Questions to ask before deciding to study through an employer

It is not uncommon to be in a job and want to still study further. For many however the option of giving up their job and studying full time is not a reality as fees are notoriously expensive. But studying through your employer is increasingly an option as companies look to retain their staff and keep their loyalty. This week Moneybags writer, Danielle Van Wyk, looks at the necessary questions to ask before studying through your employer

What are the types of study loans offered?

Different companies have various loan and bursary offerings. Two of the common types are partly funded and full funded study loans. This can be either toward full time or part time studies. Bursaries on the other hand are usually granted without the need to be repaid.

How do I qualify?

Again companies may differ in policy around funding employee’s studies, but people development consultant, Tanyaradzwa Dzumbunu adds that “loans are typically offered to permanent employees, who have been employed for six months with no disciplinary records on file.

“We try to offer loans that are reasonable based on the employees affordability. They are interest free, and vary from as little as three months to 12 months,” Dzumbunu states.

Here, both the cost of the course, duration and how it is related to your current role is also considered.

Questions to ask your employer

According to Dzumbunu before choosing to study through your employer, there are a few necessary questions that employees should ask:

  1. How much is the loan amount? This is an important question, as especially in the case of partly funded loans it is necessary to know how much of the tuition amount you will need to still cover.
  2. When will the loan amount be paid out? Various institutions have different tuition guidelines and payment dates, communicating this to your employer is important, so they know when to make the payment, should your application be successful.
  3. What is the interest rate? When it comes to repaying the loan the interest rate that is agreed upon will determine how much your repayment amount will be. Dzumbunu says that it is therefore important that you both aware of the interest rate and comfortable with it before the loan is granted.
  4. What is the repayment period? Employees should note the repayment period as this is important in terms of their financial planning, so they are aware of how long it is that they are going to be making repayments, and thus are bound to the company.
  5. What are the terms and conditions? People in general tend to often skim over the terms and conditions when it comes to contractual agreements. It is always advised that employees take care to understand and read through the terms and conditions, when going into such an agreement. One of the most frequently asked questions is “Should I leave the company, what will happen?” This is usually fully explained in the loan contract, adds Dzumbunu.

Another key point to remember to look into is whether or not there is a certain grade standard that you would need to maintain, and if so what would happen should you not do so.

The terms and conditions should also contain what would happen should you stop attending classes and not complete your studies. This could be due to personal, health, family or other issues that could arise and prevent you from completing your course or degree. Find out if you’ll then be forced to repay the tuition that has already been paid.

Studying further through your employer have many benefits, the most obvious being that you can studying further without being financially strained or paying interest on a loan.

Another benefit includes the increased possibility of promotion. Upon successful completion of your studies and qualification you will be more skilled to take on additional responsibilities, and with the company having a vested interest they are more likely to reward you accordingly, adds Dzumbunu.

To make life easier for yourself, it is vital that you do your homework beforehand. This includes finding out all the necessaries about your course, institution and tuition fees, so that when you have to motivate to your company about why they should fund you, you are prepared.