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Many colleges offer tuition benefits to children of employees

While skyrocketing college costs can deter many from pursuing higher education, parents like Heater are seeking jobs with institutions that offer tuition breaks for their kids.

“With how expensive college has gotten, it is something that probably a lot of people are trying to take advantage of,” Jacob Channel, senior economist at LendingTree and a student aid expert, told CNBC.

While these tuition remission programs have existed for years, they’re gaining more attention as Americans look for alternatives to taking on massive student loans that can leave them with mountains of debt. Over 43 million Americans are burdened with federal student loan debt, with an average balance of $37,088 per borrower, according to the Education Data Initiative.

CNBC says 90% of colleges and universities offer such benefits to children of full-time employees, citing data from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.

And it’s not just teachers and faculty who are able to score discounts.

“We’ve got everyone from facilities crews to police officers to all sorts of trades and industries. We’re always looking for great talent,” Jeff Herring, chief human resources officer at the University of Utah, told KSL Newsradio.

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How do these tuition benefit packages work?

These programs can differ between institutions, but some offer as much as 100% off in tuition coverage, according to CNBC, and don’t restrict the number of credit hours or classes that the beneficiaries can take. Some may even allow beneficiaries to apply their benefits to other colleges as well.

About half of these institutions include a waiting period before the benefits kick in. For example, Heater had to work four years at the University of Dayton to score the maximum tuition break for her children, but could have received 45% off if she had only been there two years and 70% off after three years.

Of course, there can be some additional caveats as well, including maintaining certain admission requirements.

And just like with any education benefits offered by an employer, the Internal Revenue Service says once the amount exceeds $5,250 annually, you’ll have to pay taxes on the excess to Uncle Sam (although there may be some exceptions).

“While the tax won’t offset the benefit of the waiver, it is still something to keep in mind so you aren’t blindsided by a tax bill,” Channel told CNBC.

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About the Author

Serah Louis

Serah Louis

Reporter

Serah Louis is a reporter with Moneywise.com. She enjoys tackling topical personal finance issues for young people and women and covering the latest in financial news.

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