How to Get Your Employer to Pay for Your College Degree

By: Timothy Rea

Did you know that a lot of employers offer tuition aid programs that allow employees to get an undergraduate or graduate degree and work at the same time?

Are you falling behind your co-workers because you don't have a college degree? Do you apply for and fail to get promotions because you only have a high school education? Or perhaps, you have an undergraduate degree, but you'd like to go back and get your graduate degree? That's an expensive proposition.

In any case, you should take a look at the options available to you through your employer. If your employer does not offer a tuition aid plan, and you really want to get that degree, it might be time to look for another employer.

When you interview for a new position, be sure you ask about tuition aid and understand what is available to you and find out about the guidelines for receiving this aid.

Often, your employer will require that the degree for which you will study must apply to a position (your current position or some other position) in the company, so that they are paying your way out of the company and into a job with another firm.

If that is the case, find out what courses you will need to take to study for and get a degree in an area that will advance your position with your employer. Be sure that this degree fits with what you want to do with your career over the next 5-10 years.

As a condition for your tuition aid, your employer may also require that you sign a paper to agree to stay with their company for a certain number of years after you get your college degree and education.

That way, they ensure that they get their money's worth from the tuition aid. Be sure you can handle that commitment before you sign the paper.

If your employer provides tuition aid so you can get your college undergraduate degree or graduate degree, you should also find out if they provide time off to attend classes.

Some college programs are generous in giving the student a certain number of working hours to attend classes during the day instead of having to go to college classes at night or on weekends.

Before you sign up for this tuition aid, you should also find out what the requirements are for keeping that college tuition aid flowing.

In most companies, you must submit an official college transcript at the end of each semester so that the employer knows you are achieving good grades and going to classes and they aren't throwing their money away.

You should also find out if there are restrictions on how long you can take to complete your college degree. What happens if you get sick or if you have a personal issue and have to suspend college classes for awhile? Will you owe your employer the tuition?

Check with the college or university you are considering to see if their part-time and business courses allow for students to complete assignments or projects for credit that relate to your job. This will make your life easier.

You can do your homework and complete projects on the job and not have to find extra time to do additional assignments.

And, your education will be more integrated, since you will get on the job experience and exposure to the principles and concepts you are studying in college classes.

Write down any other questions you have about the conditions under which you can expect to receive tuition aid from your current or prospective employer and be sure they understand that you want to get this college degree and education to be more of an asset to the company.

Before you make this commitment, you should also be sure you fully understand the time and dedication required to get your degree and work full time. Some people are better suited to this routine than others.

If you are not ready, willing and able to juggle the demands of your personal life, your school work and your job, you may need to change your expectations about getting a college degree.

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