Employer educational benefits
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What are employer educational benefits?
As a working adult, your employer could be one of your biggest advantages when returning to school. If they offer an educational benefit, they’ll help pay for some, or all, of your college education. Depending on the program, they might help to repay student loans or cover the cost of school upfront.
How companies can cover the cost
With the cost of college, you may wonder how employers are able to offer such a large benefit. Many companies have existing partnerships with local colleges and universities. These partnerships allow companies to cover or dramatically reduce tuition costs.
Companies are also able to apply tax credits and deductions if they fund employee education.
Getting your employer to pay for school
“They give police officers tuition to be able to go to school. And then working for the college, I get to take two free classes every semester. So that made it a lot easier.”
Gregory Wright, Sergeant, Dallas College Police Department
What to consider when applying for your employer’s program
Start by asking your human resources department if your company offers an educational benefit. If they do, check with them on the following details before selecting a school:
- Eligibility: Educational benefits might not be available for all employees. Check if there are requirements around tenure (how long you’ve worked there) or employee type (e.g., full-time, part-time).
- Reimbursement limits: Employers might not cover the full cost of every school. This might impact which degree or certificate you pursue.
- School selection: Some employers may require you to attend an institution they partner with.
- Retention requirements: You may need to work for your employer for a certain number of years after you graduate.
- Grade requirements: Continuing to receive help from your employer may depend on your grade point average (GPA).
- Taxes you’ll owe: Even if your employer covers the cost, that cost is treated as taxable income. You’ll need to report and pay taxes on that income.
What to do if your employer doesn’t offer educational benefits
Not all employers will offer educational benefits. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask. With the right pitch, you may convince your employer to pay for your education. You may even get them to offer a program to the whole company.
Before going into a meeting with HR or your manager, prepare your pitch. Do some research and have these key points ready:
- Know the exact degree or certificate you’d like to pursue. Make sure you can explain why it will help you and the company.
- Find a few affordable schools that offer your degree or certificate. Use our Program Explorer to find schools in Texas.
- Research and present how educational benefits could help the company’s bottom line. For example, it might qualify employees for new work, increase productivity, reduce turnover, or help recruit new employees.
- Research and explain any tax credits or deductions the company will receive by offering educational benefits.
If your employer still isn’t convinced, see if you can get them to pay for a night or online class. As you take your course, present back what you’re learning and how the company can benefit. If your employer sees the benefits of your classes in your performance, they may be more willing to commit to a full program. At the very least, they may fund a few more classes to help lower your total cost.