What is a Tuition Assistance Program?

Phil Shepley

A tuition assistance program is when one of many different organizations or localities offers to help pay for tuition for secondary or post-secondary education for its members or residents. Many branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, for example, will help to pay for the college tuition of people who serve over various amounts of time. Similarly, many employers will help their employees to pay for schooling, especially when the education can have a direct positive influence upon an individual’s work performance.

Choosing to join the U.S. Navy can often mean getting assistance for tuition.
Choosing to join the U.S. Navy can often mean getting assistance for tuition.

Each branch of the military offers its own similar version of a tuition assistance program. These are very popular among men and women who are veterans as well as those currently serving in the military, and are used as a major incentive for those who recruit for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and the National Guard. Veterans and service members who have served for a greater length of time than average are even offered tuition assistance for their spouses and children.

Each branch of the military has its own tuition assistance program.
Each branch of the military has its own tuition assistance program.

Teachers may have the opportunity to attend a post-secondary institution with tuition paid for by their employer, which can be a city, county, state, or private school. Colleges sometimes offer their professors a tuition assistance program in the form of free or cost-reduced courses. Different schools and colleges will often work with one another to "swap" free education, for the purpose of giving educators a chance to enhance their knowledge by taking advantage of the diversity of various institutions. Free or discounted courses can even be offered online, which gives students the opportunity to learn from practically anywhere around the world at little or no cost.

Corporations and businesses who offer their employees a tuition assistance program are sometimes eligible for a tax exemption as a result, which adds to the intrinsic benefit of enhancing employee knowledge and productivity. The employee, however, must typically be subjected to guidelines and restrictions if they are taking advantage of such programs. For instance, an employee will often be required to pay the tuition back to the company if he does not maintain a specific GPA or if he eitherdrops out of the class or quits his job.

Many states offer their own tuition assistance program in various incarnations. These provide residents with many different college tuition aid services in addition to tuition grants and scholarships, including student loan guarantees, loan management services and more. Many times, the monetary assistance is given primarily based upon the needs of the students, provided that they have been state residents for a specified amount of time. Tuition can also be much more expensive for out-of-state students than current residents.

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