Tuition Benefit

Purpose

Our mission at Williams is “To provide the finest possible liberal arts education. … elevating the sights and standards of every member of the community, encouraging them to keep faith with the challenge inscribed on the College’s gates: ‘climb high, climb far.’”  As an organization dedicated to learning, the college is committed to investing in the professional development of its staff.

Eligibility

Staff members in regular or term, fully-benefited positions, who have completed six months of service, are eligible for this benefit. Faculty members in the Department of Physical Education who need to complete a Master’s degree to qualify for promotion to five-year contract status are also eligible upon application and approval by the Director of Athletics and the Dean of the Faculty.

For Credit Courses at Accredited Institutions

This benefit provides 100% payment of tuition for courses taken for credit at accredited institutions.  Courses do not need to be job-related.  There is no limit on how many courses one can take.

A minimum grade of a C- is required; grades below this will require repayment or will not be reimbursed depending upon the initial financial arrangement.

Schedule Flexibility

Staff members should make every effort to take classes that don’t conflict with their work schedule.  Flexing the work schedule to accommodate classes is at the supervisor’s discretion.

Choice of Pre-Payment or Reimbursement

Payment for credit classes may be made either 1) directly to the institution, 2) to a student loan servicing agency, or 3) to the employee as reimbursement for their payment of tuition.   Some employees may choose reimbursement after completing a class if they are receiving financial aid.  Reimbursements to the employee require that proof of payment be submitted to the college and are made through payroll on the staff member’s regular paycheck subject to applicable taxes.

In the event payment is made in advance and a course is not satisfactorily completed, the employee’s employment with the college ends before the completion of the course, or supporting documentation is not submitted within 6 weeks of the end of the course, the employee shall be required to reimburse the college for the full amount of tuition paid.  A repayment agreement to this effect is a required part of the tuition benefit application form and shall be executed by the employee before the college prepays any tuition.  The college reserves the right to take other reasonable actions to secure repayment of any prepaid tuition.

Tax Implications of Job-Related Courses vs. Non-Job Related Courses

Tax laws are subject to change, and the college cannot and does not provide personal tax advice or guidance.  All employees are encouraged to seek the advice and guidance of their own tax planners or financial advisers before participating in this program.  For illustrative purposes, under current tax laws, if a course is not job-related, any tuition benefits from the college in excess of $5,250 in a calendar year are taxed as imputed income.

Designating Courses as Job-Related

If a course is job-related, there would be no such tax implications under current tax laws.  The Learning & Development Manager will review the tuition benefit application form and determine whether each course qualifies as job-related, using the following criteria from the IRS:

The education must meet at least one of the following tests:

  • The education is required by the employer or by law for the employee to keep his or her present salary, status, or job. The required education must serve a bona fide business purpose of the employer.
  • The education maintains or improves skills needed in the job.

However, even if the education meets one or both of the above tests, it isn’t qualifying education if it:

  • Is needed to meet the minimum educational requirements of the employee’s present trade or business, or
  • Is part of a program of study that will qualify the employee for a new trade or business.

Please note that courses are considered one by one.  Even if the entire course of study in a degree program is related to your job, each individual course must improve your performance in your current job to qualify as job-related.

The Learning & Development Manager will consult with the employee and/or their supervisor in making the job-related determination as necessary.

Process for Applying for Tuition Benefit

  1. Before the class:
    • Complete the Tuition Benefit Application Form for the class/es you are registering for.  You’ll receive an email with a Tuition Benefit Agreement to sign as well as further instructions.
    • If this is the first class in a program of study or if it is a class you are taking as a “one off” class, you’ll sign a tuition benefit agreement indicating you understand the terms of the benefit before payment is processed.
    • Submit a bill, invoice, or other confirmation of the classes you’re taking to Kevin Thomas, Learning and Development Manager at [email protected] , showing the tuition amount, the billing address, and account #.
    • If needed, we can provide a letter of credit to the institution to allow you to register for classes in advance of payment.
    • Within six weeks of the end of the course:
      • email an official transcript showing successful completion of the class to Kevin Thomas, Learning and Development Manager at [email protected]. If you are seeking reimbursement for payments you have already made, also email a receipt of your payment for the class.

Please Note: This policy remains subject to change, modification, amendment, or termination at the sole discretion of the college.


Courses Toward Professional Certificates

Courses taken toward professional certification must be job-related and are considered as part of the department’s job-related requirements or the employee’s professional development. Fees for these courses are paid by the department, not through the Tuition Benefit. If budgetary constraints make it difficult for a department to fund certification, the employee may appeal to Human Resources for assistance in finding alternative sources of funding.