I:01:16 Faculty and Staff Support for Educational Expenses

The Tennessee Board of Regents is committed to the need for the continued professional growth and development of faculty and staff. It considers support for educational expenses of personnel an important vehicle for addressing that need. This program is available subject to funds being budgeted and available within each institution.

I. TYPES OF SUPPORT FOR EDUCATIONAL EXPENSES

There are four programs provided for personnel to further their formal educations. The programs are:

A. Faculty or Administrative/Professional Staff Grant-in-Aid Program. This program is designed to provide tuition or maintenance fees and/or living allowance for an individual who – on an approved leave of absence – is enrolled on a full-time basis in credit courses.

B. Faculty or Administrative/Professional Staff Tuition or Maintenance Fee Reimbursement Program. This program is designed to provide tuition or maintenance fees only for an individual who takes credit courses on a part-time basis – either at his or her own or at another institution – while continuing to work responsibilities at the home institution.

C. Employee Audit Program. This program is designed to provide tuition or maintenance fees only for an individual who takes courses on an audit basis at the home institution while continuing work responsibilities at that institution.

D. Clerical and Support Staff Maintenance Fee Payment Program. This program is designed to provide maintenance fee payment only for an individual who takes credit courses in a degree program and who takes the courses at any Tennessee public institution while continuing work responsibilities at the home institution.
Employees may take non-credit courses that are directly job related at the home institution or another Tennessee public institution. Retirees may participate in programs B, C and D at TBR institutions/schools only.

Undergraduate course tuition paid by the Tennessee Board of Regents institutions and the University of Tennessee system for their employees is eligible for exclusion from the employees' gross annual income, in accordance with Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 117(d). For graduate courses that began after June 30, 1996, tuition will be included in the employee's income as wages. The only exception for excluding graduate tuition from income is for a course that qualifies as "work-related."

Graduate courses are considered work related if the education:

A. Maintains or improves skills required by the individual in his/her employment; or

B. Meets the express requirements of the individual's employer, or the requirement of applicable law or regulations, imposed as a condition to retain the present position or salary.

However, even if the education meets the requirements listed above, the education expenditures are not considered work related if the education:

A. Is required in order to meet the minimum education requirements for qualification in his/her employment; or

B. Qualifies the individual in a new trade or business.

If the supervisor is not sure that the graduate course is work-related, the supervisor should contact the Benefits Section of the Office of Human Resources for assistance in making the determination.

The descriptions below provide relevant features of each program. Exceptions to these provisions can be made upon recommendation of the president and approval by the Chancellor.

II. FACULTY OR ADMINISTRATIVE PROFESSIONAL STAFF GRANT-IN-AID PROGRAM

A. Eligibility. Any full-time faculty member or administrative/professional staff member who has been employed by the institution for two or more years may, upon the approval of the president, be eligible for receipt of a grant-in-aid award. Employees with temporary service immediately preceding regular employment shall receive credit for such service if they qualify for leave accrual and longevity adjustments. The status of an employee on the published first day of classes for each term determines eligibility for participation in this program. Any change in status after the first day of classes shall not affect eligibility for that term or the amount of assistance needed.

B. Criteria. The grant-in-aid shall be awarded on the basis of demonstrated need for further academic development which will ultimately benefit the institution; written justification must be submitted to the President. Grant-in-aid normally will be limited to personnel working toward the doctorate, or other terminal degree. However, requests for aid to pursue degrees below the doctoral level in technical/professional disciplines, and for the training or retraining of administrative/professional staff will be considered. All grant-in-aid should be recommended on the basis of the following priorities:

1. Requests from minority and female personnel,

2. Requests from tenured faculty, and

3. Requests from tenured/non-tenured personnel of departments in which the institution desires further development.

C. Level of Support. Faculty and administrative/professional personnel who have made successful application for grant-in-aid may be compensated with institutional funds for tuition-related fees and monthly living allowances in accordance with the following provisions:

1. Reimbursement of tuition-related fees may not exceed actual maintenance fees or tuition. Tuition-related fees may include maintenance fees, tuition, debt service fees, service charges and incidental fees payable at the time of registration, but shall not include room, board and supplies.

2. Monthly living allowances may not exceed 50% of the grantee's monthly salary. Academic year salaries are to be divided by nine to derive an equated monthly rate.

D. Stipulations. The conditions of a grant-in-aid shall comply with the following minimum requirements:

1. The recipient shall be required to return and be employed by the institution for no less than three months of full-time employment for each month of grant-in-aid awarded. Repayment of time shall commence immediately after completion of the period of study or withdrawal from program. In exchange for reimbursement of allowable expenses, a participant will commit to work for the sponsoring institution or if no appropriate employment is available, at one of the other Tennessee Board of Regents institutions or within the University of Tennessee system.

2. Failure on the part of the recipient to remain employed for the period of time agreed upon in the contract shall result in a financial obligation to the institution based upon the terms of the contract. The contract specifies that if employment is terminated prior to fulfillment of the employment obligation, the final paycheck and check representing the amount of accrued, but unused, annual leave may be withheld as repayment of the financial obligation. If such amounts are insufficient to recoup the amount owed by the employee, the institution has the option of pursuing one of two methods to achieve repayment as stated below:

a. The amount or balance owed shall become an accounts receivable and the institution shall follow the procedure outlined in TBR Guideline B-010, Collection of Accounts Receivable. If payment in full is not obtained, the debt shall be assigned to a collection agency; or

b. The employee will be required to execute a promissory note (Appendix E) acknowledging receipt of the grant-in-aid and containing repayment terms and conditions consistent with the grant-in-aid contract prior to the employee leaving the institution should he/she fail to fully complete the employment requirements of the contract.

c. Summer or short-term employment shall be considered part-time employment in cases where the employee holds an academic year appointment. No part-time employment shall be creditable toward the fulfillment of the contract.

d. No grant-in-aid shall be awarded for a period more than twelve (12) months.

e. In general, a full grant-in-aid will be awarded on a one-time basis.

f. Grant recipients must be placed on an approved leave of absence and enrolled as full-time students during the grant period except where less than full-time is needed to complete the program.

3. Deadline for submission. Requests for grants-in-aid shall be submitted using the form (Appendix A) to the President prior to the beginning of the semester. After approval, the institution may issue and execute the contract (Appendix C) stating to the recipient the conditions under with the grant-in-aid is awarded.

4. Additional Notes.

a. The number of grants-in-aid of each institution shall not exceed three percent (3%) of the number of full-time faculty and administrative/professional staff at the institution at the time the awards are requested.

b. In addition to these guidelines concerning grant-in-aid recommendations, it is recommended that complete materials supporting the individuals' requests be maintained on campus. It further is recommended that each grant recipient be required to provide the President with official grade reports during and upon completion of the grant period. Continual participation is dependent on the recipient's satisfactory progress toward completion of a course of study.

c. Participants may attend public and private institutions of higher education. Requests for grant-in-aid for participants will be reimbursed at the current semester hour rate for that institution.

III. FACULTY OR ADMINISTRATIVE/PROFESSIONAL STAFF TUITION OR MAINTENANCE FEE REIMBURSEMENT PROGRAM

A. Eligibility.

1. Any regular part-time or full-time faculty administrative/professional staff member who has been employed by a TBR institution for at least six months may, upon the approval of the President, be eligible to participate. Employees with temporary service immediately preceding regular employment shall receive credit for such service if they qualify for leave accrual and longevity adjustments.

2. Request for tuition or maintenance fee reimbursement shall be submitted at least two weeks prior to the enrollment (Appendix B). Regular part-time employees may receive a pro-bono portion of assistance based on percentage of contract for employment.

3. Employees who retire with at least ten years of service maintain eligibility under this program.

4. The status of an employee on the published first day of classes for each term determines eligibility for participation in this program. Any change in status after the first day of classes shall not affect eligibility for that term or the amount of assistance received.

B. Criteria for selection. Same as for Faculty or Administrative/Professional Staff Grant-in-Aid program, except for retirees, who must only meet eligibility guidelines based on service described in A.3. above.

C. Level of support. Reimbursement may not exceed actual maintenance or tuition for a maximum of six credit hours per semester or quarter. Tuition-related fees may include maintenance fees, tuition, debt service fees, service charges and incidental fees payable at the time of registration. This maximum does not apply to summer study.

D. Stipulations.

1. The recipient, unless retired, shall be required, after completion of the course or courses, to be employed by the institution for not less than one (1) month of full-time employment for each month of the term of participation in the Faculty or Administrative/Professional Staff Tuition Reimbursement Program.

2. Participants must complete with passing grades all courses in which they enroll under this program in order to take subsequent courses in this program. A grade of Incomplete or withdrawal from a course after the drop/add deadline is not considered as achieving a passing grade. The employee must pay for and successfully complete the same number of semester hours before again being eligible for this program. Exceptions will be made only in cases:

a. Where a course is failed for valid health reasons, or

b. Where another substantial reason has been approved by the President or his/her designee.

3. Except for retirees, courses should be scheduled in counsel with supervisors to assure maintenance of optimum job performance. Courses should be scheduled at times other than during regularly scheduled work assignments unless annual leave or flextime, based on the institution's needs, have been approved.

E. Deadline for submission. Recommendations for Faculty or Administrative/Professional Staff Tuition or Maintenance Fee Reimbursement program shall be submitted to the President prior to each academic term, using the form which appears in Appendix B. A separate contract is not necessary. The institution may provide reimbursement at the time fees are due. However, it is the obligation of the recipient to repay them if course work is not satisfactorily completed. If the employee is required to pay fees when due, fees may be paid in accordance with the provisions of Deferred Payment Plan TBR Guideline B-070, provided a Deferred Payment Plan has been implemented at the institution the employee is attending.

F. Additional Note. It is recommended that complete materials supporting the individuals' request be maintained on campus. It is further recommended that each recipient be required to provide the President with affirmed grade reports for the course(s) taken.

IV. EMPLOYEE AUDIT/NON-CREDIT PROGRAM

A. Eligibility.

1. Any regular full-time or part-time employee, including faculty at a TBR institution/technical center, who has been employed by the institution for at least six months is eligible, with the approval of the President, to participate. Employees with temporary service immediately preceding regular employment shall receive credit for such service if they qualify for leave accrual and longevity adjustments. In addition, contingent upon space availability, retired state employees with 30 or more years of service are eligible to audit courses at state institutions of higher education without charge.

2. Employees who retire with at least 10 years of service immediately preceding retirement maintain eligibility under this program.

3. Regular and temporary employees who have attained age 60 are eligible to participate in this program, regardless of their length of service.

4. The status of an employee on the published first day of classes for each term determines eligibility for participation in this program. Any change in status after the first day of classes shall not affect eligibility for that term or the amount of assistance received.

B. Criteria for selection. Any individual who meets the eligibility criteria may continue to develop his or her skills and knowledge through participation in educational programs that are available on a formal and organized basis.

C. Level of support. The employee may request sponsorship from his or her department or administrative unit for support or maintenance or tuition related fees for courses taken.

D. Stipulations.

1. Employees, in counsel with their immediate supervisors, should limit the number of courses audited so as to maintain an optimum level of job performance.

2. Except for retirees, courses should be scheduled at times other than during regularly scheduled work hours unless annual leave or flextime, based on the institution's needs, have been approved.

3. Course enrollment will be permitted on a "space available" basis.

4. An employee may register only after the formal registration period as defined by the institution.

E. Deadline for submission. Requests shall be submitted on an Employee Audit/Non-Credit Program form (Appendix D) at least two weeks prior to enrollment in the course or courses.

V. CLERICAL AND SUPPORTING STAFF MAINTENANCE FEE PAYMENT PROGRAM

A. Eligibility.

1. This program is available to all regular part-time and full-time clerical and supporting staff members who have been employed for at least six months. Staff members shall be defined as not including faculty, administrators/professional staff, graduate assistants, post-doctoral fellows, or personnel holding faculty rank or status. Regular part-time employees may receive a pro-rata portion of assistance based on percentage of contract for employment. Employees with prior temporary service immediately preceding regular employment shall receive credit for such service if they qualify for leave accrual and longevity adjustments.

2. In addition, employees who retire with at least 10 years of service maintain eligibility under this program.

3. The status of an employee on the published first day of classes for each term determines eligibility for participation in this program. Any change in status after the first day of classes shall not affect eligibility for that term or the amount of assistance received.

B. Criteria for selection. The program has as its general goal to encourage staff members to develop their skills and knowledge through participation in educational programs.

C. Level of support. This program is designed to provide maintenance or tuition-related fees for a maximum of six (6) credit hours per term. Tuition-related fees may include maintenance fees, tuition, debt service fees, technology access fees, service charges and incidental fees payable at the time of registration. The employee will be responsible for application fee and required deposits, laboratory fees, etc.

D. Stipulations.

1. Personnel must meet the requirements for admission and are subject to institutional regulations and academic procedures.

2. Except for retirees, courses should be scheduled at times other than during regularly scheduled work assignments unless annual leave or flextime, based on institution's needs, have been approved.

3. Requests for approval to participate in the Clerical and Support Staff Maintenance Fee Payment Program shall be submitted on a Clerical and Support Staff Maintenance Fee Payment Program form (Appendix F).

4. Participants must complete with passing grades all courses in which they enroll under this program in order to take subsequent courses in this program. A grade of Incomplete or withdrawal after the drop/add deadline is not considered as achieving a passing grade. The employee must pay for and successfully complete the same number of semester hours before again being eligible for this program. Exceptions will be made only in cases:

a. Where a course is failed for valid health reasons, or

b. Where another substantial reason has been approved by the President or his/her designee.

E. Deadline for submission. After the employee has made application and received final acceptance, the employee must submit the request to his or her supervisor two weeks prior to registration. Employees, in counsel with their supervisors, must limit the number of credit hours in which they enroll so as to maintain an optimum level of job performance.

F. Additional note. It is recommended that complete materials supporting individuals' requests be maintained on campus. It is further recommended that each recipient be required to provide the President with affirmed grade reports for the course(s) taken.

APPENDICES A - F

Revisions: March 1, 1989; December 17, 1998.

Cross-references: Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 117(d); TBR Guideline B-010 Collection of Accounts Receivable; TBR Guideline B-070 Deferred Payment Plan.