Employee Portable Tuition Benefits

Summary Plan Description 
Educational Assistance FAQs

Employee Eligibility

This benefit is available for full-time, benefits-eligible faculty and staff at the University.

  1. Participant must be a regular full-time, benefits-eligible employee AND
  2. Participant must have completed one year of full-time, benefits-eligible service prior to the beginning of the term AND
  3. Employee must be on the payroll at the beginning and completion of course(s).

Allowable Expenses

This benefit is for undergraduate and graduate education for job-related courses taken outside of Northwestern University. The benefit is limited to tuition and eligible fees only.

Annual Benefit Amount

The benefit covers 100% of tuition and eligible fees up to $12,000 per calendar year. Total maximum of all Educational Assistance benefits is $12,000/calendar year; whereby any amount over $5,250 is considered taxable income.


All Employee Tuition Benefits above $5,250 received per calendar year must be taxed as non-cash compensation and added to an employee's taxable wages. For example, if your tuition benefit for the spring quarter is $5,000 and you receive an additional $3,000 in assistance for the summer quarter, the $2,750 ($8,000-$5,250 = $2,750) would be taxed on the paycheck that includes the tuition benefit payment. Additional information can be found on the IRS website.

Eligible Institutions

Qualified institutions include accredited, FAFSA-approved United States colleges and universities.

Reimbursement Eligibility

  1. A letter grade of a “C” or higher OR a letter grade of “P” (Pass) is required.
  2. Course(s) are job-related and must have undergraduate or graduate  credit hours associated with each.
  3. Supervisor's approval shown by signature on the Supervisor Acknowledgement Form.
  4. The calendar year in which the course(s) begins will be the same calendar year to which the reimbursement funds are applied.
  5. Employees must submit a completed online application within 90 days after the course completion date.

Application Procedure

  1. Employees review policy & procedure to ensure eligibility prior to the start of a job-related course(s) or degree program.
  2. Employees obtain their supervisor’s approval to enroll in course(s). Supervisor approval indicates it is a job-related course(s) or degree program.
  3. Employees, upon completion of the course, must submit an online application using Plan ID "EP - Employee Portable" and uploading the following documentation as attachments:
    1. A completed, signed Supervisor Acknowledgement form - Employee Portable,
    2. A grade report,
    3. An itemized tuition bill clearly showing the fees for that course and any grants and/or scholarships associated with that job-related course(s) and degree program, and,
    4. Proof of payment.
  4. Employees must indicate on the Employee Portable Tuition form the amount of financial assistance they receive from other sources, e.g., scholarships, grants or programs for educational funding. Scholarships and grants (monies not out of pocket) are subtracted from your out-of-pocket tuition and fee expenses.
  5. The Employee Portable Tuition form must be submitted through myHR no later than 90 days after the course completion.
  6. By submitting an application, you are agreeing to the following statement: I certify that the information provided is correct. I agree to comply with the provisions of the Northwestern Educational Assistance plan as described in the plan document. I acknowledge that all applicable taxes will be taken from my paycheck at the time the benefit is reimbursed, in accordance with IRS regulations. (For questions about taxation, contact Payroll.)
  7. The employee will be reimbursed via payroll.

Tuition Reimbursement Applications