If you're going back to school, you could spend your days buried in scholarship applications — or simply pass the tuition bill to your boss. At these companies, employees are encouraged to earn bigger, better degrees without taking on too much student debt. Here are nine employers that offer generous educational benefits.
For companies, tuition reimbursement programs "could be a great benefit in developing skills cheaply because the employees are bearing most of the costs: the time to do the learning," says Peter Cappelli, Director of the Center for Human Resources at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.
ExxonMobil is among the companies that see the value in this approach. In addition to offering full-timers 100 percent reimbursement for tuition, books and fees for approved coursework, Exxon also helps employees carve out time to juggle school and work. The company offers flexible work arrangements (with a supervisor's permission, of course) that provide employees in certain departments with adjustable work hours or reduced workloads of 20 to 30 hours per week with full benefits.
This grocery store chain earns a spot on our list because it offers tuition benefits to full-time employees and part-timers who work an average of 10 hours per week or more. At the undergrad level, Publix reimburses for up to $12,800 in college and university costs (with a maximum of $3,200 per year). These benefits are extended not only to those enrolled in four-year institutions but also anyone participating in occupational and technical programs, for up to $3,400 (with an annual maximum of $1,700). Employees can pursue any of 15 undergrad majors ranging from marketing to computer engineering, or they can petition to have another major approved, but coursework must fit in with the employee's career path.
Even part-timers are eligible for tuition assistance at this biotech powerhouse. Genentech's educational benefits plan covers up to $5,000 annually in approved tuition, books and fees for employees who regularly work 20 to 29 hours per week. Those working 30 hours or more are eligible for up to $10,000 in reimbursement per calendar year.
"[Tuition reimbursement] is available for a wide range of majors and all degree levels," says Genentech Benefits Manager Maria Shawl. "Employees are also eligible immediately. In general, other companies may have a 12-month waiting period."
Procter and Gamble
P&G lands on this list because of the large lifetime caps on its educational benefits. Many companies cap the amount of reimbursement employees are eligible for at a lower level, such as $15,000 or $20,000, but P&G's lifetime cap is set at $40,000. The company reimburses for 80 percent of tuition and qualifying fees on approved coursework and provides flexible spending account benefits employees can use for child care or to buy extra vacation time for studying.
P&G publishes some information on its educational perks online, but not a detailed account. However, "very often a company is not going to put their full tuition assistance program out for people to see," says Jay Titus, Director of Academic Services for EdAssist, a firm that manages tuition assistance programs for approximately 110 companies and health care systems.
If you're looking for a job that provides strong educational benefits, Titus recommends examining firms that land on "best places to work" lists.
Tuition reimbursement is where educational benefits start at this company. In addition to providing tuition reimbursement for job-related coursework, General Mills also offers loans to both employees and their family members to cover education that isn't paid for by reimbursement. They'll also help you with finding time for studies. Workers who have been with the company for at least one year may be eligible to take unpaid leave to earn their degree.
Those lucky enough to land jobs at this information management firm will be welcomed with up to $5,250 per year in reimbursement for approved undergrad classes and up to $10,000 annually for graduate coursework.
"More than 1,000 people have obtained degrees through [EMC's educational benefits] program," says Lauri Tenney, the company's Director of Benefits and Programs.
Employees here don't even have to leave work to get their new degree. Thanks to a partnership with Northeastern University, EMC offers an on-site MBA program that allows employees to take classes and do group projects without commuting to class. The company also maintains agreements with other "preferred partner" schools that can fast-track employees to a new credential.
High-performing analysts who agree to work for Deloitte for two years after graduation can earn an MBA without paying a dime in tuition. On top of full tuition reimbursement, the company's Graduate School Assistance Program also offers a technology stipend to fulfill students' computing needs. The catch is that the program only applies to 20 GSAP-approved institutions, all of which are highly selective in who they accept.
Many companies cap their lifetime educational benefits at $10,000, but Genworth offers eligible employees up to $15,000 per year in tuition reimbursement. Those who work here also get personal financial counseling, discounts on Dell computers they can use in the classroom and a child-care subsidy to help carve out a bit of study time.
Educational benefits aren't limited to tuition reimbursement programs, Jay Titus says. Many companies also partner with specific colleges and offer tuition discounts and incentives to employees who attend. EdAssist alone manages relationships for its clients with approximately 200 education institutions nationwide.
UPS is a prime example. Students who work the night shift part-time at UPS' Louisville, Ky., location and sign on for the company's Metropolitan College program receive free in-state tuition at either Jefferson Community and Technical College or the University of Louisville — as well as book reimbursement and academic bonuses for good grades. Part-timers at 51 UPS locations nationwide are also eligible for up to $20,000 in tuition assistance ($4,000 per year) through the company's Earn and Learn Program.
Graduate School Assistance Program, Deloitte,
GSAP-Approved Business School Programs, Deloitte,
Career Growth and Development, EMC Corporation,
Special Benefit Programs, EMC Corporation,
Compensation and Benefits, Exxon Mobil,
Other Programs: Flexible Work Arrangements, "Benefit Plan Highlights," Exxon Mobil, January 2011,
Training & Development, General Mills,
Genworth Careers and Employee Benefits, Genworth Financial,
Tuition Benefit for Metropolitan College/UPS Partnership, Metropolitan College,
Benefits for Life, Procter & Gamble,
Tuition Reimbursement, Publix,
Earn & Learn Program, UPS,