Get Your Employer To Fund Your Postgraduate Education

If you’re already employed, but want to increase your knowledge and opportunities, one great way to get ahead is to go back to school.  If you can’t afford the bill, though, and you’re not keen on changing companies, one option for making your education more affordable might be to get your employer to pay the bill for you.  This isn’t always possible of course, but in situations where the employer can see a mutual benefit, there’s a chance that you might receive some assistance.  How do you get your employer to help you out?  Here are some suggested steps.

  1. Research your company’s educational program.
  2. Choose a postgraduate course and school.
  3. List ways this move will benefit your company.
  4. Address concerns.

Research Company Policy
Some companies don’t have any programs in place to fund education, while others do.  If you can learn about the program in advance, it can help you to conduct your conversation with your employer successfully.  Does your company have a partnership with a particular university?  Does the company have a scholarship fund?  A tuition reimbursement program?  Knowing the structure can help you move onto the next step.

Choose Postgraduate Courses and School
This is why knowing the structure of your company’s program can help.  You’ll have a lot more luck getting funding if you’ve chosen a school your company partners with and a major that is actually offered by that school than you would if you approached your company asking for money to study at a school that they don’t partner with.  Also think about what major would benefit your employer.  If you’re a software developer, a postgrad course in software engineering would make sense.  Or if you’re a PR specialist, perhaps a postgrad course in social media would help both you and your company to succeed.

Discuss Benefits to Your Employer
Come up with all the ways in which your employer would benefit from your further education.  Point out when you talk to your employer that your new skills will help you to do your job more effectively, and also that education is known to improve productivity.  If your education provides your company with credentials which could help bring in new clients, that’s another tact to take.  You can also point out that you could pass down your knowledge to other employees, potentially saving costs in the future.  Try to bring everything back around to revenue.  How will your education increase the company’s bottom line?

Address Concerns
Your employer will invariably bring up concerns other than financial ones, and you’ll want to be ready to address them when they come up.  For example, your employer will probably want to know if you’ll need time off work to complete your courses.  Point out that online or night classes will allow you to conduct your training during your free time and not during work hours.  Expense considerations will hopefully be alleviated by the discussion of benefits, when you explain to your employer how paying for your tuition could cost less than trying to search for new talent with the same educational credentials.  Having a loyal, long-term employee who already is integrated into the workplace and who has new credentials through higher education could open doors of opportunity which could in turn increase the company’s revenue.

If you are successful in convincing your employer to finance your postgraduate education, you will need to sign a contract.  Review the terms carefully before you sign, and make sure that you address your own concerns in advance.  You’ll need to know how and when the funds will be provided, whether you’ll be receiving the funds in the form of a grant or a loan, what will happen if you have to drop your classes, whether you will have a certain GPA requirement, and also whether you are required to commit a certain number of years to the company.  Only after both you and your employer are satisfied with the terms should you sign on the agreement.  Good luck with your postgraduate education!

Article written by Steve O., an occasional guest blogger, full time consultant.