One of the biggest obstacles for people who want a higher education is the cost. College Data reports that the average yearly tuition and fees for the 2020-2021 school year range from $10,560 if you attend a public college (and you are an in-state resident) to $37,650 if you're enrolled at a private college.
Unfortunately, most of us don't have that type of money just lying in our bank accounts. While you may be able to obtain a loan—deferring your payments until you've graduated and are working in your field of choice—another option is employer-sponsored education.
This is when your employer pays for some or all of your educational expenses. If this option isn't currently available, how do you get the business or organization to at least consider footing some of the bill? These three tips can help you make your case.
#1: Highlight the benefits for your employer.
Some companies are employee-centered, meaning that they automatically go to greater lengths for their staff, even if it offers no real value for the company itself. In this case, simply suggesting that they create an employer-sponsored education program may be enough to get the ball rolling.
Others might need a bit more prodding. If your employer falls into the second category, it may help to highlight the benefits this type of program offers the company. Among these benefits are:
- Having employees with new or advanced knowledge and skillsets
- Improved employee productivity and efficiency rates because they have more tools for "getting things done"
- Increased employee longevity; who doesn't want to work for an employer that puts them first?
- More desirable to top talent, making them the company to work for within a specific industry or field
- Tax benefits, such as credits and deductions for funding employee education
The more your employer realizes the value they stand to gain by offering an employer-sponsored education, the easier it is for them to decide to incorporate this type of program into their employee benefits.
#2: Do some of the upfront work.
What would happen if you walked up to your supervisor and said, "I have this great idea but it's going to be a lot of work on your part. Are you in?" Chances are good that you'll be met with a hearty laugh and a solid no.
Now consider this same scenario except, this time, you say, "I have this great idea and I know you're busy so I put together a package outlining how it works, the pros and cons, and answering some of the most common questions. Can I leave this with you and we revisit it later after you've had a chance to look it over?" Now you've hit their sweet spot.
If you do some of the legwork up front, you'll increase the likelihood that you'll be met with a more positive response, even if that response is simply that they'll consider it. So, take some time and research which colleges and universities will partner with your employer. Request information from each and put it together in a clear, concise package.
Additionally, if you have ideas of how to implement and run the program, share them. The more work you do, the less they have to do. Give them your input on things such as:
- How long an employee would have to be with the company before earning this benefit
- How long the employee must stay with the company after taking advantage of employer-sponsored education benefits
- How the education is funded (does the employer pay the school directly or through the employee?)
- When the education is funded (when enrolling in an educational program, upon its completion, or only upon maintaining a certain grade or grade point average?)
- What happens if a course or degree cannot be completed (how is this benefit paid back, if it is?)
#3: Be willing to be part of the solution.
Anyone can go to their employer and say that they want something. But it takes a special employee to step up and say that they are willing to do a bit of extra work in an effort to get what it is they want. In this case, they switch from being viewed as someone who will create more work for the company (the problem) to someone who will do some of the work themselves (the solution).
If your company's decision-maker has questions or wants more information before deciding whether to offer an employer-sponsored education program, be willing to do additional research. If they like the idea but other staff is overloaded with their current work, offer to assist with program design and implementation. Seek to be part of the solution.
Yes, this means that you're going to have more on your own plate. However, if you can get your employer to pay for some or all of your college education, it can be more than worth the time and effort.
It's also a benefit that can help your co-workers and colleagues both today and down the road, so there's that too. You help pave the way for others, giving them access to an education they may not otherwise have access to. How great is that?