Tuition Reimbursement Allows Breech Students New Opportunities

By Alysha Schertz

Despite recent economic woes, several companies have continued to offer tuition assistance and reimbursement programs for their employees.

Educational assistance from local companies like John Deere Reman, SRC Electrical LLC, and CNH Reman, can be extremely beneficial to students attending the Breech School of Business and other two-year and four-year colleges and universities in the area.

“Approximately 20 to 25 percent of our fulltime MBA students in the Breech School of Business are receiving some kind of tuition assistance from their employers,” Angie Adamick, MBA Director at Drury University said.

She said the School saw tuition assistance pull back slightly during the recession, but as the economy continues to recover, more and more companies have started offering bold tuition assistance programs again.  

“The market is more competitive for employees,” Adamick said. “More employers are starting to offer programs again, and a lot of students are definitely taking advantage of it.”

Kevin Bishop, a graduate of Drury University, was able to take advantage of the tuition reimbursement program offered by his employer, John Deere Reman-Springfield LLC, to complete both his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Drury.  

“Continuing my education got me the opportunity to be selected for additional career advancements,” Bishop said. “I’ve worked in production most of my life. As I furthered my education, opportunities in the management side of the business continued to emerge.”

Bishop (pictured far left in photo) completed his undergraduate degree from Drury University’s Breech School of Business in 2006. He obtained a Master’s degree from the Breech School of Business in 2011.

Bishop was recently promoted to a position in BPI Supply Management and Logistics at John Deere Reman. He credits his ability to advance in the company to the opportunities made available for him to continue his learning.

“I look at it as providing future value to myself and for the company,” he said.

Steve Huffman, Supply Chain Manager at SRC Electrical, LLC in Springfield, is also obtaining his MBA through the tuition reimbursement program at his company.
“Continuing education aids in us gaining relevant knowledge,” Huffman said. “It keeps us at the top of our game and helps us help ourselves and our companies to move forward, instead of being stagnant.”
According to Huffman, SRC Electrical offers full time employees complete reimbursement for credits or certifications obtained, with approval, at accredited institutions.

He said that course curriculum must lead to a degree in a job-related field, and students must receive a “C” or better in the course to get reimbursed.  

Huffman chose Drury over other accredited institutions in the area for the small class sizes and project-team approach he believes will be useful in his career.

“The interactions with classmates model what happens in the real world,” Huffman said. “As leaders in the business community we will forever utilize this experience.”

In general, tuition reimbursement programs offer an opportunity for business continuity, low employee turnover, and an attractive recruitment tool.

“Programs like these are a win-win situation,” Adamick said. “The employee is gaining the benefit of additional education at reduced or free cost to them personally, and the employer benefits from an employee who has more applicable experiences and knowledge they can apply to the workplace.  They become better employees that can help drive the company forward.  It’s not hard to sell companies on the investment.”

Peter Cappelli, author of the National Bureau of Economic Research paper Why do Employers Pay for College?, finds that, in general, tuition assistance programs appear to allow firms to hire and attract better quality, more educated, more productive, employees.

The Society for Human Resource Management, in a recent survey, estimates that around 54 percent of companies offer some form of educational reimbursement.

According to Candida Deckard, Director of Human Resources and Safety, her company, CNH Reman, has offered reimbursement since the company was founded.

“We have a very unique culture here, ripe with entrepreneurial spirit,” Deckard said.
“We hire people and they stay. Our turnover rates are very low. People want to be here, and we want to help grow them to their full potential. Our goal is to grow our people internally, whether that means they want to become managers, or they become more enriched for the position they currently hold.”

Deckard, who works in HR and is responsible for the tuition reimbursement program at CNH Reman, is also completing her MBA at Drury through the program.

She said that, last year, CNH Reman had 7 percent new employees take advantage of the program, down slightly from 2012 when the company had 12 percent.  

“I’m surprised more employees don’t take advantage of the program,” she said. “It’s there and available for those who want it.  For me, it was always something I knew I would eventually do.  I just want to be the best I can possibly be in my field, and continuing my education and continuously learning will help me do that.”

Deckard chose Drury, despite the opportunity to go to any accredited institution in the area and get reimbursed through the program.

Drury’s Breech School of Business doesn’t have an exclusive relationship with any local company, but Adamick does keep close tabs on company relationships.  

“I meet regularly with local companies and their HR departments,” Adamick said. “A lot are already offering some type of tuition reimbursement program, so I make sure they are aware of what Drury’s MBA program can offer.  We want to make sure they are aware, and their employees are aware, that we can work with them and are proud to offer such a distinguished degree in the area.”