Benefit puts staff members in classrooms


More than 50 University of Colorado at Colorado Springs staff and faculty members took advantage of an employee benefit this fall by enrolling in courses without paying tuition.

Cindy Corwin, director of human resources, said 52 staff or faculty members took courses that ranged from accounting to rhetoric in bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs. Some employees took courses that related to their jobs, others took courses to fill requirements toward a degree, and others simply scratched a personal interest.

Rhea Taylor, executive assistant for facilities services, used the waiver to take online courses in personnel and fiscal management. She hopes to complete a master's in public administration next year.

"I was terrified at 45 to be taking classes with a 23-year-old," Taylor said. "But once I got into it, I've found the coursework fascinating and that it was pretty fun to work with those younger folks, too."

Taylor, who lives in Pueblo, said she appreciated the flexibility offered by online courses and that she found herself applying classroom theory to the workplace.

To take classes at UCCS, staff or faculty must first apply for admission and be accepted.

Then, one week before classes begin, the employee must visit the Office of Human Resources in Cragmor Hall to pick up a tuition benefit form and obtain appropriate approvals. On the first day of classes, employees can formally register. Employees are eligible for tuition waivers for up to nine credit hours – undergraduate or graduate – each academic year.

The process means that employees fill unused seats in courses, requiring some flexibility as well as planning on the employee's part to assure that tuition-paying students get first choice. Some staff members pursuing a degree on a time schedule opt to pay tuition to ensure they receive the course they need and at a time they desire.

And while tuition is waived, employees still pay student fees that support everything from the Family Development Program to Intercollegiate Athletics.

UCCS also is part of a pilot project that allows employees to transfer tuition benefits for undergraduate courses to a dependent (child, spouse or domestic partner). That benefit was used by 15 families in academic year 2008-2009 and 25 families in academic year 2009-2010, according to Corwin.

For more information about tuition benefits, contact Corwin at or 719-255-3696.