Job-Related Graduate Education Certification

If you are using Tuition Exemption for graduate-level degree programs or courses, you may be eligible for a tax exemption on the value of your tuition benefit.

Important Note: Due to Covid-19 Protocols effective Fall Term 2020, the steps to complete and submit a Job-Related Graduate Education Certification (JRGEC) have changed to ensure compliance to the University’s Policy and IRS Regulations. If you have submitted a JRGEC degree or non-degree form for prior terms, the process has changed; please read all the instructions.

Due to COVID-19 protocols, all new JRGEC formmust be submitted by your supervisor to this email: [email protected] to confirm the form has been signed and certified as job-related.

Instructions

The tuition exemption benefit provided by the University for undergraduate course(s) is not taxable. The tuition benefit provided for graduate-level courses (4000 and above), are tax-exempt up to $5,250 in a calendar year (January - December), per the IRS regulations. Any graduate-level education benefit provided to you above $5,250 is considered taxable income, and subject to payroll tax withholding.

However, if your graduate-level degree or non-degree course(s) meet the job-related criteria established by the IRS (Internal Revenue Code, section 127: Educational Assistance Programs) which is reflected in Columbia University’s Job-Related Graduate Education Certification Policy, the University provides employees the opportunity to certify their graduate-level education tuition benefit above $5,250 as job-related and, therefore, non-taxable (IRS Regulation Section 1.162.5).

To be eligible to apply for tax exemption for the graduate-level education benefit above $5,250, you must be:

  • Enrolled in a graduate-level degree program, post-baccalaureate/graduate certificate program, or non-degree course(s), and
     
  • Able to certify that your graduate-level education is job-related.

Please refer to the Job-Related Graduate Education Certification Policy for specific certification requirements and guidance to determine if you qualify for the job-related tax exemption.

  • Degree programs and post-baccalaureate certificate/graduate programs (registered with the NYSED) are evaluated as an entire program of study.
  • Non-degree course(s), including course(s) taken as part of a Certification of Professional Achievement, are evaluated as individual courses.

How to Apply

After you have been officially accepted and enrolled into a graduate-level degree program, post-baccalaureate/graduate certificate program or course(s) follow these steps:

  1. Log in to CUBES, with your UNI and password, select Tuition;
     
  2. Under Tuition Exemption Benefits - For Yourself, select either the Job-Related Graduate Education Certification - Degree Program or Job-Related Graduate Education Certification - Non- Degree form (for individual course(s)).
     
  3. You are responsible for completing the JRGEC form, including the required documentation, and submitting it to your supervisor for certification of job-relatedness. The form cannot be processed without all of the following required documentation:
  • List of core courses for this degree program or non-degree course(s). For each course, you must provide a brief statement as to how the course will improve the skills needed for your current job. (See sample Statement of Job-Relatedness below.)
  • Copy of your current job description. If you do not have a copy, ask your Human Resource Manager or Academic/Departmental Administrator.
  • A copy of the description(s) for the degree program, post-bac certificate/graduate program or non-degree course(s) from the school’s website.
  1. Send a copy of your completed JRGEC form, and all required documentation to your Supervisor. It is the responsibility of the employee’s supervisor to review and certify whether or not an employee’s graduate-level education is job-related.
     
  2. Due to Covid-19 protocols, all new JRGEC formmust be submitted by your supervisor to Student Financial Services [email protected] to confirm the form has been signed and certified as job-related.
     
  3. Each term, your Job-Related forms must be submitted before the last day of the Change of Program Period. Incomplete forms will be returned and not processed.

If you are enrolled in a graduate-level degree program, you must:

  • Certify job-relatedness one time (the first application), AND
  • Submit a copy of the original certified and approved form and all the required documentation each term.

If you are taking graduate-level non-degree course(s) outside of a degree program:

  • Complete a new form each term to certify job-relatedness for each of the course(s) you are enrolled in.
  • Please note: All Certification of Professional Achievement (CPA), courses are non-degree.

Please provide a brief statement as to how this course improves the skills needed for your current job.

  • Degree Program: Masters Business Administration
     
  • Core Course: Business Analytics
     
  • Statement: In my current job, I am responsible for using excel to create simulation models to assist my managers in making financial decisions for the department. This course will enhance my current ability to create these complex models.
     
  • Non-degree Course: Sustainability Management
     
  • Statement: In my job I am responsible for creating and implementing sustainability policies at the University. This course will help me to expand my current knowledge regarding the core concepts of sustainability management as it applies to our campus.

It is the responsibility of the employee’s supervisor to review and certify whether or not an employee’s graduate-level education is job-related. The Job-Related Graduate Education Certification Form ensures the University is in compliance with IRS regulations. If errors result in IRS consequences, the department will be responsible for any resulting tax penalties.

To ensure job-related justification is sufficient:

  1. Review the University’s Job-Related Graduate Education Certification Policy to understand the IRS criteria for determining if the graduate-level education complies with the IRS criteria and is therefore non-taxable under the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code.

    If the JRGEC form does not include all the required documentation, it is incomplete and must be returned to the employee.
  • Degree Program and post-bac certificate/graduate programs are evaluated as an entire program of study.
  • Non-degree course(s), including course(s) taken as part of a Certification of Professional Achievement, are evaluated as individual courses.
     
  1. Carefully review the employee’s JRGEC form and ensure all required documentation is complete and accurate. Every JRGEC submission must include the following:
  • A list of core courses for the degree program or non-degree course(s). For each course, the employee must provide a brief statement as to how the course will improve the skills needed for the employee’s current job. (See sample Statements of Job-Related above)
  • Employee’s current job description.
  • A copy of the description(s) for the degree program, post-bac certificate/graduate program, or non-degree course(s) from the school’s website.
     
  1. Due to Covid-19 protocols, all new JRGEC formmust be submitted by you, as the supervisor, to this Student Financial Services email: [email protected] to confirm the form has been signed and certified as job-related, Subject: JRGEC, Employee Name and UNI.

     
  2. As the employee’s supervisor, your email certifies that the JRGEC form is complete, that you have reviewed the required documentation and confirmed, to the best of your knowledge, the employee’s assessment of the job-related criteria is true and accurate.
  • If the JRGEC form does not meet the criteria for job-relatedness per the University policy you should decline to certify.
  • Please provide the reasons you consider the graduate-level education is not job-related and review the reasons you decline to certify with the Department’s head of HR.
     
  1. Please copy the employee on your to email to Student Financial Services and the certified Job-Related form for their records. Subject: JRGEC, Employee Name and UNI.

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. Support Staff should consult your collective bargaining agreement for more information about tuition.