Frustrated with Tuition Reimbursement

  1. I normally don't subscribe to conspiracy theories, but I'm convinced that the "tuition reimbursement" benefits that employers offer are really a bunch of crap, because no one will utilize it. Why?

    Explain to me how I am supposed to come up with $3,000 cash, which, my employer will kindly reimburse once the course is finished with a passing grade. What's wrong with paying the tuition and then billing me if I fail? Or how about cutting your losses and not offering it again the following semester if I fail?

    Forgive me, as I am so upset. On top of my university being an administrative hellhole, and taking away my financial aid because I'm not a full time grad student this semester (> 9 credits), they don't send me a bill and instead tell me that I haven't paid tuition and I will be administratively dropped.

    My employer offers tuition reimbursement as well as annual funds(called an ADF account) to be applied to conferences, books, airfare for professional expenses: anything that you wish. You submit a bill and BOOM they pay it. So, I submit my tuition bill (that I finally got well after it was already due - idiots!) to be paid via that ADF account as the HR manager told me to do when I accepted this position, as I don't qualify for "tuition reimbursement" per se until my year anniversary. So now I get a letter stating that this goes under the tuition reimbursement program and thus, have to fork over to the university $3,000 and then get paid back at the end of Spring term.

    Um, I don't have $3,000 that can be immediately liquidated! I've talked with several other people too who don't use tuition reimbursement because they also can't front the cash and wait for reimbursement. It's all a sham. It's figured into your salary as a "benefit" when really, hardly anyone can take advantage of it because not many people can front that kind of cash.

    I'm probably already administratively dropped; I can't access the library, my first couple chapters of my practice thesis is coming due.....what do I do???

  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   Mkue
    That stinks ! Maybe the University will let you set up a payment plan.
  4. by   Lausana
    I was thinking payment plan too, but even then forking out half or a quarter of tuition is a chunk of money, when you're not going to be reimbursed for months?? If at all
  5. by   Stargazer
    Not sure I have anything useful to add, Susy, except this stinks. Contact the university billing department and your own graduate program immediately, before they do something irreversible. I can't believe this is the first time this has happened, or that they can't come up with a way to work around this. Obviously, it's to the school's advantage to work this out with you--they want your tuition money in the long term-- unless there are people literally fighting for your spot in the program.

    I'd also follow up, if necessary, with a letter to the school detailing your administrative problems with both the university (sending your tuition bill late) and your employer (bait-and-switch tuition reimbursement). Again, copies to your grad program, advisor, student ombudsman, anyone you think might be sympathetic and/or helpful. Seems schools always need to have this stuff in writing. Let us know what happens.
  6. by   Dr. Kate
    Does your facility have a mechanism fo cashing out benefit time?
    If so, do they have an emergency clause (usually gets the money a 100% and no wait to start accruing again) if so, copy the bill, do not pay it in any way, and start the process.
    If not, go to the university, check on payment plans and loans. There are ways to deal with the problem. Just takes more time than it should. Schools like to think you have nothing else to do but deal with their craziness.

    Good Luck
  7. by   colleen10
    What about getting a Student Loan or a short term loan through your bank?

    Is it possible that you could take a basket weaving course or something just to get you up to "full-time" status?

    I have been there and it is a fine line to walk to keep up your full time status yet not go crazy with too many classes. From my experience, I doubt the University would be very helpful in finding money for you at this late date. I would still talk to them and give it a try but I would probably go to a private financial institution as a back up plan.
  8. by   llg
    Looking into cashing out benefits sounds like a good idea to me. I had a friend do that to pay for a car she suddenly needed when she wrecked her old one. We are routinely allowed to cash in unused vacation time, but she needed more than the allowed amount and needed it in-between the pre-set times set to cash it in. She spoke with the head of Human Resources and he OK'd it.

    The short-term loan option might be good, too. It's not as if you will have to pay a whole lot of interest. Not only are interest rates low, but you know you will be able to pay it off in a very short time -- as soon as you get reimbursed.

    By the way, my sister (who is a teacher) had her Master's Degree paid for that way. She had to pay the bill at the beginning of the semester, then got reimbursed at the end. Of course, she would then use that reimbursement money to pay the bill for the next semester ... etc. etc.

    Good luck,
  9. by   Q.
    I haven't thought about cashing out benefits - thanks for the ideas.
  10. by   llg
    Yeah ... many people never think of that possibility. Like my friend I mentioned earlier who had the car accident and suddenly needed a new car. She was one of those people who always used most of her vacation time as soon as she earned it. I, on the other hand, always like to have a "bank" of time built up so that I could suddenly take a long paid vacation in an emergency if I needed it -- or I could cash in if I needed extra money.

    Anyway, when my friend suddenly needed extra money for the new car, she was able to cash in some vacation, but not as much as she would have liked because she didn't have much time saved up. But the amount did help her a lot.

    Do you have a retirement plan you can borrow from? Usually, I would hate to recommend that. However, you know for sure that you will be able to pay it back quickly when you get the reimbursement check.

    I'll let you know if I think of any other possible quick sources of cash.

  11. by   Stargazer
    O/T: Damn, I wish I could still "bank" my vacation hours the way I could when I worked in the hospital. My company has a strict use-it-or-lose-it policy. It sucks.

    Just to throw another idea out there, MBNA still sends me offers every now and then for low-interest loans, targeted specifically to nurses, of up to $15K. As long as you pay it back quickly, I think you're better off cashng in vacation time or your 401(k) as llg suggested, but just wanted to mention another possible option.
  12. by   sunnygirl272
    dood..that advice...just hugs.
  13. by   globalRN
    My school allowed credit card payments...I 'd choose the latest date to pay that would give me as much time as possible after the cut-off date for the present billing period. That way you get more time before you have to pay the bill for the NEXT billing period. Then if you have to take out a loan you can take it out at that later date....hopefully, you wouldn't have to take the loan out for too long before the reimbursement kicks in.