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Some tech employers offer graduate-level tuition reimbursement. Are they worth it?

Yes, you can get a free degree through your job if you work for the right company — with caveats. Here's how it works at 10+ that offer the perk.

Probably not your college experience with employer tuition reimbursement. (Photo Kiera Burton from Pexels)
Being your own boss is great, but there is one advantage to working for a medium to large company — the possibility of free college tuition.

If you work for a company that is a household name, there’s a good chance you’re eligible to have the cost of at least some of your tuition for a graduate or undergraduate degree covered (or, often, reimbursed). That might even include service jobs: If you’re between tech jobs and have picked up enough Uber/Uber Eats runs to qualify, you can get a free degree through a partnership with Arizona University’s online programming.

But here, we’re going to focus on jobs in the tech sector that offer post-graduate degrees that can help you move ahead in your career.

If you’re not sure if the company you work for offers education benefits, check with HR. It’s likely, unless you work for a small business or startup, that there is some kind of tuition benefit.

What to expect from your education benefits

A free college degree through your workplace means you probably won’t be going off to attend your dream school, especially if your dream school has a yearly tuition of $30,000. Or even $10,000.

A standard yearly tuition benefit — what you’ll get if you work for Apple, Oracle or GEICO, for example — is $5,250, which is the maximum you can get without having to pay taxes on it. Generally, this will defray the costs of tuition, not cover it, though if you’re taking just a few credits per semester in an online program, it might.

Considering that you will be working, usually full-time, while earning your degree, online classes are the most common option, and sometimes the only option given, as some education benefits programs are connected to a specific online college or program.

If you already have a bachelor’s degree, be sure to read the fine print before choosing a company if you’re hoping to get your master’s degree paid for. While lots of large companies offer a tuition benefit, some limit it to undergraduate degrees, and some limit the areas you can study.

Companies in the tech sector, including tech-heavy industries such as finance, healthcare and manufacturing, are more likely to offer graduate-level reimbursement than others, with some offering 100% reimbursement for a master’s degree that relates to your job, whether it’s an MBA, MS or other graduate degree relates to your job.

If tuition benefits are important to you, you should make it part of your job search. Research what the company offers before you apply, and ask for specifics in your interview and onboarding.

Notable benefits programs that include graduate degrees

  • Vanguard offers support for MBAs, plus masters of science degrees in IT, information systems, information science or data analytics. Other degrees must be approved and relate to your role at the company.
    • Caveat: You need to get an A or B in your classes to get full reimbursement (but you’d do that anyway, right?)
  • AT&T has a partnership the the University of Notre Dame that allows employees to earn a masters of science degree through its online program.
    • Caveat: You don’t get to attend Notre Dame in person.
  • Boeing offers a generous $25,000 per year to employees to advance their educations, including online graduate degrees. Partners include Stanford University and Villanova University.
    • Caveat: You will be required to pay tax on reimbursement above $5,250.
  • IBM will pay your entire tuition for a graduate degree if it’s related to your job, so long as you successfully complete the program.
    • Caveat: You will have to stay with IBM for two years after receiving your degree.
  • Fandango offers a continuing education stipend, which varies by program and degree type, and can be used for a graduate degree.
    • Caveat: With no set reimbursement level, you can’t be sure how much will be covered (until you ask!).
  • Verizon offers up to $13,250 per year for full-time employees for an online graduate degree from Bellevue University. Through this partnership, Bellevue allows students to put a hold on their account until their reimbursement comes in, so they shouldn’t have to pay anything out of pocket.
    • Caveat: If you’re a part-time employee, your benefit drops to $8,000 per year.
  • Deloitte has a Graduate School Assistance Program that offers full tuition reimbursement for graduate programs at top business schools, along with a technology stipend. This is for full-time in-person graduate school rather than an online program, and employees will temporarily leave their jobs to earn their degree.
    • Caveat: Acceptance is competitive; you must prove yourself for at least two years before eligible.
  • Microsoft reimburses up to $10,000 per year for graduate level degrees that relate to the employee’s job.
    • Caveat: Reimbursement is limited to selected accredited schools in the region where you work.
  • Fidelity reimburses employees 90% of their tuition fees for work-related degrees, up to $10,000 per year.
    • Caveat: Like others on this list, it won’t be tax-free over $5,250.
  • Intel makes huge investments in its employees — up to $50,000 per program for a graduate level degree — and apparently, there is no commitment to stay with the company after the degree is completed.
    • Caveat: You have to be hired by Intel?
  • Wayfair offers tuition assistance for graduate degrees at HR-approved programs. (The employee the company features on its benefits page attended Georgia Tech.)
    • Caveat: The featured employee still had to pay tuition out of pocket, though their costs were greatly reduced with the benefit.
Companies: Vanguard / AT&T / Boeing / Deloitte / IBM / Intel / Microsoft / Verizon

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