SSA - Tuition Exemption

Tuition Exemption - Graduates gather

The Tuition Exemption benefit program pays tuition costs, depending on your eligibility, for undergraduate and graduate courses at Columbia University, Barnard College and Teachers College. This is not a reimbursement or remission program; when you submit your eligibility form to your school, your tuition is simply exempt.

Coverage & Eligibility

As a full-time member of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East SSA area (CUIMC), tuition for certain degree programs is covered at 100%, up to a certain number of credits each term. Note that only tuition cost are covered. This benefit also does not cover course fees and/or cost for auditing a course. There is a two-semester waiting period (seven months) to be eligible for this benefit.

Benefit for Support Staff

In general, the benefit for support staff applies during the academic year (September-May) to undergraduate and graduate classes at Columbia University, Barnard College and Teachers College. Summer term courses are Columbia only.

Courses given during work hours are not normally open to Support Staff. With the department head’s approval, however, Support Staff may register for one such course each term if they arrange an alternate work schedule.

  • Full-time Support Staff: Seven points per term

Full-time members must be enrolled in a Bachelor's degree program, a Master's degree program (Post Baccalaureate), Pre-Medical Certificate program or American Language Program to be eligible for Tuition Exemption.

  • SSA: Non-degree and certificate Continuing Education programs at Columbia are not covered by Tuition Exemption benefits. Instead, these types of continuing education courses are addressed under the University Training Program provision in Article 34 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement

Benefit for Spouse or Same-Sex Domestic Partner and Dependents

Eligible spouses, same-sex domestic partners, and dependents may receive the unused portion of a Support Staff member’s benefit.

Eligible family can only use the benefit for undergraduate and graduate classes at Columbia, not at Barnard or Teacher’s College.

In addition, eligible dependent children may be enrolled at Columbia as candidates for a Bachelor’s, Professional or higher degree — unless they have obtained admission to Columbia as a non-degree special student while enrolled in a similar degree program at another accredited college or university. To be eligible, you must have completed two (2) years of continuous service.

The Tuition Exemption Benefit does not cover the following course types for Support Staff or their family members:

  • All short-term, intensive, and fee-based courses in which the instructor is paid on the basis of the number of students registered in the course
     
  • Courses with no point value
     
  • Applied music courses (e.g., musical instrument instruction)
     
  • Continuing education courses (i.e., those beginning with the letter “Q” or “N,” unless such a course is taken to fulfill a degree requirement)
     
  • Any audited courses
     
  • SSA: Non-degree and certificate Continuing Education programs at Columbia are not covered by Tuition Exemption benefits. Instead, these types of continuing education courses are addressed under the University Training Program provision in Article 34 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

A person on the payroll as a member of the full-time Support Staff is eligible for the Tuition Exemption benefit once the waiting period is met.

  • Note: The required number of hours in a regularly-scheduled full-time work week may vary; union members need to consult the collective bargaining agreement for exact eligibility requirements.

The support staff member must also be actively at work and not on any kind of leave of absence. The staff member must be covered under the following collective bargaining agreement:

  • SSA (CUIMC) - Local 1199, SEIU United Healthcare Workers East SSA Area

Those in a position covered by a collective bargaining agreement should also consult that agreement for details about the program to ensure that they understand their specific eligibility requirements.

In addition to being eligible for the Tuition Exemption benefit, support staff and family members must also be accepted into the school they wish to attend.

When Eligibility Starts

You and your spouse/same-sex domestic partner can apply for and receive the Tuition Exemption benefit once the waiting period is met.

Waiting period to apply:

  • 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East SSA Area (CUIMC): For SSA, employees hired on or after January 1, 2014 will be eligible for Tuition Exemption for courses at Columbia following a two semester waiting period. This applies to the employee, as well as the spouse or same-sex domestic partner. The two-semester waiting period is administered as seven months.
     
  • Full-time members must be enrolled in a Bachelor's degree program, a Master's degree program, a Pre-Medical Certificate program or the American Language Program to be eligible for Tuition Exemption. Eligible dependents must be enrolled in a Bachelor's or Master's degree program; no non-degree programs are eligible. Part-time members are not eligible for Tuition Exemption benefits.

Dependent Waiting Periods

The following waiting periods apply before dependent children are eligible for the Tuition Exemption benefit:

  • SSA: Dependents are eligible after the support staff member has worked two years.

Must be matriculated in a Bachelors, Professional or higher degree program; no non-degree programs are eligible.

In cases where the son or daughter are registered as a degree candidate outside the University system but is able to obtain admission as a non-matriculated special student at Columbia, Tuition Exemption will be granted. A Letter of Student in Good Standing is required.

Layoff

If you are laid off during a term, the Tuition Exemption benefit granted for that term will not be revoked. However, you will not receive Tuition Exemption benefit for any subsequent term. Consult your collective bargaining agreement.

Termination

If your employment terminates for any reason during a term in which you have been granted the Tuition Exemption benefit, you must refund the University for the remainder of the term. The accompanying “Prorated Benefit Available Per Term Based on Termination or Job Status Change” table shows how many exemption points are available if you change employment status during a given week of a term.

Leaves of Absence

Tuition benefits are not available for Support Staff who are on a leave of absence. If you begin a leave during a term in which the Tuition Exemption benefit has already been granted, refer to the “Prorated Benefit Available Per Term Based on Termination or Job Status Change” table below to see how many exemption points are available.

Switch from Full-time to Part-time

Staff members whose status changes from full-time to part-time during a term need to consult the “Full Time” column in the “Prorated Benefit Available Per Term Based on Termination or Job Status Change” table below to determine how many exemption points you are eligible to receive.

How to Apply

For complete details, see the Tuition Exemption Checklist.

Basic Checklist to Apply:

  1. Confirm your eligibility and learn what’s covered
     
  2. Register for classes
     
  3. Review tax implications and job-relatedness
     
  4. Submit Completed Tuition Exemption Benefits and Job-Related Graduate Education Certification forms to Student Financial Services:

 

Columbia University reserves the right to change or terminate the Tuition Exemption Benefit Program at any time, consistent with its obligations under the National Labor Relations Act. Please note that this program does not cover courses taken outside Columbia University, Barnard or Teachers College. Consult your collective bargaining agreement for more information about tuition.