A college education is desirable in order to advance within most career paths today, but those who seek to get a degree usually need to pay a hefty price. At LIU Post, however, a benefit for faculty members makes them eligible to send their children to school for free.
According to a 2010 survey by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, 98 percent of respondents from 340 different public and private colleges in the United States provide tuition benefits for full-time employees. LIU Post is on the list, to the satisfaction of the Chair of the English department, Dr. John Lutz, who believes the incentive is part of the package when applying for a job at LIU Post. “A lot of universities offer it, so in terms of attracting faculty here specifically [because of the benefits], I don’t know that it would be a determining factor, but it certainly would be a factor,” Lutz said.
Lutz takes advantage of this benefit by sending his son, a junior English major, to school at LIU Post. He admits that he saves a lot of money this way. “I have certainly found it beneficial,” he said. “Tuition for a four-year degree here is probably close to $130,000. So for me, that is a major perk. Otherwise, he [my son] would worry about student loans,” he added.
Clearly, there is more to it than just saving money. “It’s a big thing for parents to send their child to college, and I guess I have more peace of mind knowing that he is at a place I understand,” Lutz said. He also noted how driving to school along with his son allows them to spend more time together on a personal level.
However, even benefits could have a downside – something that Lutz does not conceal, yet claims he has never had to face personally. “There could be situations where there are conflicts of interests. Obviously, he [my son] is not taking classes with me, but he does take classes with people with whom I work,” Lutz said. He referred to common sense as being the key to succeed in such a relationship. “You follow a kind of ethical standpoint and it is not really [becoming] an issue,” he added.
Currently, 13 full-time faculty workers, and 20 part-time adjunct faculty employees take advantage of the free tuition privileges, according to Debra Annibell, associate Vice President for Human Resources Administration. “Tuition benefits do not appear in an individual employee’s paycheck,” said Jackie Nealon, Chief of Staff, and Vice President of Enrollment, Campus Life, and Communications. “The employees fill out a tuition remission form and once verified and approved, the appropriate funds from a designated account are used to cover the tuition costs according to the specifications of the benefit,” Nealon added.
The union contract that was signed between the LIU faculty and the school in September 2011 gives the child of an employee eight semesters of undergraduate studies for any credit-based course, except doctoral ones. If the child has not completed its coursework within the given four years, the tuition costs would come back into effect.
When calculating the tuition for the children of these 33 faculty members currently attending Post, the approximate value for one semester reaches over $1,100,000 – counting one child per worker.
Nealon mentioned that the salary of an employee and the given tuition remission are not dependent on each other. “If this benefit was not offered, the salary for individual employees might not be higher but the likelihood that strong candidates would not choose to work at LIU would be very great,” she said.
Like many other private schools, LIU Post gets nearly all of its total revenues from tuition and fees, according to Forbes.com (2013). Therefore, where best to spend this money is a thoroughly debated subject. For instance, the school is granting high academic scholarships for incoming freshmen, apart from giving free education to faculty, staff, and their children. Meanwhile, Post raised its tuition fee by 3.5 percent in 2013, which demonstrates the paradoxical relationship of attracting students and staff, while still maintaining its budget.
As of now, only 33 out of the total 635 full-time and part-time faculty at Post have children currently enrolled with tuition benefits. However, this number does not include staff members and administrators who also send their children to LIU, or university employees who are currently using free tuition benefits to get their own advanced degrees. The estimated overall scale comes down one free student in 100 for the undergraduate programs, according to Nealon. “The number of students who are currently enrolled under the tuition remission program at Post represents less than one percent of the undergraduate student population,” she said.
In all cases, the employees and their respective children must apply and be accepted like everybody else before receiving economic assistance. “All students must meet the admissions criteria for the university and for the program to which they are applying regardless of how their tuition will be covered,” Nealon said.