Tuition benefit all in the family at UCCS

Program winning fans during two-year test
By Staff

A tuition benefit extended to immediate family members of employees at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has proven a hit, making it likely that the Board of Regents will eventually consider whether to broaden the program beyond its pilot basis.

In 2008-2009, the first year of the two-year pilot program, 14 dependents took advantage of the benefit for 108 credit hours. This year, 20 dependents are enrolled for 122 credits, with more likely to be added in the spring.

The tuition benefit is meant to help the university in recruiting and retaining faculty and staff. Eligible participants must have been a permanent employee for at least a year. It allows the employee to transfer his or her unused tuition assistance, maximum nine credits, to an immediate family member for undergraduate work.

"As an employee, it is a very nice benefit to have for your children if they decide to come to a CU campus," said Martin Wood, vice chancellor for university advancement and chief operating officer at UCCS. As a sophomore studying criminal justice, his daughter Michelle is able to take advantage of the benefit.

Though his daughter would have been able to attend school even without the benefit, Wood said the tuition offered is an influential, if not determining factor for many families. "Over the course of a year, getting nine hours of tuition picked up is a pretty significant number." He added that continuing the benefit would result in "a positive reason for people to consider employment at the university if they have a son or daughter who would like to come here."

Steve Ellis, executive director of student systems, was involved in establishing and managing the program, and expects the Board of Regents to consider expanding the benefit once information on the two-year pilot program is assembled next year.

Though Ellis said the process for approving, reviewing and tracking students who use the benefit has made for a heavier workload for staff, "the good will and benefit it has provided to our dependents and families far outweighs the work." He added, "A number of family members may not have taken courses except for this program."

For more on the tuition benefit at UCCS, click here.