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Many companies participate in education attainment in the form of tuition reimbursement or assistance programs, although there are a variety of ways to encourage degree attainment among employees. Greater Minds offers a Business Toolkit intended to accelerate college completion for working adults. If you don’t have an established program, in addition to utilizing the toolkit, here are a few considerations while helping you design a tuition assistance program:

Financial Structure

There are typically two strategies for structuring a tuition assistance program: reimbursement and pre-payment/direct billing.

  • Reimbursement

With this structure, an employee will initially pay for education course costs out of their own pocket. Upon successful completion, the employer will reimburse the employee for the agreed tuition amount. One concern with this type of structure is some may not be able to afford the up-front costs, and this might prevent them from taking advantage of the program.

  • Pre-Payment/Direct Billing

With this structure, employers will pay the school directly for the agreed upon tuition assistance amount either upfront or at the end of the term. Note, not all institutions allow tuition deferral so you may be paying benefits differently across employee population.

Eligibility, Employment and Grade Requirements

A company should consider several factors within determining how an employee can qualify for the company’s tuition assistance program and what requirements must be met to continue to receive this assistance. These can include part-time vs full-time employment, years of service, minimum grade requirements – typically “C” or better and performance evaluations.

Employment Contract

Many employers require that if an employee receives tuition assistance from their company, they must remain at the company for a set number of years upon completion. This helps to ensure that an employee does not simply utilize employer resources to get a degree and take their talent immediately elsewhere. Stricter yet, some companies put repayment contracts in place should an individual leave before the required years of service is met.


Some employers make tuition repayment contingent on the grade an employee earns for the course. Employers should decide what grades they will accept for their education assistance program. Employers could consider having employees pay them back for grades that fall below their set criteria.

Institution and Degree

It is a best practice for employers to only offer tuition assistance to their employees from accredited education providers. Employers may also consider restrictions on what types of degrees an employee can earn, choosing to only support with company funds what they consider job related education and professional growth opportunities.

An employer could also considering listing degrees or credentials that they would like to see better-represented within a company so employees know what type of program they can pursue and have it paid for/reimbursed by their employer. This helps better align employer, employee and company goals.

Get Started Today

Visit for additional resources and to connect with a Greater Minds Navigator. The Navigator will work with your Human Resources department to provide you and your employees’ information and services related to postsecondary education opportunities and help guide you and your employees through the process.

Jodi Strote, Education Attainment Navigator
P: 509.321.3623 |