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What is Tuition Reimbursement?

By Felicia Dye
Updated Feb 16, 2024
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Tuition usually refers to educational costs. The term can be used when referring to the cost of a single course or a full track of study. Tuition reimbursement is a process that normally involves a student paying for educational costs and being repaid by another entity at a later date.

Tuition reimbursement is a type of educational financial aid. It is designed to alleviate the costs that a student has to pay. This type of arrangement generally involves higher learning.

Unlike other forms of educational financial aid, tuition reimbursement requires the student to initially pay her own educational costs. In some cases, she may not have to literally pay. She may just have to agree to be responsible to pay. There are educational facilities that will defer the payment when reimbursement arrangements are involved. However, in the event that the monies are not provided from the expected source, the responsibility usually falls upon the student.

There are often conditions attached to tuition reimbursement. These vary depending on the source that is expected to reimburse a student. One common source is an employer. In an effort to encourage higher education and to attract quality workers, some employers offer to pay for their staffs’ education.

A condition that many employers attach to this benefit is that the course of study must relate to the company. This means that if a bank teller wants to study using a tuition reimbursement program, she will likely have to choose a major that involves the financial industry. Companies generally do this because they hope to receive a return on the investment. If they allowed their workers to study unrelated courses at their expense, it could be viewed as a potential loss because those workers would have to seek other companies to utilize those skills.

Other sources of tuition reimbursement are government programs and private donors. These entities are often liberal with regards to what a person studies. They tend to have a condition that is often shared by employers though.

Most tuition reimbursement is dependent on a person maintaining a certain academic standard. If she does not, she may not be reimbursed for courses that do not meet the standard. In some instances, when students do not maintain the required average, they become ineligible for any further benefits.

When a person is reimbursed depends on the entity providing the funds. Some may issue the funds as soon as enrollment can be verified. Some, however, do not issue the funds until satisfactory completion of the course can be verified.

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Discussion Comments

By John57 — On Apr 06, 2012

Do tuition reimbursement programs cover the cost of books or just the cost of the classes?

Buying college textbooks is very expensive, and sometimes I have spent more than $500 per semester just on books.

One of my friends is receiving nursing tuition reimbursement. One of the conditions for her is that she must work for this hospital for a certain number of years after graduating.

This doesn't bother her at all as she never planned on working anywhere else whether she received the reimbursement or not.

I imagine that each tuition reimbursement plan is different, but it would be worth working for a company just to get your expenses covered.

By Mykol — On Apr 06, 2012

With the cost of higher education being so high, and becoming more expensive all the time, I think this is a great way to get some help with your education.

My son is currently working on his business degree and receives tuition reimbursement benefits through the company he works for.

He completed 2 years of college before starting work for this company. He is already paying back student loans for those 2 years of college.

With the tuition reimbursement program his company offers, he will be able to complete his degree without any additional student loans.

He must pass each course with at least a C and they only pay up to a certain dollar amount a year for tuition expenses.

This works out better for him anyway because otherwise he would try to take too many classes at one time.

By sunshined — On Apr 05, 2012

I think tuition reimbursement is a great program, but I know of many companies who no longer offer this option. Unfortunately because of financial cutbacks, this is usually one of the first things to go.

My nephew was working on getting his masters degree through an employee tuition reimbursement program. He was in the middle of his last semester when his company quit offering the benefit.

Because he was reimbursed after he successfully completed courses, he ended up being responsible for paying his last semester.

He wasn't expecting this, but was thankful that most of his masters program expenses had been reimbursed up to that point.

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