Updated: April 3, 2023 - 5 min read
Up to 98% of eligible employees may be leaving thousands of dollars worth of free education on the table. While most employees are interested in ongoing education, most are not even aware that their companies offer educational stipends, and just 2% actually put these stipends to use. (Data from Instride).
This means that if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’re missing out on getting your employer to pay for your professional development. And that’s a big loss! Taking full advantage of the educational budget available to you isn’t only about helping you do better at your job— it’s also about adding skills to your personal toolkit. The impact this can have on your career progression and lateral career moves are hard to overstate. In an uncertain world, now is the time to upskill.
In this article, we’ll help you understand how employee education stipends work, show you how to find out if your employer offers one, and give you step-by-step guidance to finally start making the most of yours.
What is an Employee Education Stipend?
Employee education stipends are a category of employee benefits. Like health and wellness benefits, travel allowances, or personal equipment budgets, they are often made available to employees on a company-wide basis. But the money won’t appear in your bank account automatically—you typically need to claim these stipends within the boundaries that your company sets. Typically, you’ll pay upfront for the course, and then your company will refund you some or all of the cost. In other circumstances, your company may pay for the training program directly.
Different companies manage education stipends in different ways. Here are some examples from companies that hire Product Managers:
Adobe’s education reimbursement program covers up to $10,000 per year for relevant academic, technical, and top credential programs
Amazon’s Career Choice Program offers to reimburse employees for up to 95% of their tuition costs for relevant diplomas or certifications
Google provides employees with up to $5,000 in tax-free tuition reimbursements per year
LinkedIn offers to pay up to $5,00 for tuition and books for their employees as part of their benefits package.
JPMorgan Chase’s tuition reimbursement program can cover up to $5,250/year for other undergraduate degrees and up to $7,500/year for other master’s degrees, certificates, and bootcamps
T-mobile will pay back up to $5,250 per calendar year for approved education programs relevant to the employee’s role
Visa offers 100% reimbursement (up to $5,250 annually, for classes relevant to your role at the company)
How to Find Out if Your Company Has an Education Stipend
Didn’t you see your company on the list above? Here’s how to find out whether your company has an employee stipend. Remember, only 40% of employees at companies with educational stipends have ever heard of them, so you aren’t alone if you have to do some digging to find out!
Let’s start with the obvious places: Sometimes, these benefits are laid out in your job offer or contract, so revisiting that could be a first starting point. Often these benefits are advertised to prospective employees on a company’s careers page, so threading through that could also uncover some incredible benefits you didn’t even know you had.
If this quick research didn’t uncover anything, it’s possible that your company does still cover employee education, but just may not be that good at (or comfortable with) advertising it. Ask around and see if you can find a colleague who has a course fully or partially reimbursed. Ask them about the process that they went through, what the approval procedure looked like, and how they went about getting the green light.
How to Convince Your Boss to Invest in Your Education
Even if your company doesn’t have a well-advertised stipend policy, it doesn’t mean you should shy away from asking about one. A willingness to learn is an indicator of a growth mindset and shows your manager that you are serious about your personal and professional growth, so even if they say no, you’ll be sending the right signals. If you ask in a tactful way, it really is a win-win.
Our experience helping thousands of Product Managers shows that there are a few things that it helps to emphasize when asking for a stipend:
The course is relevant to the job you have now: While getting a promotion may be on your mind, stress that what you learn will help you excel at the role you have
The course can be completed without disruption to your work schedule: Consider a part-time or weekend course so that you are not asking for time off in addition to the reimbursement.
The course is reputable and has been proven to get results: Cite testimonials and evidence to show that your employer’s budget is going to the right place.
The course results in a certification: This empowers your manager to quantify the value of your training by pointing to the tangible result you have achieved in the form of certification.
Product School certifications tick all of these boxes, and we’ve created a template to help you convince your boss to pay for your education with us, you can access that here:
-> Template Email to Get Your Product School Training Reimbursed
Go Claim that Stipend!
There’s a strong chance your company has a budget sitting there, waiting for you to claim it for a worthy training course or educational program. By doing so, you’ll not only be contributing to your own growth both personally and professionally, but you’ll also be making yourself a more valuable member of the team that you’re on. So, claim that stipend, and allow your company to invest in its most valuable resource: People like you!
Updated: April 3, 2023