Employer Tuition Assistance

Approaching Your Employer about Financing your Master’s degree

Does your employer offer assistance with financing education for employees? The answer may surprise you. Many organizations financially contribute to their employees’ education as part of a competitive benefits package, and yours might be one of them. Tuition remission, tuition benefits, or tuition reimbursement, is when an employer provides some form of financial support for educational coursework. It can have many forms and your employer will stipulate the terms of the benefit, including how much they cover, how to apply, when you are eligible to begin receiving the benefit, and what coursework is covered.  

If you are considering going back to school for a degree like the NYU School of Global Public Health Master of Public Health (MPH), here are some ways to get started:

Do Your Research 

First, research whether your employer regularly offers education benefits, or if you will be blazing a new trail. If your company has an existing policy, you can often find information about it in your employee handbook or human resources (HR) website. If an employer reimbursement plan is not something that has been offered in the past, that does not mean it is not possible. 

Whether your employer has a set policy or not, you will want to gather a variety of materials before approaching anyone, so that you know exactly what your needs will be throughout your program. Spend some time gathering information on how many courses you need to take, what the tuition and fees for the program are, and what deadlines the program has for financial aid applications and payments. For cost information on NYU School of Global Public Health’s degree programs, visit our tuition and financial aid page.

Discuss Reimbursement Plans with the Right Person 

Once you have decided to apply to a part-time MPH program, you will want to inform your boss of your plans. However, HR is the best first stop for information on fringe benefits like tuition reimbursement programs.

More than anyone else at a company, HR understands the benefits that are available to employees and can help you strategize the best way to use them. Make sure you are upfront with them about the program and how many courses you are expected to take in a year. Your employer may only cover a certain number of credits, so letting them know the details of the program can help them make sure that you are able to best utilize your tuition remission.

Make a Case for Tuition Reimbursement

Although many organizations have a tuition reimbursement benefit, some may require you to make a case for why you are eligible. For example, your company may only cover your tuition if your degree is in the same field as your organization, or if it will better prepare you to do your job. 

To make a business case for tuition reimbursement, find ways to link your current and future role and responsibilities to your organization’s strategic priorities. Being able to explain the specific additional value you can add with a degree from NYU GPH is critical to gaining support.

Laying out all you hope to gain from the degree, and how it will directly benefit your employer, can help you make a case to HR and your boss for why they should provide some tuition assistance. For example, as healthcare becomes more and more competitive and transitions from a fee-for-service to a value-based model, leaders will be required to have a broader understanding of the business. In particular, healthcare leaders will need to be very well-versed in the relationship between payer and provider. It is exactly this sort of broad understanding that an MPH can help provide.

Most organizations understand that offering tuition reimbursement benefits help to reduce turnover and improve employee morale, but you can focus on how what you are learning will allow you to do more for the company and move ahead in their ranks.

Address Any Concerns

A master’s degree is a big undertaking, and your employer will want to know you can handle the challenge on top of your usual workload. Make sure to address these concerns head on, by showing how you have been able to multitask at work in the past, and explaining all the ways that your graduate degree will benefit the company in the short- and long-term.

Another issue that might arise? Your loyalty to the company. Organizations sometimes worry that they may invest in an employee who then leaves for another opportunity. To help address these concerns up front, you may formally commit to a number of years post-graduation. For example, if you receive $20,000 in tuition support, you might commit to staying at the organization for a minimum of two years post-graduation. 

Follow Up Appropriately

If, after taking all the steps above, the answer is “no,” do not lose hope. There are other options for financial aid and you can always try again next semester, in case anything has changed. Some employers may not offer tuition reimbursement programs, but can help you obtain your degree in other ways, like providing tuition assistance in the form of low-interest education loans or giving you a more flexible schedule.

If the answer is yes, now is the right time to work with HR in order to figure out exactly how your education benefits work. Make sure you understand how the benefit funds are disbursed, when it is processed, and if it is taxed—and if so, how much will come out of your paycheck and when. Studying the benefit terms and conditions will help you utilize the benefit effectively, and starting early will allow you time to figure everything out before you begin classes. 

Investing in an MPH degree can be a wise decision with an excellent ROI for both you and your employer. From an organization’s standpoint, offering tuition reimbursement helps reduce turnover and improves their workforce, by helping employees build their knowledge and skills in the field. For an individual, it is a higher education degree that can be obtained while they continue to work and move forward in their healthcare careers.

If you are interested in pursuing your MPH, please contact us with any questions you may have. Our Admissions Ambassadors are here to help you with your questions about tuition assistance and financing your degree.