Employer Tuition Reimbursement: Ask Your Company To Pay
C ompanies with deep pockets will occasionally fund an employee's education if it directly benefits them. The logic is that an employee armed with more education will do his or her job better. In turn, the company will earn more dollars down the road. Employer tuition reimbursement programs vary from complete sponsorship (e.g., all of your tuition and living expenses) to loans at favorable interest rates which must be repaid in full.
To qualify for such programs, you'll typically need to meet certain requirements. These requirements vary by company, but some examples are: full-time employment status, minimum tenure (e.g., 12 months of employment), strong performance reviews, and not being subject to any disciplinary action.
If you're already working, you should contact your Human Resources department to inquire about graduate school tuition reimbursement. Most sponsorship programs require you to commit to return to work for a certain amount of time after school, normally two or more years. So if you decide to avail yourself of such funding, be sure to carefully review the program's terms and conditions!
Some companies offer education loans with more favorable terms than you can find in the market. The subsidy can come in the form of a lower interest rate, longer repayment terms, principal forgiveness over time, or other factors. Consult your employee benefits package or Human Resources to learn more.
Negotiating Your Own Deal
If your company doesn't have a sponsorship program in place, you can try to negotiate your own deal. This is admittedly harder, but if you make the right arguments, you might just strike a deal. Essentially, it boils down to three things. First, from a business perspective, the company can claim an educational tax credit to offset their tax expense. Second, the company looks good and raises employee morale and retention by showing that it supports employee education. Third, you can hint at leaving the company if they don't support you. Ultimately, you're asking for a big favor, so no matter how you spin it, expect a difficult conversation when requesting employer tuition reimbursement.