What Is a Tuition Assistance Program?

Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) is a type of financial assistance for employees who want to return to college. Usually offered through employers, tuition assistance programs may provide an added incentive to return to school. Learn more about these programs here.

Tuition Assistance Program

Tuition assistance programs allow employees to save money while pursuing an education in a specific field. Employees generally have the option of studying for an entire degree or taking just a few courses. Employers are able to offer up to $5,250 tax-free per year to an employee. Additional amounts will depend on the specific employer.

Important Facts About Tuition Assistance Programs

Registration Period Teaching institutions must establish a TAP employee registration period, which must begin a minimum of three days before the initial day of classes
GPA Requirements Most employers require participants to maintain an acceptable grade point average (GPA) while enrolled in an assistance program
Job Continuation In return for providing assistance, some employers may require participants to continue working for their company for a pre-determined amount of time upon completion of a degree program
Spending LimitIRS regulations stipulate that employers may provide no more than $5,250 (tax-free) to each employee on an annual basis

TAP Considerations

While employers' requirements for participating in tuition assistance programs may vary, most share common factors including:

  • Coursework: Some employers may place restrictions on the majors their employees choose. Tuition reimbursement may also apply to certain general or core courses within a major.
  • Payment: Employers may have preferences when it comes to payment methods. Some will require employees to pay tuition costs up front to be reimbursed later, while others will pay schools directly.
  • Time Commitment: Some companies may require coursework or degrees to be completed within a certain amount of time. Employees should make sure all courses are offered and can be completed within a specific time frame.
  • Additional Sources of Money: Employers also sometimes offer scholarships to employees' dependents.
  • Course Materials: An employer may also cover the cost of materials required for courses. The most common material is textbooks, which can cost several hundred dollars per semester.

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