Policy Number: 432

Policy Suffix:

Applies to: Faculty and Staff Who Are Eligible for Benefits

I. General Policy

Rice employs a number of strategies to engage, cultivate, and inspire its employees in order to execute its mission and achieve its ambitious goals. The University’s tuition reimbursement program is one such strategy. It supports employee development of current and future job-related skills and knowledge. The tuition reimbursement program is available to all employees who are benefits eligible and have completed the six-month employee probationary period (in the case of staff).

II. Roles and Responsibilities

Employees are required to complete the Tuition Reimbursement Application, and submit it to Human Resources (HR) prior to the course start date. If approved, upon completion of the course, employees must submit to HR both proof of payment and evidence of successful completion of the course (grade of C or higher) in order to receive their reimbursement.

Supervisors review the employee’s Tuition Reimbursement Application to ensure that the request aligns with the employee’s development plan and potential growth within the University. Supervisors are responsible for confirming that the employee is in good standing, with no current performance issues, and has completed their probationary period successfully. Supervisors must approve and sign the employee’s Tuition Reimbursement Application prior to submission to Human Resources.

The Office of Human Resources provides final approval of an employee’s Tuition Reimbursement Application. Human Resources is a resource for employees or supervisors who may have questions concerning eligibility of the employee or the course requested.

III. Definitions

Benefits eligible employee. An individual employed in a staff position that requires 20 or more hours of work per week and at least 1,000 hours each year; a tenure track faculty member; see Policy 403 for additional details.

Probationary period. The first six (6) months of employment in a staff position during which the supervisor carefully assesses the staff member's performance to determine whether they are able to meet the expectations and stated job duties of the position; see Policy 421 for additional details.

General Educational Development (GED). A series of tests used to show achievement of a high school level of education; an alternative to a high school diploma for those who did not complete high school.

Degree-granting institution. A post-secondary educational institution that awards accredited associate, baccalaureate, or graduate degrees.

Course. a class taken to study a particular subject. It can be from any accredited, degree-granting institution and be stand-alone or part of a degree program, certificate program, or GED program.

IV. Elaboration of Policy

A. Employee eligibility. All benefits eligible faculty and staff in regular (non-temporary) positions may apply for tuition reimbursement. Individuals in temporary positions, even if benefits eligible, are not eligible for tuition reimbursement. Staff must have successfully completed their six-month probationary period in order to receive reimbursement. Eligibility for tuition reimbursement ceases when the employee is no longer benefits eligible. It also ceases – and reimbursement for tuition will not be made – if the employee terminates employment prior to completion of the course and submission to Rice for reimbursement.

B. Course eligibility. Courses that meet one of the following criteria are eligible for tuition reimbursement:

  1. General Educational Development (GED) courses–designed to prepare an individual to take and pass a series of tests to earn a GED (a designation comparable to earning a high school diploma), and the associated testing fees. Preparation courses taken online or in-person are eligible. Courses and exam must be recognized by the Texas State Board of Education/Texas Education Agency.
  2. An individual course directly related to the employee’s present job (determined with Supervisor), or courses that are part of a 2-year, 4-year or graduate degree program, where the degree program is related to the employee’s present job or prepares the employee for possible advancement within the university, and the course is taken from a degree-granting institution.
  3. Courses taken from Rice University to prepare for professional certification, to include programs at Glasscock School of Continuing Studies and the Jones Graduate School of Business, where the certification is related to the employee’s present job or prepares the employee for possible advancement within the university.
  4. Courses taken from Rice University as part of a certificate program, to include programs at Glasscock School of Continuing Studies and the Jones Graduate School of Business, where the certificate program is related to the employee’s present job or prepares the employee for possible advancement within the university.
  5. Tuition Reimbursement program MAY apply to:
    1. Courses to prepare for professional certification, taken from outside of Rice, and
    2. Certificate programs from outside of Rice.
  6. Tuition Reimbursement program does NOT apply to:
    1. workshops, seminars, conferences, institutes.

Benefits eligible employees also are eligible for tuition waiver (with or without academic credit) for certain Rice University courses. Refer to Rice Policy No. 409, Tuition Waiver for Courses Taken at Rice.

C. Factors in Course Approval. A supervisor’s considerations in approving a request for tuition reimbursement may include such factors as:

  1. The nature and purpose of the course
  2. The relationship of the course to the employee’s job or a position to which the employee may advance
  3. The benefits to the employee and Rice University
  4. The employee’s performance, length of service and level of responsibility
  5. The cost of the course

D. Amount of Support

While there is no limit to the number of courses that are eligible for reimbursement during the fiscal year, the maximum total reimbursement per employee per fiscal year (July 1 – June 30), as determined by when the reimbursement actually is paid out, is $2,500.

Upon demonstration of successful completion of the course or testing, employees will be reimbursed up to the fiscal year maximum for:

  1. 100 percent of the cost of GED/High School Equivalency preparation courses and associated testing fees
  2. 75 percent of all other course tuition and mandatory fees

E. Repayment of Tuition Reimbursement

As stated on the Tuition Reimbursement Application, employees who resign voluntarily from the university within one year of completing a course are required to pay for any courses taken in the past twelve months.

F. Work Schedule Accommodation

The employee should plan to take courses during non-working hours. If the employee takes the course during normal working hours, it requires the approval of the supervisor, and the employee must make up any time or work missed.

G. Income tax information
The determination of whether tuition reimbursement is taxable income to the employee will be made by applying applicable IRS tax codes and dollar limits.

V. Cross References to Related Policies

Rice University Policy 403: Benefits Eligibility
Rice University Policy 409: Tuition Waiver and Auditing Courses at Rice

VI. Responsible Official and Key Offices to Contact Regarding the Policy and its Implementation

Responsible Official: Vice President for Administration
Other Key Offices: Human Resources, Controller

VII. Procedures and Forms

Tuition Reimbursement Application Form

Signatures

David W. Leebron, President

Policy History

Supersedes

Policy No. 432-98

Revised

January 26, 2022
January 1, 2016
January 15, 1998