state of connecticut

MANUAL

Tuition Reimbursement Application Process

Prior To The Course: 

Employee decides to take a course and obtains information on costs and course description from an educational institution.  In general, courses should be taken at fully accredited colleges or universities. (If the institution is not accredited, approval from DAS is required.)  Employee then obtains an Application for Tuition Reimbursement (Form CO-101) from his/her TRO (refer to Addendum A).

Employee completes the Form CO-101.  This form includes the employee's name, home address, employing agency's name and location, job title, bargaining unit code, name and address of educational institution, title of the course, number of credits and cost (refer to OSC website for complete information - www.osc.ct.gov/manuals/TuitionProc/manual.htm).  The employee must also determine the tax status of the tuition reimbursement benefits.  For non-taxable tuition reimbursement, check the job-related box.  For taxable tuition reimbursements, check the non job-related box.  Employees can refer to Comptrollers Memorandum Number 2008-41, Determining Tax Status of Employee Tuition Reimbursement Payments or the Internal Revenue Guidelines at http://www.irs.gov/ for additional information. 

NP-5 (Protective Services) Union:  Employees covered by the Protective Services (NP-5) Contract must complete the Protective Services Educational Committee (PSEC) Tuition and Training Fund Application Form, in addition to the CO-101.  Instructions appear on the application.  The mailing address to submit applications is:  705 N. Mountain Road, Newington, CT 06111-1411.  Click here for the PSEC Tuition and Training Fund Application Form

Submittal of Tuition Reimbursement Application:

The employee submits Form CO-101 to the TRO with the following material at least two weeks prior to the start of class:  A course catalog description or brochure as well as a projected course schedule (or actual course schedule, if available) and a projected itemization of costs (a copy of fees listed in the educational institution's catalog is acceptable for this purpose).

The employee retains a copy for his/her own records.  The Form CO-101 should not be submitted any earlier than three months prior to the first day of class or any later than two weeks prior to the first day of class.  There may be some variation* to this step in the process; refer to specific collective bargaining agreements to ensure applicability.  The employee may register for course(s) prior to TRO's review, but reimbursement cannot be guaranteed. 

The TRO dates and time-stamps all copies of the Form CO-101 upon receipt. 

If not already provided, the employee must also submit the following material to the TRO during the first week of class: 

If this documentation is not available at the time indicated above, the employee must contact the TRO and make arrangements to submit this material once it becomes available.  Lack of this documentation jeopardizes eligibility for reimbursement under the Tuition Reimbursement Program. 

 Employees are advised that approval for participation in the Tuition Reimbursement Program is contingent upon receipt of the above information. 

* Note:  For non-traditional (including out-of-state, on-line and not-for-credit) courses, employees are strongly advised to submit this material at least one month prior to the first day of class as these requests require a more in-depth review.

TRO Reviews Application

The Agency TRO receives and reviews the application form to: 

TRO Sends Employee Participation Approval or Denial:

After reviewing the application, the TRO sends written confirmation of approval for participation in the Tuition Reimbursement Program (Form TR-2) to the employee, indicating approval or denial of the request.

When requested, the State Tuition Reimbursement Coordinators will review denials when TROs are uncertain whether or not an eligibility issue (i.e., an employee is on leave with or without pay) prevents approval.  If the Coordinators determine the request is denied, TRO sends written notification of the denial to the employee.  If the Coordinators determine the request is approved, the TRO sends a revised notice to the employee.

The TRO retains a copy of the notice (i.e., Form TR-2) on file.

The TRO Completes the Following Sections as Necessary:

TRO Completes Priority Log:

The TRO completes and sends the OSC Priority Log, Form CO-102 ("Priority Log") to OSC - , Tuition Unit at 55 Elm Street, Hartford, CT, via FAX at (860) 702-3441.  The Priority Log is a listing (by bargaining unit and fiscal year) of the employee's tuition reimbursement request, the date the application was received by the TRO and the amount anticipated for reimbursement.  The priority log is sent to the OSC when the application has been approved by the agency. To ensure the employee's proper placement on the priority list, it is important to submit the Priority Log immediately after the application has been approved.  Duplicate information should not be submitted.  If any of the information contained on the Priority Log changes, the agency must resubmit the original log with changes noted to OSC - , Tuition Unit.  Example 1, if an employee does not complete a course within the fiscal year of the application and the course needs to be carried over into the next fiscal year, a new priority log noting this change should be submitted.  Example 2, if an employee fails to pass, withdraws or does not register for a course(s), a new priority log noting this change should be submitted.

 TROs must submit Priority Logs to OSC for members of the following bargaining units:

Priority logs are not required for Confidential employees nor employees covered by the following bargaining units: 
NP-1, NP-4, NP-5, NP-6, P-1, P-3A, NP-8, Vo-Tech Teacher and Vo-Tech Administration.

Completion of Course(s):

Employee submits the following supporting documentation* to the TRO following completion of the course(s):

These documents must be submitted by February 1st for Summer and Fall courses and by June 1st for Spring courses.

In order for OSC to approve the claim for reimbursement, all documentation must be properly verified.  A receipt will not be considered to be adequate documentation for payment if it does not identify the institution or if it does not identify the student (i.e., in the case of an on-line grade report)

The TRO and the employee must ensure that all documents submitted to OSC contain the documentation/information for appropriate identification.  Otherwise, OSC will return the documents to the agency.  

Tuition reimbursement payment will not be processed until all of the appropriate documentation is received.  

If the employee has exceeded limitations as specified by collective bargaining agreement, OSC will deny the request and will return the materials to the agency.  The TRO retains this material on file. TRO should notify employee that the application was denied.

* Note:  If the employee is experiencing difficulty acquiring his/her grade(s), or proof of payment, s/he must inform the TRO for possible intervention with the institution.  Vo-Tech teachers require a passing grade of "C" or better.  All other bargaining units require a passing grade of "D" or better.

 TRO COMPLETES PACKAGE:

TRO follows the outlined procedure below:

TRO Submits Completed Application to OSC:

A deadline for submitting approved applications to OSC for payment will be set by OSC each semester. Generally, this date will be set on or around February 28th for Summer and Fall applications and on or around July 19th for Spring applications, unless the particular collective bargaining agreement is due to expire; in this case, the deadline becomes June 30th.  One copy of the application form must go to OSC while one copy remains in the employee's tuition reimbursement file. 

Failure to submit approved applications to OSC by the established deadline may result in the reallocation of these obligated monies to other tuition reimbursement program participants.  In cases where administrative exceptions are requested to pay applications not meeting current guidelines for payment, the State Tuition Reimbursement Coordinators should be contacted.  If the State Tuition Reimbursement Coordinators agree that the employee should be paid due to extraordinary circumstances, the Union should be contacted for concurrence and a written agreement provided by the Union and the Office of Labor Relations.  If the Tuition Reimbursement Coordinators do not agree, the employee should be advised that payment is not approved.

The entire packet of material is sent to the OSC - , Tuition Unit at 55 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106.  General questions may be directed to:  (860) 702-3334.  (FAX: (860) 702-3441)

Order of Payment:

Managers and employees covered by bargaining units requiring a Priority List:
Managerial employees paid under the MP or MD pay plan and employees in bargaining units that require a priority list are paid based on their relative position on the Priority List and payment is also contingent upon availability of funds.  OSC will reimburse requests for applicants in proper order until the funds are exhausted or until the cut-off date is reached for paying all outstanding valid requests. Alternates will be considered at this point if funds are still available.

Employees covered by bargaining units not requiring a Priority List:
For employees in bargaining units that do not require a priority list, employees are paid on a first-come, first-served basis.  That means that applications are paid by OSC as they are submitted and received until the funds are exhausted. OSC Priority Logs are not required for employees covered by the following bargaining units:  NP-1, NP-4, NP-5, NP-6, P-1, P-3A, NP-8, Vo-Tech Teacher and Vo-Tech Administration. 

Other Employees exempt from collective bargaining:
A priority list is not required for Confidential employees; these employees are paid at the discretion of the agency, through the agency payroll office, with agency funds. 

Tips to Avoid Delays in Processing:

It is imperative that every employee who has submitted a Form CO-101 also submits the required documentation in a timely manner as outlined in the Tuition Reimbursement Process.  Employees should be accurate in completing the paperwork to avoid unnecessary delays in processing. 

Tuition Reimbursement Payments: 

OSC will keep an accounting of the funds available.  Once funds are exhausted, agencies will be notified.  TROs, in turn, will notify employees.  Applications should be submitted to OSC for processing when funds become available. 

Upon completion of the audit process by OSC's Tuition Unit, the tuition reimbursement will be received in the employee's bi-weekly paycheck and identified as such on the paycheck stub. 

Employees Covered by Expired Collective Bargaining Agreements:

Current practice concerning contracts that have not been settled has been to accept applications from bargaining unit employees subject to payment once the contract has been settled unless directed to the contrary.  Therefore, employees should be advised to file applications as if the contract existed during the period between contracts to enhance their chances of receiving reimbursement.  Eventual payment will be contingent upon the agreement reached by the state and the bargaining unit. 

GENERAL TUITION REIMBURSEMENT GUIDELINES:

IMPORTANT: These guidelines are to be used to address issues not specifically covered in collective bargaining agreements.  If the contract is silent, the criteria contained within this document shall be adhered to as the criteria reflects the language agreed to at the time the original State of Connecticut Tuition Reimbursement Manual was developed in October 1988.

 Eligible Courses:

For many employees, courses must be (1) Job Related, (2) Upward-Mobility Related, or (3) An elective that is a part of a degree program.  See Page 13 - "Glossary of Terms" for definitions of these three criteria. 

Course Level:

Courses may be at the undergraduate or graduate level and for credit or non-credit.  Courses may also be audited for a Pass or Satisfactory final grade. 

When Courses May Be Taken:

Only courses outside of regularly scheduled hours of work will be considered for reimbursement.  The exception is courses taken on approved leave time* (a letter stating that approved leave time was approved and used should be attached to the application. Core-CT records showing a P-3B or P3A employee is on Sabbatical leave is also permitted).  Work hours may also be adjusted to allow attendance consistent with agency operating needs.  Refer to General Letter No. 28.

Paid educational leave is granted with the provision that tuition will be the responsibility of the employee.  Therefore, tuition reimbursement will not be applicable in these instances.  Employees on an unpaid educational leave or an educational leave with partial pay are eligible for tuition reimbursement.

Where Courses May Be Taken:

In general, courses are to be taken at fully accredited colleges or universities.  Other schools providing trade instruction or special occupational training that are approved by the Department of Higher Education will be accepted.  Correspondence courses, on-line courses or "colleges without walls", preparation, and self-development programs may be taken but are subject to review by the TRO or the State Tuition Reimbursement Coordinators prior to the employee beginning the course of study.

It is important that employees review their collective bargaining agreement for tuition reimbursement benefits as some collective bargaining agreements require employees physically attend courses in order to be eligible for reimbursement under this program.

External Degree Programs:

Reminder: This information pertains only to employees covered by collective bargaining agreements with no language concerning this topic and when the "Bargaining Unit Requirements" section of this Guide does not specify any additional restrictions.

Employees may be reimbursed for payment of the initial enrollment fee, the fee for registration to take the examination, the fee for the actual examination, and the graduation fee (provided passing grades have been achieved).  Bargaining unit credit limits, the maximum amount charged per credit, and the fiscal year maximums will apply.  See the OSC Website for this information.

Changes in Courses Affecting Eligibility:

All changes in classes being taken must be reported to the TRO immediately to assess the impact on eligibility.  Particularly important are changes in the number of credits affecting the amount to be reimbursed and incompletes, withdrawals and failures that can preclude payment.

Applicants who are unable to complete work in the semester applied for must request an extension to the following semester and/or fiscal year.  Timely notification may allow the funds to be released to other applicants.

Non-Credit Courses/Seminars:

Non-credit courses and seminars may not be taken during work hours while using tuition reimbursement funds.  Non-credit courses will be converted to equivalent number of credit(s) for the purpose of computing reimbursement.  This includes courses taken through an Adult Education Program or similar program on an employee's own time.

Length of Course, in hours Equivalent Number of Credits
Less than 6 hours Not eligible for reimbursement under this Program
6 - 14 hours 1
15 - 29 hours 2
30 - 44 hours 3
Each additional 12 hours 1 additional credit

A certificate of completion of the course from the institution or a letter on institutional letterhead from the instructor indicating the employee has completed the course is required.

If the employee is experiencing difficulty acquiring this information, s/he must inform the TRO for possible intervention with the institution. 

Items Covered by Tuition Reimbursement:

Refer to the specific collective bargaining agreement and/or Addendum B.
Unless stated differently in a collective bargaining agreement, reimbursement covers the cost of tuition, laboratory fees and community college service fees actually paid by the employee up to the maximum amount.  As a general rule, fees for non-credit courses follow the same rules as those for        credit courses.

Note:  Laboratory fees may be referred to as "Applied Healthcare Fees".  Please refer to individual collective bargaining agreements for specific language to determine the maximum amount to be paid, percentages paid, etc., under this program.

Items Not Covered by Tuition Reimbursement:

Fees such as insurance, breakage, and any other associated fees, or purchase of textbooks will NOT be reimbursed unless specifically provided for by contract.

Evidence Required for Payment:

Tuition reimbursement will be paid when the employee provides evidence of completion of the authorized course(s) with a passing grade shown by a college grade report or by a letter of successful completion from the instructor on institutional letterhead.  A valid receipt of payment is required.  A cost breakdown should be included with the application.  See Addendum C  for the current list of acceptable receipts.

Additional Regulations Regarding Payment:

Participation in this program will be limited to the funds made available by the approved collective bargaining agreement. 

Payment will be made only if the employee is still employed by the State of Connecticut on the last day of class for each course completed.  Refer to Addendum E - Frequently Asked Questions for a FAQ addressing leave of absence situation.

Incomplete Course(s):

When a course status is listed as "incomplete" it will not be reimbursed until all coursework is complete and a grade is reported.  Any work not completed will be carried over into the new fiscal year and must be completed within that fiscal year to qualify for reimbursement.  In other words, for a collective bargaining agreement allowing a maximum of nine (9) credits per year, a 3-credit course taken but not completed in the current fiscal year (07-08) will be included in the total number of credits allowable in the following fiscal year (08-09).  Therefore, an employee would only be allowed six (6) additional credits for fiscal year (08-09).

Reimbursement is paid at the tuition rate at the time of application and semester attending.

Permanent Employee Status:

Whether an employee must have permanent status to be eligible for tuition reimbursement may be specified in the individual collective bargaining agreement.  Therefore, consult the individual collective bargaining agreement for language pertaining to eligibility for tuition reimbursement.

Reimbursement for Part-Time Employees:

Employees exempt from collective bargaining who work twenty (20) hours/week or more but less than  a full-time schedule ARE eligible for tuition reimbursement.  Consult individual collective bargaining agreement language for eligibility for tuition reimbursement for part-time employees within each bargaining unit.

Courses Beginning And/Or Ending After May 31 When Employees Cannot Obtain Grade Report:

Many proprietary schools, such as those offering computer or secretarial programs, are for one or two years' duration, not-for-credit, or a semester in length. In situations such as these, conversion similar to that used for non-credit courses should be used.

An attempt should be made to "fit" the program into the semester framework and submit separate application forms every term. 

Before the February 1st and June 1st deadlines, the student should submit a letter from the institution or professor stating successful completion of that portion of the course. In addition, a receipt or letter showing payment for that same time period should be submitted.