost of tuition, and the length of time estimated to complete the degree. For working professionals like you, online programs provide an ideal way to earn your degree without interrupting your job. And by choosing an online school with competitively low tuition, the further your potential corporate tuition will stretch in covering education costs.
Also, be sure to verify that your chosen school is accredited — regional accreditation is often preferred (and sometimes required) by employers.
3. Prepare your rationale. A great approach in presenting your case for tuition assistance is to create a document that clearly outlines how earning your degree will benefit the company.
Include the length of time you’ve worked there, your contributions, whether in revenue-generating or cost-cutting measures, and your responsibilities. Explain the relevance of the degree program to your role (or desired position), and how it will enable you to be a better employee. For instance, will it increase your productivity, streamline the work process, or help you strategize new ways to improve the company’s bottom line?
Be sure to include the financial detail about tuition and fees. And attach a synopsis of the degree program or course from the school’s website.
4. Set up a face-to-face meeting Schedule time to walk through your carefully though-out rationale with your employer. Before your planned appointment, practice what you’re going to say with friends and family. The more prepared you are to articulate your case, the more likely you are to convince your boss. Remember, individuals who further their education often become better workplace leaders, which is another important pro. And your face-to-face meeting could be an important step in demonstrating potential leadership skills. So, let your confidence show.
5. Be Prepared to Sign a Contract
Once your employer agrees verbally to pitch in on your education, the company likely will provide a contract that outlines the rights and responsibilities of both you and the employer. You should be prepared to sign such a document, if you want to get corporate funds for your education.
Things to look for in the contract include GPA requirements, whether the employer pays the university directly or reimburses you after you’ve made the payment, and any requirements for staying with your company for a length of time after earning your degree. Go through the document carefully and be ready to negotiate. It’s your right to address the requirements and expectations your employer has.
6. Follow Up on the Details Even after your employer agrees to help you pay for school and the contract is signed, it can take time to implement the program. Work with your employer to understand timeframes for the educational assistance or reimbursement. Be diligent about following up, so that you can plan your course enrollment and get moving on your education.
At Peru State College Online, we’ve been helping students make the best use of their corporate tuition assistance dollars – 100% online – for more than 20 years. Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, we offer undergraduate and graduate programs across business, psychology, criminal justice and education. Our flexible online education is designed to fit the schedules of working professionals, at a nationally recognized low tuition rate. For information about why Peru is for you and your career, visit online.peru.edu or call us at (402) 902-3005.
1 2019 survey from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP)