How to Get Real Value From Tuition Assistance
Halfway across the country, in a large metropolitan town in the Midwest, a 37-year-old employee of a pharmaceutical company is thinking about going back to school and getting a Master's degree. His employer will reimburse him $5250 a year (as long as the school and major comply with the rules listed in the 4 page tuition assistance policy), but process of finding the right school and program is up to him. "Make sure it's a good school," his manager says. "And be careful of all this online stuff. I went to a great school back in the day. You should check them out. Or chat with Dana in accounting. She got a degree last year and she liked her program. I think, but it was an evening program. That may not work with your schedule. Keep me posted."
Frontloading Tuition Assistance Investments: Get the Most Out of Your $28 BillionAccording to the 2012 ASTD State of the Industry report, employers are spending upwards of $22 billion on tuition assistance each year (EdAssist estimates that number has grown to over $28 billion in 2016). And this is only a fraction of what the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce estimates to be $177 billion spent on formal employer sponsored training.
While that investment in the workforce is great, the challenge is that the benefit provided is mostly "back loaded." In other words, other than providing a generic tuition assistance policy, the entire benefit revolves around the dollars employees will be reimbursed after finishing a class or program.
It's hard to believe that employers spending this type of money would not be more focused on the "front end" of their tuition reimbursement programs. Providing academic advising and counseling to users of educational benefits before employees start their studies would greatly enhance their experience, not to mention maximize the employers ROI.
Ask Your Employees These Five Simple Questions Before They Use Your Tuition Assistance Dollars
Think about your employees. How involved are you in helping them answer these five simple questions before they use your tuition assistance dollars?
- What college or university has programs that provide the type of curriculum and programming that you are looking for?
- Do you have any previously earned credits or experience that can allow you to waive courses or transfer in credits?
- Does the modality (online, on campus, hybrid, competency based) align with your learning style?
- How will you budget for any out of pocket expense or find scholarships to minimize cost?
- At this point in your career, do you need the credential or the acumen, and depending on the answer, have you vetted other options (internal training, certificates, MOOC's, etc?)