George Mason UniversitySchool of Business

Tuition Reimbursement

Tuition reimbursement is a powerful benefit offered by many employers to cultivate talented employees for managerial positions or to retain talent. While most employers who offer tuition reimbursement (also known as tuition assistance) outline the company policy in the employee benefits, some do not—so it's important to ask.

Before deciding to take advantage of these benefits, you should understand the guidelines and restrictions companies can place on such programs. Sponsors may only cover courses in the core curriculum, and then only in certain majors (for example, accounting, business, or finance). If a student wants to take courses outside of the curriculum, they may need to provide proof the classes were required for the major.

Additionally, sponsors often do not include textbook and other auxiliary college or program costs—such as student activity fees—as part of a tuition reimbursement plan. You can expect to be responsible for some out-of-pocket charges that potentially can add up to a few hundred dollars.

Some sponsors could include the requirement that you remain with the company a certain length of time after you complete the degree. If not, tuition benefits may need to be repaid. Your employer may require that the program is finished within a certain a period of time. You should ensure that your employer’s time frame coincides with that of your chosen program length. Additionally, if you discontinue or drop courses, you may have to immediately repay the money to your employer while waiting for a refund from the university, if you are to receive a refund at all.

You are usually responsible for the administration behind the courses—varying waiting periods, managerial approvals, documentation from the school, and so on—but it's well worth the effort.