Businesses stretch tuition assistance dollars at Northern Virginia Community College
September 8, 2008
Managers for employee tuition assistance programs are creating new ways to stretch their budgets by designating community colleges as the first choice for employee training.
An informal survey of fall 2008 tuition rates at higher education institutions in the Washington metropolitan region found students can save 66 percent or more at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) compared with tuition at area four-year universities.
Fairfax County government recently modified its tuition assistance policy to create incentives for employees to choose more cost-effective alternatives. Previously, the county reimbursed a maximum of $1,169 per course each semester. The policy has been changed to $1,200 per employee per fiscal year.
“I think it’s a more efficient economic model,” said Barbara Emerson, Fairfax County manager of organizational development and training. “The change encourages employees to get the most bang for the county’s and their own bucks.”
NOVA also offers on-site courses, making employee development both cost efficient and convenient. USA Today turned to NOVA for training at its McLean headquarters.
“When USA Today identified a need for courses in information technology and accounting, NOVA responded expertly by delivering on-site courses at modest tuition rates which helped us preserve our employee tuition assistance budget,” said Fred Keaton, director of staff development. “Feedback was positive from employees who took the courses and we aim to leverage NOVA’s on-site delivery capabilities for additional employee training.”
Another organization that has taken advantage of on-site course delivery is Navy Federal Credit Union. At the credit union’s offices in Vienna, NOVA provides classes that lead to an associate degree in business and customized workforce development courses that address specific training needs.
“Through on-site NOVA courses, we have provided our employees with a convenient schedule of courses that allow them to complete an associate degree that will transfer to a number of area four-year universities. NOVA’s faculty provides high quality instruction and their tuition rates allow our employees to make the best use of their tuition assistance benefits,” said Robert Schultz, manager of learning and development at Navy Federal.
Bill Browning in NOVA’s Workforce Development Office says the advantages community colleges offer should not be underestimated, particularly in these tough economic times.
“Since most NOVA courses transfer easily to four-year institutions, students earn the same college credits at substantial savings for themselves or their employers. I don’t know why anybody would willingly spend three times as much money for the identical outcome,” Browning said.
To learn more, call Browning at 703-323-3284.
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America’s largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 60,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College’s Web site, www.nvcc.edu.