Employee Tuition Exemption Benefit
University Policy Number 2209
Categorized: Human Resources and Payroll
Related Law & Policy:
This policy applies to all George Mason University full- and part-time faculty, administrative and professional faculty and classified staff, as well as non-student wage employees.
Full-time students, graduate assistants, graduate research assistants, graduate teaching assistants, graduate lecturers, graduate professional assistants, student wage employees, employees hired as Mason Temps, and no-pay affiliates are not eligible for employee tuition exemption under this policy. Non-student wage employees that begin a degree seeking program will be reclassified as student wage and will not be eligible for this benefit.
II. POLICY STATEMENT
Eligible George Mason University employees are allowed to enroll in classes and related laboratories each academic year, for which tuition, lab, and course fees will be exempted under the conditions set forth herein. Employee tuition exemptions cannot be applied against other charges and are not refundable. Individuals must be current and active employees of George Mason University to use this benefit. For special restrictions, please refer to Section II.B.
A. Tuition Waiver Benefit
- Maximum Allowable Benefits – The following table sets forth the maximum allowable benefits for each employment classification:
|Class of Employee||Allowable Number of Credits Exempted in any one Semester*||Total Allowable Number of Credits Exempted Per Academic Year|
|Full-time administrative and professional faculty||6||12|
|Part-time administrative and professional faculty||4||8|
|Full-time classified staff||6||12|
|Part-time classified staff||4||8|
|Non-Student Wage Employees||4||8|
*Employees are limited to the maximum number of credits for the entire summer academic calendar (not for each summer session). Please visit the Office of the University Registrar website for more information.
- Eligibility – Eligibility under this benefit will commence upon employment and extend through the academic terms of the class(es) in which the employee is enrolled. Adjunct faculty members, however, may use their earned benefits during the academic term during which they are employed, or during a future semester or summer term during the same academic year. Eligibility for non-student wage employees commences upon employment and is valid as long as an individual remains employed at the University in a wage position that is eligible for tuition exemption under this policy.
- Costs – In the event employment terminates prior to the start of the relevant academic terms, the employee will be responsible for the costs associated with the course(s) in which he or she is enrolled. In the event of dropped or withdrawn classes during tuition liability periods, the employee tuition benefits will remain on accounts. While employee repayment of the benefit will not be required, the amount of tuition waived will count towards semester and annual limits and is included in graduate coursework taxable reporting. If a course is cancelled by the department and the cost for the course no longer needs to be waived, the employee can use the tuition benefit credits within the same academic year.
- Transfer between employment classifications –Where an employee transfers between two or more employment classes in any given academic year, he or she is not permitted to combine the benefits of two or more employment classes. Employees will be restricted to the relevant maximum benefit under the employment classification that governs at the time their eligibility is verified and the waiver posted to their student account.
- Transfer of credits prohibited – If a portion of an employee’s allowable benefits remain unused at the end of a given academic year, they may not be transferred to another future academic year.
- Academic Requirements – Employees must meet the same academic requirements as any other student.
- IRS Tax Requirement – Per the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), employees who currently utilize a tuition waiver for graduate study will have waiver amounts in excess of $5,250 in a calendar year reported as taxable earnings. This means that tax withholding will increase in the pay period in which the excess amount is reported. If the tuition waiver amount exceeds the annual limit of $5250, the excess will be reported as taxable income and employees notified by Human Resources & Payroll each October. Anything less than or equal to $5,250 is not reportable.
Tuition waivers for employees in undergraduate programs are not impacted.
- Employees will not receive any special priority for registration, but will follow the priority of their academic category.
- Employees shall make every effort to schedule classes outside of their normal working hours. Where circumstances require, an employee may request an alternative work schedule through Human Resources, pursuant to the University Policy 2202: Flexible Work Policy. Such a request will be granted only with the consent of the supervisor, and operational service effectiveness must not be jeopardized. Time missed from work as a result of class attendance must be made up by the employee or charged to an appropriate leave balance.
- Application of the tuition exemption benefit shall not be used for George Mason University’s Continuing & Professional Education program. Employees are encouraged to speak with the relevant school or program to confirm participation prior to enrolling in classes under this benefit.
- The tuition exemption does not apply to orientation, new student, or special instructional fees such as individual vocal or instrumental instruction, which must be paid by the employee. Tuition for consortium courses that include foreign travel, and contract courses, are not eligible for exemption under this policy. Global Education Office (Study Abroad) courses and trip fees are ineligible for tuition waivers under this policy.
Exemptions will not be granted in anticipation of future work, nor will they be granted retroactively. Additional questions should be directed to Human Resources and the Student Accounts Office.
The Office of Student Accounts maintains procedures related to administration of this policy. As part of those procedures:
- Employees register for their course(s) and complete an Employee Tuition Exemption Request, to be routed to their Supervisor and Department Head for electronic signature. After electronic signatures are obtained, the form will be automatically routed to Student Accounts. The form must be received by Student Accounts prior to the payment due date for that registration (see the Student Accounts Office website for payment deadlines) and after the employee has registered for classes. Forms will not be accepted after the drop period. Failure to complete the exemption request in a timely manner may result in late payment penalties to the employee.
- Student Accounts will verify eligibility and process the exemption request. Once approved, the employee’s student account on Patriot Web will reflect a zero balance for exempt coursework after the term begins. Employees are responsible for ensuring their account is correct and be aware of changes in registration that would affect the benefit application.
- Degree seeking employees, regardless of residency status, must complete the Application for Virginia In-state Tuition Rates, pursuant to Section 23-7-4 of the Code of Virginia. This is an administrative and cost accounting requirement. Answers supplied by the applicant will not affect their eligibility under the benefit. Non-Degree seeking employees only need to complete the Employee Tuition Exemption Request form. Please be sure to answer domicile related questions in the form if necessary.
Academic year: for purposes of this policy, a given academic year is defined as beginning on the first day of the fall semester, and ending on the last day of the summer term.
Full-time faculty: faculty employees who work in a 9- or 12-month faculty position, and whose employee status is identified as 1.0 FTE.
Part-time faculty: faculty employees who work in a 9- or 12-month faculty position, and whose employee status is identified as less than 1.0 FTE, but greater than .50 FTE.
Full-time administrative and professional faculty: administrative and professional faculty employees who work in a 9- or 12-month faculty position, and whose employee status is identified as 1.0 FTE.
Part-time administrative and professional faculty: administrative and professional faculty employees who work in a 9- or 12-month faculty position, and whose employee status is identified as less than 1.0 FTE, but greater than .50 FTE.
Adjunct faculty: faculty members who are appointed to teach at least one course, or to perform other academic responsibilities on a part-time basis.
Full-time classified staff: classified staff employees who work in a position identified as 1.0 FTE (40 hours per week).
Part-time classified staff: classified staff employees who work in a position identified as less than 1.0 FTE, but greater than .50 FTE. Employees in this category will typically work less than 40 hours per week and greater than 20 hours per week.
Full-time student: A student’s primary relationship with Mason is the pursuit of an academic degree and part-time employment is incidental to the individual’s presence.
Student wage employees: Student wage employees’ primary relationship with Mason is the pursuit of an academic degree and part-time employment is incidental to the individual’s presence.
Non-student wage employment: Non-student wage employees’ primary relationship with Mason is to provide a service in exchange for pay. Non-student wage employment is intended to cover peak workloads, seasonal or short-term needs. Non-student wage employees may take courses but are not in a degree program.
Semester: for purposes of this policy, a semester is defined by the Registrar’s academic calendars.
The Executive Director of Accounting Operations and Student Accounts and Vice President for Human Resources and Payroll and Faculty/Staff Life, in consultation with Student Accounts and Admissions, will administer the Employee Tuition Waiver Program. Heads of Departments, Offices, and Activities will establish internal controls to confirm employee eligibility and assure that approved requests are within the scope of this policy.
A. Effective Date:
This policy is effective June 1, 2019.
B. Date of Most Recent Review:
June 8, 2021
VI. Timetable for Review
This policy, and any related procedures, shall be reviewed and revised, if necessary, annually.
Carol D. Kissal
Senior Vice President, Administration and Finance
Mark R. Ginsberg
Provost and Executive Vice President
Date approved: June 2, 2006
Revision approved: November 6, 2007
Revised: December 1, 2012
Revised: September 3, 2015
Revised: April 17, 2017
Revised: October 18, 2017
Revised: July 11, 2018
Revision approved: June 24, 2019
Revised: January 30, 2020
Revised: June 8, 2021