By Alyssa Janssen
One of the major benefits offered to UT employees and their families is the opportunity to pursue college or other post-secondary education at substantial discounts—even possibly at no cost. The educational assistance and fee waiver benefit allows all UT employees, their spouses and their dependents to attend any approved state-supported college, university or area vocational-technical school at a discounted rate.
Full-time regular faculty and staff may enroll at no cost in up to nine undergraduate or graduate credit hours per term. Part-time regular faculty and staff working 50 percent time or more, may enroll without payment of fees based upon their percent of effort as follows:
|Employee Effort||Fee Waiver|
|50-74 percent||up to 4 hours|
|75-99 percent||up to 6 hours|
|100 percent||up to 9 hours|
Spouses and dependents of full-time employees are eligible for up to 50 percent fee discount for undergraduate programs at UT Knoxville, UT Chattanooga and UT Martin. Spouses and dependents may enroll in any number of courses up to and including full-time study.
UT employees from across the state are taking advantage of the fee waiver for themselves and their families. It’s a great help in the affordability of achieving academic and career goals.
“The fee waiver is covering 50 percent of my tuition, so that it is more affordable for me to obtain my master’s degree and even makes it possible for me to consider my doctorate,” said Jennifer Wynn, human resources specialist for the UT Foundation.
For some, the fee waiver allows them to follow their passions.
“The educational fee waiver represents the lighting of a fire within me to pursue my doctoral degree in higher education administration,” said Chandra Harris-McCray, executive director of communications for the UT Foundation. “As a first-generation college student, I am inherently aware of the multiplicity of meanings and value surrounding access and attainment of a college degree, so I am extraordinarily grateful to be a Ph.D. student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and executive director of communications for the UT Foundation.”
“I would encourage any fellow employee with that dream, goal or spark of desire hiding somewhere in their hearts to take the leap and start a program.”
Adam Brimer, senior visuals producer for the UT system, Office of Communications and Marketing.
For others, the fee waiver gives their families the opportunity to pursue their academic goals. Marsha Davis, human resources administrative assistant at UT Martin, explained that the discount allowed her and her children to further their education without the burden of student loans.
“As a divorced mom, I needed a school that had an upstanding reputation but was affordable, she said. “Because of the fee waiver, most of our tuition was paid and this allowed me to have enough financial aid left to pursue two master’s degrees. The fee discount will allow my children to pursue master’s degrees as well.”
Kerry Witcher, assistant vice president for alumni affairs and annual giving, says his children will graduate with very little debt, thanks to this employee bene t.“By the time our daughter graduates in May 2018, we estimate the two of them will have saved around $28,000 in tuition costs as a result of this program,” he said. “Both children will have received a quality education and will have done so at a significantly reduced cost.”
Toya White, apartment manager for the Office of Housing at UT Martin sees the fee waiver as an opportunity to prepare herself for her next educational journey into doctoral studies.
“I decided to obtain my master’s degree for a variety of reasons,” she said. “For starters, I had shadowed several physicians and some of them had introduced the idea of a master’s degree in public health, so I began researching it and figured I’d go for it. I love health and love people, so I jumped at the opportunity to expand my knowledge in such a field.”
For Laura Bryant, director of the Center for Health Education and Wellness at UT Knoxville, taking courses as a non-degree seeking student allowed her to discover the next step she wanted to take in her career.
“I am pursuing my doctorate in the educational psychology and counseling department’s adult learning program within the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences,” she said. “The courses I have taken and the support I have found in building relationships with faculty and classmates has allowed me to think more critically and creatively about the work I do at the University.”
Number of Online Degrees
- Graduate Programs: 14
- Post Graduate Programs: 1
- Ph.D. Programs: 3
- Certificate Programs: 1
- Graduate Programs: 5
- Undergraduate/Certificate Programs: 2
- Hybrid Graduate Programs: 2
- Undergraduate Programs: 6
- Graduate Programs: 5
- Undergraduate Programs: 6
UT Health Science Center
- Certificate Programs: 5
- Graduate: 1
- Doctor of Nursing Practice
- RN – BSN Program
- Medical Laboratory Technicians–Bachelor of Science Degree in Medical Laboratory Science
UT Space Institute
- Graduate Programs: 1
- Professional Development Programs: 4
While some employees prefer on-campus classes, others prefer to take classes where and when it’s convenient. Online classes are becoming particularly popular, especially for those who don’t have the time to attend classes on campus. David Wright, director of development for the College of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center, explained that his schedule can be unpredictable and participating in the completely online educational doctorate program in higher education at the University of Memphis allows him to set his own schedule.
“This allows me to stay focused on my job and focus on my school on nights and weekends,” he said. “I definitely miss free time, but the fee waiver has greatly reduced the burden I’d face in paying for a doctoral degree and really doubles as a form of continuing professional education and personal advancement.”
Each year, campuses work to expand their online programs and, as a result, employees have more options for taking courses from multiple UT campuses. Adam Wilson, director of UT Martin Online, says he is working to add more graduate and undergraduate degrees within the year.
“The courses I have taken and the support I have found in building relationships with faculty and classmates has allowed me to think more critically and creatively about the work I do at the University.”
Laura Bryant, director of the Center for Health Education and Wellness at UT Knoxville
Some campuses also offer hybrid courses and programs, which incorporate both online and on-campus instruction.
Whether online or on-campus, employees agree that taking advantage of the fee waiver is a great benefit and a great incentive to pursuing academic and professional goals.
“I would encourage any fellow employee with that dream, goal or spark of desire hiding somewhere in their hearts to take the leap and start a program,” said Adam Brimer, senior visuals producer for the UT system, Office of Communications and Marketing. “You enrich not only yourself and your mind, but also your work and the University, as a whole. I started my master’s program not only to better myself, but to help make the University of Tennessee a better place through my work.”
To learn more about the fee waiver and educational assistance benefit, visit https://hr.tennessee.edu/benefits/educational-assistance-and-fee-waiver/. You can also call the HR Call Center at 1-888- 444-8847 (from 865 area code, call 946-8847).Tags: Educational assistance, fee waiver