Sharing the costs Featured

5:43am EDT December 11, 2003
A recent national survey indicates that despite downsizing efforts by many companies, tuition reimbursement is on the rise within corporate America. As a result, more working adults are turning to alternative programs to advance their degrees or hone their skills.

According to the recent Insight Express survey, 78 percent of companies are investing in their workers' education and skills by providing tuition reimbursement. It also found 25 percent increased reimbursement amounts over the last three years. The survey was conducted among 314 human resource executives from companies with more than 1,000 employees.

Evidence of this trend can be seen in the Columbus area, where more and more working adults are seeking out educational services designed for the working adult. Seminar-style learning environments, evening courses and e-learning are becoming increasingly popular choices for busy professionals seeking to enrich themselves with education.

In Columbus, universities targeting the adult student have increased their presence by offering additional degree programs and opening new campuses. For example, the University of Phoenix, Ohio Dominican and Mount Vernon Nazarene universities, and ITT Tech have all expanded operations in Columbus this past year. And many of the adult students who attend these schools receive tuition reimbursement from their employer. For example, approximately 50 percent of students receive some type of tuition reimbursement at the University of Phoenix-Columbus Campus, which opened in September.

"My ability to receive corporate reimbursement made it easier on me financially and played a major role in my decision to come back to school and pursue my MBA", says Maurice Budurin, a transfer student from the University of Phoenix in Dallas and a relationship manager at Paymentech.

Higher education plays a big factor in professional success, and this new study indicates that most corporations support this advancement. Many of the University of Phoenix students who are supported through tuition reimbursement recognize the convenience and flexibility of on-campus, seminar-style courses, as well as online programs.

"The real-world knowledge I gained during my MBA program experience at Franklin University is applicable to my job on a daily basis," says Bobby Williamson, executive director of the Westerville Visitors and Convention Bureau. "Franklin's program is based around peer-to-peer learning and a whole-brained approach that is perfect for working adults who live the business experience every day."

The bottom line is simple -- colleges and universities that dedicate resources to support the needs of adults make it easier for them to become successful, and tuition reimbursement plays a big part in their ability to earn a bachelor's or master's degree.

As the number of corporate-supported programs such as tuition reimbursement increases, so does the respectability of e-learning services. A University of Phoenix Online study indicated that 84 percent of human resource executives agree that online degree programs are a major trend for the future. Besides the University of Phoenix-Online Campus, several other institutions offer online courses and/or programs to Columbus residents, including Franklin, DeVry and Central Michigan universities, and Columbus State Community College.

At the University of Phoenix, all of our programs are accredited and facilitated by highly qualified professionals, whether on-campus or online.

As more and more students and corporations benefit from the innovative and evolving academic programs offered by colleges and universities providing these opportunities to working adults, the general public is beginning to recognize the quality of these educational alternatives. Eric Ziehlke is associate campus director for the University of Phoenix-Columbus Campus. The University of Phoenix is the nation's largest private university, with more than 175,000 students at more than 125 campuses in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Reach him at (614) 433-0095 or EricZiehlke@phoenix.edu.