Tuition Assistance for Health Administration Students
Tuition assistance is a job benefit provided by many employers to encourage employees to continue their education. The benefit typically provides an employee with reimbursement for tuition and fees after the employee has completed an agreed-upon course of study. Depending on the employee’s position and the employer’s policies, the course of study may include a single class or all the coursework leading to a graduate degree.
Availability of Tuition Assistance Programs
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, 75 percent of companies with 500 or more employees offered tuition assistance programs for graduate school in 2010. An increasing number of employees are taking advantage of these programs, and the use of tuition assistance more than doubled between 1992 and 2007.
Although tuition assistance can be a costly benefit for employers, many believe that the cost is offset by the benefits provided by an educated workforce. Many companies use tuition assistance as a tool for recruiting motivated workers who are interested in advancing their careers.
Tuition Assistance Restrictions
Employers may place restrictions on employee tuition assistance programs to mitigate certain risks. Their main concern is losing talented employees who move on to other jobs after using company resources to complete a degree. This is especially true in fields such as health care, where the demand for skilled professionals outpaces the supply in many areas. To discourage employee flight and promote a return on their investment, some companies have a payback policy that requires employees to return the reimbursement funds they received if they don’t stay with the company for a specified period of time.
In addition, according to Inc.com, some companies tie tuition assistance to grades and pay different percentages of tuition for an A, B or C. They may also refuse to reimburse employees who earn low grades. Most companies also restrict employees to degrees that are directly related to their current or future position within the company.
Talking to Your Employer About Tuition Assistance
Companies with tuition assistance programs usually provide information on a benefits website or through their human resources department. If your company doesn’t have a formal program, you may be able to convince management to invest in your education. It is a good idea to be well-prepared before you discuss returning to school for a graduate degree with your immediate manager or supervisor. Request a meeting and be equipped with information about the degree you plan to pursue, the school you want to attend, the amount of time you think it will take and the cost of tuition, fees and supplies. Also, be ready to discuss how your continuing education will benefit your company by making you better qualified for your current position or a position you hope to move into.
The result of this meeting could be influenced by a variety of factors, including how well your company is doing and your past job performance. If your quest for tuition assistance is successful, don’t expect management to automatically accommodate your school schedule. Some employers allow employees who are enrolled in graduate school to decrease their workload while others expect employees to continue performing all their current job duties while taking care of schoolwork during their off-hours. This can be challenging for health care professionals who have long shifts or who regularly work overtime.
Scheduling Time for Work and School
If you are currently working full time and are thinking about earning a Master of Health Administration, consider an online Executive MHA from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. Designed with working professionals in mind, MHA@GW provides a flexible format that will allow you to continue working while gaining the academic credentials you need to advance your career. A time commitment of as little as 10 hours per week is all that is required for completing self-paced coursework and preparing for live, online class sessions.