As with any employer program, the employer gets to set the rules. It’s important to read the fine print before you jump in.
For example, some employers will pay only up to a certain dollar amount each year. Others make reimbursement contingent on grades, with some employers even using a sliding reimbursement scale based on letter grade performance (e.g., full reimbursement for A’s, 80% for B’s, 60% for C’s, zero for D or F grades).
In some companies, tuition assistance rates vary by position and employment status.
Obviously, employers want to safeguard against paying an employee’s higher education costs only to watch that employee resign before the ink on their diploma is dry. Thus, you may be required to remain at the company for a set period or reimburse the company for part of the tuition assistance if you leave before the period’s up.
It’s also important to talk to a tax advisor about possible tax implications you may face as a recipient of tuition reimbursement. Tuition reimbursement is taxable in certain situations, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Students counting on a combination of partial tuition assistance and federal financial aid will also want to talk with an enrollment representative or finance advisor about possible federal financial aid implications. (Tuition assistance may be considered part of a student’s financial aid package, thus potentially lowering the federal financial aid award you may qualify for.)
Most employers have tuition assistance agreements for students at certain colleges or universities, so it’s important to research those options too. This is especially true if you’re job hunting and your search has come down to two potential employers. This can be a delicate question to ask during an interview — especially if you’re worried about a lack of a degree holding you back from getting the job. However, you could call the HR department to see if it has a list of the company’s approved tuition assistance affiliates. Or wait for an offer sheet and explore details then.
One other note: According to Best Colleges, some companies may reimburse you only for classes taken at an accredited school.