What if your employer offered the benefit of free college tuition?

What if your employer offered the benefit of free college tuition? (Good Idea or Bad Idea? What to look out for!)

I was recently asked to comment as a news source on this topic. 

From the employee, your adult child’s, perspective.:

Each year a few more employers join the ranks of others that offer tuition benefits to their employees.

Is it a good deal? 

-It could be a great idea! You’d have to live on another planet to not have heard of the rising cost of college tuition, so the thought of having someone else pay for it should make your ears perk up. For many this can be a great alternative to paying for college out of pocket.

What things should they know or ask? 

(A) Nothing in life is free, except your mother's love. Any company offering tuition incentives is going to want something in return. Usually, that means a commitment to working at the company for a certain number of years, or you’ll have to repay the cost that they incurred for your education. This is not uncommon. Many industries, even after obtaining your degree, have employment contracts that specify a minimum number of years of employment else you’ll have to reimburse the company for training you. 

(B) Companies that offer to pay for tuition are not doing this out of the goodness of their heart. They are getting something in return. That something is employees with the education the company needs. A retail department store is unlikely to pay for an engineering or history degree. They need employees with business-related degrees. The degree options will be limited to what the company can use. 

What cautions, if any, should you exercise? 

-It’s a guarantee that you will not be paid your hourly rate while you’re taking classes, so one consideration is how much time will it take away from the hours of your paying job, or can your employment schedule work around the class hours and still get your full time and full pay.

-Most tuition incentives are provided by a specific online college. You will not have a choice of where the degree comes from. Not so much a cation as it is something to be aware of. Will the credits be transferrable if you choose to complete your degree elsewhere?

Any risks?  

I don’t see any risks as long as the employee is aware of the details before signing on the dotted line. As with anything, this is a legal contract. Read every word.

Be sure to review this with your teen. In reviewing some recent post-graduate job descriptions, some are offering to pay a small portion of college tuition. Remember to read the contract. 


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