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Understanding Employer Tuition Assistance Benefits

November 3, 2023

In the competitive world of employment and career advancement, an MBA can confer several significant advantages. MBA programs teach students advanced techniques and strategies for solving problems, making business decisions and spurring creative and critical thinking. They also culminate in a respected credential that sets candidates apart as they seek new jobs or advance within their organizations.

According to GMAC data, more than 90 percent of business recruiters planned to hire MBAs in 2021 — at a median salary of $115,000. That’s 77% higher than the average salary of bachelor’s degree holders, which can translate into $3 million in additional earnings over the course of one’s career.

Earning an MBA entails many challenges, including covering the cost of the degree. Even so, tuition fees need not deter MBA candidates from achieving their career goals. Many students reduce the financial burden of an MBA by studying part time while continuing to work full time. This approach minimizes per-semester costs while providing a steady income stream to reduce the need for loans. Employer tuition assistance programs offer another option for financing an MBA.

Many students pursuing the Online MBA from Stevens Institute of Technology receive employer support. This article can help you maximize employer sponsorship opportunities to reduce your tuition expenses while building a partnership between you and your employer.

Understanding How Employer Tuition Assistance Works

Many employers offer a tuition assistance benefit, as it helps them attract, develop and retain top talent. Contact your employer’s human resources department to identify opportunities within your current workplace. A 2022 Society for Human Resources Management report indicates that nearly half of the employers surveyed offer tuition assistance. The benefit is typically in the form of a full sponsorship, a guaranteed annual contribution to the academic institution, or a tuition reimbursement

What to Expect from Your Employer 

Each employer delineates its own tuition assistance eligibility and application requirements. For instance, Kraft Heinz follows a selective process, requiring candidates to interview with senior leadership to qualify “because meritocracy is a cornerstone of our company’s culture,” Michael Mullen, former senior vice president of corporate affairs at Kraft Heinz, told Fortune. Participating Kraft Heinz employees must also commit to remaining with the company for at least two years after completing their degree.

Employers also differ in the size of the benefit. Many set an amount close to the $5,250 annual tax-deductible threshold. Some companies require a specific pass grade or maintenance of grades throughout the course; others pay regardless of academic performance.

As you research your employer’s policies, here are some questions you should consider:

  • Does the degree you plan to earn have to relate to your current role?
  • Do you need to maintain a certain GPA?
  • Are you required to submit regular reports on your progress?
  • Are all employees eligible for tuition reimbursement and/or assistance programs?
  • Is there a seniority requirement?
  • Do you have to be employed for a minimum period to quality?
  • Similarly, are you required to remain at the company for a specified period after completing the degree?

Navigating the Employer Tuition Assistance Application

Your funding application process starts with connecting with the appropriate people within your place of employment — the HR team — and ensuring that you are clear on the company’s eligibility and application requirements, as well as any obligations you must adhere to post-graduation. The employer tuition assistance application process typically involves completing relevant paperwork, adhering to deadlines set out by your chosen university and submitting all relevant documentation to your internal HR department. 

If you choose to attend Stevens Institute of Technology, you will qualify for an interest-free payment plan (with a nominal enrollment fee) managed by the Office of Student Accounts. Employer-sponsored prepaid tuition assistance requires filing the appropriate paperwork from your employers and providing the Student Services Center with a signed tuition voucher or letter of credit. 

Maximizing Your Employer Tuition Assistance Benefits With a Stevens Online MBA

Using your tuition assistance benefit to pursue an Online MBA from Stevens Institute represents a solid investment in your future. The program’s industry-aligned curriculum offers foundational and core courses that help foster the optimal combination of analytical and emotional intelligence and emphasize the complex technologies currently driving businesses forward. Led by our renowned faculty engaged with top-tier organizations, Stevens’ part-time online program develops business leaders and prepares students for careers at the forefront of technological and analytical advancement. The Stevens Online MBA program offers flexible, individualized career services and two on-site immersions with New York City industry leaders and business executives.

Want to learn more? Contact an enrollment advisor for more information about the Stevens Online MBA program and with any questions about using your employer’s tuition assistance benefits.