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Tuition Assistance

Full-time faculty and staff members who are eligible for membership in the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System or Optional Retirement Program are eligible to enroll in three (3) courses per academic year during fall, spring, and summer semesters, subject to approval by the employee's supervisor and Human Resources. Employees may enroll in courses at any of the 17 constituent UNC campuses. Enrollment is on a space-available basis and must not interfere with normal employment obligations. Effective Fall 2014 semester, all tuition and mandatory fee charges, except for the undergraduate book rental fee and health insurance fee, if applicable, are waived during fall, spring, and summer semesters.

Guidelines for Applying for Tuition Waiver:

  1. Discuss your participation in advance with your supervisor and obtain informal approval to begin the application process.
  2. You must go through the normal admissions process and register for the desired course.
  3. Complete the Tuition Waiver Request and Application available in myWCU. Form is routed to the supervisor for review and approval.
  4. Once approved and reviewed, HR will submit the form to the Controller's Office in HFR for final processing.
  5. Pay your portion of the balance due at the Student Services located in Killian Annex.


Applications are accepted beginning in July for the Fall, November for the Spring, and April for the Summer. Please be aware, WCU only allows one tuition waiver to be used for the summer semester even if you have additional unused waivers for the academic year.

Waivers are generally reportable either as income or as a reduction to qualified tuition on the employee’s Form W-2 or 1098T respectively. The employee’s enrollment status as an undergraduate or graduate student determines the appropriate tax treatment for the waiver granted.



Tax Treatment




Reduction in qualified tuition

§117 (d), §6050S(b)(2)(B)





$5,250 exclusion*

§117 (d),IRS §127, IRS Publication 970


Depending on prevailing tax laws, the value of the tuition waiver at the graduate level may be excluded from income if the course is deemed to be job related. To meet the federal job relationship definition, the course must maintain or improve skills required for the job, or be required by the employer as a condition of continuing employment. If the course is needed by the employee in order to meet the minimum education requirements of the job, the job relationship definition for tax exclusion may not be used. It is the responsibility of the employee and supervisor to determine if the course is “job related” or “required for continued employment” and mark the appropriate line on the Tuition Waiver form.

NOTE: *WCU’s Faculty/Staff Tuition Waiver program is a qualified educational assistance program; therefore, §127 allows for amounts up to $5,250 - that would normally be taxable under §117(d) - to be excluded from W-2 reporting for graduate students. Any waiver benefits in excess of $5,250 that are not job related are taxable and reportable on W-2 forms. Additionally, the value of any educational expenses (tuition and fees) paid by faculty/staff tuition and fee waiver cannot be used as the basis for any tax deduction or credit. So faculty/staff tuition waiver amounts will continue to be reported on 1098-T forms as a scholarship/grant.

Full-time (at least 30 hours per week) faculty and staff members who are eligible for membership in the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System or Optional Retirement Program are eligible to enroll in up to 10 credit hours per semester (maximum of 20 per year) for courses that serve to develop knowledge, skills, and abilities directly related to the employee's classification or position. Pre-approval by the Department Head, Director/Dean, and Vice Chancellor is required and is based on job-relatedness of the course, funds available in the departmental budget for educational reimbursement, and the date and time of the course.

Employees may enroll in any accredited college or university. Employees may be reimbursed for 100% of actual costs for tuition, registration, and laboratory fees upon successful completion of the course. Expenses should not exceed the maximum amount charged by the University of North Carolina.

Guidelines for Applying for Tuition Reimbursement:

  1. Be sure you have completed the probationary period for SHRA employees, if applicable.
  2. Discuss the proposed course with your supervisor to determine that it is job related and eligible for reimbursement.
  3. Courses must be taken on your own time unless it is not available during working hours. Educational leave may be available under certain circumstances. Please contact Human Resources for additional information.
  4. Complete the Academic Assistance form prior to taking the course.
  5. After successfully completing the course with a grade of "C" or better, attach the grade report and payment receipts to the Form and submit to Human Resources for approval. If approved, Human Resources will forward the package to the Controller's Office for reimbursement.
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