Learn About Bright Horizons Employee Tuition Assistance Program

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The days when most organizations would require large capital investments in infrastructure and equipment are long gone. Four out of five jobs in the United States are in the services and information sector, where employee compensation is often the largest line item in an organization’s budget. For the contemporary enterprise, people are the critical resource.

In the competition for talent, employers don’t have the luxury of selecting dream candidates with all the right credentials. Sometimes a promising hire will show enormous promise, but could use more training and education. Instead of passing on what could have been a great employee, many organizations choose the option of hiring a gifted applicant and helping to pay for their further education.

What is an Employee Tuition Assistance Program?

Does employee tuition assistance mean just paying off an employee’s student debt?

An employee tuition assistance program can include an employer paying an employee’s  student debt. It may also include paying for tuition for an education an employee receives while employed.

How does tuition assistance benefit workers?

In the United States, employers are not required to provide tuition assistance. Any employee tuition assistance program is offered at the discretion of the employer.

Is tuition assistance only for degree and diploma-granting programs?

An employee tuition assistance program may include tuition reimbursement for higher education as well as professional certification courses. For example, a firm may choose to fund the training program for an accountant seeking a CPA credential.

If an employer offers tuition assistance to one employee, do they have to offer it to other employees?

An employer tuition assistance program is operated at the sole discretion of the employer, and may include different levels of engagement depending on the employee. Just as direct financial compensation may differ between employees, benefits packages may also differ.

How can you find out if an employer offers tuition assistance?

An employee or applicant should ask their interviewer or human resources department whether they offer an employee tuition assistance program.


How a program works

There are a number of options when implementing an employee tuition assistance program. An employee may arrive as a new hire with student loans to pay off. The cost of higher education has steadily exceeded the rate of inflation for decades. A university education used to be manageable with a minimum-wage summer job, but now can require years of professional compensation to pay off. 


The result is that more and more skilled applicants carry high student debt loads. Employee tuition assistance programs take the form of student loan repayment benefits, where an employee can receive help in paying off their student loans through their employer.


An employee tuition assistance program may be implemented when an employer offers to pay for further professional development or education. An employer educational assistance program can either help to defray or entirely pay for certifications or degrees for eligible employees.


When an employee tuition assistance programs involves continuing education, there is often a stipulation that the training be relevant to the work the employee performs. For example, a network administrator could receive training in new software or implementation standards in order to expand their work skills. The employee may be required to work at the organization for a certain period of time before or after receiving their benefit.


The employer’s human resources department may administer the employee tuition assistance program through an internal program, or they may partner with another company to provide these services. 


Advantages for an employer

A company or organization that offers tuition assistance has a powerful tool available for attracting and retaining talented employees. In addition, a promising applicant that may flourish with more formal education can be tapped early in their careers. Hiring an employee that may require more training can build loyalty to the employer early, and when an employer offers tuition assistance they signal that they are invested in helping their employees grow.


In addition, employers can pair tuition assistance with an obligation to remain with an employer for a given amount of time. The disruption that is caused by employee turnover can range from a mere nuisance to a significant problem. In the healthcare industry, patient complications increase when turnover increases. Nurse tuition reimbursement programs can improve employee retention in healthcare, which means patients have better treatment outcomes. Using an employee tuition assistance program to improve healthcare employee retention can actually improve the quality of healthcare a patient receives.


And of course, having a more highly educated workforce provides an employer with an edge in the service and information economy.


Reducing other negatives

When an employee tuition assistance program involves student loan repayments, there is a reduction in many negative effects. When the repayments are tied with a contractual obligation to remain with an organization, turnover at that organization is reduced. However, turnover can also be reduced by simply offering the benefit as a condition of employment. Some companies have found that, on average, employees taking advantage of student loan repayment benefits stay two and half times longer than other employees.


Reducing the amount of debt an employee carries actually reduces the amount of sick days they use. Higher household debt is associated with higher rates of depression and higher diastolic blood pressure, both significant health issues on their own, as well as precursors to other conditions.


Studies of workplace financial wellness have found that the more debt an employee carries, the more likely they are to miss work. By both reducing existing student debt, and helping to avoid garnering new debts, an employee tuition assistance program can reduce absenteeism and healthcare costs.


A bonus for employees

Employees that utilize a tuition assistance or reimbursement program get a number of benefits. Employees are provided with an opportunity to expand their skill set and educational credentials without having to take on significant debt.


Also, employee tuition assistance may be more tax efficient. This is because tuition reimbursement and assistance below around $5,000 is not counted as compensation by the Internal Revenue Service. This means an employee can receive a financial benefit from their employer without having to pay taxes on it.



Family care benefits have never been more important. See how Bright Horizons can support your team.

Bright Horizons is a United States–based child-care provider and is the largest provider of employer-sponsored child care. Employees looking to become a child care teacher are offered the opportunity to earn an early education degree for free as part of their corporate benefits. Search by zip to find a child care center near you. Bright Horizons Global Headquarters are in Newton, Massachusetts, USA.