Educational Assistance: Fall Reminders

With this year’s Educational Assistance, or “Ed Assist”, support staff benefit resetting with the start of the fall semester, now’s a perfect time to refresh your Ed Assist knowledge and take advantage of this opportunity for your learning and development. Here are a few important reminders regarding this benefit. New to Ed Assist? Start here for an overview.

Educational Assistance Balance Reset

If you are eligible for Educational Assistance, your Ed Assist funds reset each year with the start of the fall semester. You may check your current Ed Assist balance within EBS.

  1. Log in to EBS.
  2. Access the My Career & Training section.
  3. Select the Educational Assistance System tile.
  4. Hover over My Account in the top menu.
  5. Choose EdAssist Balance.

Credit and Non-Credit Options

You may receive financial assistance for both credit and non-credit courses, which may include training, seminars, workshops, conferences, or other educational opportunities. Use this benefit to enhance your professional skill set or help you reach Performance Excellence goals.

For non-credit courses, like professional development courses available through HR, support staff employees have up to $800 per year to use toward course registration fees. The course must be considered job-related and from an approved institution/program to receive assistance.

For credit courses, you can receive up to 14 credits per academic year. Your financial assistance level is determined by your union group, the type, of course, you’re taking (graduate or undergraduate), and where you’re taking the course (MSU or another university). The course must be considered job-related, degree-related, or career/professional development-related.

Taxation Information for Graduate-Level, Degree-Related Coursework

When using Educational Assistance funds toward graduate-level, degree-related classes for credit, it’s important to remember and plan for IRS tax exemption rules. The Internal Revenue Code (IRC) provides an exemption of up to $5,250 in a tax (calendar) year for graduate-level, degree-related courses reimbursed/waived through employer educational assistance programs, such as the one at MSU. Any amount of the benefit over $5,250 for degree-related, graduate-level courses is considered taxable income by the IRS.

If you utilize Ed Assist benefits for graduate-level, degree-related courses for credit over the $5,250 exclusion amount, appropriate tax withholding will be made, and the amount will be added to your gross wages. If a tax liability is determined, the deductions must be completed within the same calendar year. If this tax situation applies to your Ed Assist usage, you will receive notification via email in the fall, typically around September. This notification will indicate the amount of Educational Assistance received in the calendar year, how much of that amount is taxable, and on which paychecks withdrawals will occur to cover the outstanding tax liability.

Keep in mind: This tax liability, dictated by the IRS, applies ONLY to any Ed Assist benefit usage over the $5,250 limit when applied to graduate-level, degree-related courses for credit. For example, if you received $6,250 in eligible Ed Assist benefits in a year, then you would only be taxed on the $1,000 amount that is more than the exclusion limit and owe a percentage of that $1,000 as your tax liability.

Find detailed information about Educational Assistance – including how to apply – on the HR website. Contact Organization and Professional Development at prodev@hr.msu.edu with questions.

Sources

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Reimbursement for a Non-Credit Learning Opportunity

As an MSU benefits-eligible support staff employee, you have access to Educational Assistance. This benefit offers financial assistance towards your professional development after you’ve worked at MSU for an equivalent of 12 full-time service months. If you work less than full-time, the benefit is prorated based on your employment percentage.

You may receive up to $900 per year to use towards registration costs for a variety of non-credit learning opportunities, including trainings, seminars, workshops, conferences and courses. You will need to submit an Educational Assistance application to request financial assistance. You can access the Educational Assistance application in the EBS Portal under the My Career and Training tab. The learning opportunity must be considered job-related and from an approved institution/program to be approved for financial assistance.

You will need to upload two documents to your Educational Assistance application to receive reimbursement:

  1. Proof of Payment: The registration costs will need to be paid up front by either you or your department before you receive reimbursement. Make sure to submit proof of payment that clearly shows whether you or your department should be receiving the reimbursement. If you paid for the learning opportunity, you should upload a receipt that clearly shows you paid. If your department paid, you will need to obtain either the procurement card statement or the department operating statement (this would depend on the method of payment that was used) from your department’s fiscal officer.
  2. Proof of Attendance/Completion: There are a variety of documents that you can upload for proof of attendance, including a certificate of completion, formal email/letter of congratulations for completing or attending the learning opportunity, or confirmation of your registration if no other documentation was issued/provided.

PLEASE NOTE: Courses that you register for through the Courses for MSU Employees application in the EBS portal, such as Organization and Professional Development courses or MSU IT courses, do not require an Educational Assistance application. For these courses, you just need to select Educational Assistance as your form of payment when you register.

The Educational Assistance benefit also offers financial assistance for credit courses, which you can learn more about in this previous blog post. Find detailed information about Educational Assistance on the HR website. Questions? We’re happy to help! Contact the HR Solutions Center at SolutionsCenter@hr.msu.edu or 517-353-4434.