Corporate Tuition Assistance
Plans Fund Lifelong Learning|
by E. Faith Ivery, Ed.D
more than ever, a college degree is an important credential.
Experts predict that three fourths of all new jobs will
require a bachelor's degree. Lifelong learning is a
necessity, not a luxury. But, how do you pay for the
ever increasing tuition costs?
One great way to get free college credit is to
take advantage of Corporate Tuition Assistance
Plan (TAP) benefits. Most all Fortune
1000 level companies offer some type of TAP benefit. These programs
are administered through Human Resource or Benefits departments. They
range in offerings, depending upon the corporations philosophy or need
for college learning to increase their productivity. After all, it's a
great opportunity for employees, but the bottom-line to any benefit plan
is to increase profits for the organization. A study conducted by Motorola
showed that for every $1 invested in learning (education and/or training),
about $10 came back in productivity for the corporation. It's a very fair
deal both for the employee and the corporation.
About half of all major corporations provide 100%
pre-pay, or reimbursement programs for college tuition. Other companies
put a "cap", or ceiling on the total amount for annual eligibility.
However, those funds are still useful as they range from $5K - $8K. Many
college degrees can cost $20K -$40K+. Usually, TAP programs also include
the costs for books, which easily can costs hundreds of dollars each term.
Graduate degrees (MBAs) are often more costly!
National research shows that only about 10% of
corporate employees actually use the TAP benefit when provided. Why is
this? Well, it takes a lot of commitment to go back to school. It's often
new territory for adults. Instead of being the expert, you become a novice.
College learning involves classroom time as well as time for study, test
preparation, and writing assignments. It does cut into your already scare
free-time. Still the gains are well worth it. Research shows that a college
degree can increase salaries by 20%+, and can open doors for promotion
and job flexibility.
Here are some tips to consider when using TAP funds:
1. Get an educational plan before going to college.
There are over three thousand colleges in the United States. Many have
specialized programs for adults. Hundreds offer credit
for OTJ training, military training, hobbies, sports, transfer credit
and testing for college credit - most any learning that is defined in
a college catalog list of courses. Knowing about all your resources, and
selecting the "best-fit" options
often decreases your years in school.
2. College representatives are salespeople. College
admission counselors are recruiters - which is a nice term for salespersons.
They can only represent their college interests when meeting with potential
students. It's important to do research on many colleges - or, better
yet, find third-party professionals who have answers to all your questions
about options, and college programs fit to your needs.
3. Be brave. Remember, you are not alone. About
7.5 million adults attend college each year. That's about 50 percent of all college
enrollments. Adults usually make better grades too. Adults realize the
need for learning, and are dedicated students.
E. Faith Ivery Ed.D is President of Educational Advisory Services, Inc., and has worked nationally with adult
learners in industry and higher education for over 18
She is also a featured expert in our Ask the Experts forum.