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Oversight Lacking On Billions Spent On Tuition Assistance Plans, According To New Study

WATERTOWN, Mass., Dec. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a new Bersin & Associates study, companies have a greater need for highly skilled workers than ever before, yet few effectively manage the money they spend on tuition assistance programs. 

Today, 71 percent of U.S. companies offer tuition assistance to their employees, making it a ubiquitous part of most workers' benefits packages.  The study shows that companies must examine and redesign their programs so that they align closely with talent management strategies, especially in light of the recent economic downturn and rising costs of other benefits.

"The tide is turning for tuition assistance programs.  They can no longer be viewed as the forgotten benefit, but they must be actively managed as a crucial talent development tool. Companies are realizing that the billions of dollars currently spent on tuition assistance can be better managed and more tightly focused on strategic HR initiatives," said Mark Ward, General Manager of EdAssist.  "By doing it right, they can actually save money and increase their ROI at the same time."

In a tuition assistance program, an employer pays all or part of an employee's cost to attend college or university classes, or other professional coursework, which may include both degree and non-degree programs.  It is estimated that corporations invest billions of dollars per year in tuition assistance programs; often spending an average of $5000 per employee.

The study also found an increasing use of partnerships with external tuition assistance management providers and with colleges and universities.  These partnerships help make tuition assistance a more valuable and strategic benefit. 

Approximately 30 to 40 percent of employers provide various types of advisory and resource programs to help their employees make better choices for education and development and to enable them to make better use of their tuition assistance benefit.  The most common types of advisory programs include:

  • Career counseling, which assists employees in evaluating their career goals and identifies ways to leverage their education to achieve career advancement.
  • Educational counseling or providing resources that help identify a university or degree program that best meets an employee's career goals.
  • Budgetary counseling or providing employees with information on loans, scholarships, grants, and other types of financial assistance to cover educational costs not covered by tuition assistance benefits.

Bersin & Associates published the first installment of this report in early 2009 (found here).  The current study is based on a survey of HR professionals at 300 organizations across multiple industries. 

To download a copy of the full study, please go to:

About Bersin

Bersin & Associates is an award-winning provider of proven people strategies that leaders and their organizations need to deliver exceptional business performance.  Our WhatWorks ® research membership gives Fortune 1000 and Global 2000 HR professionals the research-based information and tools they need to drive bottom-line impact for their organizations. 

Members use our insights and tools to design and implement best practice solutions, benchmark against others, and select and implement systems.  A piece of Bersin & Associates research is downloaded every minute during the business day.  More than 5,000 organizations worldwide use our research and consulting to guide their HR, talent and learning strategies.

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