APS #5024

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Tuition Assistance Benefit

Brief Description

Tuition Assistance Benefit for CU Employees and Dependents

Reason for Policy

The purpose of this Administrative Policy Statement is to establish the scope of the University of Colorado’s Educational Assistance Program and describe the taxability of educational assistance provided under this program.  The university has a Section 127 Educational Assistance Plan established pursuant to Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.  This Internal Revenue Code provision currently allows employers to exclude educational assistance provided to employees from their wages, up to a federally mandated limit.  Additionally, Section 117 of the Internal Revenue Code allows the university to exclude undergraduate-level tuition assistance for employees of the university and their dependents.

Policy Profile

APS Policy Title: 
Tuition Assistance Benefit
APS Number: 
5024
Effective Date: 
August 1, 2017
Approved By: 
President Bruce D. Benson
Responsible University Officer: 
Vice President, Employee and Information Services
Responsible Office: 
Employee Services
Policy Contact: 
Vice President, Employee and Information Services​
Supersedes: 
Tuition Assistance Benefit, July 11, 2016
Last Reviewed/Updated date: 
August 1, 2017
Applies to: 
Faculty and staff

I. Introduction

All campuses of the university offer tuition benefit (also called tuition assistance) on a non-discriminatory basis to eligible university employeesEmployeesAn individual who currently holds a University employment appointment, whether full-time, part-time, temporary, seasonal or hourly. and their dependents. Tuition assistance can only be provided in the form of a tuition waiver or discount. Employees or dependents may not choose to receive cash in place of tuition assistance. Employees and dependents are responsible for paying all other required campus-specific fees and other related educational costs.

II. Policy Statement

Tuition assistance is available to employeesEmployeesAn individual who currently holds a University employment appointment, whether full-time, part-time, temporary, seasonal or hourly. in regular (non-temporary), eligible job classifications that are at least 50% appointment. The employee shall decide, prior to using the benefit each academic year, who will utilize the benefit - the employee or dependent(s).  The academic year begins with the fall term. Enrollment in courses by the employee or dependent(s) is subject to campus-specific registration requirements. 

  1. Employee Eligibility for Benefit​

    To qualify for the benefit either for the employee’s own use or for a dependent’s use, an employee, and where applicable, the employee’s dependent must satisfy the following criteria:​
    1. The employee is in a regular (non-temporary), approved job classification that is at least a 50% appointment.
      1. If an employee has multiple appointments, the percentages will be added to determine eligibility of 50% or greater.
    2. The employee holds an active appointment at the time of the published campus deadline for the semester in which the benefit is being applied (being on FMLA-documented leave or sabbatical does not preclude eligibility for the benefit). 
    3. The employee or dependent seeking to use the benefit has satisfied applicable admissions requirements prior to registration deadlines.
    4. For Colorado residents, each registering undergraduate student must apply and authorize the College Opportunity Fund (COF) and pay the difference if COF is exhausted.
  2. Employee:  Universitywide Use of Benefit ​
    1. Nine credits are available each year to be applied against tuition costs on a space-available basis at any CU campus for undergraduate or graduate credit-granting courses, complying with restrictions set within the course requirements.​​
    2. Employees may begin registration on the first day of the semester or the first day of the course (including early-start courses). The employee may be disqualified from current or future participation if he/she enrolls prior to the first day of the semester or the first day of the course (including early-start courses) and then drops the class to re-enroll under the tuition benefit.​
    3. The nine credits can be used in one semester or split among semesters during the same academic year, which begins fall semester.​
    4. Supervisor approval is not required to take a course. Supervisor approval for class attendance during normal work hours is required as for any absence reason, but does not require separate documentation.​
    5. The benefit may not be applied to any course offered by an auxiliary-funded program, such as Continuing Education, Extended Studies, the Executive MBA program, the One Year MBA program or  CU Boulder’s Part-Time, Evening MBA program.​
    6. The benefit may not be applied to study abroad or audits.​
    7. Each year a select number of Boulder campus and System employees are eligible to use their nine-credit tuition assistance benefits for an employee development opportunity available through the Boulder campus Department of Human Resources and the Lockheed Martin Engineering Management Program (EMP), Leadership and Management Graduate Certificate.​
    8. The waived amount is considered financial assistance and may impact financial aid eligibility. ​
    9. For Colorado residents, each registering undergraduate student must apply and authorize the College Opportunity Fund (COF) and pay the difference if COF is exhausted.​
    10. Only Nursing and Public Health courses (except PUBH 6606 and PUBH 6955) on the Anschutz Medical Campus are eligible for the benefit.
  3. Dependent:  Universitywide Use on Employee’s Campus of Employment
    1. Each campus has established specific rules governing operation of the dependent tuition benefit, as specified in Sections II.C.2-II.C.5. The following requirements apply, however, to all eligible dependents seeking to use the tuition benefit on  employee’s campus of employment:
      1. Dependent eligibility verification is required as for other employee benefits permitting dependent coverage. See https://www.cu.edu/sites/default/files/policies/2058-dependent-eligibility-verification/files/cu-dev13-140.pdf for definitions of dependents.
      2. The following relationships are eligible for tuition assistance although they are not, by IRS definition, eligible dependents. The monetary value of such tuition discount will be subject to income taxation:
        1. Same-gender domestic partner (SGDP) or civil union partner who are not legally married;
        2. A dependent child of an SGDP or civil union partner to whom you are not legally married; and
        3. An employee’s dependent child who is not eligible to be claimed as a dependent on the employee’s Federal Form 1040 US Individual Income Tax Return.
      3. The amount of graduate tuition waived is subject to income taxation for the spouse, partner, or parent who is a CU employee. See IRS Publication 970 - Tax Benefits for Education.
      4. The waived amount is considered financial assistance and may impact financial aid eligibility. 
      5. For Colorado residents, each registering undergraduate student must apply and authorize the College Opportunity Fund (COF) and pay the difference if COF is exhausted.
      6. The benefit may not be applied to any course offered by an auxiliary-funded program, such as Continuing Education, Extended Studies, the Executive MBA program, the One Year MBA program or  CU Boulder’s Part-Time, Evening MBA program.
      7. The benefit may not be applied to study abroad or audits.
      8. Dependent(s) may register during the regular enrollment period for undergraduate or graduate credit-granting courses.
    2. Dependent:  Benefit Rules  for CU Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus Dependents
      1. Use of the benefit is limited to dependents of CU Denver | Anschutz Medical campus and system administration employees.
      2. Use of the benefit is limited to eligible courses offered on the Denver campus.   On the Anschutz Medical Campus, use of the benefit is limited to Nursing and Public Health courses (except PUBH 6606 and PUBH 6955).
      3. Dependent(s) are eligible to waive up to a combined maximum of 9 credit hours per academic year. If both parents/partners are employed at CU Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus in eligible appointments, the dependent(s) may waive up to a combined maximum of 18 credit hours.
      4. The nine credits can be used in one semester or split among semesters during the same academic year.
      5. Employees of CU affiliates (e.g., Children’s Hospital Colorado, University of Colorado Medicine, University of Colorado Health) are not eligible to participate in the tuition benefit program.
      6. The tuition benefit cannot be applied to courses at Metropolitan State University of Denver or Community College of Denver.
    3. Dependent:  Benefit Rules for Colorado Springs Dependents
      1. Use of the benefit is limited to dependents of Colorado Springs campus and system administration employees.
      2. Use of the benefit is limited to courses offered by the Colorado Springs campus.
      3. Dependent(s) are eligible to waive up to a combined maximum of 9 credit hours per academic year. If both parents/partners are employed at the Colorado Springs campus in eligible appointments, the dependent(s) may waive up to a combined maximum of 18 credit hours per academic year.
      4. The nine credits can be used in one semester or split among semesters during the same academic year.
      5. Employees of CU affiliates and their dependents (e.g., University of Colorado Health, Memorial Health System, Children’s Hospital Colorado) are not eligible to participate in the tuition benefit program.
    4. Benefit Rules for Dependents of Boulder Employees
      1. Dependent(s) may register for undergraduate or graduate credit-granting courses and receive a 30% tuition waiver for all eligible coursework in any or all semesters in an academic year.
      2. Use of the benefit is limited to courses offered by the Boulder campus.
      3. Use of the benefit is limited to dependents of Boulder campus and system administration employees.
      4. Each dependent is eligible for the 30% discounted rate. If an employee has more than one dependent who seeks to use the benefit in a particular year, each dependent is entitled to the 30% tuition discount. In a family where both parents/partners are employed at CU Boulder or at System Administration in eligible appointments, one dependent is eligible for a discounted tuition benefit of 60% or multiple dependents are eligible for 30% each.
      5. The employee is not eligible to use the 9-credit tuition waiver during an academic year in which a dependent utilizes the 30% discount for one or more semesters.
    5. Benefit Rules for Dependents of System Administration Employees
      1. Dependents of system employees may choose between using the tuition waiver credits at CU Denver, Nursing and Public Health courses (except PUBH 6606 and PUBH 6955) on the Anschutz Medical Campus or Colorado Springs or the 30% discounted tuition option in lieu of tuition waiver on the Boulder campus for undergraduate or graduate credit-granting courses.
      2. If a dependent of a System employee uses the tuition waiver credits, the nine credits can be used in one semester or split among semesters during the same year.  
      3. If a system employee’s dependent uses the 30% discounted tuition option in lieu of tuition waiver on the Boulder campus, all of the limitations specified in Section II.C.4 shall apply to the dependent’s use of the discount. 
  4. Dependent:  Three-year (AY 2018-AY 2020) Pilot Program - Universitywide Use on Campus Other Than Employee’s Campus of Employment
    1. Dependent eligibility verification is required as for other employee benefits permitting dependent coverage. See https://www.cu.edu/sites/default/files/policies/2058-dependent-eligibility-verification/files/cu-dev13-140.pdf  for definitions of dependents.
    2. The following relationships are eligible for tuition assistance although they are not, by IRS definition, eligible dependents. The monetary value of such tuition discount will be subject to income taxation:
      1. Same-gender domestic partner (SGDP) or civil union partner who are not legally married;
      2. A dependent child of an SGDP or civil union partner to whom you are not legally married; and
      3. An employee’s dependent child who is not eligible to be claimed as a dependent on the employee’s Federal Form 1040 US Individual Income Tax Return.
    3. The waived amount is considered financial assistance and may impact financial aid eligibility.
    4. For Colorado residents, each registering undergraduate student must apply and authorize the College Opportunity Fund (COF) and pay the difference if COF is exhausted.
    5. The benefit may not be applied to any course offered by an auxiliary-funded program, such as Continuing Education and Extended Studies. 
    6. The benefit may not be applied to study abroad or audits.
    7. Use of the benefit is limited to dependents enrolling in classes on a campus other than the employee’s campus of employment. 
    8. Dependent(s) may register during the regular enrollment period for undergraduate credit-granting courses. No graduate courses are eligible.
    9. Dependent(s) are eligible to waive $270 per credit up to a combined maximum of 9 credit hours per academic year, for a maximum benefit of $2,430.
    10. The nine credits can be used in one semester or split among semesters during the same academic year, which begins fall semester.
    11. If both parents/partners are employed at the University in eligible appointments, the dependent(s) may waive up to a combined maximum of 18 credit hours per academic year at the campus neither parent/partner is working.

III. Related Policies, Procedures, Forms, Guidelines and Other Resources

IV. History

  • Original APS Education Assistance Program – issued July 1, 2007
  • APS Education Assistance Program – revised September 1, 2008
  • APS Tuition Assistance Benefit – replaces APS Education Assistance Program – March 8, 2012
  • APS Tuition Assistance Benefit – revised January 17, 2013
  • APS Tuition Assistance Benefit – revised July 1, 2013
  • APS Tuition Assistance Benefit – revised July 1, 2014
  • Updated section II.C.2 a-b to reflect changes to benefits eligibility pursuant to Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage – updated October 2015.
  • APS Tuition Assistance Benefit – revised July 11, 2016
  • APS Tuition Assistance Benefit – revised August 1, 2017

V. Key Words

Tuition, benefit, dependents