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REQUIREMENTS AND POLICIES MANUAL

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Tuition Assistance

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    Title:

    Tuition Assistance

    Publication date:

    5/2/2022

    Effective date:

    5/1/2022

    BRIEF

    Policy Summary

    Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) offers an institutionally funded Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) providing coursework reimbursement to encourage and assist employees to obtain a college/university education, a professional certification/license, or an educational certificate that increases the effectiveness of work performance in their present positions and improves their career opportunities within Berkeley Lab. This policy describes Berkeley Lab's TAP.

    Who Should Read This Policy

    This policy applies to non-represented career employees who have completed a probationary period. Represented employees should consult their collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

    To Read the Full Policy, Go To:

    The POLICY tab on this wiki page

    Contact Information

    For more information, contact [email protected].
    Feedback on HR policies or procedures is welcomed. Send comments to [email protected].

    POLICY

    Title:

    Tuition Assistance

    Publication date:

    5/2/2022

    Effective date:

    5/1/2022


    A. Purpose

    Berkeley Lab offers an institutionally funded Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) providing coursework reimbursement to encourage and assist employees to obtain a college/university education, a professional certification/license, or an educational certificate that increases the effectiveness of work performance in their present positions and improves their career opportunities within Berkeley Lab. This policy describes Berkeley Lab's TAP.

    B. Persons Affected

    This policy applies to non-represented career employees who have completed a probationary period. Represented employees should consult their collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

    C. Exceptions

    Requests that exceed what is allowed under this policy, or that are not expressly addressed, are considered exceptions to policy. A request for a policy exception requires, at a minimum, the approval of the Chief Human Resources Officer.

    D. Policy Statement

    1. General
      1. Reimbursement may be available for courses which will significantly enhance performance in the employee's current position, or prepare the employee for other positions within Berkeley Lab.
      2. Reimbursement is available for courses offered through domestically accredited universities, colleges, university extension programs, and professional associations, and for certification courses that are recognized by professional associations.
    2. Eligibility to Participate
      1. Employees must be in a non-probationary career appointment.
      2. Employees must be in good performance standing and maintain a satisfactory performance rating for the duration of participation. Additionally, employees must not have any formal disciplinary actions within the previous 24 months and for the duration of participation.
    3. Approval. Employees must obtain division and HR TAP Program Manager approval in order to participate in TAP. Employees denied approval to participate may request review of the denial by the Chief Human Resources Officer, except for denial based on impact to the employee's division work needs. In this case, the employee may re-submit a participation request at a later date, when the employee's division work needs may have changed.
    4. Tuition Assistance Options. TAP covers the following educational programs and courses: 
      1. Degree Programs. College-level courses that lead to an academic degree (e.g., AA, BS, MBA, MS, PhD, etc.).
      2. Certificate Programs. Courses in a series that provide in-depth study in a subject area that lead to completion of a certificate.
      3. Professional License/Certification Programs. Courses that lead to or prepare employees for a professional license/certification (e.g., CPA, PHR, PMP, PE, etc.). In addition, costs for professional examinations will be reimbursed when taken after a course of study.
      4. Continuing education courses to maintain a professional license/certification.    
      5. College-level courses not leading to an academic degree, certificate, or professional license/certification. 
    5. Tax Considerations/Implications 
      1. Per current IRS guidelines, annual reimbursement over $5,250 (subject to change by the IRS) for degree programs will be treated as additional taxable wage income unless the education either (a) maintains or improves the employee's job skills of their current job, or (b) is required by law to maintain the employee's current job status or occupation.
      2. Even if the education meets one of the above criteria, a reimbursement will be treated as taxable wage income if the education is part of a program that qualifies the employee for a new trade or business. Generally, education programs that lead to a PhD, MD, JD, or similar are programs that qualify the person for a new trade or business. All other "new trade or business" determinations are made on a case-by-case basis by the TAP Program Manager.
    6. Reimbursement. Berkeley Lab will reimburse tuition and other fees required for course or program enrollment.
      1. To receive reimbursement, an employee must provide documented proof of:
        1. Payment for each course and fee for which reimbursement is requested.
        2. Successful completion of courses.
          1. Letter Grade. An employee must receive a grade of "C" or better for undergraduate-level courses or a grade of "B" or better for graduate-level courses. Grades of "C–" or "B–", respectively, do not qualify for reimbursement.
          2. Pass/Fail. If there is a choice between receiving a letter grade or a "Pass/Fail" evaluation, the employee must opt for the letter grade option. If the course is offered only as a "Pass/Fail" course, an employee must receive a "Pass" in order to be reimbursed.
          3. If neither a letter grade or pass/fail option is available, the employee must obtain written documentation of satisfactory course completion from the instructor.
      2. Reimbursement is allowed when an employee is required to withdraw from a course due to work requirements as directed by the employee's division, due to a certified medical condition or leave, or an emergency situation beyond the employee's control, provided the employee submits evidence from the course instructor that the employee's performance in the course was satisfactory at the time of withdrawal.
      3. Professional license/certification examinations will be reimbursed upon submission of evidence of passing the examination, when taken after a course of study.
    7. Limits on Reimbursement
      1. Employees must apply for and be pre-approved to participate in the TAP before taking courses. Courses taken without prior approval will not be reimbursed.
      2. Excluded Expenses. Excluded expenses are those not required for registration, such as textbooks, parking permits, travel, student health insurance or medical coverage, student ID cards, meals, late fees, costs for computers, hardware or software upgrades, equipment, and internet connections for online coursework. College test preparation courses are also excluded.
      3. Non-Resident Tuition. Employees enrolled in out-of-state programs will receive only reimbursement equal to that of in-state fees.
      4. UC Reduced Fee Enrollment. Employees accepted to attend any University of California institution must apply for the University of California Reduced Fee Enrollment program (PPSM-51: Reduced Fee Enrollment). If accepted into the Reduced Fee Enrollment program, employees will receive one-third reimbursement from Berkeley Lab to supplement the two-thirds fee reduction provided by this program. 
      5. Financial aid, including grants, scholarships, and educational discounts, will be subtracted from the reimbursement request and should be disclosed during the program application process or when requesting reimbursement.
    8. Time Off with Pay. Time off with pay to take courses may be granted with the supervisor's approval when the employee's absence will not adversely affect progress of work, in accordance with the following provisions:
      1. Time off to attend approved courses may be allowed only when such courses cannot reasonably be taken outside the employee's scheduled working hours. If applicable, an adjusted work schedule may be arranged in accordance with the Flexible Work Options policy.
      2. Time off may not exceed six hours per week, including time for travel.
      3. Time off with pay is not allowed for registration, study, library, or faculty consultation time. Additional time required must be accounted for by an adjusted work schedule or by use of vacation credit.
      4. Time off to take asynchronous online courses is not allowed.
    9. Advance Payments. Employees may receive an advance payment of tuition and required enrollment fees provided the employee certifies that they must return the payment if they are unable to provide evidence of course completion in accordance with Section D.6 of this policy.
    10. Termination of Employment
      1. In the event that an employee voluntarily terminates their employment with Berkeley Lab or is terminated for cause (1) while participating in the program, or (2) within the 12 months following the last reimbursement, the employee must repay Berkeley Lab the amount of tuition and associated fees that have been paid for courses in the 12 months prior to termination.
      2. An employee who voluntarily terminates prior to completing a course(s) will not be reimbursed any eligible expenses, and advance payments, if any, must be repaid to Berkeley Lab. 
      3. Repayment will not be required if the termination of employment is due to death, long-term disability, layoff, or involuntary termination for any reason other than for cause. 
      4. An employee who is terminated due to a layoff will be reimbursed the full amount of eligible expenses incurred up to the date of separation.
      5. Any repayment to Berkeley Lab required by this policy will be deducted from the employee's final paycheck as permitted by applicable state law. If monies owed are not deducted from the final paycheck, the employee must arrange a repayment agreement with the Payroll Office prior to the release of the final paycheck.


    E. Roles and Responsibilities


    Role

    Responsibility

    Employee

    Has the responsibility to adhere to the provisions of this policy.

    HR TAP Coordinator

    Administers and processes Tuition Assistance Program activities, including processing new participants, tuition advances, and tuition reimbursements. Answers routine questions sent to [email protected]

    HR TAP Program Manager

    Has oversight over the Tuition Assistance Program and ensures program procedures and guidelines align with this policy. Reviews the Employee Development Plan and determines if the education program is eligible and/or subject to taxation, per policy. 

    Manager/ Supervisor

    Has the responsibility to authorize their direct report employees to participate in the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) by approving the Employee Development Plan, and to ensure that participating employees meet and maintain eligibility for the duration of the program.


    F. Definitions and Acronyms


    Term

    Definition

    Asynchronous Online Course

    Asynchronous online courses allow students to take classes and complete coursework on their own time

    Certificate Program

    Certificate programs are designed to give students mastery over a narrow subject area or topic. These programs are offered in many trades, professional fields, and academic areas. Certificate programs are generally geared towards adult students and students looking for short-term training leading to immediate employment.

    Professional Certification

    The term "certification" generally refers to a process by which a nongovernmental organization grants recognition to an individual who has met predetermined qualifications specified by that organization. The proof comes in the form of a certificate which is earned by passing one or more exams that were developed by an organization or association that monitors and upholds the prescribed standards for the particular industry involved.

    Professional Licensure

    Professional licensure is a way to ensure a professional meets certain industry and regulated requirements in terms of knowledge and experience. Licensing is often granted through a professional body or a licensing board and often involves accredited training and examinations. Professional licenses are usually issued by state or federal agencies, and typically require some formal post-secondary education or training as a prerequisite.


    G. Recordkeeping Requirements

    None

    H. Implementing Documents


    For additional information regarding tuition assistance or to apply for tuition assistance, go to the TAP website.

    I. Contact Information


    For more information contact [email protected].
    Feedback on HR policies or procedures is welcomed. Send comment to [email protected]

    J. Revision History


    Date

    Revision

    By Whom

    Revision Description

    Section(s) Affected

    Change Type

    1/2/2012

    0

    M. Bello

    Re-write for wiki (brief)

    All

    Minor

    3/24/2015

    1

    L. Westphal

    Re-write for wiki (policy)

    All

    Minor

    3/16/2017

    1.1

    M. Stoufer

    Update "Associate Laboratory Director for Operations" position title to "Deputy Director for Operations"

    All

    Editorial

    5/1/2022

    2

    W. Crosson

    • Policy title changed from "Education and Employee Development" to "Tuition Assistance"
    • Training and development provisions of policy removed and added to a new "Training and Employee Development" policy
    • Tuition Assistance Program language edited for clarity and revised as follows: (1) removed 2-tier structure, (2) added a termination repayment provision, (3) clarified policy coverage of professional license or certification coursework and exam, (4) added requirement to disclose financial aid/scholarship, and (5) expanded reimbursement coverage to include all required registration fees
    • Updated definitions
    • Updated roles and responsibilities

    All

    Major

    DOCUMENT INFORMATION

    Title:

    Tuition Assistance

    Document number

    02.05.002.000

    Revision number

    2

    Publication date:

    5/2/2022

    Effective date:

    5/1/2022

    Next review date:

    5/2/2027

    Policy Area:

    Employee Development

    RPM Section (home)

    Human Resources

    RPM Section (cross-reference)

    Section 2.04

    Functional Division

    Human Resources

    Prior reference information (optional)

    RPM Section 2.04

    Source Requirements Documents

    • DOE Contract DE-AC02-05CH11231, Section J, Appendix A, Advance Understandings on Human Resources
    • Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 31.205-44, Training and Education Costs
    • University of California Personnel Policies for Staff Members (PPSM) 51, Reduced Fee Enrollment
    • University of California Regents Policy 7502, Policy on Reduced Fee Enrollment for University Employees

    Implementing Documents

    For additional information regarding tuition assistance or to apply for tuition assistance go to the TAP website.

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