Minnesota Department of Transportation

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MnDOT Policies

Tuition Reimbursement and Time Release Procedures

For Tuition Reimbursement for Employee-Initiated Education and Training Policy #HR-021

Effective Date: June 12, 2020

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Introduction

This document explains the procedures for applying for and receiving tuition reimbursement and/or time release for employee-initiated education or training.

Procedures

Obtain Permission for Tuition Reimbursement/Time Release

  1. Employee discusses with supervisor the educational/career goals, skills/expertise to be developed, degree program and/or related coursework, and benefit of education or training to MnDOT.
  2. Employee creates an education plan, (such as the Tuition Reimbursement Education Plan), which must include an explanation of how the employee’s education or training will benefit MnDOT, and completes the Employee Registration for Tuition Reimbursement/Time Release Form.
    1. Attach a copy of the degree plan to the education plan, if pursuing a degree.
    2. Employee may request both tuition reimbursement and time release during the same term but not for the same course (i.e. to receive both tuition reimbursement and time release, employee must be taking at least 2 courses – tuition reimbursement for one and time release for the other).
      Note: For in-person courses, the number of hours granted for time release may include travel time to and from the course. For web-based / distance / online courses, the number of hours granted for time release is limited to the time spent in class. Time release hours may not be granted for study time.
    3. Employee agrees that, in exchange for tuition reimbursement or time release, the employee will remain employed at MnDOT for a minimum of 12 full months following completion of the last course, or the date the last reimbursement payment was made, whichever is later.
    4. An employee who leaves employment at MnDOT before this date must reimburse MnDOT 100% of tuition reimbursements and/or the value of hours of time release granted during the 12 months before the last date of employment.
  3. Employee submits the education plan and Employee Registration for Tuition Reimbursement/Time Release Form to manager or supervisor BEFORE the start of course(s).
  4. Manager or supervisor reviews the request and determines if the request meets the criteria established in the Tuition Reimbursement for Employee-Initiated Education or Training Policy and determines whether funding is available and/or the work schedule proposed for time release is acceptable.
    1. If yes, manager or supervisor indicates the amount of tuition reimbursement and/or number of hours of time release approved on the Employee Registration for Tuition Reimbursement/Time Release Form and submits the form and education plan to Training Representative for final review and processing.
    2. If no, supervisor, employee and training representative discuss reasons for denial.
  5. Training Representative reviews and processes the request.
    1. Training Representative signs and returns the Employee Registration for Tuition Reimbursement/Time Release Form to employee and supervisor and retains a copy, along with supporting documents, in the training file.
    2. Training Representative provides employee with time release payroll code, if applicable.

Register and Complete Coursework

  1. Employee registers for course(s), pays tuition, attends class(es), completes course work, and receives final grade report.
  2. Employee must maintain satisfactory work performance while completing coursework eligible for tuition reimbursement/time release.

Document Time Release

Within 60 days of completion of a course for which the employee was granted time release, the employee shall provide to the Training Representative the final grade report documenting successful completion of the course. Approval of any new time release requests shall not be considered until documentation for the current/previous term has been submitted. Employees who do not satisfactorily complete a course while using time release may have future requests for time release denied.

Training Representative documents time release in MnDOT’s Learning Management System.

Request Tuition Reimbursement

  1. Employee submits request for tuition reimbursement to the Training Representative within 60 days of course completion. Request for tuition reimbursement must include:
    1. approved Employee Registration for Tuition Reimbursement/Time Release Form;
    2. itemized fee statement from educational institution which includes: class tuition fees, grant and/or loan payments, fees (technology, student, health service, parking, etc.), books, and tuition payments/payment received; and
    3. final grade report.
      Note: Any reimbursement request submitted after 60 days will result in income tax withholding or nonpayment.
  2. Training Representative reviews request for tuition reimbursement and ensures that required documentation has been submitted and meets policy requirements for reimbursement (i.e. passing grade in course).
    1. If yes, Training Representative sends email response to employee indicating amount of tuition authorized for reimbursement. Employee completes Employee Expense Worksheet in RCA and attaches Training Representative email, approved Employee Registration for Tuition Reimbursement/Time Release Form, fee statement, and grade report.
    2. If no, Training Representative communicates on behalf of management to the employee and supervisor the reason why and documents the decision.
  3. Payroll processes tuition reimbursement payment through expense reimbursement/payroll.
  4. Document tuition reimbursement in MnDOT’s Learning Management System.

Application of Funds From Other Sources

Tuition reimbursement is for tuition only. However, employees who receive other forms of assistance (grants, scholarships, etc.) will have those funds applied to non-tuition fees first and the remaining funds applied to tuition fees. MnDOT maximum reimbursement will be calculated based on actual tuition charged to the employee prior to the application of other forms of assistance. Reimbursement will not be made which results in excess of 100% from all sources.

Example #1: Tuition for a course is $1,000 and books and fees are another $500 for a total of $1,500. The employee is eligible for tuition reimbursement of $750 (75% of tuition cost). The employee receives a scholarship of $500 and a grant for $250. The scholarship is applied to books and fees and the grant is applied toward tuition leaving the employee to pay $750 ($1,500 - $500 scholarship - $250 grant = $750). The employee pays $750 and can submit that amount for reimbursement to MnDOT.

Example #2: Tuition for a course is $1,000 and books and fees are another $500 for a total of $1,500. The employee is eligible for tuition reimbursement of $750 (75% of tuition cost). The employee receives a scholarship of $750 and a grant for $250. The scholarship is applied to books and fees ($500) and the remaining scholarship ($250) and the grant ($250) are applied to tuition leaving $500 for the employee to pay ($1,500 - $750 scholarship - $250 grant = $500). Even though the employee was originally eligible for $750 reimbursement from MnDOT (75% of tuition), the maximum reimbursement the employee can receive is $500 because that is the amount the employee actually paid.

Tuition Reimbursement Recovery

An employee who leaves employment within 12 months of receiving a tuition reimbursement payment is obligated to repay all reimbursements received within the 12 months before the last date of employment.

  1. When completing an employee separation checklist (such as Separation Checklist), the supervisor determines whether the employee received tuition reimbursement within the previous 12 months.
  2. Supervisor or manager notifies Training Representative if an employee received tuition reimbursement within the 12 months immediately before termination of employment at MnDOT.
  3. Training Representative works with the Human Resources Director to determine the amount of reimbursement the employee owes and works with the Office of Financial Management to recover funds. If the employee has voluntarily signed a written consent authorizing a payroll deduction, like in the model Employee Registration for Tuition Reimbursement/Time Release Form, the agency may deduct a prorated monthly portion of the reimbursement amount received the previous year from the final check.  If there is no written consent, the agency must follow the correction of overpayments operating policy and procedure.

Time Release Recovery

An employee who leaves employment within 12 months of completing a course through time release is obligated to repay the equivalent of the employee’s rate of pay at the time of time release multiplied by the number of hours of time release granted within the 12 months before the last date of employment.

  1. When completing an employee separation checklist (such as Separation Checklist), the supervisor determines whether the employee was granted time release within the previous 12 months.
  2. Supervisor or manager notifies Training Representative if an employee was granted time release within the 12 months immediately before termination of employment at MnDOT.
  3. Training Representative works with the Human Resources Director to determine the amount of reimbursement the employee owes and works with the Office of Financial Management to recover funds. If the employee has voluntarily signed a written consent authorizing a payroll deduction, like in the model Employee Registration for Tuition Reimbursement/Time Release Form, the agency may deduct a prorated monthly portion of the reimbursement amount received the previous year from the final check.  If there is no written consent, the agency must follow the correction of overpayments operating policy and procedure.

Shortage Occupation List

A degree program approved for tuition reimbursement and subsequently removed from the shortage occupation list while the employee is completing the program shall be honored for 100% reimbursement.