TWU - 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 member of TWU Local 241 (Maintenance & Custodial Employees, Security Officers and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Members), tuition for undergraduate or graduate courses is covered at 100%, up to a certain number of credits each term. Note that only tuition cost are covered. This benefit does not cover course fee and/or the cost of auditing a course. There is a two-semester waiting (seven months) to be eligible for this benefit.

Benefits 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. Members of collective bargaining agreements should review their agreement carefully for rules regarding summer term courses. 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, staff may register for one such course each term if they arrange an alternate work schedule.

  • TWU Full-time Support Staff: Six points, with less than one year; seven points, greater than one year
     
  • TWU LDEO: Full-time Support Staff: Seven points per term
     
  • Part-time Support Staff: Part-time Support Staff may receive tuition exemption for one course per term, up to three points during the first year and up to four points per term every year after that.

The required number of hours in a regularly scheduled part-time work week may vary. For this and other details, part-time Support Staff must refer to their 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 have completed four years of continuous service for TWU Local 241 or two years of continuous service for TWU Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. 

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

A person on the payroll as a member of the full-time or part-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 part-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 typle of leave of absence. The staff member must be covered under the following collective bargaining agreement:

  • TWU Local 241- Maintenance & Custodial Employees, Security Officers and TWU at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

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, the Support Staff must also be accepted into the school they wish to attend.

Eligibility for Support Staff Family Members

A person on the payroll as a member of the full-time or part-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 part-time work week may vary; union members need to consult the relevant 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:

  • TWU Local 241 - Maintenance & Custodial Employees, Security Officers, and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

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, the family member must be accepted into the school they wish to attend.

When Eligibility Starts

The support staff member and his or her spouse/same-sex domestic partner can apply for and receive the Tuition Exemption Benefit once the waiting period is met.

Waiting periods apply:

  • For TWU Local 241, including members from the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), new employees hired after 4/1/2013 must meet a two semester waiting period before being eligible to receive Tuition Exemption benefits for the following semester. The two-semester waiting period is administered as seven months.

Dependent Waiting Periods

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

  • TWU (except LDEO): Dependents are eligible after the Support Staff member has worked four years.
     
  • TWU (LDEO): 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 are 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 a Support Staff member is laid off during a term and he or she is either represented by a Union, the Tuition Exemption Benefit granted for that term will not be revoked. However, the staff member will not receive Tuition Exemption Benefit for any subsequent term. The union member should consult the collective bargaining agreement.

Termination

If a staff member’s employment terminates for any reason during a term in which he or she has been granted the Tuition Exemption Benefit, the staff member 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 the staff member changes 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 a staff member begins a leave during a term in which the Tuition Exemption Benefit has already been granted, he or she needs to 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 they are eligible to receive.

* TWU receive only 6 points per term during the first year of employment.

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.