College isn’t cheap. According to the U.S. News & World Report, the average tuition in the 2019-2020 school year was roughly $37,000 for private institutions and $23,000 for out-of-state public institutions. (And we know costs are only rising). Let’s not forget about the additional costs of school. Food, housing, books, and extra-curriculars only add to the total costs.
Tuition can be a major deterrent for many hopeful students, both undergraduate and graduate. However, there may be a way for you to find someone else to foot the bill through tuition reimbursement programs. Let’s go through the details:
- What is it? A tuition reimbursement program is a program where students pay their tuition bill up front (or via student loans), and a company reimburses them at a later date. (There are some companies that will pay tuition up front, but it is less common).
- Why do companies offer this benefit? Like many other benefits, companies use tuition reimbursement programs as a strategy to recruit and retain great talent and further support the professional development of staff.
- What are the tax implications? According to the IRS, the first $5,250 of tuition reimbursement that you receive does not count towards your taxable income. Tuition assistance above that threshold will be taxed.
- How do I qualify? Well, first, you need to be employed by a company with a tuition reimbursement program, which is certainly not a guarantee. Even after you start working at one of these companies, you need to meet their criteria for reimbursement. Each company sets up their own rules and requirements, for example, you might be required to take specific courses or maintain a minimum GPA.
Let’s start with a list of companies that will help you pay for college, either in full or in part:
- Amazon: The Career Choice program pre-pays 95% of the tuition and fees for associate’s degrees and certificates in certain high-demand fields like aircraft mechanics and nursing.
- AT&T:Employees working toward their undergraduate degrees can receive up to $20,000 in tuition assistance during their time with the company. Those working toward graduate degrees can receive up to $25,000 during their time with the company.
- Baxter: Employees can receive up to $5,250 in tuition reimbursement per year for certain undergraduate programs.
- Best Buy: Employees who work at least 32 hours per week for at least six continuous months can receive $3,500 in tuition reimbursement per year for undergraduate courses and $5,250 per year for graduate courses.
- CarMax:Full-time employees pursuing any secondary degree can receive $5,250 in tuition reimbursement per year, and part-time employees can receive $2,500 per year. This covers the cost of tuition, books and other required fees
- Chick-fil-A: Although not a reimbursement program, the restaurant chain offers scholarships worth $2,500 and $25,000 each year to be used for undergraduate or graduate study at two- and four-year colleges, universities and technical schools. Chik-fil-A employees also can receive tuition discountsat more than 100 colleges and universities.
- Chipotle: For some degrees, Chipotle offers up to $5,250 in tuition reimbursement per year. For other degrees, it offers 100% tuition coverage. Employees can receive tuition assistance after working at Chipotle for at least 120 days and 15 hours per week.
- Disney: Through the Disney Aspire program, employees pursuing high school diplomas, skilled trade diplomas, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees can receive full tuition payments up front.
- FedEx: Workers who have been at FedEx for at least 60 days can receive $1,500 in tuition reimbursement per year. Seasonal package handlers aren’t eligible for this benefit unless their employment continues.
- Geico:Full-time employees can receive up to $5,250 in tuition reimbursement per year for their undergraduate education. The reimbursement covers application fees, tuition payments, course-related charges and certain textbook costs.
- Intuit: Full-time employees can receive up to $5,000 in tuition reimbursement per year, and part-time employees can receive up to $2,500 per year. The program covers tuition, books, software and other fees.
- Lowe’s:Full-time employees who’ve worked at Lowe’s for at least a year can receive up to $2,500 per fiscal year for tuition, book and lab fees when working toward their associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees.
- McDonald’s: Employees who have worked at McDonald’s for at least 90 days and 15 hours per week can receive $2,500 per year in up-front tuition assistance. Managers can receive $3,000 per year.
- Novartis:The pharmaceutical company offers 100% tuition reimbursement for certain eligible expenses.
- Oracle: Full-time employees can receive up to $5,250 per year in tuition reimbursement for certain approved programs.
- Procter & Gamble: Employees can receive up to $40,000 in tuition reimbursement during their time with the company.
- Publix: Full- and part-time employees who have worked at Publix for six continuous months and an average of 10 hours per week can receive $3,200 in tuition reimbursement per year to pay for their enrollment in colleges or universities. For enrollment in technical programs or other courses, employees can receive $1,700 per year and a lifetime maximum amount of $3,400.
- Starbucks:The coffee brand offers 100% tuition reimbursement for first-time bachelor’s degrees earned through Arizona State University’s online program. Part-time employees can receive the reimbursement if they’re eligible for benefits. Starbucks employees who are veterans can also extend the free tuition benefit to a family member. (Love this!)
- The Home Depot: Employees working toward their bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral or technical degrees are eligible for tuition reimbursement benefits on their first day of employment. Salaried employees can receive up to $5,000 per year. Full-time hourly employees can receive up to $3,000 per year, and part-time hourly employees can receive up to $1,500 per year. Additionally, The Home Depot specifies that 50% of the cost of tuition, books and registration fees can be reimbursed, and 50% of mandatory fees can be reimbursed up to $250 per quarter or semester.
- T-Mobile:After working at T-Mobile for 90 days, full-time employees can receive up to $5,250 per year for classes directly related to their position or another position in the company. Part-time employees can receive up to $2,500. The company also offers full tuition reimbursement with certain partner schools.
- UPS: Through the Earn and Learn program, employees can choose any subject of study and receive up to $5,250 per year up to a lifetime maximum of $25,000. Employees are eligible on their first day of employment.
- Verizon:Full-time employees can receive $13,250 per year when they attend Bellevue University, Verizon’s university partner. Part-time employees can receive $8,000 per year when they attend Bellevue.
Are you thinking of pursuing a graduate degree? Here is a list of companies that may be able to help you cover the costs:
· Boston Consulting Group: Eligible employees who go back to school for a full-time MBA may be sponsored by the firm. Sponsorship includes full tuition coverage after the employee returns to the firm for two years after completion of the MBA.
· Boeing: Boeing provides tuition assistance with no annual limit for degrees in science, technology, engineering and math.
· BP: Full-time employees can receive reimbursements of up to 90% of the costs of tuition, books and other fees for certain courses at approved institutions (no maximum limit).
· Chevron: The energy company offers tuition reimbursements of up to 75% of the costs of tuition and other fees.
· Deloitte: Through the Graduate School Assistance Program, certain top-performing consultants can receive a full tuition reimbursement for graduate school after staying with Deloitte for two years after their graduation.
· Intel: Employees can receive up to $50,000 in tuition reimbursement during their time at the company. Intel also provides free tutoring and scholarships for employees’ children.
· JetBlue: Employees can earn master’s degrees at discounted rates (with total costs between $13,000 and $30,000). The five participating institutions include City University of New York School of Professional Studies, Louisiana State University Shreveport, Thomas Edison State University, University of Maryland University College and Western Governors University.
· L.L. Bean: Year-round employees can receive up to $5,250 in tuition reimbursement for business-related bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
· Papa John’s: Corporate employees who have worked at Papa John’s for 90 days and at least 20 hours per week can earn their MBA from Purdue University Global. The pizza chain fully covers tuition.
· Salesforce: The company offers up to $5,250 in tuition reimbursement per year to cover tuition, books and other fees.
· Qualcomm: Full-time employees can receive up to $10,125 in tuition reimbursement per year for graduate degrees at certain approved schools.
There are also companies that will help cover the cost of student loans (as opposed to a tuition reimbursement). I love the creative support these firms offer their employees.
· Abbott: When employees use 2% of their eligible pay to reduce their student loan debt, they receive a 5% contribution to their 401(k) accounts from Abbott without having to contribute to their 401(k) accounts themselves.
· Aetna: The health care company matches employees’ student loan payments up to $2,000 per year for full-time employees and up to $1,000 per year for part-time employees.
· Chegg: Employees receive up to $1,000 per year to pay off their debt for as long as they work at the company and still have outstanding debt. Additionally, through the company’s Equity for Education plan, entry level employees up to managers receive up to $5,000 per year to pay down their student debt if they have at least two years of experience. Directors and vice presidents can receive up to $3,000 per year.
· Estée Lauder: Employees of the beauty company receive $100 per month to pay down their student debt up to a maximum of $10,000.
· Hulu: The streaming service matches employees’ student loan payments up to $1,200 per year.
· PricewaterhouseCoopers: The professional services company offers employees up to $1,200 per year to pay down their student debt for a maximum of six years or until employees become managers.
Also keep in mind that working for a government or nonprofit organization or as a teacher in a low-income school for a given period of time can qualify you for student loan forgiveness.
While employment at these companies is never a guarantee, it is always helpful to know your options. An even better option for current students interested in these programs would be to intern at one of these firms as a student to hopefully earn a full-time offer (and tuition reimbursement).
Know of other companies offering similar benefits? I’d love to hear to continually update this list. Share with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to Matthew Zdun and the team at Wikibuy for their help compiling this list of resources!