Support Staff Policies & Procedures

Support Staff Educational Assistance Program Policy & Procedures

Last Updated May 17, 2016

Policy

The University provides financial assistance to help employees achieve educational and career development goals.

Applies to:

1. Benefits for union employees:

The benefits level for regular, union, support staff employees shall be set forth in the applicable collective bargaining agreements though this policy may provide additional information. If the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement conflict with this policy, the applicable collective bargaining agreement prevails.

2.  Benefits for non-union employees (e.g. nurses, confidential employees, community directors, MSU Extension employees, etc.) whose primary workplace is on the Main East Lansing campus or within the state of Michigan**:

Tuition will be waived/reimbursed as follows for credit courses for up to fourteen (14) credits per MSU academic year (16 credits for AP confidential) upon successful completion of the course(s). A grade of 2.0 or better (or "CR" - credit) is required for reimbursement of a credit course.

a.  For undergraduate credit courses taken through MSU, the tuition fee up to one hundred percent (100%) of the MSU undergraduate maximum tuition rate per credit taken.

b.  For graduate credit courses taken through MSU, the tuition fee up to fifty percent (50%) of the MSU undergraduate maximum tuition rate per credit taken.  

c.  Tuition from a Michigan-based accredited educational institution, other than MSU, will be reimbursed for up to fourteen (14) semester credits at the rate of up to fifty percent (50%) of the MSU undergraduate maximum level tuition rate per credit taken.

d.  Reimbursement for credit courses taken through primarily online institutions and non-Michigan based institutions shall not be covered.

e.  Registration fees, course fees, lab fees, any other incidental fees, books and other course materials charged by the institution are the responsibility of the student.

f.  If the employee is covered by benefits such as scholarship or fellowship aid, government aid, GI benefits, or similar assistance, waiver/reimbursement will be made only for that portion of the tuition which exceeds the amount of those benefits.

g.  This benefit is limited to a single degree at each degree level(Associate, Bachelor, Master, or Doctorate) during employment with Michigan State University

**For employees whose primary assigned workplace is outside the state of Michigan the following additional provision applies: Tuition for a non-Michigan based accredited educational institution, in the state, territory, or district in which the employee works (for these purposes the District of Columbia and the State of Virginia will be viewed as a single geographic unit) will be waived/reimbursed for up to fifty percent (50%) of the non-MSU institution’s applicable tuition rate not to exceed fifty percent (50%) of the applicable MSU tuition rate per credit taken.

3. Maximum courses/benefits:

a.     Where only non credit courses are taken in the academic year: Job-related courses from an approved institution/program, with reimbursement not to exceed $800 per academic year.

b.     Where only credit classes are taken in the academic year: The maximum value of the educational assistance benefit is equal to the dollar equivalent of 14 semester credits or 20 term credits per academic year at the level of the benefit used by the employee in that year (Refer to Section 2 above). (AP confidential may take 16 semester credits per academic year).

c.     Where both credit and non-credit classes are taken in the academic year: The maximum value of the educational assistance benefit (credit and non-credit combined) is the same as in Section 3.b. above.

d.    Tuition costs in excess of these amounts, registration and other incidental fees are the employee’s responsibility.

4. Eligible types of courses:

a.  job-related pertaining to employee's current work or in preparation for a higher level MSU position,

b.  degree-related, or

c.  career/professional development-related, reasonably pertaining to an employee's stated goals at MSU.

5. Which institutions are covered: Credit courses may be taken from those institutions accredited by generally recognized accrediting agencies and/or listed in the Educational Directory of the U.S. Department of Education. Credit courses taken through online only and/or non-Michigan based schools, shall not be covered, except where specifically provided for. Non-credit courses may be taken from any employer-approved institution/program. For definitions of approved non-credit programs, see Section 10 - Definitions.

In addition, for the benefit of United States military veterans and active or reserve duty service men and women, the Educational Assistance Program recognizes institutions approved under such government training programs as the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (see www.gibill.va.gov)

6. Employer approval: All employees are required to obtain employer approval prior to the start of any credit or non-credit course taken through the Educational Assistance Program. Employer approval is contingent upon authorization of the course by the employee's supervisor and/or department/unit administrator and final approval by MSU Human Resource Development (MSU Human Resources). (For 324 employees, employer approval is contingent upon authorization by the Director of Power and Water and final approval by MSU Human Resources). Audited or visited courses are not eligible for educational assistance.

7. Tuition waiver: All MSU credit courses approved for Educational Assistance benefits and billed through the Registrar’s Office (including Lifelong Education courses) will be processed as tuition waiver. This benefit allows the employee to waive payment of tuition at the time of registration.

a.   Tuition waiver is available for all eligible employee groups.

b.   If an employee drops a class, the waiver account is credited and the student is billed for any balance due.

c.   If an employee does not successfully complete a course (a grade of 2.0 or better) for which waiver funds have been expended, the amount of tuition waiver will be deducted from the employee's paycheck(s).

8. Tuition reimbursement:

a.  Non-MSU credit courses: Upon completion of a non-MSU credit course, the employee must submit proof of successful course completion (a copy of their grade of 2.0 or better) and proof of course cost (a receipt) to MSU Human Resources using the online application in the Enterprise Business System portal. Reimbursement for successfully completed courses will be direct deposited provided the employee has payroll direct deposit.  If not, a check will be sent to the employee's work address on record.

b.  Non-credit courses: Upon completion of a non-credit course, the employee must submit proof of successful course completion (a copy of course certificate signed by the instructor, or the Non-Credit Course Certification of Successful Completion form available through Human Resources), and proof of course cost (an itemized receipt) to MSU Human Resources using the online application in the  Enterprise Business System portal. Reimbursement for successfully completed courses will be direct deposited provided the employee has payroll direct deposit.  If not, a check will be sent to the employee's work address on record.

9. Taxation: Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 127 provides an exemption of up to $5,250 in a tax (calendar) year for graduate-level, degree-related courses reimbursed/waived through employer educational assistance programs. The benefit includes tuition and matriculation fees, if such fees are also provided. Any amount of the benefit in excess of the $5,250 exclusion for degree-related graduate-level courses is considered taxable income. Waived fees for MSU courses are considered received at the time classes begin at MSU. Reimbursed fees for courses taken at other institutions are considered received at the time the reimbursement check is issued. Once the receipt of benefits over the $5,250 exclusion is determined, appropriate tax withholding will be made and the amount added to the employee's gross wages. 

10. Definitions (for non-credit courses):

a.  Approved institutions/programs: MSU Lifelong Education Programs (Continuing Education, Evening College), MSU Libraries and IT Services Technology Training and High School Adult Education Programs.

b.  Other employer approved programs.

11. Eligibility requirements: To apply for benefits, eligible employees must meet the following criteria:

a.  be admitted to an approved institution(s) where the course(s) are offered, and

b.  meet the minimum requirement of 12 full-time equivalent (FTE) service months (324employees are eligible the first day of full-time continuous employment), and

c.  must be actively at work when the class begins to qualify for tuition waiver/reimbursement.

12. Eligibility effective date: Educational Assistance benefits become available the day an employee accumulates 12 FTE service months.

13. Procedure

Initiating application for educational assistance/tuition waiver (MSU classes):

a.   Employee:

    1. Completes the online application in the Enterprise Business System portal and obtains course authorization from supervisor and/or department/unit administrator in that system.
    2. For waiver credit to appear on the registration bill, the application must be submitted to MSU HR 60 days prior to the start of class. Applications will continue to be accepted up to 15 days before regular MSU classes begin and approved waivers processed as time permits. Applications received after regular MSU classes begin are not eligible and will not be processed.

b.   Department administrator:

Authorization for course approval and release time is given by direct supervisor or one level higher in the online system.

c.   MSU Human Resources:

    1. Applications are reviewed for final course employer approval.
    2. The employee is notified within 15 days (after receipt of the application in MSU HR) if the request has been approved or denied.
    3. All applications are retained in MSU Human Resources.

Verifying successful completion of MSU credit courses:

a.   MSU Human Resources: 
At the end of each semester, MSU HR will verify successful completion of approved MSU course work (a grade of 2.0 or better) through the Registrar’s Office, and complete the processing of the waiver for approved courses.

b.   Employee:
If applicable, taxes on excess of the maximum IRS exclusion of $5,250 in a tax (calendar) year provided for graduate-level, degree-related courses will be withheld from the employee's paycheck(s).

Initiating application for educational assistance/tuition reimbursement (non-credit and non-MSU credit courses):

a.   Employee:

1.  Completes the online application in the Enterprise Business System portal and obtains course authorization from supervisor or the supervisor's manager in that system 30 days prior to the first day of class..

2.  Application routes to MSU HR (after supervisor approval).

b.   Department administrator:

Authorization for course approval and release time is given by supervisor by approving the application in the online system which will automatically route to MSU HR. For MSU non-credit courses offered in the Enterprise Business Systems, the approval is granted electronically.

c.   MSU Human Resources:

    1. Applications are reviewed for final course employer approval.
    2. The employee is notified within 15 days (after receipt of application in MSU HR) if the request has been approved or denied.
    3. All applications are retained in MSU HR.

Applying for reimbursement of non-credit and non-MSU credit courses:

a.   Employee:

    1. Within 15 days of the end of the course or receipt of grades, the employee submits proof of successful course completion for credit courses (a grade of 2.0 or better), incomplete for credit courses, or non-credit courses (a copy of course certificate or Non-Credit Course Certification of Successful Completion form) and course cost (an itemized invoice) to MSU Human Resources using the online application in the  Enterprise Business System portal.
    2. The employee is responsible for presenting verification of successful course completion of courses graded as “Incomplete” within 90 days of the issuance of the “Incomplete”
    3. Reimbursement may be delayed or denied, if proper documentation is not submitted within the appropriate timelines.

b.   MSU Human Resources:

    1. Processes reimbursement for approved non-credit and non-MSU credit courses.
      1. Reimbursement for non-credit courses, degree related undergraduate and graduate level credit courses are processed in Human Resources. Any applicable taxes associated with degree-related graduate level courses will be deducted at that time.
      2. Reimbursement of non-credit and  non-MSU credit courses will be direct deposited provided the employee has payroll direct deposit.  If not, a check will be sent to the employee's work address on record.

Finalizing incomplete and deferred MSU courses;

a.   Employee:

The employee is responsible for presenting verification of successful course completion of courses graded as “Incomplete” within 90 days of the issuance of the “Incomplete.”

b.   MSU Human Resources:

    1. Maintains a file of Incomplete and non-dissertation Deferred courses.
    2. For MSU courses, if the Incomplete is not satisfied within 90 days of the Incomplete, the cost of the waived course is deducted through the Payroll Office.
    3. For non-MSU or non-credit courses, if the incomplete is not satisfied within 90 days of the Incomplete, the course is ineligible for reimbursement.
    4. Verification of Deferred courses must be submitted to MSU HR by the employee within 6 months of the applicable semester, or the cost waived is deducted through the Payroll Office (VARIES: Deferred dissertation credits [899 or 999] are considered successfully completed).

14. Release time: Eligible employees (See section 11) may request release time up to five hours per week to attend credit courses. Eligible employees may also request release time to attend approved non-credit courses. Release time is pro-rated for part time staff. All release time is subject to departmental approval. Release time is not intended to cover non-classroom activities such as travel to and from classes, participation in study groups, independent study, and online classes.

Refer questions to: MSU Human Resources (517-884-0177, rorick@msu.edu)

Revision history:

5/17/16 Removed reference to Employee Self Service (ESS) portal and HR/Payroll portal. 

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