10 FAQs about educational assistance at UAB

edu assist streamOne of UAB’s most popular benefits is its educational assistance program — more than 2,800 qualified people used it during the 2022 academic year, according to Mike Boyd, executive director of UAB Benefits and Wellness. Whether you’re an employee interested in pursuing a new degree or have a dependent who is eager for an education at UAB, the educational assistance program can be a key resource in making that choice accessible.

“We’re proud to offer the opportunity for our employees and their families to pursue a quality education at UAB,” Boyd said. “Over the years, we’ve worked to streamline and simplify the process so Blazers utilizing the program can focus on succeeding on their chosen academic path.”

Read below to learn the ins and outs of who qualifies for the program, how to take advantage of it, the requirements for staying qualified and everything in between. The fine print of the educational assistance program is explained in HR Policy 319.

Which employees qualify for educational assistance?

According to HR Policy 319, which clarifies the educational assistance program, employees must be full-time regular or 3/12-hour shift and be outside of their six-month probationary period. If an employee’s probationary period ends after the first day of classes, they could still qualify: They just have to be eligible prior to the last day to withdraw from a course without paying full tuition. Those dates are published online in the Academic Calendar each semester.

What costs does UAB cover?

UAB will pay 100% of in-state tuition for eligible employees enrolled in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs at for coursework taken at UAB for UAB academic credit.

As an employee, how do I use the program?

Employees must go through the normal admission process and be formally accepted. Once that happens, their employment is verified automatically and electronically between the Student Affairs and Human Resources departments. The benefit is then applied to employees’ accounts automatically and will show in the account summary on BlazerNet.

Story continues below box.

larry brownell squareHow this busy dad finally finished his bachelor’s degree

Larry Brownell, lead technologist in neurointerventional radiology at UAB Medicine, earned his associate’s degree in 2000 in his hometown of Dothan, Alabama, and built his career as a radiologic technologist over the past two decades. During that time, he got married, had three children, and moved to Birmingham for new career opportunities. All along, he held the hope that he could someday earn his bachelor’s degree: he just needed to figure out how.

A new job in radiology at UAB Medicine opened a unique door for Larry. As a full-time employee at UAB, he could take advantage of the employee education assistance program to pursue his degree, tuition-free. But fitting school into his already full life would be difficult. It was the option to enroll in UAB’s 100% online Health Care Management program that made all the difference.

Larry graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Health Care Management with a 4.0 GPA in Spring 2022. Read more.

I have a dependent who wants to attend UAB. Can they use the program?

All dependent children and children of sponsored adults can use an employee’s educational assistance benefit if the dependent is unmarried and under 26 years old. Also, the employee must be full-time regular or 3/12-hour shift and have completed more than one year of continuous service — with the exception of UAB faculty, for whom the one-year-of-service requirement is waived.

Dependents of UAB retirees can qualify as well, as long as the retiree was in an eligible status at the time of retirement and for a year prior. The same applies for deceased UAB employees.

How much does the program cover for dependents?

Qualified dependents will receive 50% in-state tuition assistance for undergraduate coursework at UAB. Graduate coursework, audited courses and some additional fees are not covered. The benefit is limited to 50% even if both parents work at UAB and are qualified.

As a dependent, how do I use the program?

Qualified dependents need a BlazerID to access educational assistance; BlazerIDs are created for new students as part of the acceptance process for a UAB academic program. After the dependent has their BlazerID, the employee must certify that dependent in the UAB Oracle HR and Finance Self-Service application.

To do so, visit the myUAB portal at my.uab.edu, select the Oracle HR & Finance app from the myApps section, and log in using your BlazerID and password. Once logged in, add qualified dependents to the Educational Assistance Form found in UAB Self Service Applications. Dependents must be certified before the last day to add or drop a course; those dates are published online in the Academic Calendar each semester.

I have a spouse who wants to attend UAB. Can they use the program?

Spouses or other sponsored adults of full-time regular or 3/12-hour shift who have completed more than one year of continuous service — with the exception of UAB faculty, for whom the one-year-of-service requirement is waived — can receive 50% of in-state tuition for up to 18 hours of undergraduate coursework. Audited courses and additional fees, such as those for online courses, are not covered, nor are graduate and professional programs.

How do participants stay qualified for educational assistance?

Anyone receiving educational assistance who is taking undergraduate courses must have had a 2.0 GPA on any prior undergraduate coursework taken at UAB; the rule is 3.0 for those pursuing graduate work. Undergraduate recipients must keep a 2.0 GPA to remain eligible for the program, with a 3.0 minimum for graduate students. If a graduate student enrolls in an undergraduate course, the 3.0 minimum still applies.

What if I work at UAB and am not a full-time regular or 3/12-hour shift employee, but I am a qualified dependent of someone who is?

Dependents of UAB employees who also work at UAB but are not full-time-regular or 3/12-hour-shift can still receive educational assistance because of their status as dependents. As do non-UAB-employee dependents, they must be certified using the Educational Assistance Form.

Do I have to pay any taxes on my educational assistance?

IRS Regulation Section 117 dictates that undergraduate coursework is not taxable to employees. However, under Section 117, graduate coursework is taxable over $5,250 in a calendar year, and those taxes will be payroll-deducted from the next payroll disbursement date following the last day to add a course. Check the online Academic Calendar and Payroll Schedule to learn more.