Posted by Margaret Wood 11-3-2016

Tuition programs are one of the most sought after benefits by employees in today’s market.

Investing in your employees goes beyond compensation, 401k and and medical insurance. Learning and improving one’s skills is at the top of the list and employers are spending billions on advancing employee skills.  

According to a recent analysis by EdAssist®, by offering employees growth opportunities that tightly align with organizational goals, employers can offer the long-term career development employees want  Additionally, this creates a considerable opportunity for greater impact delivreing the strategic talent goals the organization needs.



Today’s employees place a premium on career development. In the recent EdAssist® study, Student Loan Debt: Who’s Paying the Price?,

  •  85% of respondents said they want to continue learning
  • „ 79% of respondents call tuition assistance an important factor in joining their company
  • „ 65% rate tuition assistance as one of the best benefts offered

A similar survey of  Millennials showed the importance of learning and career development :

  • „ 60% would pick a job with strong development potential over one with regular pay raises
  • „ 62% want to continually learn new skills
  • „ 54% have already taken classes while in the workforce

In the final analysis, the data clearly  depicts that employees are looking for organization s that offer the meawns and support needed to advance in their careers. By building education assistance that that is clearly defined into a company’s outward facing brand, ing,  orgsanizations create the opportunity to recruit people who will stay with and thrive at long term.


Successful talent programs require not just recruiting — but recruiting the right candidates. Retaining those hires then requires delivering on career promises so employees will stay on board. Data shows that employee development can deliver on both goals.

The survey, Lasting Impact of Tuition Assistance, conducted by Horizons Workforce Consulting®, showed that companies who used education assistance programs as a centerpiece of their recruitment brand, focusing on its ability to shape and accelerate careers attracted better candidates. „ One third of program graduates had been promoted  compared with only 13% of all workers. Perhaps most impressive, tuition assistance participants were 50% less likely to leave the organization — suggesting that the people who were drawn in by the ability to learn and grow were proving to be the best investments.



The study also revealed that tuition assistance — and the ability it delivers to pursue personal ambitions — supports retention by enabling people to envision long-term careers with their employers. Such benefts are magnifed among employers that structure their programs to include educational advising for employees. The final analyis here  is substantial gains in retention:

  • „ 81% of respondents indicate that their employer’s tuition assistance program makes them more likely to stay with the organization
  • „ 77% say the program improved their opinion of their employer
  • „ 90% would consider using the program again

The number of repeat users indicates additional advantages in the type of employee retained, showing that people who are drawn to tuition assistance are likely to be highly desirable, ambitious employees who are eager to gain additional skills.


„ Access to academic advisors, who helped employees map out an education plan that ft their individual career goals, budget, and schedule is an added benefit, helping employees stay on track. „ Streamlined reimbursement processes should be transparant to employees.

Such program enhancements — particularly advising — streamlined degree programs and enabled employees to see degree programs as a feasible undertaking.


Inspiration breeds productivity. In the Dream Company Survey, employees participating in a tuition programwere roughly 10% more likely than non-participants to agree with the phrase, “My job inspires me.”

Additionally, job satisfaction correlates strongly with productivity — and employees using tuition assistanceconsistently rate themselves highly on both.

  • „ 86% call it important to job satisfaction
  • „ 83% say the education they received makes them more effective at work

Top performances require commitment to the day-to-day tasks as well as to the organization as a whole.Those using tuition programs score well on both areas of engagement, arguably because of their ability to achieve personal goals at the company.

Nearly two thirds (64%) of those who have completed an employer-supported education program said they beneftted professionally within 12 months following completion. Providing access to relevant learning opportunities contributes to a more engaged and productive workforce, and, as a result, positive business outcomes.




How does a company inspire  its highly educated workforce to innovate–By  diversifying its  program, providing meaningful and relevant options for every stage of an employee’s career, including:

  • Providing employees who completed internal courses to earn college credits
  • „ A partnership with higher education institutions, enabling employees to takecareer-relevant, professor-led courses
  • „ A fully sponsored Executive MBA program for senior managers (nominated by leadership) with a learning track designed to round out leadership skills for succession planning, retaining the company’s rising stars.

These types of efforts pay off:

  • „ Training and education hours spent on job-related topics increased 30%
  • „ 85% of the company’s aggressive training goals were met, showing strong signs of closing skills gaps
  • „ Executive MBA participants had a 95% retention rate



In nearly a half century of assisting employees with their education, tuition assistance programs have evolved into a well-crafted strategy that delivers on targeted leadership development and talent management goals. Today, these robust programs are able not just to draw in candidates, but also to bring people on board who are most likely to thrive in a specifc organization.

To fully capitalize on the benefts, HR leaders should:

  • „ Embrace non-traditional learning (boot camps and certifcates, for example) as important, cost-effective complements to traditional undergraduate degrees
  • „ Ensure accurate and credible reporting that is able to offer precise data about who’s participating, in which programs, and at what cost, to chart progress against retention and talent management goals
  • „ Create synergies between tuition assistance and other talent management programs, including internal training, performance management, succession and workforce planning, and other talent-management initiatives
  • „ Continually assess program offerings to ensure they fully represent the needs of your workforce anddeliver on employee and employer goals

Many companies will fnd these enhancements amount not to a complete overhaul, but rather a careful fine tuning of budget and efforts that are already in place. And there’s additional room to grow. With more than two-thirds of new graduates entering the workforce with student debt, employers will need to consider additional financial assistance in the form of student loan paydowns.

1 Student Loan Debt: Who’s Paying the Price?; EdAssist and Kelton Global, 2016 2 The Key to Attracting Millennials, EdAssist and Kelton Global, 2015 3 Dream Company Survey; Horizons Workforce Consulting and Bright Horizons, 2016,



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