Many individuals who have earned their bachelor’s degree and are currently in the workforce have dreams of eventually going back to school to earn their master’s degree, but struggle to find room in their budgets to make that dream a reality.
The good news is that there are a number of different ways to pay for graduate school. If you are reluctant to take on student loan debt to finance your education, one option to consider is that your employer might be willing to cover the expense of your education.
Many employers offer a form of tuition reimbursement, designed to encourage their employees to continuously learn and improve their skills. These programs don’t just encourage higher education: In many cases, they directly facilitate something an education that would otherwise not be possible for many.
Below, we take a look at tuition reimbursement and discuss a number of employers who offer generous packages that employees can leverage to pay for graduate school.
What is tuition reimbursement?
Traditionally, tuition reimbursement has referred to the practice of a company reimbursing an employee’s educational expenses. That being said, more and more companies also allow employees to access tuition reimbursement funds directly, so that they don’t have to pay out of pocket for their education.
While figures vary from company to company, it’s estimated that employers offer each employee between $5,000 and $7,000 annually in tuition reimbursement. Many employers limit the amount of tuition that they will reimburse by semester, by year, or in total. Some employers will cover all of the tuition for a covered program; others will require the employee to cover a certain percentage themselves.
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It’s important to note that most employers have guidelines about who is eligible for tuition reimbursement. If you have questions about whether you qualify for tuition reimbursement or whether the specific program you would like to apply for is eligible, you should speak to your employer.
Some common requirements for tuition reimbursement include:
- An employee must have been with the company for a certain period of time in order to qualify
- The program must directly relate to the employee’s current job or career development
- An employee must stay with the company for a certain period of time after completing the program, or else may need to pay back all or a percentage of the tuition reimbursement that they received
Employers That Will Help You Pay For Grad School
1. Colleges & Universities
Many colleges and universities offer varying levels of tuition reimbursement that employees can access to advance their education by earning a graduate degree. Some colleges and universities will only provide tuition reimbursement to employees who complete a program offered by the institution; others will allow employees to earn a degree from any college or university, or from a select number of partner universities.
Benefits will vary from institution to institution, but these funds are often available to all full-time employees, whether they work in faculty, administrative, or support roles. Additionally, many universities allow employees to pass along tuition reimbursement benefits to their children, making it a powerful benefit for parents looking to support their children’s college education.
The United Parcel Service (UPS) currently employs more than 540,000 employees across the globe. The company offers tuition reimbursement to its full-time employees as a part of it’s benefits package. Amounts vary on a case-by-case basis. Part-time employees can also access tuition reimbursement funds through the company’s Earn & Learn program, which provides up to $5,250 annually (up to a lifetime limit of $25,000).
UPS estimates that the company has contributed to the college education of more than 290,000 employees through both their tuition reimbursement and Earn & Learn programs.
American District Telegraph, better known as ADT, employs more than 20,000 full-time employees, many of whom are eligible for the company’s tuition reimbursement program.
ADT employees can access up to $7,500 worth of tuition reimbursement each calendar year, which can be applied to up to two courses per semester. Up to $5,250 of these funds are tax free. Funds can be used for books, course materials, examination fees, laboratory fees, and registration costs in addition to tuition.
Employees are eligible to receive up to $50,000 worth of tuition reimbursement for their program. There is no annual limit, which empowers employees to pursue accelerated degrees if they wish.
Intel also offers a number of other educational benefits to employees, such as free tutoring and scholarships for the children of employees.
5. Procter & Gamble (P&G)
Procter & Gamble currently employs approximately 100,000 employees, many of whom are eligible to receive tuition reimbursement for educational programs that are related to their current position. Students aspiring for new roles may also be eligible to apply funds to degrees related to that role.
Procter & Gamble covers 80 percent of tuition and fees for eligible employees, up to a total lifetime benefit of $40,000.
6. Bank of America
As of 2021, Bank of America employs more than 200,000 employees. Those who have been employed with the company for at least six months are eligible to access tuition reimbursement for graduate programs so long as they had maintained a GPA of at least 2.0 as an undergraduate.
Eligible employees can receive up to $7,500 in tuition reimbursement annually from Bank of America. Participating employees can either opt for tuition reimbursement or a prepaid voucher. The company stresses that employees should speak to a member of HR or their supervisor before enrolling in a program.
7. Best Buy
Best Buy employs approximately 100,000 employees in its more than 1,000 stores throughout Canada and the United States. Employees who have worked full-time hours for at least six months of continuous employment are eligible for the company’s tuition reimbursement program.
Employees enrolled in graduate programs are eligible to receive up to $5,250 per year; those enrolled in undergraduate programs can receive up to $3,500 per year. This includes reimbursement for tuition and required textbooks, as well as up to $525 in fees.
8. Home Depot
As of 2021, Home Depot employs approximately 500,000 employees in its more than 2,300 stores throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The company offers the program to salaried, full-time, and part-time hourly workers, with varying levels of support depending on employee classification.
Tuition reimbursement funds can be applied to undergraduate or graduate degrees. Full-time salaried employees are eligible to receive up to $5,000 annually. Full-time and part-time employees are eligible to receive between $1,500 and $3,000 annually. Regardless of employment status, the program will only reimburse up to 50 percent of tuition.
An Oft-Overlooked Resource
It’s important to bear in mind that the companies discussed above are just examples.
More than 83 percent of large employers offer at least some form of tuition reimbursement to their employees, and yet many employees have no idea that such benefits exist, or that they may be eligible to receive the funding. If you are unsure whether or not your employer offers tuition reimbursement, you should consult your employee handbook or speak to a member of your human resources team to determine what is available to you.
If your employer does not offer tuition reimbursement and you are considering making a job switch, it’s worth keeping tuition reimbursement in mind as you evaluate potential employers.