Turning Tuition Assistance into Education Assistance
A recent survey by Robert Half Finance & Accounting reports that fully 63% of executives are willing to provide tuition reimbursement for new staff members who don’t have a four-year degree. Add the large % of companies willing to split the cost of a graduate degree and it’s obvious that helping students pay for college is becoming a really big deal.
That’s great news, but with tuition assistance programs becoming a new normal, companies need to start asking themselves a simple question – Why? Is the goal of a tuition assistance (TA) program to pitch in on the tab, or is it to truly support employee and company growth through education?
If your program is basically a form in the beginning and a bill (and grades) at the end of each semester, then what you really have is an accounting exercise. Want an employee education program with real ROI instead? Here are 5 questions to borrow from the lengthy Q&A with our clients to improve your education assistance:
- If you had the degree already, how would your career be different? This question helps put into practical terms what the degree means to them, and helps you understand if it would address a need for your company now or in the future.
- What are the top 3 things that prevented you from finishing school the first time around? If the employee is looking to finish their undergrad degree, make sure the prior obstacles are addressed.
- What schools have you looked at so far? “None” is not a bad answer, as long as you have the means to help. In fact, “none” is often a better answer than “one or two”, as the latter often means superficial Google posing as research. With online degree programs, one or two is a lot less than the dozens or even hundreds of programs likely available in that degree area.
- Are there changes in your life that give you the ability to go back to school now vs before? It doesn’t matter how much they want or even need the degree. If they still have 18 hour days full of work, travel, kids, volunteering, etc. etc. then it won’t matter. Desire doesn’t make time, organization does. Are they prepared to go back to school?
- What are your fears about going back to school? Real talk time. Are they worried about time commitments, writing papers, dealing with other students, going to a school they’ll end up hating? Recognizing those fears up front helps you both plan, which helps you help them choose a good program and actually graduate.
Each of these questions are designed to ensure there is depth to the thought process, qualification to the expense of tuition assistance, and that the employee is focused on getting the education and not solely on getting help with the cost. You can also get a feel for whether certain responses or categories of responses correlate to a stronger outcome for your education assistance program.
Like the idea but need help with execution? Click here for a video explaining the multi-step, customized, concierge-level service from ClearDegree.