Signs of the Times #1: Does Your Company offer College Tuition Reimbursement?

Once again I date myself. I come from a time in which many companies offered under-graduate college tuition reimbursement as an employee benefit. I had to receive a “passing grade” in order to get my tuition reimbursed by my employer. In other words, I personally paid for my tuition at the time of college course registration, and once I successfully completed the college course, I submitted my grades to my company and I was reimbursed the cost of my tuition for the course.  If I remember correctly the lowest grade accepted for anyone to qualify for reimbursement was a grade of “C.”

It took me eight years to obtain my bachelor’s degree. I was working full-time and attending college classes at night. That’s the way many young people received their college education in the 1950’s and 60’s.

I understand that tuition reimbursement is not offered as an employee benefit these days of the early 21st century. I don’t know when tuition reimbursement ceased to be a “common” employee benefit offering. I do feel it’s an unfortunate loss for the interested and education-motivated employee.

Be mindful that tuition reimbursement was an expense for the company but probably seen as an investment in the employee.

In this particular article posted on Bloomberg.com, the programs being reimbursed are MBA-type, graduate degrees. www.bloomberg.com/bschools/content/feb2011/bs20110216_463962.htm#p2

An interesting thing that seemed to have  unfolded as I read through some literature, opinions, articles on this topic is that “graduate” school seems to be the level of education eligible for reimbursement in the last, say 20 years, whereas “under-graduate” school courses were eligible for reimbursement in the late 1950’s and 1960’s when I was taking advantage of this employee benefit.

Unfortunately, access to a full-time job also limits a person’s opportunity to tuition reimbursement. Part-time jobs are not “famous” for offering any employee benefits let alone a “plum” one such as tuition reimbursement. However, it appears that companies are starting to offer employees a “repayment of student loan” benefit. A piecemeal approach such as offered by tuition reimbursement is a much better way to handle college debt but the option of employer-financed payment of a student loan doesn’t sound too bad either.

Having an employer repay student loan debt is not, in my mind, a positive motivating reason to accept a job offer but on the other hand, the loan gets repaid as it should be. Of course there is the opposite side of the coin which is the irresponsible colleges that pressured loans upon students and/or students acting in an irresponsible way about taking on loan debt in the first place.

I’m sad that tuition reimbursement is not offered by many companies in 2015 but I’m happy that companies recognize helping employees by offering some type of loan repayment benefit is a “win-win” proposition also.

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