5 Companies That Can Help Employees Avoid Student Debt

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With unemployment still achingly high, and college costs soaring, American workers can use all the breaks they can get. In many companies, employer-subsidized college education programs can be a real boon for employees looking to further their education and enhance their chances of promotion.

Company-based programs vary, but most consist of either tuition reimbursement, or direct payment to the educational institution. Here are five of the best corporate-sponsored education-assistance programs available today.

1. Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC  ) : Wells' Tuition Reimbursement Program will refund full-time employees up to $5,000 per year, and part-time workers up to $2,500 annually, for expenses incurred in the pursuit of higher learning. Courses must be approved, however, as well as work-related.

In addition, the bank has a scholarship program for the dependent children of its employees, which awards scholarships each year in amounts from $1,000 to $3,000.

2. SunTrust Bank (NYSE: STI  ) : Similar to Wells, SunTrust offers tuition reimbursement of up to $5,250 each year to qualified employees. The bank requires associates to maintain satisfactory job performance, and employee participation is subject to supervisory approval. The courses needn't be directly related to the employee's job, and a tuition refund is dependent upon course completion with a minimum grade of "C."

3. United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS  ) : In addition to spending millions each year on in-house training, UPS also offers $3,000 in college aid per year through its Tuition Assistance Program. Designed primarily to convert part-time workers into full-time associates, employees can receive up to $15,000 cumulatively toward their college degrees. For part-time management employees, the amounts are bumped up to $4,000 annually, and $20,000 in lifetime education benefits. Employees are eligible upon hire, and many are still in school when they take a job with UPS, which has a long history of promoting from within the company.

UPS also has a special relationship with online-only Metropolitan College, which offers full tuition remission for employees in the UPS Air Operation in Louisville, Kentucky.

The company also offers several scholarship programs for children of employees, with awards ranging from $500 to $6,000 per year, depending upon the program.

4. Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) : The communications giant has a generous Global Tuition Assistance Program, which bestows up to $8,000 yearly upon employees who opt to pursue higher education in order to help further their careers at Verizon. The company helped over 23,000 with their college costs last year; note, however, that tuition benefits over $5,250 per year are considered taxable income by the IRS.

5. United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) : The granddaddy of all tuition assistance programs, UTC's Employee Scholar Program pays for all costs associated with a course of study at accredited institutions, and supports college coursework, regardless of whether it is work-related. In addition, the company gives paid time off -- up to three hours each week -- for study.

Unlike other programs, UTC pays the college or university directly, rather than reimbursing the employee. Workers, whether full- or part-time, are eligible following one year of employment with the company.

These are just a sampling of programs available through employers, so be sure to check whether or not your company offers a similar benefit. Working while attending college is one sure way to defray costs. Combining work and availing yourself of company policies that promote educational assistance may net you not only a debt-free college diploma, but a promotion, as well.

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  • Report this Comment On September 23, 2013, at 9:31 AM, Matt555 wrote:

    Please check your information before you write an article: the UTC Employee Scholar Program stopped covering 100% of tuition in 2008. UTC now reimburses up to $15k per yr, and up to $60k per degree (i.e. the degree needs to take 4 years). In addition, employees are no longer sponsored for education after they earn their first degree through the employee scholarship program.

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