What Professions Pay For College Tuition?

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MINIMIZING STUDENT DEBT WITH TUITION REIMBURSEMENT, PAID TRAINING AND MORE

Per the Institute for College Access and Success, seven in 10 college graduates had student loan debt in 2014, averaging nearly $29,000 each. The number of students who have debt continues to increase, as does the actual average; in 2016 the Wall Street Journal reported the average amount of debt per college graduate had increased 28 percent, to just over $37,000. But students don’t have to follow this intimidating trend. In addition to common financial aid options like loans, grants and scholarships, there are many other ways to help minimize and even zero-out the cost of college. Explore some lesser known ways to pay college tuition, including tuition reimbursement and paid training programs.MEET THE EXPERT

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Professions that Pay You Back

While some companies have recently jumped on board to offer tuition reimbursement programs, others have been doing it for a long time. Many industries and career options have corresponding federal programs that have historically offered tuition assistance benefits. Health care, legal services and education programs are good examples of industries that have established a commitment to paying back students for their studies. Check out some specific programs that help students recoup tuition costs below.

medical-kitHEALTH CARE

FIELDSEXAMPLE JOBDEGREE
REQUIRED
SAMPLE
REIMBURSEMENT OPTION
REIMBURSEMENT
DETAILS
NURSINGRegistered NurseAssociate or Bachelor’sNurse Corps offers a loan repayment program for registered nurses working in underserved hospitals or clinics.– 60 percent of loan repaid for two years of service– Additional 25 percent of loan repaid for third year of service
BEHAVIORAL HEALTHFamily TherapistMaster’s or DoctorateState Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) is a federally funded program allowing states to provide loan repayment to primary care providers.– The SLRP requires matching funds from the state applicant and administration of the program by a state agency– Eligibility and repayment amounts vary by state
DENTISTRYOral SurgeonDoctorate (or Doctor of Dental Surgery in final year of school)Students to Service Loan Repayment Program offers up aid to medical or dental students in their final year of school– Earn up to $120,000 for student loans– Commitment of three years to a site in a Health Professional Shortage Area
MEDICAL DOCTORPediatricianDoctorate (or Doctor of Medicine in final year of school)National Health Service Corps offers tax-free loan repayment assistance to health-care providers working in underserved hospitals or clinics.– Earn up to $50,000 toward student loans– Two-year commitment

booksEDUCATION

FIELDSEXAMPLE JOBDEGREE
REQUIRED
SAMPLE
REIMBURSEMENT OPTION
REIMBURSEMENT
DETAILS
TEACHINGElementary School TeacherBachelor’sThe Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is provided by the U.S. Department of Education for teachers working in schools with substantial numbers of low income children.– Loan Forgiveness or Cancellation options– Teachers eligible after five years of service– Amount of reimbursement depends on factors such as loan type and job assignment
Middle School TeacherBachelor’sTeach for Texas offers reimbursement for teachers who work in underserved areas. Similar state-specific programs are available around the nation.– $2,500 available for four years– School population must be 75% economically disadvantaged students or have teaching shortages in fields like ESL, Math, Special Education or Science
Health Professions FacultyMaster’sThe Faculty Loan Repayment Program is offered for faculty members from disadvantaged backgrounds through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.– Faculty members must have an eligible health professions degree or certificate– $40,000 for two years of service

weight-balanceLEGAL SERVICES

FIELDSEXAMPLE JOBDEGREE
REQUIRED
SAMPLE
REIMBURSEMENT OPTION
REIMBURSEMENT
DETAILS
LAWLawyer for the ACLUDoctoratePublic Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program– Forgives balances on direct loans after 120 (ten years) monthly payments
Public Interest LawyerDoctorateLoan repayment assistance programs (LRAPs) through states or law schools, such as the Columbia Law LRAP for students interested in a career in public service.– School or state provides LRAP loans to Law Students– Loans are gradually forgiven when students work in public interest for more than three years.
Paralegal Continuing EducationCertificate or AssociateThough unlike other professions, paralegals are typically not reimbursed for their initial schooling, but private law firms, such as Whitfield & Eddy or Perkins & Coie offer their paralegals tuition reimbursement for continuing education programs.– Rules and regulations vary by firm– Entry-level employees may finish a law degree at the firm’s expense in exchange for service or a promotion within the firm– Benefits might include paid time off to study and complete the Bar Exam

83 percent of companies on the “Forbes Top 100 Companies to Work For” list offer tuition reimbursement or professional development programs. Some companies offer 100 percent reimbursement, while others offer partial reimbursement.

Source: Fortune Magazine

Work that Pays for School

Many college students have part- or full-time jobs to help them pay their way through school, but many don’t realize some employers also offer added benefits of tuition assistance or reimbursement programs in addition to wages. Some well-known companies offer employees help, not just by hiring them, but also by reimbursing them for courses they take in pursuit of a degree, especially when that degree is related to their job or a future position with the company. Read on to learn about some of the businesses that help students through tuition assistance and reimbursement for their college degree.

ANN, Inc.

Retail IndustryOperates clothing brands like Ann Taylor, LOFT and Lou & Grey

Amount of Reimbursement:Full-time

Part or Full Time?Full-time

Details

AT&T

Telecommunications IndustryProvides internet and telephone services

Amount of Reimbursement:Varies

Part or Full Time?Depends on eligibility

Details

Bank of America

Financial IndustryProvides financial services including banking, credit cards, mortgages and loans

Amount of Reimbursement:$5,250

Part or Full Time?Full-time

Details

Barnes and Noble

Retail IndustryBookseller and café operator, also operates a publishing company, Sterling Publishing Co.

Amount of Reimbursement:Varies

Part or Full Time?Full-time

Details

Best Buy

Retail IndustryComputer, electronic and home appliance retailer, also operates Geek Squad computer repair and service

Amount of Reimbursement:$3,500 for undergraduate and $5,250 for graduate coursework

Part or Full Time?Full-time employees working minimum of 32 hours a week

Details

Boeing

Aerospace IndustryManufacturer of commercial jetliners, defense, space and security systems

Amount of Reimbursement:$3,000

Part or Full Time?Both

Details

Disney

Entertainment IndustryA motion picture, sports and television media company, also operates Disney theme parks and resorts

Amount of Reimbursement:Varies

Part or Full Time?Full-time

Details

Google

Internet Technology IndustrySearch engine and internet technology company, operates systems like AdWords, YouTube and GMail

Amount of Reimbursement:Varies

Part or Full Time?Full-time

Details

The Home Depot

Retail IndustryHome improvement and supplies superstore chain

Amount of Reimbursement:Salaried: $5,000 per year. Full-time hourly: $3,000 per year. Part-time hourly: $1,500 per year.

Part or Full Time?Both

Details

Starbucks

Retail IndustrySpecialty coffee and tea retailer

Amount of Reimbursement:Full tuition towards an online bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University

Part or Full Time?20 or more hours a week

Details

Target

Retail IndustryMass merchandiser and grocery store

Amount of Reimbursement:Varies

Part or Full Time?Varies

Details

UPS

Shipping IndustryPackage delivery, supply chain management solution and global logistics company

Amount of Reimbursement:An average of $1,600 per student

Part or Full Time?Both

Details

Walgreens

Retail IndustryPharmacy, health and well-being stores

Amount of Reimbursement:$2,500 annually for pharmacy school

Part or Full Time?Both

Details

Wells Fargo

Finance IndustryProvides financial services including banking, credit cards, mortgages and loans

Amount of Reimbursement:Up to $5,000 annually

Part or Full Time?Full

Details

Since 2010, student loan debt is the second-highest form of debt for U.S. households. Only mortgages are higher; credit cards and auto payments are lower. Source: National Conference of Bar Examiners, Student Loan Debt

The Benefits of Tuition and Training Programs

It’s obvious that tuition assistance and reimbursement programs are positive for aspiring college students, but why would an employer want to pay for their worker to attend school? Understanding the benefits from both sides of the spectrum can help students get a better idea about the long-term goals of a company and the culture they aim to build for their employees. Take a look at some of the biggest benefits for both students and employers below.

VS

STUDENT BENEFITSEMPLOYER BENEFITS
Gain work and educational experience at the same timeCompanies who offer their employees tuition reimbursement or training are giving students the chance to learn advanced skills they can apply to their work.Return on investmentA 2016 analysis of tuition reimbursement programs at Cigna Corporation revealed a 129 percent return on investment. Program participants were 10 percent more likely to be promoted and 8 percent more likely to stay at the company, thus reducing the company’s management and recruiting costs.
Less financial stress, higher levels of productivityA 2016 PwC study showed 28 percent of U.S. workers spent time dealing with finances during work hours, impacting their overall productivity. That’s up from 20 percent in 2015. Students who have a plan for how to save on or recuperate their tuition costs can contribute more hours to their work.Employee loyaltyEmployees who are offered tuition reimbursement or training programs are less likely to leave their work.
Opens opportunities for higher education where previously unattainableMany students may not attend college because of financial constraints. Tuition assistance and reimbursement programs further educate students who may not have had the financial means to attend college otherwise.More educated employees for higher level productionHaving more college educated employees translates into having a more knowledgeable and functional staff. The Lumina Foundation says by 2020, two-thirds of jobs in America will require some form of higher education.

Sources: Builder MagazineLumina Foundation

Students can defer payment of a loan by continuing education. Loans are supposed to be paid off six months after graduation; however, students who go on to advanced degree programs can wait to pay loans until their education is complete, when they may have higher chances of earning more money.

College Dreams vs. Schemes

Earn While You Learn

The cost of a college education can be very intimidating to potential students. From tuition and housing to books and fees, many students — especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds — may be too financially overwhelmed to even consider going to college. However, there are no-cost or low-cost tuition, aid and training programs that can open up college opportunities for those who may not be able to afford a college degree. But students beware, there are also some scams and schemes to watch out for; get more details on both below.

DEGREE TRAINING & WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS

CAREER & DEGREE TRAINING

  • ApprenticeshipUSA Career/Occupation: Varies, ApprenticeshipUSA is a search tool for employment opportunities within companies that offer pay-as-you-train careers within a variety of industries. In many cases, the employer will also provide tuition reimbursement for continuing education to employees who want to earn associate or bachelor’s degrees in their field. Students can search by state to see specific opportunities in their area.
  •  Job Corps Career/Occupation: Varies, Funded and administered through the U.S. Department of Labor, Job Corps is an academic and vocational program for people aged 16 to 24. It targets at-risk youth and adults, and aids in training and job placement after students complete their education programs. Students can earn up to a bachelor’s degree through certain Job Corps programs. 
  • MyNextMove.org Career/Occupation: Registered Apprenticeships, A web resource provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, MyNextMove outlines registered apprenticeship positions by career. Some apprenticeships require prior education, while others provide on the job and earn while you learn training. Careers include work in fields like engineering, computers and technology, healthcare, business and financial services, legal aid, skilled trades and more.
  • Veterans On-the-Job Training & Apprenticeship Program Career/Occupation: Union Programs, Apprenticeships Veterans interested in learning a trade or skill can take advantage of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on-the-job training and apprenticeship Program. Most veterans are paid a salary during training, and at the end of the contracted training period are granted journeyman status. Potential occupations include firefighting, skilled trades, hotel management and more.

PRIVATE PAID TRAINING PROGRAMS

  • Accenture Veteran Technology Training Program Career/Occupation: Software Engineering Associate, A program designed especially for military veterans, Accenture offers the Java programming language training needed to become an entry-level Software Engineering Associate for free. When veterans complete the training program they interview for a full-time position with Accenture. 
  • DaVita STAR Program Career/Occupation: Patient Care Technician, Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse With offices nationwide, DaVita offers full-time paid training opportunities for entry-level Patient Care Technicians. With a combination of hands-on patient care in kidney dialysis treatment and classroom work, candidates complete the program ready to work full-time at a DaVita Dialysis Center in their region. The company also offers paid training programs for RN and LPN school grads.
  • Hall Ambulance EMT Academy Career/Occupation: Emergency Medical Technician, Paramedic A California based EMT service, Hall EMT Academy recruits are full-time employees that work both in the field and classroom to learn everything needed to earn an EMT certificate. Hall also offers a paid Paramedic training program at Bakersfield College for employees interested in advancing their careers. EMTs are paid while they complete the program, and the cost of the program itself is also covered by the company.
  •  Ruder-Finn Executive Training Program Career/Occupation: Public Relations, Assistant Account Executive This program is for recent college graduates interested in breaking into the fast-paced industry of public relations. Offered at Ruder-Finn’s New York City headquarters, Executive Trainees work full time while attending classes and participating in other educational activities. Many program participants are hired on as full-time Assistant Account Executives after completing the program. 
  • Walgreens Pharmacy Technician Program Career/Occupation: Pharmacy Technician Accredited by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists, the Walgreens Pharmacy Technician Training Program offers a national certification from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. This paid, hands-on training program also prepares students for career advancement opportunities within the company. Eligibility requirements vary by state.

STUDENT EMPLOYMENT ———–NATIONWIDE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

  • Federal Work-Study Program Career/Occupation:Varies, Students may be employed by their schools, federal, state or local public agencies, private non-profit organizations or a private for-profit organization that participate in FWS. Students receive hourly pay, at least minimum wage, that is generally paid half by the employer and half by the FWS program. There are 3,400 member institutions across the country. 
  • CareerOneStop “GetMyFuture” Career/Occupation:Varies, Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, CareerOneStop provides career, training and job search resources for young people. From help applying for college to entrepreneurial tips and job postings, “GetMyFuture” is an all-encompassing career information and support program.
  • Independent Living Centers, By State Career/Occupation:Varies, Specializing in supporting individuals with disabilities, Independent Living Centers can provide local job training information for aspiring students. This directory provides a state-by-state lookup, simply click the state to see a list of local Independent Living Centers in the area. 
  • Workforce Investment Act, By State Career/Occupation:Varies, The WIA was passed in 1998 through the US Department of Labor, and it federally funds programs in each state. For instance, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has programs that educate and assess careers, ready employees for employment, and offer support services.

STATE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

  • California Community Colleges Economic and Workforce DevelopmentCareer/Occupation:Varies, CCCEWD serves business and industry by incentivizing companies to bring workforce development programs to their employees. The program targets industry sectors that are high-growth to help meet regional workforce needs across the state, including healthcare, small businesses, information and communication technology and global trade and logistics. 
  • California, Los Angeles County Healthcare Workforce Development Program Career/Occupation:Healthcare, Specific to Los Angeles County, the Healthcare Workforce Development Program works to ensure that the Department of Health Services and its partners have a skilled workforce. The program is available to people who are already in a full-time DHS position and the cost of tuition and books is covered. 
  • CareerSourceFlorida Career/Occupation:Varies, CareerSouce has many different sites and locations for different areas of the state. It awards grants to employers and has training and educational services for career seekers. It works through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
  • Nevada JobConnect Career/Occupation:Varies, Nevada JobConnect is the state’s network that connects business with employees and employees with jobs, education and training. Job seekers can find apprenticeship programs and approved training providers, all in the one-stop-shop model’s website.
  • New York City Teaching Fellows Career/Occupation:Master’s level Teacher Education, To help recruit qualified professionals and train teachers, this training fellowship is for bachelor’s degree holders in Elementary Secondary, Special and Bilingual Education. The $12,000 licensure plus master’s program cost is divided between a school district and the candidate, with the district paying $8,000. The program is highly competitive, with around 17,000 applicants each year. 
  • Texas Workforce Solutions Career/Occupation:Varies, This directory from the Texas Workforce Commission helps connect aspiring students to career development services across Texas. These Workforce Solutions offices specialize in helping people in finding training programs and assisting them as they explore career options.
  • Washington Opportunity Grants Career/Occupation:One year of school plus a certificate, careers vary, This Washington state program helps low-income students get set up for a high-wage, high-demand career, like medical technicians or law assistants.
  • Washington, Postsecondary Technical Education WorkFirst ProgramCareer/Occupation:Varies, This Washington state program serves high school graduates that want to attend community colleges or technical colleges. Most of the accepted applicants come from underprivileged backgrounds. 
  • West Philadelphia Skills InitiativeCareer/Occupation:Varies, As part of the University City District economic vitality program, the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative partners with local employers to curb unemployment and develop workforce training programs. WPSI works with businesses to fund training and mentoring programs that provide job opportunities in a variety of careers, such as the Certified Medical Assisting.

VOCATIONAL & SKILLED TRADE PROGRAMS Like the above companies that offer students wages for work while they learn, there are many companies that offer on-the-job-training in vocational and skilled trade fields that don’t explicitly require a degree, but do require extensive or specialized training. Many of these jobs include entry-level healthcare — home health aides, physical and occupational therapy aides and assistants — and specialized trade positions like mechanics, carpenters and commercial truck drivers. Click below for more information on these job training opportunities:

LEARN MORE ABOUT VOCATIONAL & TRADE SCHOOL PROGRAMS

Avoiding the Scams

As if prepping for school weren’t difficult enough, learners exploring paid-training program options should also be aware of groups that take advantage of those eager to earn while they learn. Whether it’s blatant deception in a job offering or a program with unrealistic guidelines, applicants should get to know the red flags as they go through the application process. Learn how to spot the scams and schemes that can cost valuable time and effort, as well as money, and get tips on confirming how to identify quality paid-training opportunities below.

COMMON RED FLAGS

The Job that Doesn’t Actually Exist

Scammers often go after people looking for honest tuition reimbursement and paid training opportunities in the same places reputable companies do: online job advertisements. They will often look legitimate, complete with real web sites for eager employees to explore. The red flag should go up if they start asking an applicant for “fees” for expenses before a position or training begins. Here are some examples:

JOB PLACEMENT GUARANTEES

The promise of a job is enticing, but career-minded individuals should watch out for programs that ask students to pay up-front for training. These employers often “guarantee” a job upon program completion, with little specific detail on what that job might actually be. If an employer says they have a job waiting, but requires an applicant to pay for certifications, training materials or other expenses, steer clear. Honest employers will offer these services as part of their training programs.

OVERSEAS OPPORTUNITIES

While there are plenty of reputable job training programs that offer study and training opportunities abroad, there are also scammers who can get personal information from resumes posted online to send overseas employment offers for positions that don’t actually exist. Often times applicants are directed to a paid travel service or asked for up-front travel related costs, such as passport or visa fees. One should not send money or credit card information to any employer without absolute proof that the job or program is legitimate.

PREVIOUSLY UNDISCLOSED GOVERNMENT JOBS

General federal government or postal jobs are not top-secret. Scam sites will sometimes list seemingly attractive training and government career programs as “previously undisclosed” positions, making them all the more enticing. All federal positions, including postal worker positions, that are open to the public can be found on USAJobs.gov.

“Too Good to be True” Marketing Cues

Does a specific program or college tout what seems like an unrealistically high graduation rate or guarantee job placement after program completion? Be wary of deceptive marketing tactics that make a program seem too good to be true. The U.S. Department of Education’s Student Aid Enforcement Unit was formed in 2016 to protect students by examining these marketing ploys and punishing colleges who inflate their numbers. While the government is working to determining fraudulent practices among higher education institutions, students should also be on alert for independent programs that use these cues:

FOR-PROFITS AND INFLATED PROMISES

Higher education and training programs may try to persuade students to enroll with job-placement promises or graduation guarantees. Many of these are for-profit or non-accredited education programs. Seeking college programs that are accredited can help prevent students from falling victim to deceptive marketing practices. Learn more about why accreditation is important below:

Learn More

BAD GRAMMAR? PROBABLY A SPAMMER

Online postings, email messages or marketing materials that include spelling errors or poor use of grammar are often a major indicator of fraudulent offers.

Programs with Sky-High Expectations

Many companies who offer legitimate tuition reimbursement also have strict requirements and guidelines. While this isn’t necessarily a blatant scheme, guidelines that seem overly-strict can be a red flag. Applicants should carefully consider all requirements and responsibilities before signing up for any paid-training or tuition reimbursement program, otherwise they may end up having to pay back money a company has given or be locked into a service or other commitment they didn’t bargain for.

From 2014 to 2015, $31.4 billion in debt was accumulated from students paying for graduate and professional schools. According to Access Group President Christopher P. Chapman, these loans accounted for 35 percent of all students loans given that school year.

Source: National Conference of Bar Examiners, Student Loan Debt

Ways to Save When Continuing Education

According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person will have between 11 and 12 jobs in their lifetime. This doesn’t necessarily mean different careers, but rather different jobs at different companies. As mentioned, employers that offer continuing education benefits as a way to move up are often able to recruit higher quality, more motivated employees for longer amounts of time. Continuing education doesn’t necessarily mean earning an advanced degree — it can also include certifications, online lifestyle or specialized subject courses, or a new specialization within a field. Here are some suggestions on ways to save.

Accelerated Programs

Part-time education options can give students more schedule flexibility, enabling them to work and earn money while simultaneously going to school. Accelerated programs help students graduate faster, potentially saving a year or more in tuition and fees.

LEARN MORE

Create a Budget

From simply tracking expenses to getting more creative about spending, there are all sorts of ways to budget to help save money while earning a degree.

LEARN MORE

Get Creative

From Crowdfunding and other loan alternatives to scholarships, tax deductions or credits and more, there are many conventional and unconventional resources designed to help students save money.

LEARN ABOUT

Ways Schools Help Students Save

Universities and colleges have financial aid offices whose sole purpose is helping students attend school at a discounted rate. Each institution, and the individual colleges and departments within, often have work study programs, tuition remission, grant-in-aid and often good neighbor alliances and discounts that help mitigate tuition costs outside of traditional scholarship, loans and grants. All students should explore these options as they are often substantial methods of aid.

ProgramWhat is it?How to learn more?Example
Reciprocity / Good Neighbor DiscountsOut-of-state tuition can be much more expensive than in-state tuition. There are consortiums of schools across multiple states who extend discounted tuition to students from partner states, often called reciprocity or good neighbor discounts.The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrations (NASFAA) has information on reciprocity organizations across the country.The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education is a large group of states that includes North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and all the states west of them, including Alaska, Hawaii and the Pacific territories. It’s Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program gives students in these states a reduced rate of 150% of resident tuition at specific schools.
Alumni DiscountsUniversities show loyalty to students who have completed degrees there before. Alumni who decide to pursue another degree program may be eligible for discounts on tuition, equipment, insurance or application fees.Head to the university’s Alumni Office or web page and see what may be available. Speak to an admissions officer to see what special benefits alumni get.Columbia University’s alumni benefits include membership access to different organizations, wavier of the application fee for alumni travel abroad programs, insurance, library access, equipment and lodging.
Faculty DiscountsA benefit of working for a university is getting discounts on tuition rates, which may also extend to spouses and dependents of employees through grant-in-aid. Other benefits may also be available.Many schools have a comprehensive web page detailing employee benefits. Talking with the human resources office can also help.The University of Nevada offers grant-in-aid packages to employees for tuition discounts.
Tuition RemissionWorking full-time at an institution while you’re a student can be a way to secure discounted or free tuition and may also extend to family members. These benefits may be taxable, but if the degree meets certain requirements then taxes may also be waived.Check out jobs available on campus and ask human resources about tuition remission.The University of San Francisco offers tuition remission to its employees who are working full-time while taking a full load of college credits.

Expert Advice for Students Looking to Save

naomi

NAOMI FOLLETT is the Associate Director of Financial Aid at the University of San Francisco. She and her team counsel students and make decisions about policy and the future of financial aid operations at USF. She has worked in enrollment and student services in the Bay Area since 2008.

Naomi has worked for nonprofit organizations since she was 11 years old, and has been a tutor and mentor to at-risk youth. She was the Director of Student Services at the Institute for Clinical Social Work in Chicago, where she brought financial aid operations up to complete compliance and wrote several sections of ICSW’s Academic Quality Improvement Plan.

INTERVIEW with NAOMI FOLLETT

What types of jobs are available to students seeking to qualify for tuition remission?

If you want to get tuition remission by working for a school, there are all kinds of jobs, in all kinds of fields, not always limited to the student’s field of study. It depends on the school. Almost every college or university website has a Work Here or Careers link on the home page, that is a good place to start. So are industry news publications such as “Chronicle of Higher Education”, “Inside Higher Ed”, etc. Most schools also have fellowships and researchships, where the student does some academic work or assists a professor with research.

Do you find that many incoming students know about out-of-the-box options, other than traditional loans and grants, for tuition assistance?

No, but in my experience, many students (and parents of students as well) don’t explore their options further than asking friends and mainstream news. I suppose that any mainstream news is coverage of college affordability at all is a trend that shows public awareness and interest. Just the fact that we are discussing exploring creative alternatives shows a growing interest in alternative options to traditional school financing.

What is the best way for students to find out about these options? When should they begin looking and planning for them?

Start exploring colleges at the beginning of Junior year of high school. Research their websites carefully, especially the financial aid and career sections, for creative options. Also, students can look for employment awards, like fellowships, on idealist.org. By the beginning of Senior year, you should have your list narrowed down to a few top choices. Just around the time that the FAFSA opens, which will be in October, is a great time to talk with admissions and financial aid professionals at the colleges of choice about any alternative financing options.

It also helps to volunteer, join a college prep program during high school, like Upward Bound (or in San Francisco we also have nonprofits like SMARTPACT, Inc., College Track, etc.), network and make connections with people throughout high school. By gaining more experience and connections, you will be the first to find the creative opportunities.

There are many industry-specific organizations that give tuition reimbursement, for example, Nurse Corps gives nurses working in underserved hospitals up to 85% reimbursement for three years of service. Do these organizations work directly with financial aid offices within universities?

The opportunities are in industries across the board and always changing. Right now, industries that make a lot of money like health care and business tend to have more reimbursement, and generally are more for graduate students than for undergrads. Education is always a good bet, because they can provide this with no overhead, or through agreements with other schools. They want their employees to be educated, so they are motivated to help with obstacles like cost. Most of the time, the employer’s HR department is responsible for tuition remission/reimbursement or student loan reimbursement benefits, and they would work with the billing offices of colleges and universities, not the financial aid office.

Are there programs at the University of San Francisco specifically for low-income, at-risk or minority students, outside of federal and private loans and grants?

Yes, we have a “tuition discount” grant for students with financial need who meet minimum academic standards. Various academic departments have scholarships and fellowships, depending on what their budget looks like or what grants the faculty have received at the time. For admitted students, we also have a program for first-generation college students called Muscat Scholars that provides all kinds of services – academic advising, financial, peer support, all the way through to graduation.

Are many of the students at USF working full-time at companies who give work study or training options? What might those options look like for a USF student, in terms of hours a week compared to earning potential?

Yes, mostly adult students – graduates, transfers and we have a degree completion program in our School of Management for mostly returning adult students. Several USF employees work full-time while earning their degrees. I can’t speak to the earning potential, but USF is quite academically rigorous. My program took up probably 15-25 hours per week.

Why might employers benefit from offering tuition reimbursement programs?

Higher education teaches us to think differently and creatively, and gives us new experience and ideas to bring back to our jobs, giving companies more options, and more pathways to success.

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