Continuous Learning Program – NOVA Credit Courses :: Northern Virginia Community College

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Continuous Learning Program – NOVA Credit Courses

Policy Number: 403

Categorized: Human Resources

Responsible Office: Human Resources

Subject: Policy and procedures for employees who wish to take NOVA credit-bearing course

Related Policies:

Forms: Form 105-043a Employee Educational Assistance Request - NOVA Credit Course

Additional Information: Human Resources Organizational Learning and Development

Effective Date:

Last Reviewed Date: 06/05/2018

1. Scope

This policy describes NOVA’s Continuous Learning Program and provides specific guidelines for full-time and part-time employees at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) to enroll and participate in credit courses at NOVA at no cost. This policy does not apply to non-credit classes taken through Workforce Development or classes taken at other educational institutions, including other community colleges in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS).

2. Policy Statement

Learning is the essence of the mission at NOVA and must be a continuous lifelong commitment of both individual employees and the organization. In support of this mission, the College’s Continuous Learning Program shall support employees in developing and maintaining skills and knowledge to enrich personal and professional goals.

Participation in the Continuous Learning Program is neither a guaranteed benefit nor an entitlement of employment at NOVA. Employees must meet established eligibility criteria and follow application procedures to participate in the Continuous Learning Program. Eligible employees may take no more than six (6) credit hours in a semester.

3. Definitions

Continuous learning courses: credit courses offered at NOVA to full-time and part-time college employees at no cost, which may be job related or non-job related. Non-job related courses must be taken outside the employee’s established work schedule.

Job Related: Education or training related to employees' current positions to meet one of the following objectives:

  • To provide training for new employees meeting only minimum qualifications who were appointed to positions because better qualified applicants were not available.
  • To provide training in the use of new or modified methods and equipment.
  • To provide training in skills and knowledge required by changes in the employee’s current position.
  • To help keep the employee’s knowledge current with advancements in their field.

Successful completion: a grade of "C" or better.

4. Procedures

4.1 Eligibility

Current full-time administrative, professional, and teaching faculty; full-time and part-time classified employees; wage/hourly employees; and adjunct faculty may participate at no cost in the Continuous Learning Program at NOVA. Employees can take continuous learning courses only at the community college where they are employed.

Certain exceptions apply:

  • Administrative and professional faculty, classified P-3 staff and hourly P-14 employees in their first six months of employment are eligible to participate in the program for job-related courses only. The employee’s supervisor is responsible for designating whether a course is job-related. Wage employees must be employed during the semester they take a course.
  • After six months of employment, administrative and professional faculty, classified P-3 and P-14 employees working at least 20 hours per week may participate in the program for both job-related and non-job-related courses for general interest and personal development. Employees may submit requests for non-job-related courses prior to their six-month employment date, as long as the course does not begin before their six-month employment date.
  • P-14 employees who are in the United States on student visas are not eligible to participate in the program.
  • Work-study student hires and F-1 students are not eligible to participate in the program even if they also work as P-14 employees for the college.
  • Full-time teaching faculty (9- and 12-month) may participate in the program after completing one semester of teaching or having already taught fifteen or more credit hours at NOVA.
  • Adjunct faculty may participate in the program after teaching for two (2) semesters at NOVA. Adjunct faculty must have a teaching contract and be employed during the current (fall, spring, and summer) semester for which they are requesting the course or be scheduled to teach in the fall when requesting summer courses.

Employees may be approved to take up to six (6) credit hours each semester (fall, spring, and summer) under this policy. The President may approve more than these limits provided it is in the interest of the effective and efficient operation of the college.

4.2 Registration

  1. To be eligible to register for NOVA credit courses, college employees must first be admitted to the college as a student by completing the online application for admission.
  2. Employees who meet the admission requirements of the institution, as well as any course prerequisites, may be permitted to enroll in courses.
  3. Employees are required to secure approval from the supervisor and Human Resources using online Form 105-043a Employee Educational Assistance Request - NOVA Credit Course before the course(s) begins. Once approved, the employee will register for the NOVA credit course(s) and then immediately submit their approval form to the nearest NOVA Business Office to ensure final processing.
  4. The college shall only bear the cost of tuition and fees per credit hour as published on the College website. Employees are responsible for any additional fees such as those for supplies, applied music, or field trip admission.
  5. The college shall not be responsible for payment or reimbursement of books, travel, or other study related expenses.
  6. The costs of books and other study materials shall be the sole responsibility of the employee.
  7. Any changes to course registration in the same semester require a new, fully completed and approved request form. All prior submissions will be voided.

4.3 Repayment Obligation

Repayment of NOVA credit courses will be required should the employee:

  • drop the course after the census date,
  • receive lower than a "C" grade, or

Repayment is pro-rated per month should the employee resign.

Repayment will be calculated at current tuition rates. Contact a NOVA Business Office to discuss repayment options.

College employees who do not successfully complete courses covered by this benefit with a grade of "C" or better shall be given a one-time waiver for repayment obligations. The employee will be responsible for repayment in any subsequent semester(s) where the employee does not successfully complete the course(s).

4.4 Employee Responsibilities

College employees enrolling in NOVA courses covered under this policy are:

  • Required to adhere to college admission procedures, student course registration timelines and procedures, and all other student and academic policies as provided in college policies;
  • Required to successfully complete all course prerequisites or co-requisites, as applicable;
  • Expected to complete class assignments and assessment activities in order to receive the maximum instructional benefit and to enable instructors to perform appropriate class management directives as required; and
  • Expected to successfully complete the course earning a grade of "C" or better or other such grade indicating satisfactory completion of the course.
  • Not permitted to audit the course(s).

When the employee experiences any change to this agreement, such as dropping the course, not enrolling, receiving other funding to cover the course, or when the employee does not obtain a satisfactory grade, it is the employee’s responsibility to notify Human Resources as soon as possible.

4.5 Time Allowance and Work Schedules

Any modifications to an employee’s work schedule should be approved and documented in writing between the employee and supervisor.

If NOVA requires an employee to take a course, the employee must be compensated for time when attending the course, whether the course time falls during the normal work schedule, or outside of the normal work schedule. It is recommended that the supervisor consult Human Resources before requiring an employee to complete a course.

Exempt employees

Generally, exempt employees will adjust their work schedule to fulfill their normal work hours per week, or take leave to account for class time.

Non-exempt employees

  • Time in a required job-related course during normal work hours is considered hours of work when computing any overtime liability.
  • Education time outside normal work hours is not considered hours of work for computing overtime, if the employee’s attendance is voluntary (employee-requested).
  • Supervisors may adjust work schedules to avoid overtime liability. Adjustments may take the form of reducing the work schedule.
  • A full-time employee’s work schedule may not be reduced below fifty percent (50%) of a normal 40-hour a week work schedule without affecting the employee’s health insurance benefits.


Faculty must select classes that do not conflict with their own teaching/work schedules, office hours, and/or service schedules.

5. Authority

VCCS Policy 3.10 Educational Assistance