Original Issuance Date: September 26, 1985
Last Revision Date: May 6, 2019

1.     Policy Purpose

This policy describes educational assistance for University of Wisconsin (UW) System faculty and staff, including fee/tuition reimbursement for coursework and training undertaken by UW System faculty and staff.

2.     Responsible UW System Officer

Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer

3.     Scope

This policy applies to faculty and staff within the UW System. The policy does not apply to employer-directed coursework or training, approved coursework or training under faculty professional development programs, or other employer-directed coursework or training. Under this policy employees are eligible to receive both job related and career related educational assistance.

4.     Background

It is the policy of the UW System to promote continuing education of employees.

5.     Definitions

Job related education: Credit and noncredit, undergraduate or graduate level noncredit or training that is required by the University, or by law or regulations, to maintain salary, status, or current position (if the requirements serve a business purpose of the University), or taken to maintain or improve skills required in the employee’s present work.

Career related education: Undergraduate and graduate level courses and professional development courses which will qualify an employee for advancement within the UW System or Wisconsin State Government. Courses for personal enrichment do not qualify.

Appointing authority: An officer, commission, board, or body having power of appointment to, or removal from, subordinate positions in any office, department, commission, board, or institution.

6.     Policy Statement

A. Determining Employee Eligibility

Employees may be reimbursed for authorized education and training within the constraints listed in this policy and within budget constraints. Faculty or academic staff employees must have a half-time or greater appointment and a university staff employee must have a permanent appointment to be eligible for reimbursement. University staff temporary employees, employees in training, and student assistants are not eligible. Employees with a project appointment are also eligible for reimbursement.

B. Authorizing Educational Assistance

  1. Management’s decision to authorize educational assistance should be based on the determination that successful completion of the course will be beneficial to both the University and the employee in terms of increased knowledge, abilities, and skills. Examples of courses which are deemed to benefit both the University and the employee include:
    • courses which are directly related to maintaining or improving current job skills;
    • courses mandated by law or regulation in order for the employee to retain the job;
    • courses directly related to the profession in which the employee is currently working;
    • courses which provide for career development within the University, including those which are a necessary elective for completion of such degree.

Assistance may be denied in cases where management determines that neither the course nor the degree pursued is of sufficient benefit to the UW.

C. Coursework Location, Scheduling, and Reimbursement

I. Coursework Location Requirements

    1. Coursework may be taken at any state accredited public or private higher educational institution or Wisconsin Technical College System district institution. Coursework within the UW System is encouraged. Reimbursement for coursework taken at private institutions should be limited to the rate of an equivalent course at the employee’s home institution.

II. Scheduling Coursework

    1. Normally, coursework is taken on an employee’s own time. If the employer determines that the needed coursework is available only during the employee’s scheduled hours of work, a program of proportional compensatory time may be arranged, provided normal services of the employing unit are not disrupted or impaired.

III. Coursework Reimbursement

    1. Generally, no more than one course, up to five credits, or a training equivalent in any academic term (e.g., a semester, summer session, or an equivalent) should be reimbursed. Additional coursework, however, may be authorized by the chancellor or designee.
    2. Requests for reimbursement for the cost of coursework or training are initiated by the employee through the appointing authority. A Request for Authorization to Reimburse Employee’s Fees/Tuition Form must be completed and approved prior to the beginning of the coursework or training.
    3. Tuition and fees will be reimbursed only upon successful completion of the course if the employee is still employed at the institution and intends to remain in such employment for the reasonable future. Books, supplies, and travel costs are not reimbursable. If an employee changes jobs within an institution prior to completion of an authorized course, the employee must notify the new appointing authority of the authorization. Segregated fees may be reimbursed or waived. Any financial aid received by the employee for tuition and fees shall be taken into account when determining the amount to be reimbursed. The following three items must be submitted when requesting reimbursement:
      • A completed Request for Authorization to Reimburse Employee’s Fees/Tuition Form or its equivalent (approved prior to beginning of classes).
      • A fee receipt or other satisfactory evidence of having paid reimbursable fees.
      • Evidence of successful completion of the coursework or training (grade report or certification of completion, etc).
    4. Requests for reimbursement which do not include all of the above requirements shall be denied.
    5. The taxability of reimbursements is subject to federal and state tax laws. If the UW System determines that a reimbursement must be treated as income, the employee’s income reports and tax withholding will be adjusted accordingly.
    6. Institutions should establish mechanisms which will ensure equitable distribution of opportunity for educational assistance.

7.     Related Documents

UW System Administrative Policy 155 (SYS 155), Faculty Development and Renewal – The 1970’s and Beyond
UW System Administrative Policy 156 (SYS 156), Guidelines for Faculty Retraining, Renewal, and Development
UW System Administrative Policy 157 (SYS 157), Faculty Development and Renewal – A System Policy for Faculty Transfer and Exchange
UW System Administrative Policy 160 (SYS 160), The Faculty Sabbatical Program
UW System Administrative Policy 160.B (SYS 160.B), Sabbatical Leave Agreement Form
Internal Revenue Code Section 127
Request for Authorization to Reimburse Employee’s Fees/Tuition Form (use only if your institution does NOT have their own form)
Regent Policy Document 20-21, University Personnel Systems

8.     Policy History

Revision 4: May 6, 2019
Revision 3: January 3, 2013
Revision 2: September 19, 1997
Revision 1: April 16, 1992
First approved: September 26, 1985

9.     Scheduled Review

May 2024