Tuition reimbursed but ROI not tallied

Survey shows most companies not sure investment worthwhile
By Sarah Dobson
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 12/18/2008

Despite the large sums spent by corporations in the United States to fund tuition reimbursement, the majority have no idea if it’s worth it.

According to a recent study by the Seattle-based Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), 81 per cent of organizations provide tuition assistance programs for employees. However, only five per cent of organizations actually track program effectiveness. And most (79 per cent) have no plans to change the programs in the near term.

“A lot of companies seem to feel tuition-assistance programs are a staple of employee benefits, one that is likely to influence future productivity, engagement and retention,” says Jay Jamrog, senior vice-president of research at i4cp.

“Which is what makes the total lack of measuring the return on these programs such a shock. While companies look at layoffs and other cost-cutting measures, they had better focus their attention on measuring the effectiveness of programs where large sums of money are dedicated, like tuition reimbursement.”

Taking the Pulse: Tuition Assistance

also found one-quarter (26 per cent) of companies track retention rates as part of their assistance programs, followed by graduation rates (23 per cent) and professional advancement (15 per cent). Of the five per cent of companies that do measure return on investment as part of tuition assistance programs, the majority (63 per cent) do so in “rudimentary” ways, according to i4cp, such as Excel spreadsheets.

Nearly two-thirds of the 493 companies that responded to the poll said they do not provide advice about career, program selection or school choices. And 20 per cent of respondents offer cash advances to offset up-front costs of tuition.

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