Bearing Fruit: Usage Rates for Traditional Tuition Assistance Programs Are Low, So Employers Are Tempting Employees with Free Tuition and Bonuses
Bolch, Matt, HRMagazine
When Lance Bartosz earned a bachelor's degree in engineering from Northeastern University in Boston in 1997, he knew he wanted to keep going. "I was very interested in continuing my education," he says, "but I had student loans to contend with."
So in January 1998, Bartosz went to work for United Technologies Corp. (UTC), a $37 billion company based in Hartford, Conn., whose products include Carrier heating and cooling systems, Otis elevators, Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines, and Sikorsky helicopters. The main draw for Bartosz: UTC's employee scholar program, which allows employees to continue their education on the company dime.
"I couldn't believe my ears about how good [the education program] was," says Bartosz, now a manager at UTC's Sundstrand subsidiary in Hamilton, Conn. He manages the Pratt & Whitney Canada mechanical products center.
Bartosz had good reason to be impressed. UTC pays for an employee's entire tuition and books up front. The company also offers paid time off--as much as three hours a week, depending on the course load--to study.
And after providing all that help with getting a degree, the company also offers a big reward at the end--$5,000 in UTC stock for an associate's degree, and $10,000 for a bachelor's degree or above.
Bill Bucknall, senior vice president of HR and organization at UTC, says the program is the "gold standard" among businesses, and he may well be right.
Although a tuition assistance program (TAP) is a standard employee benefit--two-thirds of corporations offer some sort of tuition assistance, according to the Society for Human Resource Management's 2005 Benefits Survey Report--only 5 percent to 10 percent of employees take advantage of such programs, according to …
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Publication information: Article title: Bearing Fruit: Usage Rates for Traditional Tuition Assistance Programs Are Low, So Employers Are Tempting Employees with Free Tuition and Bonuses. Contributors: Bolch, Matt - Author. Magazine title: HRMagazine. Volume: 51. Issue: 3 Publication date: March 2006. Page number: 56+. © 1999 Society for Human Resource Management. COPYRIGHT 2006 Gale Group.
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