Tuition Reimbursement and Time Off for Job-Related Training and Education
Policy Number: 33
Eligibility for time off and reimbursement for job-related training and education
Classified employees, administrative and professional employees, and faculty members
- Date Reviewed:
- July 2016
- Responsible Office:
- Expense Reimbursement and Human Resources
- Responsible Executive:
- Senior Vice President, Finance and Business Services; Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
I. POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT
Employees may receive reimbursement and/or time off for job-related training and education. Such expenditures or privileges are at the discretion of the President and should only be made to address current or anticipated university needs. The President may delegate the authorization of the tuition reimbursement payment to the department head.
Training: instruction, teaching or other education received by a university employee that is directly related to the employee’s job and is designed to enhance the ability of the employee to perform his or her job. It could include a course of study at a public or private institution of higher education or nontraditional training such as online courses or courses not credited towards a degree. It does not include training required either by state or federal law or that is determined necessary by the university and offered to all employees performing similar jobs.
A. Employee Eligibility
To be eligible for tuition reimbursement and/or approved time off during regular work hours, the employee must be a full-time (100%) regular employee who has completed the probationary period and who is in good standing. Good standing means the employee’s most recent performance evaluation is satisfactory (meets expectations or higher) and no disciplinary actions greater than written warnings have occurred since the last evaluation.
Participation by the employee must be approved by the department head, and the employee's supervisor must verify that the employee's participation will not disrupt the operations of the employing department. The supervisor must also verify that the department has sufficient funds to cover the expected costs to be reimbursed and that the training is aligned to the university's needs. These written approvals and verifications (Tuition Assistance Program Participation Agreement and Job-Related Training and Education Employee Request Form) must be obtained prior to the employee beginning the course work.
The employee must sign a formal Tuition Assistance Program Participation Agreement, in which the employee agrees to remain in the employment of the university for at least one full month for each semester hour of tuition assistance reimbursed, beginning with the month after the month in which the employee completed the coursework. The employee also agrees to repay the university for all expenses for which the employee was reimbursed if the employment terminates before the end of that period. An employee who fails to complete course work, and who was awarded time off to do so, may be required to reimburse the university for all costs associated with the training period, including any amounts of the employee’s salary not accounted for as paid vacation or compensatory leave.
The employee must receive a grade of C or better in any undergraduate course work, and a grade of B or better in any graduate course work to qualify for reimbursement of allowable expenses. When pass/fail grading is in effect, the employee must pass to retain eligibility.
An employee who fails to complete course work with acceptable grades after using privileges extended by the university may forfeit all such privileges in the future.
B. Requesting Reimbursement and/or Time Off
Employees requesting reimbursement and/or time off must complete the Job-Related Training and Education Employee Request Form and the Tuition Assistance Program Participation Agreement and secure the written consent of their department head and the individual with signature authority over the account to be charged prior to enrollment. Faculty members must secure the approval of their department chair and dean prior to enrollment.
The department is responsible for compliance with this policy and must ensure that the request form and the program participation agreement are accurately completed. These two approved documents are to be maintained by the department.
C. Allowable Fund Sources
State, designated, revolving and auxiliary funds may be used to reimburse job-related training and educational costs. The department must verify the allowability of these expenditures from all federal and private contracts and grants (including gift and endowment funds and state and local agency contracts) with the Post Award Finance Office prior to the approval of the employee's request. It is the responsibility of the department to monitor compliance with the terms of this policy and to maintain records of employee educational reimbursements.
D. Taxable Income
Up to $5,250 per calendar year in reimbursement from the university for tuition and fees are currently considered non-taxable income. This amount is subject to change in accordance with federal policy and regulations. Educational reimbursement in excess of $5,250 will be processed similar to taxable salary in the manner described in the Reimbursement Guide. The employee’s department is responsible for tracking an employee’s total tuition reimbursement per calendar year.
E. Allowable Expenses and Privileges
1. Allowable Expenses: Allowable expenses for the training of employees include tuition and required educational fees, including for nontraditional training such as online courses or courses not credited towards a degree. For employees seeking reimbursement for training or education offered by a public or private institution of higher education, the university will only reimburse expenses for a program course successfully completed at an accredited institution of higher education. The cost of a course taken to prepare for a certifying examination (such as a CPA exam), and the cost of the certifying examination itself, are both considered to be allowable expenses. Reimbursement is limited to a rate not to exceed that charged by a state university in the Houston metropolitan area. Further detail can be found in the Reimbursement Guide. Tuition initially paid by a scholarship, grant or other third party is not reimbursable. Executive degree programs, such as an EMBA, will only be reimbursed at a level equivalent to the standard degree program, i.e., MBA.
Non-reimbursable expenses include parking costs, late fees or financing fees, travel expenses or incidental items required by the instructor.
2. Time Off: A department may provide time off (not to exceed the time required for one course per semester plus the allotted travel time). Employees are permitted to take one course per semester during work hours, providing they can arrange to satisfy their employment responsibilities without disruption of operations or additional expense to the university. Travel time is authorized for each class session as follows: one-half hour per class day for course work taken on the university campus, and one hour per class day for course work taken elsewhere. This action requires the same approvals as a reimbursable expense and will use the same forms and record-keeping procedure.
F. Processing Reimbursement or Awarding of Privileges
Employees will pay all the fees, tuition, and other expenses associated with their course work with their own funds, retaining all original fee descriptions and receipts of allowable expenditures.
Employees awarded time off are to notify their departments of their grades and provide proof of successful completion of course work within 60 days after the last day of class.
Employees requesting reimbursement must submit within 60 days after the last day of class, the original of the grades and tuition statement to the department. Departments must follow the procedures outlined in the Reimbursement Guide to process reimbursement requests. The department is responsible for verifying successful course completion and allowable expenses. The department must retain copies of all records.
Employees who fail to notify their departments on completion of a course for which they have requested reimbursement may forfeit all educational privileges extended by the university.
- Expense Reimbursement Team
- Human Resources (Job Related Training and Request Form)