Home Coronavirus Coverage Counting on Employer-Paid Tuition Is Hardly a Safe Strategy Anymore. What Now? – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Counting on Employer-Paid Tuition Is Hardly a Safe Strategy Anymore. What Now? – The Chronicle of Higher Education

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The limits of employer-paid tuition come starkly into relief. What’s next?
The number of people newly unemployed in the United States in the past three weeks is 17 million — and still climbing.

That’s raising important questions about colleges’ and society’s reliance on employer-paid tuition programs as a way of serving working adults now that millions of them are suddenly cut off from their jobs. Losing an income and health-insurance benefits is certainly their more immediate worry, but the loss of a tuition benefit could derail many students’ educational plans.

The staggering levels of unemployment have also heightened the need for additional policies aimed at helping students pay for postsecondary education, especially those who were already in the work force. Some interesting ideas are already emerging on that front, including a proposal from leaders at the Markle Foundation calling for unemployment insurance to include benefits specifically for education and training.

I’m also hearing from college leaders who tell me that they expect far more people to be looking for shorter-term educational options if and when they decide to continue or start.

“People are going to be desperate to go back to work,” noted Paul LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University. And many of them, he said, “won’t have the luxury” of pursuing a four-year degree.

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