Back to School Special: Educational Assistance Benefits

Back-to-school time is here—It’s not just about yellow buses and brand-new lunch boxes. It’s also a time that many adults start thinking about heading back to school to finish their degree, complete continuing education requirements or attend job-related licensing courses. This is also a great time for employers to review their educational assistance benefits. The International Foundation has data to help benchmark your plan.

Back to School Special: Educational Assistance Benefits

Step back and ask yourself a few questions about your educational assistance benefits. Are the education levels in our workforce adequate? What coursework would be the most beneficial? Should promising staff members be encouraged to pursue additional education? What are the necessary incentive levels to encourage these workers? How will we budget for these potential costs? Should these workers be granted time off for their studies? 

[View sample educational assistance plans that have been shared by members of the International Foundation. Sample documents are an exclusive member benefit.]

The International Foundation Educational Assistance Benefits: 2015 Survey addressed these questions. Some key findings are outlined below. 

  • Respondents that offer educational assistance benefits most commonly cover undergraduate-level courses (88.3%). Reimbursement for master’s degree-level (86.5%), associate degree (68.8%), online/distance learning (53.9%) and professional certification courses (52.1%) is offered by more than half of respondents.
  • Respondents commonly offer in-house training seminars (63.8%) and continuing education courses (45%). Frequently, these organizations also provide reimbursement for attendance at educational conferences (45%), personal development courses (44.7%) and job-related licensing courses and exams (40.1%). More than 18% of responding organizations offer 529 plans, which allow the accumulation of tax-free earnings to fund a child’s education.
  • As part of their benefit offerings, organizations cover a wide variety of educational expenses. A large majority cover tuition expenses (92.9%), while they frequently reimburse expenses for books (61.4%), administrative fees (51.8%), lab and technology fees (45.4%) and examination fees (44.7%).
  • The most frequently approved types of time off include time for examinations (18.1%), classes (14.2%) and educational leaves of absence/sabbaticals (10.6%).
  • Organizations offer educational benefits for a wide variety of reasons. More than one-half (52.1%) of respondents offer these benefits to retain their current employees. Respondents also frequently cited a goal of maintaining or increasing employee satisfaction and loyalty (42.6%), keeping employees current on evolving skill sets (41.1%), attracting future talent (26.6%) and maintaining or increasing employee innovation (14.2%) and productivity (13.5%).
  • Almost three in four (73.8%) respondents stated that their programs are either very or somewhat successful. Conversely, only 2.5% of respondents stated that their programs are unsuccessful.
  • Respondents stated that they offer a number of miscellaneous education benefits, including CPR and first-aid training (30.4%), scholarship or paid tuition for employee’s children (15.2%), non-English language classes (3.7%) and student loan repayment programs (3.0%).

Check out another “Back to School Special” post where we’ll take a look at how organizations are helping employees manage the demands of parenting by offering work-life balance benefits.

Justin Held, CEBS
Justin Held, CEBS
Senior Research Analyst/Educational Program Specialist at the International Foundation

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