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Another direction: Boosting tuition remission benefits

Institutions seeking to better recruit and retain top-notch talent

While many institutions that examine their tuition remission spending wind up reining in spending in this area, some schools are actually increasing the benefit to better recruit and retain top-notch talent.

Last year, leaders at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, increased the tuition benefit for employees’ spouses and children from 75 percent to full coverage. Employees themselves already received 100 percent remission.

At a time when many institutions are cutting costs, human resources executives at St. Thomas decided they needed to offer an even richer benefit for employees and their families.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve benefits, and offering 100 percent tuition is a great way to show employees how we value them,” says Deborah Sagstetter, director of compensation and benefits. “It’s a recruiting and retention tool that is highly valued.”

The university also participates in three exchanges that allow employees’ children to access the same benefit at other participating institutions. One exchange comprises five local colleges and universities, another includes about 60 Catholic colleges and universities, and a third covers 650 schools across the country.

The approach is one other institutions have also taken, often with neighboring colleges.

Although providing full tuition remission can be a pricey benefit, “we are an institution of higher learning and we value education, as do our employees,” Sagstetter says. “After researching best practices and reviewing the change with our fringe benefit committee, we decided it was a benefit that was valuable enough to be worth the additional expense.”

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