TIPS ON TALKING TO YOUR EMPLOYER
A great way to get financial assistance is through your employer. Many companies have tuition benefits available. Schedule an appointment with the Human Resources Department to discuss the matter. Even if your company doesn't have a policy on tuition benefits, it's worth trying to find support. Here are a few tips on how to approach the subject and guide the conversation.
1. Develop your educational plan
Identify which classes you would like to take; what degree you intend to pursue; and where, when, and how you will take your classes (online, weekends, nights, etc.). Also, determine how you will manage your work, life, and family schedules.
2. Create a list of the ways your education will benefit the company
Will your new skills make you more productive at work? Will you be able to take on more responsibility? Will it inspire you to be more loyal? It's all of these and more.
3. Identify questions you want to ask your employer
If there is an existing program, some details may already have been established, like how your tuition is reimbursed. If not, it's a good thing to ask. Each company is different. Some companies pay the bill directly; others will deduct a portion from your paycheck and pay the rest, and still others will expect you to pay for your education up-front and repay you over a certain period of time. It's best to know these things in advance.
4. Brainstorm and develop solutions to possible concerns
Your employer may have concerns. Here are a few potential challenges and solutions:
Challenge: The time devoted to attending classes and studying will be time you're not at work.
Solution: By developing your plan as we suggest in step one, you will be able to demonstrate your courses, goals, and schedule, and show your employer when you'll be away if you even need to be away at all.
Challenge: You will leave the company after we have paid for your education.
Solution: Tell your employer that, if anything, this will strengthen your loyalty to the company. Some companies may require you to sign a contract stating that you will stay with the company for a certain period of time after you have completed your education. If you are not asked to sign a contract, suggest it. It will only prove how committed you are to the company.
Challenge: Tuition will be too costly for the company.
Solution: Remind your employer how much it costs to recruit, hire, and train new employees in relation to the costs of supporting current employees who are looking to further their education to improve their on-the-job performance.