When thinking about going back to school, it might be worth your while to think back to your first days at your current job. Those early meetings with Human Resources might have explained tuition reimbursement, a somewhat common benefit among employers. Here are some tips for navigating your employer’s tuition reimbursement benefits, and some ideas about how you should negotiate for this benefit— before or after you are hired.
The first place to go for information about tuition reimbursement is your employee handbook, or contract. This should tell you whether your employer has any kind of tuition reimbursement program in place. If you don’t find any information there, feel free to place a quick call to human resources, or to ask around the office.
If you do find provisions for tuition reimbursement, be sure to read the fine print before you enroll in classes for a B.A. in underwater basket weaving. Some possible stipulations for receiving tuition reimbursement are: the coursework may have to relate to your job, you may need to maintain a certain grade point (all A’s, etc.), or the reimbursement may only be partial. With these stipulations in mind, be sure to approach your human resources manager with information on the courses you are thinking of taking before enrolling.
Don’t give up on expanding your professional skill set if your employer doesn’t have a tuition reimbursement program already in place. It is possible to request tuition assistance from your employer, but you will likely have to give a persuasive presentation about the issue. Encouraging employees to expand their skill sets can be a great investment for employers, but you will have to show how the specific training that you seek will be an asset to the company. Further, you will need to convince your employer that you won’t “take the education and run.” For your education to be a good investment, you will have to stay at the company long enough to use your snazzy new skill set.
In reality, the best time to negotiate tuition reimbursement with your employer is during the hiring process. If expanding your professional skill set through education is important to you, ask about it in your job interviews. Tuition reimbursement is a benefit, like health and retirement plans. It can also be a great bargaining chip if your potential employer isn’t quite willing to give you the salary you desire.
Have you ever used tuition reimbursement programs to expand your professional skill set? Tell us about your experience below, or send me a tweet: @ithinkther4iamb
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