You might want to go to work before you finish college

Free College!

by Debra Karplus

It's no secret that the cost of college tuition continues to rise, even if you're planning to take some online classes. Annual tuition and fees, according to Scholarship Workshop, are now over $10,000 for in-state at a public four-year university, and over $16,000 for a private school or out-of-state institution. Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois, currently offers courses at their two-year community college for $164 per credit hour, which they calculate to about $4,920 for the 2017-2018 academic year. Their website compares that to $13,983 for in-state at a public university, and $17,579 for out-of-state. Whichever numbers you use, attending college these days is going to cost you and your family some big bucks. But, if you're currently working, it's possible that your place of employment offers assistance paying for your tuition, especially if it's related to your job there. So how can you get your boss to foot the bill on your college education?

How do you tap into free college tuition from your employment?

Larger companies are more likely to assist you with college tuition than smaller ones, but never make any assumptions on this. Possibly you work for a smaller outfit that wants to make an investment in you and is willing to help you further your education. Re-read your employee handbook or peruse your employer's website to see if there's any information about employee benefits related to continuing education. Ask co-workers if they know about this, but probably your best source of information will come from the Director of Human Resources at work. Make an appointment to speak with them about getting assistance for college tuition. Maybe they only help with coursework taken that is specific to your job, or maybe it's broader. It might be 100% assistance or possibly less. But whatever kind of help the boss can offer to help you expand your education is definitely worth pursuing.

Employers in medical settings want to help you with your education.

If you're working at a large hospital or even a nursing home franchise, such as HCR ManorCare, tuition assistance may be easily obtainable. Carle Hospital in Urbana, Illinois offers prepaid assistance of tuition for classes specific to your job. Their website states they can help with up to $8,000 in college expenses, depending on your eligibility.

Student loan calculator iconCalculator: Are you taking on too much student loan debt?

Perhaps you are a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and want to further your education to become a registered nurse RN. Or maybe you are an occupational therapy assistance (COTA) and want to advance your schooling to become an occupational therapist (OTR)? This might be the avenue to make an upward career move toward a job with more prestige, responsibility and pay, become more affordable. If you're employed at some sort of health care or medical facility, this may be just the right opportunity for you.

Related: Tuition Free Colleges

Workers in the business arena may be the recipients of help with their college tuition.

Large companies such as Toyota offer assistance with tuition. Take a look at their website to see how they can help you with college. Shopzilla is a website used by many to help with making the right purchase. The company is run by Connexity. Look in the employee benefits section of their website to see what they offer. "Leadership training and more" is one of programs they have for employees.

Become more of a "techie" on your employer's dime

Do a Google search of Google careers. Google has a spot on their website called "Never stop learning." Other businesses and companies within the technology arena can help you with college tuition related to your current job and maybe just with college in general. Don't be shy about approaching the HR department at work to see if continuing education is part of their employee benefits package.

Working for an educational institution can get you through college for free.

The University of Illinois like many other colleges and universities offers "tuition and service fee waiver," according to their website. This benefit really doesn't cost them anything in dollars, as they are the establishment offering the classes! And the end result is that they end up with more educated employees. Everyone comes out a winner on that deal.

If an employer wants to keep you around for a while, they're likely to work with you to help you advance educationally. Talk to your employer and discover what opportunities are out there for you to get assistance for college tuition.

Reviewed January 2018

Take the Next Step:

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.

Stay Connected with TDS

Little Luxuries

to the Dollar Stretcher newsletter and get a copy
of our ebook
Little Luxuries:
130 Ways to Live Better...For Less
for FREE!

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Debt Book