How to Speak to Your Employer About Tuition Reimbursement 

Deciding to attend graduate school is a worthwhile but weighty endeavor. Not only will you be completing coursework while continuing your current role, but you’ll also be agreeing to the financial commitment that comes with obtaining a graduate degree. While it may feel like a lot to juggle, consider the benefits associated with a new credential: You’re learning a new skillset that’ll equip you for a more advanced role in engineering and a potentially higher salary—and you’re earning a shiny new graduate credential that will help you to stand out amongst the competition. 

What if you could make the juggling a little easier by removing tuition costs from the equation? In the current landscape, it’s more common than ever for employers to reimburse their employees for attending graduate school and expanding their knowledge and abilities. If your employer doesn’t have an established reimbursement policy in place, how do you speak to your employer about tuition reimbursement? 

Worry not. With the right tools in place, you’ll feel confident and prepared when talking with your employer about funding your graduate education. Take it step-by-step via our helpful list below: 

Step 1: Know Your Worth 

Recognizing your value in the company is good for more than just a confidence boost. It also gives you a compelling list of reasons why it’s beneficial for your employer to assist in your tuition expenses. Before scheduling a meeting with your manager, consider the answers to the following questions: 

  • How long have you worked for the company? 
  • What are some of your biggest accomplishments in your current role? 
  • How long do you plan to work for this business? 
  • Would there be any lasting consequences for the company if you no longer worked there? 

Step 2: Establish a List of Benefits for You and Your Employer 

From your standpoint, one of the biggest benefits of tuition reimbursement is that it offers you a substantially more cost-effective solution than if you were funding your own education. However, what advantages will this agreement lend to your company? Some of the typical perks that your employer can expect to benefit from include: 

  • Gaining new skills and knowledge
    While in school, you’ll gain advanced training that you can use on the job, adding value to the business. 
  • Increasing your loyalty to the company
    After receiving financial assistance from your employer, you’re more likely to remain working for them for an extended period. 
  • Saving money on recruitment costs
    Paying for continuing education often costs an employer less money than it would to recruit, hire and train a new employee. 

Step 3: Embrace Your Ambitions 

Of course, discussing numbers and figures only goes so far. An important part of your pitch will be appealing to their emotions by explaining your career goals and passions—and how going to school will help you achieve those dreams. 

Step 4: Establish a Sample Agreement 

Once you feel confident with your pitch, put together a sample agreement to share with your manager during your meeting. This agreement serves as a non-binding contract between you and your employer and allows you to clarify your intentions and work through any questions they may have before officially agreeing to employer tuition reimbursement. 

Consider including the following key aspects in your agreement: 

  • Your required GPA throughout the program 
  • How long you’ll remain with the company after completing the courses 
  • How and when funds will be reimbursed or paid 
  • The amount you need (or they’ll allot) for tuition reimbursement 

Step 5: Practice Your Pitch (Then Practice Some More) 

While having a general idea of what you want to say is helpful, nothing beats practicing what you want to say out loud. We’re not suggesting you need to memorize every single word, but reviewing your discussion points aloud will make you feel more confident, composed and convincing on the day of your meeting. 

Step 6: Be Open to Compromise 

When the day has come and you’ve confidently laid everything on the line to your employer, they may need some time to decide how much money they can allot toward your tuition expenses. If the amount they offer is less than what you requested, remember that whatever amount they offer is getting you one step closer to hanging that graduate credential on your wall. They may even be willing to offer other benefits, like offering you additional time off for studying or paying for your textbooks. 

Begin Your Graduate School Journey at the University of Wisconsin–Madison 

When you’re ready to take the first step toward earning your graduate credential, look no further than the University of Wisconsin–Madison. We offer multiple engineering graduate programs to choose from based on your current role and future career goals. In addition, most of the courses in our programs can be completed online, so you can continue your current position while working toward a graduate degree or capstone certificate. 

Not sure which engineering program is right for you? Click on the links below to learn more about each of our programs: 

Whether your employer agrees to your request for tuition reimbursement or you opt for financial aid, UW–Madison’s graduate engineering programs offer future Badgers plenty of perks, including: 

  • Smaller class sizes (all the better to get to know your fellow classmates and professors) 
  • Flexibility to complete your coursework when it’s convenient for your schedule 
  • Frequent start dates, including spring, summer* and fall 

After deciding which program aligns with your goals, complete an application and become part of UW–Madison’s quickly expanding virtual family. 

*Not all programs offer courses in the summer semester.