JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Tuition Reimbursement

Many employers offer Tuition Reimbursement programs.  Each company handles their reimbursement plan differently, but here are some items to consider.

  • Most companies will not pay tuition up-front.
  • Many have a tiered reimbursement program commensurate with tenure and the grade received in the course.
  • There may be a probationary period or a term of service that has to be completed before an employee becomes eligible.
  • Some schools may make the student pay the tuition upfront; however, many schools are willing to defer tuition payment and bill the employer.
  • A company may offer tuition reimbursement for job-related degree programs only, or may allow an employee to pursue any degree.  Typically, students have more freedom at the undergraduate level and more restrictions at the graduate and professional level.
  • A company may offer tuition reimbursement at specific schools only, or may only pay up to a certain comparable rate.  For example, if a company prefers that you attend a public school, but you choose to attend a private school, they may reimburse you up to the cost of attendance at that public school.
  • A company may require a service commitment  once an employee has used tuition benefits. For example, an employee may need to work for three years at that company after the completion of the degree program.

In addition to Tuition Reimbursement, a student may choose to seek full-time employment at the college they attend or plan to attend.  One of the most attractive benefits of working at a school is the Tuition Benefit program.

Tuition Benefits

Many schools will offer employees free part-time tuition as an employee benefit.  There may be an application or a nominal processing fee involved but generally the benefit far outweighs the cost.  As with Tuition Reimbursement, there are variances from school to school.

  • New employees may not be immediately eligible for benefits.
  • Employees may be restricted in their choice of class times, and/or may have to wait until after the regular registration period has ended.
  • Graduate benefits are typically taxable and may have an impact on taxes withheld at different points in the year.
  • Tuition benefits may not pay the full tuition rate.
  • Students receiving tuition benefits may be eligible for financial aid and should complete the FAFSA on-time each year.
  • Some of a school's most popular programs or professional programs may not be eligible for tuition benefits.
  • Employment generally does not guarantee acceptance into a program of study.

And, with both Tuition Reimbursement and Tuition Benefit programs, many companies/schools will offer similar benefits to the children of their employees. 

Colleges and universities in particular are most likely to offer free full-time tuition to dependents of faculty and staff members.  Schools may also have reciprocity agreements with other colleges and universities so that children have a choice of schools.