Tuition Reimbursement FAQ

Tuition reimbursement is a benefit that will reimburse the program cost of tuition for courses taken at Iowa State University by eligible Merit or Professional and Scientific (P&S) staff members. Employees who choose not to attend Iowa State University would be reimbursed at the ISU resident tuition rate for both undergraduate and graduate level courses (they will not be paid at the differential program tuition rate), or at the rate of the institution they are attending, whichever is the lesser cost.

Exclusion: This program is not available to faculty, affiliate members or temporary/term employees

To be eligible for tuition reimbursement you must have successfully completed one continuous year of service at Iowa State University and be in a non-temporary position appointment of at least twenty (20) hours per week and must maintain continuous employment at ISU through the duration of the course. Termination of ISU employment prior to completion of a course will result in disqualification and the opportunity for the reimbursement will be rescinded, unless the termination is the result of layoff or death.

An employee may receive other financial aid from sources other than non-program university funds, (e.g., assistance such as scholarship aid, GI funds, departmental contributions); however, the program will only reimburse the remaining tuition-only costs as indicated on the official receipt of payment and will not exceed 100 percent of the tuition cost.

You must be accepted and maintain the same academic standards as any other applicants or students, and must comply with all student rules and regulations. Certain waiting periods may apply. It is your responsibility to apply to the school of your choice, enroll in classes, and pay any service fees or any incidental expenses that may be incurred and you must also complete the tuition reimbursement application.

The staff member must complete the coursework with no less than a “C” grade for undergraduate credit and no less than a “B” grade for graduate credit or documented equivalent grade under a different grading system. If receiving an “I” for incomplete or an “N” for faculty has not submitted the grade, the staff member has one year from the course end date to complete their research and submit a grade to UHR.

ISU employees must apply for tuition reimbursement online through the AccessPlus system under the Employee tab and must process requests for themselves. This is a self-service area available to employees. To find the tuition reimbursement area, log on to, click on the Employee tab, then locate the tuition reimbursement link on the left side of the page.

The actual application process is only available during the 10 weeks prior to the start of the first session of the semester at ISU. Past application records are available for viewing at any time; however, application submissions will not be available during non-enrollment periods. The application process creates a record with UHR for the class reimbursement only; it does not apply, enroll or register you for classes or in a program.

You must still apply for degrees at the institution of your choice and eligible programs using the same academic standards as any other applicants or students, and you must comply with all student rules and regulations.

Upon successful submission of the application, you should receive an email verifying it has been received

Tuition reimbursement-eligible employees are allowed up to four (4) credits of tuition reimbursement per term, for a total of 12 per calendar year. The summer is counted as one semester for program purposes, although individual schools may divide it into a number of sessions for course scheduling (ISU has two summer sessions for a maximum total of four (4) credits allowed between both sessions).

Credit limits stated may be superseded by a policy of a particular college, division or department that permits more or perhaps fewer credits. You may want to verify with your college or department if there are any restrictions for taking coursework (e.g., during scheduled work hours, flexing hours to accommodate coursework).

No, unused credits cannot be carried over to the next term and future credits cannot be borrowed against.

Tuition reimbursement covers up to 100 percent of Iowa State University’s resident undergraduate or graduate rate per credit, up to four (4) credits, as outlined in each year’s tuition rate schedule for coursework not taken at Iowa State University. This rate schedule can be found at The tuition reimbursement will cover up to 100 percent of the differential tuition cost for coursework taken at ISU for the enrolled program, not to exceed 100 percent of the tuition-only cost. You are responsible for all other expenses, such as textbooks, lab fees, technology fees, special fees for admission in some graduate areas, service fees, and any other incidental expenses. Additional possible fee charges can be found at


You must meet the program's minimum requirements for earned grades in order to receive the reimbursement. By completing the application process through AccessPlus, you are agreeing that you will be liable to pay for the tuition cost should you not meet the required grade and any fees incurred during that time.

The program is for qualified tuition-only costs; expenses for books and additional fees are not covered under the program.

Class attendance must be arranged so that it doesn’t interfere with the staff member’s ability to carry out regular position responsibilities or assignments. Class attendance cannot be counted as regular work time. Neither additional compensation nor compensatory time is allowed for class attendance or for course-related activities occurring outside regularly scheduled hours of service.

Yes, staff members participating in the program are still required to pay for all ISU mandatory fees.

Whether the tuition reimbursement benefit is taxable is based upon the program in which you are enrolled, according to IRS regulations. In general, one does not have to pay income tax on tuition reimbursement benefits for undergraduate degree programs for yourself. 

Under IRS regulations, up to $5,250 per year of graduate tuition reimbursement benefits for employees are non-taxable. This means the first $5,250 of your graduate tuition costs will not be taxed. Anything over $5,250 will be considered taxable income, and the tax on the value of the benefit will be withheld from your paycheck.

Tuition reimbursement will not be subject to tax withholdings if it is under the annual IRS limits. Reimbursements above this limit will be treated as taxable income and will be reported on the staff member's Form W-2 (Box 1).

The application periods will open to those who are eligible 10 weeks prior to the start of classes at ISU: 

Approximately the first week in November for the spring term
Approximately the first week in March for the summer term
Approximately the second week in June for the fall term

For Iowa State University, the official academic year is defined by the Registrar’s office in the official University Academic Calendar. It typically begins in mid-August with the start of the fall term and ends in late July or early August with the end of the summer term.

You are not required to be in a degree seeking program to be approved for tuition reimbursement, and graduate students may take undergraduate classes that are not related to their program and still be eligible. Please check for cost of tuition before completing your application as some universities charge at the student’s status level (graduate or undergraduate) not at the course level.

Yes, applicants may complete their application prior to registering for a course. They are, however, expected to register for the course listed on their application.

If coursework is taken at ISU, once the term starts the information will be provided by the Registrar’s office and any updates will be automatically provided to our office.

It is also the applicant’s responsibility to ensure their information is correct for non-ISU courses listed on the application. If there is a course change, the applicant must report the change by updating their application. If corrections are not completed within the application before the edit/drop deadline, even with meeting other requirements, or if the coursework name/number does not coincide with grades submitted, reimbursement may be denied.

Currently, the program does not reimburse for short courses, workshops or conferences. These are ineligible unless such work carries credit by an accredited post-secondary institution and provides a grade. There are also courses that are not eligible due to course grading limitations, meaning that they must be taken for and receive a grade for credit while meeting the minimum requirements for the registered level of undergraduate or graduate.

Courses taken on a pass/no-pass basis, auditing a class, testing out of a class, and taking GR ST 600 classes are not eligible due to the same grading restrictions.

Employees may receive full or partial reimbursement for diploma programs and approved work-related courses. Certificate programs at accredited schools are also eligible if meeting the minimum requirement for the registered level.

Exclusions: Tuition reimbursement is not available for continuing education hours (classes); license renewal or certification/re-certification; courses taken on a pass/no-pass basis; and auditing a class or testing out of a class. GR ST 600 classes are also not eligible due to not receiving an A or B grade.

ISU encourages continued learning. The policy states that tuition reimbursement must be used for college credit courses offered by Iowa State University or other accredited post-secondary institutions. Note: Certifications or other courses that are deemed to be a requirement of an employee’s position must be funded by the department in which they work.

Iowa State University does offer a deferment option for employees. With successful enrollment in the deferment plan prior to the beginning of each semester, all applicable charges will be due 30 days after grades are presented. To enroll in the Employer Reimbursement Deferment Plan, please complete the online form on AccessPlus in the following location: AccessPlus>Student tab>Account/U-Bill>Empl Reimb Defer 

A non-deferrable $35 fee will be assessed to the U-Bill after successful enrollment into the Employer Reimbursement Deferment Plan. The fee is be due at the beginning of each semester.

Employer Reimbursement Deferment Plan semester due dates:

Fall: January 20

Spring: June 20

Summer: September 20

Employees will need to submit a tuition reimbursement request prior to the posted deadline, via AccessPlus>Employee tab>Tuition Reimburse, and obtain approval through University Human Resources. For additional information about eligibility requirements and semester application periods for the Program, please visit our Tuition Reimbursement Program page.

Please note that Accounts Receivable will not contact University Human Resources for confirmation of enrollment.

Tuition reimbursement is limited to tuition for up to four (4) college credits per ISU semester.

Employees will be responsible for payment of any non-deferred charges on their U-Bill in accordance with statement due dates.

For more information, contact Holly Hohanshelt in the Accounts Receivable office at (515) 294-4786 or

The deferred payment agreement gives ISU students who qualify for the program the option of deferring their U-Bill until the end of the given semester. University of Northern Iowa students can also take advantage of the billing option when coordinated through the UNI Accounts Receivable office.


The link to the tuition reimbursement system is only displayed under the Employee tab within AccessPlus once an employee has completed the requisite one year of continuous employment at ISU. The program is not available to faculty, affiliate members or temporary/term employees. If you believe you are an eligible Merit or Professional and Scientific (P&S) staff member and you cannot access the tuition reimbursement link in AccessPlus, please email or contact University Human Resources at (515) 294-4800.

Once you’ve successfully completed one (1) full year of employment at ISU, the link within AccessPlus found under the Employee tab will appear. You must be able to enroll in the tuition reimbursement program before the application period closes and classes start. If the link is unavailable, you will need to wait until the next program enrollment period begins.

The program is available to current Iowa State University Merit and Professional and Scientific (P&S) staff members holding non-temporary position appointments of at least twenty (20) hours per week. Merit and P&S staff members also must have successfully completed at least one (1) year of continuous non-temporary university service (benefits-eligible position) by the course start date.

No, the program is only available to current ISU Merit and Professional and Scientific (P&S) employees. Consistent with Iowa Code Chapter 70A.25, educational assistance is limited to state employees and does not provide tuition benefits to family members of employees. 

The program is dependent upon budgeted program funds for each of the three designated semester periods: fall semester; spring semester and summer semester. If funding is not sufficient to cover all pending applications, they will be funded based on the institution's priority as follows:

Priority System

1st Priority - Iowa State University
2nd Priority - Other Regent institutions
3rd Priority - Institutions of higher education with a partnership agreement with Regent institutions
4th Priority - Other accredited institutions

Although rare, reimbursement can be denied for failing to meet the program requirements. Some examples include, but are not limited to, failing to meet the grade requirements, termination of a staff member’s Iowa State University employment, and incorrect coursework listed during the application process that was not updated by applicant.

If the employee's position ends and they gain employment as a Graduate Student or Post Doc, the request is considered a disqualified request as they receive partial to full payment of tuition by the hiring department.

Completing an application is not a guarantee of tuition reimbursement. The applicant is responsible for ensuring that an application has been completed through the AccessPlus process by the semester application deadline (the day before classes start at ISU).

ISU registration records for coursework will be updated automatically by the Registrar’s records.

Non-ISU coursework must be provided and monitored by the applicant to ensure the information provided is correct and complete.

Once grades have been submitted by the university for ISU courses, or by the employee for non-ISU courses, they will be verified and, if approved, sent to the Accounts Receivable office on campus. Direct deposit is the best way to receive the reimbursement. If there is an outstanding university bill, the reimbursement will be applied to that bill first. If the balance is currently zero, the reimbursement will go to your bank account by direct deposit.

To make changes to your application, you need to go into AccessPlus and click the tuition reimbursement link under the Employee tab. Locate the term that can still be edited (there should only be one). Edits are generally able to be made during that current term (Spring – Early March; Summer – Early July; Fall – Mid-October). Dates may fluctuate, so please check the academic calendar found at University Academic Calendar. After making  appropriate changes, be sure to click the Submit Application button at the bottom of the page or your changes will not be saved. 

If you are taking your classes at ISU, there is no need to do anything. The system will automatically update course changes. If you are taking non-ISU classes, you will need to amend your application. This is a self-service process that can be accessed at any time between the time you submit your initial application and the designated edit/drop deadline set by the university.

Review the application in AccessPlus by going to the tuition reimbursement link under the Employee tab.

All coursework must be started during the semester or session indicated on the tuition application and must be completed within one year of the course start date.

Please submit a copy of your final grades (documentation must show institution name, course(s), grade, dates of course, and term to apply toward) and a copy of an official receipt showing the tuition-only cost of the course without fees to UHR. Hard copies may be submitted to: Tuition Reimbursement Program, 3810 Beardshear Hall, 515 Morrill Rd, Ames, IA 50011. Both documents must include the staff member’s name. PDF formats are also  acceptable when submitting documentation to UHR. If submitting PDFs, please send by email to:

Termination of a staff member’s ISU employment prior to the completion of the course will be considered disqualification from the Program and reimbursement payments will not be processed, unless termination is the result of layoff or death. 

Applicants are notified via email of the progress of their applications. Complete award approval will not occur until the end of the term when grades have been turned in. ISU coursework will be awarded first. Non-ISU coursework will be awarded if required minimums have been met based on the priority system established by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.


Final approval of eligibility for tuition reimbursement is made by the University Human Resources office and does not register or enroll any staff member in the requested course, nor does it guarantee admission as a student to Iowa State University. Staff members are individually responsible to apply for admission to the university of their selection and for receiving academic advisement. Submitting an application for the program does not guarantee approval.