Employee Tuition Exemption Benefit

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University Policy Number 2209


Responsible Office: , ,

Policy Procedure: N/A

Related Law & Policy: N/A

I.          SCOPE

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, and student wage employees, are not eligible for employee tuition exemption under this policy. Definitions are available in Policy 2217.


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.


A.  Maximum Allowable Benefits – The following table sets forth the maximum allowable benefits for each employment classification:

Class of Employee

Maximum Allowable Number of Credits Exempted Per Academic Year

Maximum Allowable Number of Credits Exempted in any one Semester or Summer Term

Full-time faculty



Part-time faculty



Full-time administrative and professional faculty



Part-time administrative and professional faculty



Full-time classified staff



Part-time classified staff



Adjunct faculty



Non-Student Wage Employees




B.  Accrual of Credits for Non-Student Wage Employees – Non-student wage employees are eligible to enroll in up to 4 credit hours of course work after 500 hours of employment.  An additional 4 hours of credits will be earned under this benefit after each subsequent 500 hours of employment. Each 4 credit hour exemption must be used in a single semester or summer term and no portion of the 4 credit hours may be transferred to another semester or summer term.  Upon separation from a wage assignment, the employee’s accrued tuition waiver hours will remain frozen for a period of six months.  If the employee acquires another wage assignment at George Mason University within that six-month period, he or she will continue to accrue the benefit from the last remaining balance.  Otherwise, the balance will be drawn to zero and the employee will begin to accrue at the zero balance for any future wage assignments at George Mason University.

C.  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.  Non-student wage employees are not eligible to accrue, nor to use, credits under this benefit while they are enrolled as a full-time student.

D.  Costs – In the event employment terminates during the drop period 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.  Employees whose employment has terminated after the drop period will not be responsible for costs associated with the course(s).

E.  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 of their enrollment in a course.

F.  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.

G.  Academic Requirements – Employees must meet the same academic requirements as any other student.

H. IRS Tax Requirement – Per the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), employees who currently utilize a tuition waiver for graduate study will have amounts in excess of $5,250 in a calendar year reported as taxable earnings. This means that your 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 you will be 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 programs that include revenue sharing agreements with external partners.  Such programs include, but are not limited to: (1) Advanced Biomedical Sciences Masters Degree and Graduate Certificate; (2) History of Decorative Arts Masters Degree; (3) Wiley Online Programs and Courses; and (4) Executive and Professional Education Courses. Employees are encouraged to speak with the relevant school or program to confirm participation prior to enrolling in classes under this benefit.  Additional questions should be directed to the Student Accounts Office.

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.

Exemptions will not be granted in anticipation of future work, nor will they be granted retroactively.


The following definitions apply only for purposes of this policy; they do not apply to any other policy or handbook of the University or its employees.

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 – 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.

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.


A. The Office of Student Accounts maintains procedures related to administration of this policy. As part of those procedures:

(1)   Employees must complete an Employee Tuition Exemption Request .  The form must be signed by their supervisor and routed to the Student Accounts office, as soon as practicable after the employee has registered for class(es), but prior to the payment due date for that registration (see the Student Accounts Office website for payment deadlines). Failure to complete the exemption request in a timely manner may result in late payment penalties to the employee.

(2)   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.

B. In addition, and regardless of residency status, employees 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.


The Director of Student Fiscal Services and Assistant Vice President for Human Resources and Payroll, in consultation with the University Registrar, will administer the Employee Tuition Waiver Program.


The policies herein are effective upon the date of approval. This policy shall be reviewed and revised, if necessary, annually and become effective immediately.



______________________                            __2/22/2013_____________
Elizabeth A. Brock                                         Date
Associate Vice President/Controller


______________________                            __2/26/2013____________
Peter N. Stearns                                              Date

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