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Tuition Assistance for Faculty and Staff

The University offers full-time faculty, regular full-time staff and limited service staff the opportunity to pursue knowledge and to advance their personal and professional development by providing tuition assistance for credit courses at the University of Pennsylvania.

The faculty/staff member is responsible for managing his/her tuition benefit in accordance with the policies and procedures below.

Click here to begin using the online tuition management system. With this easy-to-use online system you can apply for tuition benefits, as well as track the status and view the history of requested tuition benefits.

406.1 ELIGIBILITY

All full-time faculty in a benefits-eligible title, regular full-time staff and limited service staff are eligible for tuition assistance benefits in any school of the University of Pennsylvania to which they have been admitted.

All staff members affected by position discontinuation and eligible for benefits in accordance with Policy 628, who were participating in the tuition assistance for faculty and staff benefit at the time of notice of position discontinuation, will receive tuition benefits through the end of the semester in which notice of separation was given.

Retired University faculty and staff who meet University eligibility requirements and retirement criteria, as verified by a retirement specialist within the Division of Human Resources Benefits Office, are eligible for the same faculty and staff tuition benefits for which they were eligible immediately prior to retirement.

A visiting member of the instructional staff is eligible for tuition assistance only if specified in the minutes of the Provost's Staff Conference.

In the case of faculty/staff eligible for the tuition benefit, the following special situations may affect a faculty or staff member’s continued eligibility:

  • Leave of Absence without Pay: Faculty and staff on a leave of absence without pay are not eligible to receive tuition benefits during the leave.
  • Workers’ Compensation: Faculty and staff on workers’ compensation will continue to be eligible for the tuition benefit for one year from the date workers’ compensation began.
  • Long-Term Disability (LTD): Faculty and staff on long-term disability are eligible to receive the tuition benefit for as long as the faculty/staff member continues to qualify for long-term disability per the University of Pennsylvania’s LTD policy.
  • Faculty/staff who are active, but not being paid, may be considered ineligible.
  • Family and Medical Leave (FML) or Short-Term Disability (STD): Faculty and staff on approved family medical leave or short-term disability are eligible to receive the tuition benefits they are normally eligible for as follows:
    • If a faculty/staff member is on approved family medical leave (FML) or short-term disability (STD) and the end date of his/her leave is before the eligibility cutoff date for the semester, the faculty/staff member must return to work on his/her approved FML or STD end date and work past the eligibility cut-off date for the term, or continue to be out on official FML or STD. If the faculty/staff member is put on an unpaid leave of absence after family medical leave or short-term disability has been exhausted, but before the eligibility cut-off date for the term, s/he will not be eligible for tuition benefits.
  • If a faculty/staff member is on approved family medical leave or short-term disability and the end date of his/her leave is after the eligibility cut off date for the term, the faculty/staff member is eligible for the tuition benefit.

The benefits and policies for University of Pennsylvania faculty/staff who work in locations outside of Penn’s main campus may be different from the benefits and policies set forth in this policy. Faculty/staff working outside of Penn’s main campus should contact their Human Resources representatives for more information.

Tuition assistance benefits are administered by the Tuition Office in the Division of Human Resources. The Tuition Office makes final administrative determinations if any questions arise concerning an individual's employment relationship with the University and eligibility for tuition assistance under the program. 

406.2 HIRE/TERMINATION DATES

Eligible faculty/staff whose start date in an eligible position is on or before the cut-off date of a semester may obtain tuition benefits for the semester in which they were hired. Eligible faculty/staff hired after the cut-off date of the semester cannot receive tuition benefits until the start of the following term. Faculty/staff who terminate or become otherwise ineligible on or before the cut-off date of the semester lose their benefit. Faculty/staff whose termination date is after the cut-off date of the semester will receive the benefit through that semester.

The cut-off dates are:

Spring semester: March 1
Summer Session I and 12-week Summer Session: June 1
Summer Session II: July 15
Fall semester: October 15
 

406.3 JOB RESPONSIBILITY

Faculty and staff who elect to take courses and receive tuition benefits under this program must continue to meet the full responsibilities of their University positions. Faculty/staff may attend classes during their normal working hours provided they have received prior approval from their immediate supervisor and have arranged to make up the work and any time away from regular hours of business. A supervisor may deny a faculty/staff member’s request to attend classes during normal working hours if the supervisor determines the faculty/staff member's presence during those hours is essential to the job or the needs of the department.

406.4 TUITION AMOUNT

Eligible faculty and staff may receive tuition assistance covering the tuition, general and technology fees for up to six (6) course units per academic year (managed on a term-by-term basis) for credit courses offered by Penn and Math 101. Tuition assistance will be provided for a maximum of two (2) course units in both the fall and spring semesters and two (2) course units over the University’s summer terms (which can be taken in any combination over the entire summer). Course units cannot be accrued or carried over. Some courses are more than one course unit. No fees are covered other than those stated above.

The benefit does not cover fees or financial penalties associated with dropped courses or courses from which the student withdraws. Tuition, general and technology fees, as well as any financial penalties incurred for courses dropped after your educational program's official "course selection" period (usually ending approximately two weeks into a semester) are not covered by the tuition benefit. You should take note of your program's deadline to drop a course with no financial obligation or consult with your educational program about their course selection period before enrolling in courses. If you drop or withdraw after the course selection period, you’re responsible for 50% to 100% of the charges on your student account. Any benefit payments made for courses that are dropped, or from which you withdraw, will be retracted at the end of the term, leaving a balance on your student account. You’ll then receive a bill from Student Financial Services in the next billing cycle.

If you receive a refund of a full or partial tuition benefit payment or if your student account contains a credit resulting from a tuition benefit payment, you must return the payment to Student Financial Services and/or notify the tuition benefit office immediately. Under no circumstances can any Penn tuition benefit that exceeds the eligible charges be retained by a faculty/staff member. Failure to return refunded benefits to the University is in violation of the University’s tuition benefit policy and will result in the University taking appropriate disciplinary and collection actions.

If you enroll in an executive or full-time program that doesn’t calculate tuition on a per-course-unit basis, you’ll still receive the coverage as outlined above. The tuition benefit office will calculate the benefit by using the per-course-unit tuition rate from the most closely related program that calculates tuition on a per-course unit basis. The program/rate used is determined at the sole discretion of the Tuition Benefit Office.

406.5 APPLYING FOR BENEFITS

To apply for tuition benefits, use the online tuition system. You should request payment as soon as you have been accepted into a Penn program or as soon as you have registered for courses. The latest point at which you should submit your request for payment is upon receipt of your first billing statement for the term from Student Financial Services. Application for benefits must be completed for every semester in which you wish to request the benefit.

You can request payment as soon as our office opens the system to the term, but the latest you can submit a request for payment is as follows:

Semester System Opens to Requests Deadline for Submitting Requests
Spring November 1 March 15
Summer Session I and
12-week Summer Session
April 1 June 15
Summer Session II April 1 August 15
Fall June 1 November 15

Tuition benefits are contingent upon timely payment requests using the online system. Failure to file for benefits in a timely manner may result in the application of late charges to your bill for which you are responsible. Any request submitted after the deadline above will not be approved.

You are responsible for monitoring your student bill for balances and assume full responsibility for the entire bill until the benefit payment has been applied. Resulting balances due to fees not covered by the benefit such as late fees, program fees, lab fees or balances due to withholding are your responsibility.

406.6 TAX LIABILITY

Faculty/staff are fully responsible for any tax liability incurred as a result of these benefits being treated as taxable income to the faculty/staff at any time. The University may report the benefit amount as income to any taxing authority and withhold taxes from such benefit amounts or from the faculty/staff member’s other salary income.

Faculty/staff members enrolled in a program classified at the graduate level can exclude up to $5,250 from your taxable income each calendar year. This exclusion has been renewed by Congress through the year 2012. Anything you receive beyond $5,250 is treated as taxable income and the University withholds the taxes from your benefit, as described below.

If you’re using the tuition benefit for a program classified as graduate, any applicable taxes are withheld directly from the benefit using a tax rate prescribed by the IRS, and the net amount is awarded to the student as the benefit. The student will then be left with a balance on his/her student account that must be paid within the deadlines set by the University’s Student Financial Services Office. Both the gross tuition amount subject to taxes and the taxes withheld are reported to the IRS on form W-2 as a part of the faculty or staff member's earnings and taxes paid. The taxpayer is responsible for making appropriate W-4 adjustments, if desired. The taxpayer is also responsible for settling his/her tax liability on year-end tax filing. For more information on the taxability of graduate tuition benefits, click here.

406.7 PROGRAM PARTICIPATION

In order to take courses at the University of Pennsylvania, faculty/staff must apply, as would any outside candidate, and be accepted into the Penn program of interest. Eligibility for the tuition benefit does not confer acceptance into a Penn program.

Faculty/staff accepted into a program at Penn are considered students of Penn and are thus bound by all program and University rules and regulations. Faculty/staff may be limited in their access to certain programs by educational program regulations such as those requiring full-time status or program/course pre-requisites or restrictions. Educational program regulations are outside the scope or management of the Tuition Benefit Office and should be thoroughly researched by the faculty/staff member before embarking on any course of study.

406.8 HEALTH INSURANCE

The University requires full-time students to maintain medical insurance with coverage for inpatient care and catastrophic illness and injury. Student Health Services will automatically enroll and bill full-time students for the Penn Student Insurance Plan if they do not submit a waiver each school year showing that they have other health insurance. This includes faculty and staff members working at Penn. If you have health coverage through Penn’s benefits program or through another source (e.g., spouse’s benefits program), you must submit a waiver to Student Health Services each school year. Please refer to the Student Health Services website for more information (www.vpul.upenn.edu/shs/). 



Policy Number: 406
Effective Date: 04/05/2012
Supersedes Policy Number(s): 406 (08/15/95, 07/01/97, 07/01/2004, 05/26/2005, 11/02/2005, 04/09/2007, 11/01/2008, 4/11/2011)
Applicability:  Full-time Faculty, Regular Full-time and Limited Service Staff
Cross-reference:
Policy 407, Policy 408, Policy 409, Policy 628

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