myHR: News from Penn's Division of Human Resources

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myHR: January 5, 2011

Stay in the Loop with myHR

Welcome to the first issue of myHR, a bi-weekly e-newsletter that’ll keep you tuned in to the latest Penn Human Resources news, services and programs. You’ll find a new issue in your inbox every other Wednesday.

Whether it’s information to help you plan for your future, support you on the job, or enhance your health and wellbeing, you’ll find what you need to make the most out of your life at Penn.

myHR will also be posted here. We’ll archive each issue so you can refer back to any of the articles at any time.

Let myHR help you maximize the benefits of working at Penn! For more stories, visit the myHR homepage.


Technical Tips…at Your Fingertips

Improve your technical skills with new online workshops. Starting in February, Human Resources is offering a series of webinars that’ll teach you tips and shortcuts for programs like Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Meant for those who already know the basics of working with these programs, the workshops will help you improve your skills and learn more in-depth techniques. You’ll look at real-life scenarios so you can more easily grasp and retain the advanced features of the programs.

Not only do the webinars offer practical tips, but they’re also convenient—you can access them right from your own desktop. Even though you’re not in a classroom, these real-time webinars allow you to interact with the instructor if you have questions.

We’re kicking off our webinar series on February 8 with Managing and Organizing your Email Inbox Using Microsoft Outlook. For details about this and other webinars, visit our online course catalog.


Good News for Graduate Tuition Benefit Users

Are you using Penn’s tuition benefit for graduate level courses? If so, we have good news! In late December, the federal government approved a two-year extension of the tax exemption for graduate tuition benefits. That means you can continue to pursue the education you want without paying more taxes.

As you may know, the current Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax exemption that allows for $5,250 in tax-free graduate tuition benefits was set to expire on December 31, 2010. Had that happened, your entire graduate tuition benefit would have been considered taxable income.

But thanks to Congress’s extension, the first $5,250 of your graduate tuition benefit will continue to be tax-free.

Keep in mind that Penn’s tuition benefit is not changing—it still covers 100% of the tuition, general and technology fees for a maximum of six course units per academic year. For more information about our tuition benefit program, click here.


Take a Fresh Look at Your Retirement Goals

The beginning of a new year is a great time to evaluate your retirement goals. Whether you’re new to retirement planning or a long-time saver, Penn can help you along your way.

What investment choices should I make? How can I maximize my contributions? Are pre-tax or Roth contributions best for me? For help with questions like these, simply set up a free one-on-one consultation with TIAA-CREF or Vanguard. A licensed retirement planning counselor will help you make the decisions that are best for you.

For information on how to set up a retirement counseling session, click here.


Will You Need a Prescription for Aspirin in 2011?

If you’ve been using the Health Care Pre-Tax Expense Account to pay for over-the-counter allergy relievers, heartburn blockers and other drugstore remedies, you just might. As part of the new healthcare reform legislation, you now need a prescription to be reimbursed for over-the-counter medications.

A notable exception to this new rule is insulin, which will still be reimbursable even if purchased without a prescription. In addition, the rule does not apply to non-drug health supplies such as crutches, bandages or blood sugar test kits.

This change is effective for over-the-counter medicines purchased on or after January 1, 2011. For more information, please contact the Penn Benefits Center at 1-888-PENNBEN (1-888-736-6236).