Staff and faculty at Boise State further their education at reduced costs

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The increasing cost of colleges and universities across the nation each year prevents many students from pursuing higher levels of education after receiving a high school diploma or equivalent. Even the lower costs of in-state institutions have seen a sweeping increase over the last 20 years.

In accounts reported to U.S. News by the 300 ranked national universities, the average annual in-state tuition nationally jumped from $3,168 in 1998 to $10,858 in 2019. Tuition and fees at universities are outpacing inflation rates and are becoming more difficult for families or individuals to afford.

Some people don’t wish to pursue an education past high school and enter the workforce instead of attending college. For those individuals seeking to achieve higher levels of academia but are affected by the high costs, it might be of interest to look at opportunities offered to university employees through benefits that include tuition discounts.

Boise State offers a reduced-tuition cost for not only its educational staff, but extends the benefit to any benefit-eligible directly employed through the university, as well as to their spouses and eligible dependents. The tuition fee waiver is applicable to both degree and non-degree-seeking employees and dependents.

“Employees that are benefit-eligible qualify to use the fee waiver, which instead of paying the full tuition costs, the employee would pay five dollars a credit,” said Human Resource Services Benefit Supervisor, Camile Mick.

After an eligible employee has been in a benefit-eligible position for five consecutive months, if their dependent child under the age of 26 wants to take courses through the university, they can defer to use another benefit created to aid dependents with enlisting in classes full time.

As opposed to the benefit which would restrict the employee, spouse or dependent to nine credits a semester, this benefit – only applicable to dependents –  removes the credit restriction and Boise State would cover 65 percent of the total tuition cost.

Undergraduate tuition per semester at Boise State costs $3,847 for a semester and $7,694 for both semesters. Dependent children of employees would only pay $1,346.45 for a semester or $2,692.90 for both.

For the 2018-2019 academic year, the Boise State Human Resource Services gathered that for the fall semester, 290 employees, 80 spouses and 110 dependents used the tuition fee waiver benefit. The spring saw a decrease in numbers with 233 employees, 73 spouses and only 87 dependents.

For employees who want to pursue a graduate degree, the Graduate College at Boise State also offers an application fee waiver that covers the $65 fee nonemployees or beneficiaries would have to pay.

Associate Director of Registrar Systems, Michael Amai, said the university provides several opportunities for educational growth for its employees and creates class schedules based on the needs of those who work full time.

Amai, who is currently enrolled in courses at Boise State seeking a master’s degree in business administration said that without the tuition benefit he would not have considered getting a second degree.

“I think the graduate program really opens up opportunities for faculty and staff,” Amai said. “If this program was not available, and I went the traditional route I probably would not be successful.”

Graduate College senior admission degree specialist, Becca Wolf said that she sought employment at the Boise State for its tuition benefits and applied several times before being offered a position. Wolf, an Idaho native, received her undergraduate degree in equestrian studies from an out-of-state college and graduated with $27,000 in debt.

Wolf said she wanted to avoid the additional debt that would come from pursuing a master’s degree in counseling and has been able to balance both working for the university full time while also being able to work towards her next degree in the evenings.

Some courses may not eligible for fee waiver benefits, as it depends on the program in question and whether they are considered self-supporting or state funded. The tuition fee waiver extends only to those programs that are funded through the state, as those that are self-supporting rely on enrollment costs to sustain the program.

For a full list of programs not eligible for tuition benefits visit the Boise State X website that is geared to assist employees and their families as they prepare to enroll in course.

Eligibility for the tuition waiver is determined by the state of Idaho and requires employees to work 20 or more hours per week, for five or more consecutive months. Employees who meet this requirement and are hired before the beginning of the semester are able to use their benefits for the upcoming semester. Their dependents are able to use the benefit after completing a required five-month provisionary period.

The tuition waiver has restrictions that prevent the employee and spouse from using it in the same semester if there is a dependent also using it during that time. Only the employee and dependent may use the waiver simultaneously.

The admissions process is the same for employees and dependents interested in applying for enrollment as it would be for any incoming student. Boise State will cover tuition costs that do not exceed $5,250 for spouses and dependents in a calendar year with the tuition waiver, but is restriction does not apply to direct employees.

Boise State extends its tuition benefits for employees to other participating in state universities and affiliates like: College of Southern Idaho, Eastern-Idaho Technical School, Career & Technical Education, Idaho Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Idaho Public Television, Idaho State Board of Education, Idaho State Department of Education, Idaho State University, Lewis and Clark State College, University of Idaho and Military Science and ROTC programs. Each entity has its own set of policies as to beneficiaries and degree and non-degree-seeking restrictions.

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