Tuition Reimbursement vs. Tuition Assistance

What's the difference between tuition reimbursement and tuition assistance?

Employer-provided education benefits are becoming a staple to many people’s job requirements. These benefits are highly beneficial for both employers and employees seeking higher education. Data reveals that 80% of employers are interested in going to school while working. Furthermore, 76% of employees said that they are more likely to stay with their employer because of its educational assistance benefit. Educational assistance can be provided to employees in a variety of ways, including tuition reimbursement and tuition assistance. Both are great options for employees looking to go to school while working. But, what’s the difference between tuition reimbursement and tuition assistance?

What is tuition reimbursement?

Tuition reimbursement is an employee benefit by which an employer repays a predetermined amount or percentage of an employee’s tuition costs. In other words, an employee will be initially responsible for their tuition costs. Upon graduation, the employer will begin reimbursing the cost of tuition to the employee. 

Although fairly simple to define, there are many different ways in which employers can offer this benefit. For example, some employers will assist with tuition costs of non-accredited courses that don’t lead to a graduate or undergraduate degree. Other employers will pay for tuition for certificate training courses and even cover the cost of books and supplies. 

Tuition reimbursement programs don’t only benefit the employee. In fact, there are a number of reasons why more and more employers are beginning to offer tuition reimbursement, including employee retention, talent development, boosting employee engagement, and creating an overall stronger company. 

What is tuition assistance?

Tuition assistance (also referred to as direct tuition payment) is similar to tuition reimbursement in a couple of ways. The main difference is that tuition assistance involves an employer paying firsthand for an employee’s tuition costs. Employees will not have to pay for their tuition out-of-pocket, as their employer will pay for the cost upfront.

Tuition assistance is especially helpful for employees who may not have the funds to pay for tuition out-of-pocket. Similar to tuition reimbursement, employers may require certain standards to be met regarding an employee’ education. For example, the employee may have to achieve a certain GPA or course grade in order to be eligible to receive tuition assistance. 

Regardless of the type of education benefit you offer as an employer, tuition reimbursement and tuition assistance are both great options. Educational assistance programs are becoming more commonplace today and many job candidates consider it a necessary benefit. Take advantage of this opportunity to provide your employees with higher education and to strengthen your company as a whole.