Merit and Professional & Scientific Tuition Reimbursement Program

Brief Description: Program that encourages professional and personal development of every eligible non-faculty,  non-temporary Merit and Professional & Scientific (P&S) staff member.

Responsible Office: University Human Resources

Last Reviewed/Updated: June 7, 2022

Applies to: Merit and Professional & Scientific staff members (Non-faculty, non-temporary)



The university supports lifelong learning for ISU employees. This program encourages professional and personal development of every eligible non-faculty Merit and Professional and Scientific (P&S) staff member. The following establishes reimbursement for qualified educational expenses and successful completion of undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate courses taken at ISU through our Tuition Reimbursement Program (TRP).



The Tuition Reimbursement Program helps to defray the cost of tuition up to a maximum of four (4) college credits for courses offered by Iowa State University (ISU). The program is available to all current Iowa State University (ISU) Merit and Professional and Scientific (P&S) staff members upon completion of one (1) year of continuous non-temporary employment prior to the time of course enrollment and if the employee is enrolled in courses that are part of a degree, or will benefit/enhance the staff member’s current position at ISU. The ISU staff member’s appointment must be at least twenty (20) hours per week (in a benefits-eligible position).




Organized and non-organized merit classification covered by the AFSCME Collective Bargaining Agreement

Professional & Scientific (P&S)

Classification generally requires the advanced knowledge which is typically gained through the completion of a four-year college degree. Other requirements often include experience, additional education, communication skills, computer knowledge and/or licenses/certifications.

Tuition Reimbursement Program

Program that encourages the development of the Merit and Professional and Scientific (P&S) staff.

University Human Resources

ISU Central Human Resources office that manages the TRP.

 1. Eligibility requirements

A staff member’s application will be considered only if the Merit or P&S staff member:

  • Complete and submit the application to participate in this program located within AccessPlus by locating the following links: Employee tab -->  Tuition Reimburse - Application must be completed for each semester.
  • Has completed a minimum of one year of continuous employment in a non-temporary, non-faculty benefit eligible position of at least 20 hours or more per week prior to the submission deadline and remain continuously employed in an eligible Merit or P&S position throughout the term.
  • Acknowledge that submission of an application does not guarantee reimbursement.
  • Acknowledge at the time of submission that the employee is liable for all mandatory fees. 
  • The staff member must be accepted and maintain the same academic standards as any other applicant or student, and must comply with all student rules and regulations.
  • Eligible staff have the opportunity to apply for the tuition reimbursement three times each year (fall, spring and summer semesters) and after review may be approved for the reimbursement of up to four credit hours in each semester. Priority is given to those employees taking coursework related to career advancement within the university. Courses must be taken at ISU.
  • If receiving departmental aid, please verify the amount of aid before submitting an application. If the departmental aid is being provided – it is strongly urged that staff members do not submit an application.

2.  Participation requirements

  • Reimbursement pertains to tuition cost only (does not include fees) for those that qualify.
  • Applications must be submitted during the posted time frame. (Applications will not be considered after the submission period has closed.)
  • Staff members must apply for admission and register for each course following applicable University Policy.
  • Reimbursement is contingent upon the staff member attaining nothing less than the minimum grade that is accepted by the Program for the credit or confirmation of satisfactory completion of the coursework from the school.
  • Coursework must be taken for academic grade credit
    • Must receive a “Satisfactory” result for Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory
    • Pass/Fail does not meet minimum grade requirements and does not qualify for the Program
    • Minimum grade of a C for all undergraduate coursework
    • Minimum of a B for all graduate coursework
  • The Program will not exceed reimbursement of 100% of the tuition-only cost, with or without other aid assistance. Aid includes but is not limited to: scholarship aid, GI Funds or departmental assistance/aid. (Student loans that must be repaid are excluded).
  • Eligible staff members interested in participating in this tuition reimbursement program must:
    • Remain a University employee through the end of the course(s) in which they are enrolled
    • Submit information related to additional financial assistance from any source (including grants, awards, departmental aid, scholarships, incentives or GI bill) and the dollar amount of that aid to
  • ISU coursework will be pulled into the system from the records of the Registrar Office.
  • Course attendance must be completed on the staff members own time and cannot interfere with staff member’s ability to carry out regular position responsibilities or assignments.

3. Program guidelines

  • Staff member’s course of study is to have a relationship to the employee’s ISU position duties and/or requirements leading to the development of skills and/or knowledge needed by the institution or another state agency, unless the employee is pursuing an undergraduate degree.
  • By completing the application process, the staff member is agreeing to the terms of the program and that they will be liable to pay for the tuition cost and any fees incurred during the application term should they not meet the requirements. Staff members are required to pay for all institution mandatory fees.
  • The regular refund policy of the university applies in the event of withdrawal from a course (see
  • Class attendance must be arranged so that it does not interfere with the staff member’s ability to carry out regular position responsibilities or assignments. Merit staff may be expected to make up the time missed from work and P&S employees are expected to meet project deadlines.
  • Notification
    • Email notification to eligible staff members will occur several times throughout the program according to status updates.
    • Staff members will receive an initial email after successfully submitting their application to the program for each term utilized. Then additional emails are sent notifying of status changes and also as reminders of program deadlines.
  • Coursework
    • The Program will reimburse four (4) credits per term, once each term (fall, spring and summer) for a total of 12 per year. 
    • The four (4) credits may be as a single course or multiple courses. NOTE: Any eligible courses taken during the winter term will be considered part of the spring term. The addition of this winter term does not increase the maximum of 12 credits per year or the maximum of 4 credits for the spring term.
    • The Program does not reimburse for short courses (i.e., continuing education hours), workshops, conferences or EXAMS ONLY where grade credit is not provided. 
    • Accelerated coursework programs are not considered short courses – degree related courses lasting between two and 10 weeks are eligible

4. How to Apply

The program is administered by University Human Resources (UHR). The program statement and the following conditions will serve to guide in the administration of the program. Submitting an application for the tuition reimbursement program does not enroll anyone in the coursework. Likewise, applying for the program does not guarantee tuition reimbursement.


  • Eligible employees must complete the application submission through AccessPlus under the Employee tab before the advertised deadline. Submissions must be made before 11:59 p.m. the Friday evening before the start of classes at ISU. The application dates are posted on the website and in AccessPlus under the Tuition Reimbursement link.
  • The staff member must register/enroll in their desired coursework at ISU.
  • The program does not reimburse for short courses (i.e., continuing education hours), workshops, conferences or EXAMS ONLY where grade credit is not provided. Accelerated coursework programs are not considered short courses.
  • By completing the application submission, the staff member is agreeing that they will be liable to pay for the tuition cost and any fees incurred during the application term should they not meet the requirements.
  •  The program does not provide funding for courses determined to be a requirement of the Merit or P&S staff member’s current university position and the employing department is responsible for funding the tuition and any additional costs of study associated with such.


Tuition Reimbursement Application Status Definitions (indicating process stage):



During the application submission period


Day after submission deadline


Status will change after the deadline date has passed for editing or dropping coursework.


Status if application(s) are withdrawn before reaching end of the semester.


Grades are loaded into AccessPlus for ISU coursework as they become available. Once verified the status will change to Approved or Denied.


Status will display once the information is transmitted to Accounts Receivable for processing and disbursement (Amount column will also contain $ to be disbursed).

5.  Disqualifications

  • Staff members must remain in a benefits-eligible Merit or P&S position. If the employment status would change to an ineligible type or terminate – the applicant is disqualified and would remain liable for the outstanding costs/fees incurred and would not receive the reimbursement. 
  • Staff members who would withdraw from the coursework prior to the end of the term are disqualified, and are still required to pay the outstanding tuition and fees associated with the term and classes as required by that institution’s policy.
  • Staff members who are on leave of absence without pay are not eligible to receive tuition reimbursement benefits during the leave.

6. Reimbursement Process

  • ISU coursework will be obtained from the Office of the Registrar automatically, once verified – the “status” will be changed to “approved” and the request to process is sent to the Accounts Receivable office and will then be electronically disbursed by direct deposit.
  • The Tuition Reimbursement Program will reimburse ISU coursework at the enrolled program rate.
  • Tuition Reimbursement will only be considered for in-state residents.  No non-state resident fees will be paid.  
  • If a staff member receives an Incomplete grade, they have one year from the start of the term to complete the coursework and receive a grade for that term. 
    • They must notify UHR of this completion, provide documentation showing it was completed and the cost and grade received before the one year has expired.
    • Failure to do so will result in disqualification and submitted application for prior term will be denied
  • For questions concerning Employer Reimbursement Deferment Plan please click here:

7. Tuition reimbursement is considered taxable income

  • Tuition Reimbursement/Aid will not be subject to tax withholdings if below the annual IRS limits ($5,250).
  • In general, you do 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.
  • Reimbursements/Aid (other than Financial Aid – student loans) above this limit will be treated as taxable income and will be reported on the staff member's W-2 (box 1).