The Catholic University of America


Archived 6/9/10

Benefits Tuition Assistance

I.The university encourages employees to continue to pursue educational goals and interests. To facilitate learning opportunities, the university offers tuition assistance to attend the university to regular full-time and regular part-time employees and to their spouses and dependent children by birth or adoption, as well as to stepchildren of the employee in those instances where tax law confers the tax free tuition benefit.*

II.A. Academic year for purposes of this policy begins on the first day of the fall semester and runs until the last day of the summer session of the following calendar year, with dates for all academic sessions defined by the Office of the Registrar.
B. One year of service for purposes of graduate tax-free tuition benefits is defined in the CUA Section 127 Educational Assistance Plan as a 12 month period during which an employee performs at least 1,000 hours of service for the university. Employees become eligible for the tax exclusion of up to $5250 for the graduate tuition benefit on the first day of the plan year (Jan. 1st) after completion of one year of service. Employees with less than one year of service but who otherwise meet the eligibility requirements may receive tuition assistance for graduate programs but it will be taxed.

C. "Dependent child" or "dependent children" for purposes of this policy includes a son, daughter, or an adopted son or adopted daughter. In those situations where the tax code (26 USC § 117(d)) allows tax-free tuition remission for a stepchild, the term "dependent child" or "dependent children" will also include a stepson or stepdaughter.

III.General Terms and Conditions Definitions
A. Eligibility
Recipients of tuition assistance must fulfill the usual conditions for admission to the university, its degree programs and/or courses. Regular full-time and regular part-time employees become eligible for undergraduate tuition assistance benefits for themselves upon successful completion of their initial evaluation period (normally the first three months of employment), and for their spouses and dependent children after one year of employment. The one year employment eligibility period must be completed by the last day of regular registration in the semester in which the spouse or child would be enrolled. The three-month or one-year waiting period begins on the first day of regular employment and must be completed by the last day of regular registration. Administrative level employees and faculty members are eligible for tuition assistance benefits for themselves, spouses and dependent children immediately upon hire.

B. Limitations
Tuition assistance benefits are for enrollment in courses offered by The Catholic University of America and the other member institutions of the Consortium of Universities of Washington, D.C. (when the courses are certified by the cognizant dean/department chair as required for the student's program and are not available at CUA). Employees, their spouses and dependent children will be subject to the same enrollment limitations as all other students.
Tuition assistance will not ordinarily be granted to employees for courses offered during the employee's normal working hours. Occasionally exceptions are made when the course is directly related to the employee's current job. When, therefore, registration for and attendance in such a course is necessary, the employee must have the prior approvals of both the immediate supervisor and the cognizant Vice President. Time taken from the normal working hours to attend such a course must be made up with a schedule subject to the same approvals. Staff members may not study in a department or, in schools without departments, the school where they work. Eligible employees who enroll in any of the schools of the university may receive full tuition assistance for four courses per year; however, an employee may not receive tuition assistance for more than 2 courses per semester. ** This benefit is pro-rated for regular part-time employees. The amount of tuition assistance offered to part-time employees and their spouses and dependent children is pro-rated based on the number of hours the employee works.

Temporary employees
and part time employees who work fewer than 20 hours a week are not eligible for tuition assistance.
Receipt of tuition assistance benefits is contingent upon continued employment for the entire semester or summer session for which tuition assistance was approved. In the event that an employee retires, terminates as a result of a reduction in force, or is approved for long-term disability during a semester or summer session for which tuition assistance was approved, his/her tuition assistance benefits will be continued through the end of the semester or summer session. If an employee receiving tuition assistance benefits terminates employment before the completion of a semester, for any reason other than retirement, reduction in force, or long term disability, tuition assistance benefits will be revoked and the employee will be responsible for paying the university the full amount of tuition charges for the semester.

Employee tuition assistance benefits may not be combined with other university scholarship or university grant funds. Tuition assistance benefits do not cover fees. Upon completion of an undergraduate program at CUA or any other college or university, no additional tuition assistance will be granted for undergraduate study, for an employee's spouse or dependent child.

IV. Spouses and Dependent Children
The university will pay the full tuition for spouses and dependent children of eligible employees provided that the spouses or dependent children are enrolled in undergraduate degree programs at the university. Spouses and dependent children may receive tuition assistance only while enrolled in degree programs. Applications for tuition assistance for an employee's spouse or dependent child who will be attending the university full time as an undergraduate for the first time as either an entering freshman or as a transfer student are due February 15 immediately preceding the fall semester of intended enrollment. (Example: If a dependent child or spouse wishes to attend CUA commencing fall semester 2008, the application for tuition assistance must be received by the Human Resources Office by Feb. 15th 2008.) An award of tuition assistance under this policy supersedes any award of financial aid by the admissions office.
Those who apply for tuition exchange for a dependent child are strongly encouraged to also apply for tuition assistance benefits by the deadline stated in this policy in case the child ultimately decides that he/she wishes to attend CUA. A CUA employee's spouse or dependent child who is also a regular employee of CUA is not eligible for tuition assistance as a dependent. That person will have eligibility for tuition assistance by virtue of their employment at CUA and are subject to the policy limitations for employees.
Retirees may continue to receive tuition assistance benefits for spouses and dependent children with the limitation that the benefit will be extended only if the spouse and dependent children were eligible at the time the employee retired and only for undergraduate programs. Retirees and their spouses may audit courses without charge, subject to the permission of the instructor of each course. Surviving spouses and dependent children of deceased employees with ten or more years of service will retain their eligibility for enrollment in undergraduate programs only. This eligibility applies for surviving spouses and dependent children even if they were not enrolled at the time of the employee's death. Tuition assistance will be extended to a surviving spouse and dependent children of a deceased employee with fewer than ten years of service at the time of death only for undergraduate programs in which they are already enrolled at the time of the employee's death. To be eligible for this benefit, dependent children must retain their dependent status with the surviving parent or guardian.***
Approval of tuition assistance for a dependent child is contingent upon proof of dependent status. CUA reserves the right to request appropriate proof before approving any application for tuition assistance for a dependent. Employees are required to provide proof of birth or adoption or the required information on dependent status of a stepchild with the first application for tuition assistance for a dependent child.
Dependents or spouses who transfer into The Catholic University of America and receive tuition assistance are subject to the nine-semester limit less the equivalent number of whole semesters accepted for transfer by the cognizant school of the university. For purposes of applying the nine semester limit to students transferring into CUA, a whole semester is calculated as 15 credit hours. For example, if the student transfers one completed semester plus additional credits that altogether total less than two semesters, the student has eight semesters of eligibility left. Summer session credits should be calculated as fifteen credits being equivalent to one semester. Dependents may not pursue a second undergraduate degree in order to use the remaining semesters of eligibility.
See Section VI below for the limited situations in which a spouse or dependent child may be eligible for graduate tuition assistance benefits.
V. Overseas Study
A number of educational programs can be enriched by participation in overseas study programs sponsored or approved by CUA.Employees' spouses and dependent children who are eligible for tuition assistance and who have the opportunity to participate in a CUA sponsored or approved overseas study program will be granted tuition assistance for the CUA portion of their tuition. All expenses billed to CUA including the tuition, fees, room and board for the overseas study program will be the responsibility of the student. The university reserves the right to charge an administrative fee for overseas study if, in the discretion of the university, it is necessary. The CUA tuition is the only part of the cost of the overseas study program that is included in the tuition assistance benefit. The semesters spent in an overseas study program will count toward the nine-semester maximum for undergraduate tuition assistance benefits.

VI. Graduate Tuition Benefits and Taxability of Graduate Tuition Assistance
The Provost makes the determination of which degrees are graduate degrees. The Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) is a graduate degree. The university will pay half of the tuition of spouses and dependent children enrolled in graduate degree programs (excluding law school) if the employee is an eligible full-time employee who has been employed by the university since before July 1, 1980.
Tuition assistance benefits for graduate education for employees, spouses, and dependent children are subject to Federal and State income tax and FICA except as provided below. Employees with at least one year of service as defined in Section II above are eligible for a tax-free tuition benefit up to $5,250 per calendar year for their own graduate coursework. Please refer to the Questions and Answer section linked from this policy for further information on taxability of graduate tuition benefits. While the benefit for tuition assistance runs with the academic year, the taxability of the benefit is based upon the calendar year. For example, a full time employee who starts work on May 1, 2006 and successfully completes the initial evaluation period, would have completed 1,000 hours of service, or "one year of service" by January 1, 2007 (the beginning of the plan year following completion of one year of service) and thus would be eligible on that date (January 1, 2007) for the tuition assistance benefit on the tax-free basis. An employee who started in October of 2006 would not have completed 1,000 hours of service by January 1, 2007, and thus while that employee would be otherwise eligible for the benefit assuming the initial evaluation period was successfully completed, the employee who started work in October would need to wait until January 1, 2008 to avail themselves of this benefit on a tax-free basis.
VII. Application Process
The Office of Human Resources is responsible for determining and approving tuition assistance. Employees must submit applications for tuition assistance to the Office of Human Resources no later than the last day to add or drop courses as specified for each semester in the Academic Calendar published each year in Announcements, except for applications for spouses and dependent children who are incoming freshman or transfer students in which case the deadline is the February 15 immediately preceding the fall semester of intended enrollment. Employees are encouraged to submit tuition assistance applications as much in advance of each semester as possible, even if he/she is uncertain about the number of courses, number of semester hours or applicable School/Department. Revisions can be submitted once the student's registration is completed. Tuition assistance benefits will not be approved retroactively.
* For tuition remission to be non-taxable under 26 USC § 117(d) the stepson or stepdaughter receiving the education benefit must be claimed by the employee on the employee's tax return as a dependent. In order for the benefit to be tax free there must be a spousal relationship between the employee and the parent of the stepchild for the stepdaughter or stepson status to occur. The child need not be legally adopted by the stepparent, but simply claimed as a dependent on the tax form. If the parents are married filing separately, and the non employee parent claims the child as a dependent on her/his tax form, the benefit will not be available.
** See the Categories of Employment Policy for the rule that full time students may not hold a regular part time or full time position at CUA.

***This benefit may be taxable income to the surviving spouse. He or she is advised to consult his/her tax attorney.