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Many colleges and universities offer programs for working professionals and students interested in obtaining a college degree. According to the Online Learning Consortium, about 85% of Americans in college programs are adults returning to college or veterans using their military benefits.
Many companies offer education benefits for employees. These benefits help employees go to school to pursue education and professional development opportunities. This guide defines education benefits, lists types of commonly available benefits, and details some companies that offer them.
What are Education Benefits?
About 92% of employers offer some type of education benefits, according to this 2019 survey. These benefits vary among companies that pay for college, so workers should contact their managers or HR representatives to discuss available options.
About 92% of employers offer some type of education benefits, according to this 2019 survey.
Education benefits may cover costs for certificates, associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, graduate programs, and professional development courses. Some companies may offer financial aid for bootcamps.
Types of Education Benefits
Tuition reimbursement, employer-sponsored scholarships, and tuition assistance are the most common company education benefit programs. Here's a closer look at these three common offerings from companies that help pay for college.
Tuition Assistance Programs
Tuition assistance programs can help students offset some costs or cover all tuition fees. In these programs, employers may offer aid upfront, allowing students to pay little to nothing out of pocket.
Similar to tuition reimbursement programs, students can receive up to $5,250 for tuition, tax free. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers any tuition assistance dollars beyond that to be taxable income.
Tuition Reimbursement Programs
Employees in these programs pay tuition fees upfront and later receive reimbursement from their employers. Reimbursement may come at the end of each school year or only after employees complete a full program.
Depending on the company and total tuition cost, employees can receive partial or full reimbursement. Like tuition assistance programs, each worker can receive up to $5,250 per year in tax-free tuition reimbursement. Any money beyond that number qualifies as taxable income.
Employer-Sponsored Scholarships and Grants
Companies offer scholarships and grants to support continuing education efforts, not as a form of compensation or fringe benefit, according to the IRS. Employees usually need to apply for this financial support each year.
These financial awards are typically taxable unless they meet IRS requirements as "individual grants." Employer-sponsored scholarships and grants are also less common than other tuition assistance programs. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, about 27% of companies offer this benefit.
How Can You Take Advantage of Education Benefits?
Employees often must follow particular requirements or guidelines set by their employers to qualify for education benefits. For example, some may require students to maintain a specific GPA.
In some cases, companies only provide tuition assistance or reimbursement to employees who enroll in specific classes or programs at approved institutions. Also, a recipient may need to stay at their company for a predetermined number of years after completing their schooling. Otherwise, they may need to repay the money they received.
Human resources departments can provide information on their tuition assistance or reimbursement programs. Workers can also pitch the idea to their managers by showing them specific examples of how additional training can benefit the company.
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Companies That Offer Education Benefits
Education benefits vary among companies. Here is a detailed look at 10 tech companies that pay for college and how much their employees may receive in tuition assistance or reimbursement per year.
Adobe's education benefits for employees include tuition reimbursement and education savings plans for dependents. Students pursuing graduate-level credentials or certain certifications can receive up to $10,000 per year for tuition and books. Adobe also offers up to $1,000 in reimbursement for students in short-term learning opportunities and skill development programs.
Hourly employees may receive education benefits at Amazon after working for 90 days. Its Career Choice Program makes upfront payments for 95% of students' tuition and textbook fees. Amazon also covers expenses for GED certificate programs and ESL programs for employees.
AT&T employees who enroll as students can receive reimbursements for eligible expenses and approved courses. Full-time students can receive up to $5,250 in tuition reimbursement. Depending on a part-time employee's location, they may receive $2,625-$5,250 in tuition reimbursement.
Comcast employees can receive tuition reimbursement of up to $5,750 per year for undergraduate and certificate programs. Graduate-level students may receive up to $8,000. Additional perks that benefit employees in school include free internet service, transportation allowance, and home security services.
IBM's academic learning assistance program includes several employee education benefits, including partial and full tuition reimbursement. Its individual course plan reimburses tuition and some related fees, provided students attend a career or technical skills program. IBM's work-study program covers tuition and fees for undergraduate and graduate degrees. Learners can also receive tuition assistance for on-campus Ph.D. programs.
Intuit provides tuition assistance for employees who work at least 20 hours per week. Students can use funds for application fees, software, books, and lab fees. Full-time and part-time employees may receive reimbursement for up to $5,000 and $2,500 per calendar year, respectively.
In addition to competitive vacation time allotments and mental health support services, Oracle employees can pursue tuition reimbursement. The company provides up to $5,250 per year for employees enrolled in approved educational programs.
Qualcomm offers its employees tuition assistance. Learners in associate, bachelor's, or certification programs can receive up to $5,250 per year for tuition, parking fees, and books. Qualcomm offers graduate-level students up to $10,125 per year to cover tuition, fees, and books.
T-Mobile covers 100% of tuition for employees at five online universities following employment for at least 90 days with the company. Employees must enroll full-time at one of these approved schools to receive this benefit. The company also offers tuition assistance options for part-time and full-time learners at other intuitions.
Verizon employees can receive up to $8,000 per year in tuition reimbursement when they attend an approved program. Full-time employees who take classes through Verizon's institutional partner, Bellevue University, may obtain up to $13,250 per year. Part-time employees can get up to $4,000 per year for approved institutions and $8,000 per year when enrolled at Bellevue.
Questions About Education Benefits
Why are companies paying for college?
Companies offer education benefits to attract, retain, and support talented employees. Employees who complete additional training, degrees, or professional development courses can improve their abilities and help make their companies more successful.
Do you have to pay back tuition reimbursement?
Employees who meet their company's guidelines and eligibility requirements outlined in their education benefits packages do not need to pay back tuition reimbursement. If an employee breaks the terms of their reimbursement agreement, they may need to repay some or all of their financial assistance.
What do education benefits pay for?
Education benefits may cover the cost of tuition, books, fees, and some types of supplies or software. Students cannot use this financial aid for lodging, meals, or supplies unrelated to their education programs.
Will a company sponsor a bootcamp?
Companies that pay for college degrees may also cover the partial or full cost of a bootcamp. Since education benefits vary among companies, employees should check with their managers or HR representatives to determine if their companies cover bootcamps.
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