Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual - Policy 3700: Education Benefits
Date Originally Issued: 01-01-2009
Revised: 08-01-2011, 08-01-2012, 07-29-2013, 03-26-2015, 09-01-2015, 06-13-2016, 12-12-2016
Authorized by Regents' Policy 6.3 "Privileges and Benefits"
Process Owner: Vice President of Human Resources
The University of New Mexico recognizes the importance of an educated and competent work force. To meet the demands of the changing workforce and the desire of employees to grow academically and professionally, UNM offers various voluntary education benefits. UNM supports and encourages employees to develop themselves through academic, professional, health, fitness, and personal enrichment courses. UNM also provides additional education benefits to spouses or domestic partners, and dependent children of eligible employees, and retirees.
2.1. Employee Tuition Remission Benefit
To ensure compliance with federal regulations, the following temporary changes in eligibility for the Employee Tuition Remission Benefit are effective from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017. In consultation with the upper administration, the Division of Human Resources will determine if the changes will be adopted on a permanent basis.
- regular staff employees who are full-time or part-time and have an appointment percent of 50% or greater
- term or contract staff employees who are full-time or part-time, have an appointment percent of 50% or greater, and have a minimum three (3) month term appointment or contract
- temporary staff employees who have an appointment percent of 75% or greater and have a minimum three (3) month appointment
- faculty members who have a minimum three (3) month contract and have an appointment percent of 50% or greater
- adjunct faculty who have a minimum three (3) month contract and have an appointment percent of 75% or greater
2.2. Dependent Education Scholarship Program
- Regular staff with an appointment percent of fifty percent (50%) or above who have been employed in a benefits eligible job for at least one (1) continuous year as of the last day for student registration for the applicable semester.
- Term or contract staff employees with an appointment percent of fifty percent (50%) or above and a minimum three (3) month term appointment or contract who have been employed in a benefits eligible job for at least one (1) continuous year as of the last day for student registration for the applicable semester.
- Temporary staff employees with an appointment percent of seventy-five percent (75%) or above and a minimum three (3) month appointment who have been employed in a benefits eligible job for at least one (1) continuous year as of the last day for student registration for the applicable semester.
- Adjunct faculty with an appointment percent of seventy-five percent (75%) or and a minimum three (3) month appointment who have been employed in a benefits eligible job for at least one (1) continuous year as of the last day for student registration for the applicable semester. (A nine-(9) month academic year fulfills the one (1) year requirement.)
- Faculty members and term teaching with an appointment percent of fifty percent (50%) or above and a minimum three (3) month contract who have been employed in a benefits eligible job for at least one (1) continuous year as of the last day for student registration for the applicable semester. (A nine-(9) month academic year fulfills the one (1) year requirement.)
2.3. Retiree Eligibility
- UNM retirees are eligible for unlimited employee tuition remission benefits for academic credit and non-credit professional development courses. Retirees may also use tuition remission for health, fitness, and personal enrichment courses, subject to the limitations outlined in Section 3.1.1, and subject to restrictions outlined in Section 3.7. herein. Spouses and domestic partners of retirees are eligible for up to four (4) credit hours of academic credit each semester (see Section 3.8).
- Retirees are ineligible for the Dependent Education Scholarship. However, if an employee retires and has a dependent currently participating in the Dependent Education Scholarship program, that dependent may continue in the program until there is either a break in semesters, the dependent obtains an undergraduate degree, or completes eight (8) semesters in the program.
2.4. Ineligible Participants
Those individuals listed below are not eligible to participate in the education programs outlined in this policy.
- Post-doctoral fellows
- Medical residents
- Graduate students on assistantships
- On-call employees
- Part-time employees with an appointment percent less than 50%
- Employees with a current hold on their Bursar's account
- Dependents of eligible employees with a current hold on their Bursar's account
2.5. Separation of Employment
If an employee separates from the University for reasons other than retirement, the employee, spouse or domestic partner, and any dependent children are no longer eligible for education benefits effective with the academic semester following the date of separation.
2.6. Death of Employee
If an employee should die while a dependent is receiving the Dependent Education Scholarship, the dependent may continue in the program as long as the dependent meets the requirements of this policy and until there is either a break in semesters, the dependent obtains an undergraduate degree, or completes eight (8) semesters in the program.
3. Employee and UNM Retiree Tuition Remission Benefit
The University will pay tuition for one (1) or more of the courses listed in Section 3.1, not to exceed the equivalent of resident undergraduate or resident graduate tuition for eight (8) credit hours each fall or spring academic semester, up to six (6) credit hours of which may be taken at New Mexico State University, and not to exceed the equivalent of resident undergraduate or resident graduate tuition for four (4) credit hours each summer session, up to three (3) credit hours of which may be taken at New Mexico State University, subject to the restrictions listed herein. In addition to paying tuition under the Employee and Retiree Tuition Remission Benefit, the University pays for mandatory students fees and any differential tuition.
Subject to the resident undergraduate credit hours limitation above, the University will pay the equivalent of resident undergraduate tuition and mandatory student fees for non-academic courses that are job related or related to a UNM job that the employee may reasonably aspire to, when the courses are taken from the UNM Division of Continuing Education or University departments for professional development and improvement of work skills.
To determine the amount of tuition available for non-credit courses, such as courses through the UNM Division of Continuing Education or other University departments, first deduct all academic credit hours taken, then multiply the remaining credit hours by the resident undergraduate tuition and mandatory student fee rate per credit hour. If an employee exceeds the credit hour limitation, the employee must pay the difference.
UNM Retirees are eligible for unlimited Tuition Remission benefits, subject to the limitations outlined in Section 3.1.1 and subject to restrictions outlined in Section 3.7.
The taxability of Tuition Remission benefits is discussed in Section 3.9.
3.1. Eligible Courses
- courses in any subject taken and billed through UNM for undergraduate, graduate, or professional academic credit, or for official audit status;
- courses that are job related or related to a UNM job that the employee may reasonably aspire to and taken from the UNM Division of Continuing Education or University departments for professional development and improvement of work-related skills; and
- courses taken by UNM employees and retirees offered by New Mexico State University up to a maximum of six (6) credit hours each fall or spring semester and three (3) during the summer semester (cannot be used by a spouse, domestic partner, or dependent children).
3.1.1. Health, Fitness, and Personal Enrichment Courses
The University will pay the equivalent of resident undergraduate tuition and mandatory student fees for up to three (3) credit hours per calendar year for health, fitness, and personal enrichment courses offered through the UNM Division of Continuing Education or other University departments. The calendar year total amount will be based on the tuition rate in effect at the end of the calendar year. The health, fitness, and personal enrichment allowance is in addition to the employee Tuition Remission benefit available for academic and professional development courses. The value of health, fitness, and personal enrichment courses will be included in the employee's taxable income and be subject to withholding.
Spouses, domestic partners, and dependent children are not eligible for health, fitness, and personal enrichment courses.
Retirees are eligible for up to three (3) credit hours per calendar year for health, fitness, and personal enrichment courses. Retirees will receive a 1099, as required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), for the applicable tax year.
3.2. Time Off
In general, employees should attempt to take courses outside of their work schedule or discuss an alternate work schedule with their supervisor to make up time lost if the course is taken during an employee’s work schedule. However, supervisors may allow an employee to take up to one (1) course per semester using time off with pay as long as all of the following provisions are met:
- the course is taken for academic credit toward a degree program or for professional development;
- is related to the employee's job or a UNM job to which the employee can reasonably aspire, and
- is not available outside of the employee's work schedule.
Health, fitness, and personal enrichment courses are not eligible for time off with pay.
In addition to the above provisions, the business needs of the department are top priority and time off with pay may not be practical. If an employee disagrees with a supervisor's denial of time off, the employee may appeal the decision to the cognizant dean, director, or department head, with the final appeal level being the applicable vice president. As with any work-related problem, the employee may also contact Ombuds/Dispute Resolution to seek resolution; refer to UAP 3220 ("Ombuds/Dispute Resolution Services for Staff") for more information.
3.3. Supervisory Approval
Supervisory approval is necessary if any of the following situations apply:
- A credit course taken during the employee’s regular work schedule (approval is to authorize the absence from work and to approve an alternate work schedule if applicable per Section 3.2. above);
- A non-credit professional development course taken during the employee’s work schedule that is related to the employee’s job or a UNM job that the employee can reasonably aspire to (approval is to authorize absence from work and approve an alternate work schedule if applicable per Section 3.2. above); or
- A non-credit health, fitness, or personal enrichment course taken during the employee’s work schedule (approval is to authorize the absence from work and to approve an alternate work schedule per Section 3.2. above).
The Tuition Remission benefit is a voluntary benefit offered to employees; therefore, managers and supervisors cannot require employees to use their tuition remission benefit for work-related or management-ordered courses.
To avoid late fees, the Tuition Remission form must be submitted for payment prior to the published payment deadline date for the applicable term or course. Employees or retirees registering after the published payment deadline must pay a late fee and submit the Tuition Remission form to the applicable office prior to registering for classes. Late fees are not covered by Tuition Remission and must be paid in full by the employee. Tuition Remission forms will not be accepted after the registration deadline date for the applicable term or course without prior approval from Human Resources.
3.5. Employee Responsibility for Monitoring of Tuition Remission Program
Employees are responsible for monitoring their own use of Tuition Remission to ensure the tuition limits are not exceeded and that they are in compliance with this policy. If it is determined that tuition paid for an employee under this program exceeds the limits of this policy, the University will bill the employee for any excess tuition costs that have been paid. If the bill is not paid, UNM may collect any excess through payroll deductions.
3.6 Non-Academic Courses Offered by UNM Departments
UNM departments may offer courses or seminars for UNM employees in which Tuition Remission may be available as a method of payment. The Division of Human Resources must approve any course or seminar offered by UNM Departments in advance if Tuition Remission is to be used as a method of payment. Courses or seminars offered by UNM departments may be considered professional development if they are job-related or related to a UNM job that employees may reasonably aspire to. Departments who offer courses using the Tuition Remission program are responsible for keeping records of the participants for the course.
Tuition Remission can only be used to pay for tuition, differential tuition, and mandatory student fees, and cannot be used to pay for other costs associated with courses including but not limited to course fees, books, supplies, or exams. Tuition Remission cannot be used to pay for travel, food, or lodging expenses. The Tuition Remission benefit will not cover costs at other institutions other than those specifically stated in Section 3 herein.
3.8. Spouse or Domestic Partner Tuition Remission Benefit
As an alternative to the Dependent Education Scholarship, the spouse or domestic partner of an eligible employee may receive resident tuition for up to four (4) credit hours per semester for UNM courses taken for academic credit (including graduate courses). Courses taken at any other institution; non-credit professional development courses; and health, fitness, and personal enrichment courses do not qualify for this additional Spouse or Domestic Partner Tuition Remission benefit. In the event that two benefits eligible employees or retirees are spouses or domestic partners of each other, they may not use their spousal or domestic partner benefits and employee or retiree benefits in the same semester.
3.9. Taxability of Tuition Remission
If the amount of tuition and mandatory student fees paid during the calendar year exceeds the published IRS maximum amount, the amount in excess of the IRS maximum will be added to the employee’s wages as taxable income.
The value of the Tuition Remission benefit taken by spouses for graduate credit and courses taken by domestic partners is considered taxable income to the employee and will be included as compensation on the employee's W-2 form filed with the IRS and subject to income tax withholding once per semester.
4. Dependent Education Scholarship
The University will pay resident undergraduate tuition for eligible spouses or domestic partners and dependent children for undergraduate academic courses taken and billed through UNM for up to eight (8) consecutive semesters, not including the summer session (except for the nursing program). The eight (8)-semester limitation applies to both full-time and part-time students. A semester's eligibility is used regardless of the number of credit hours the student takes. If there is a break in the eight (8)-semester enrollment, reapplication is required and the applicant must meet all eligibility criteria. A dependent's eligibility for the tuition benefit ceases once a total of eight (8) semesters have been covered or the dependent fails to meet eligibility requirements.
4.1. Dependent Eligibility
- Spouse or domestic partner; domestic partners must meet the requirements of UAP 3790 ("Domestic Partners").
- Unmarried dependent children who have not reached the age of twenty-five (25) as of the last date to register for the applicable semester (includes natural, adopted, step-children, or legal guardianship).
- Dependents who become married or turn twenty-five (25) may continue until they have reached eight (8) semesters or there is a break in enrollment but will not be eligible to re-apply for the benefit.
- Student must meet UNM’s admission requirements and be admitted in an undergraduate degree-seeking status.
- Student must maintain a cumulative UNM GPA of 2.5 or greater (the student may appeal to the Director of Student Financial Aid in cases of extenuating circumstances).
4.2. Charges Not Covered
Costs that are not covered under the Dependent Education Scholarship are listed below:
- The mandatory student fee portion of tuition and fees.
- Differential tuition.
- Tuition or other costs at an institution other than UNM.
- Approved special course fees assessed for participation in instructional academic credit.
- Costs associated with courses offered for non-academic credit.
- Non-resident tuition in excess of New Mexico resident tuition.
- Tuition and fees for courses taken in non-degree status.
- Tuition and fees for graduate, law, PharmD, and medical education programs.
- Tuition exceeding the fifteen (15) to eighteen (18) credit hour rate.
4.3 Coordination With Other UNM Scholarships or Financial Aid
The amount of an individual's dependent education tuition benefit, plus the amount of any need-based financial aid grants, will not exceed the cost of attendance, as defined by the University’s Student Financial Aid Office. The amount of the Dependent Education Scholarship tuition benefit will not exceed the tuition portion of resident tuition and fees. The amount of an individual's Dependent Education Scholarship benefit will be reduced by the amount of tuition paid by any other tuition waiver or tuition scholarship.
Examples of other tuition waivers include, but are not limited to, the following:
- UNM Scholars, NM Scholars, Presidential Scholars, and Regents' Scholars
- Lottery Scholarships and Bridge to Success Scholarships
- Graduate/Teaching Assistantships
- Miscellaneous departmental tuition waivers
4.4. Taxability of Dependent Education Benefits
Under current IRS regulations, the value of Dependent Education tuition benefits received by domestic partners and certain dependents is considered taxable income to the employee. The value of the tuition benefit will be included as compensation on the employee's W-2 form filed with the IRS and subject to withholding once per semester in any of the following circumstances:
- tuition paid for domestic partners;
- tuition paid for dependents who are married;
- tuition paid for dependents who are age twenty-four (24) or older any time in the tax year that the benefit is received; or
- tuition paid for dependents who are not claimed as a dependent on an income tax return.
Questions concerning allowable use of education benefits should be referred to the Division of Human Resources.
6. Related Links
Application forms can be found on the HR website forms page.