Support Staff - Tuition Exemption: Eligibility

A person on the payroll as a member of the full-time or part-time support staff is eligible for the Tuition Exemption Benefit.

Note: The required number of hours in a regularly scheduled part-time work week may vary; union members need to consult the relevant collective bargaining agreement for exact eligibility requirements.

The support staff member must also be actively at work and not on any kind of leave of absence. (For regular MEBA and MM&P employees, periods of time off-vessel are considered active employment.) The staff member must either be in a non-union support staff position or covered under a collective bargaining agreement with one of:

  • Local 1199/Morningside (Clerical & Cafeteria Units)
  • Local 2110 UAW
  • Local 100 (Kitchen & Dining Room Employees)
  • MEBA, MM&P, SSA (Medical Center)
  • TWU Local 241 (Maintenance & Custodial Employees, Security Officers, and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO))

Those in a position covered by a collective bargaining agreement should also consult that agreement for details about the program to ensure that they understand their specific eligibility requirements.

In addition to being eligible for the Tuition Exemption benefit, support staff and family members must also be accepted into the school they wish to attend. Click on the “Prospective Students” link at www.columbia.edu for more information.

Eligibility for Support Staff Family Members

A person on the payroll as a member of the full-time or part-time support staff is eligible for the Tuition Exemption Benefit.

Note: The required number of hours in a regularly scheduled part-time work week may vary; union members need to consult the relevant collective bargaining agreement for exact eligibility requirements.

The support staff member must also be actively at work and not on any kind of leave of absence. (For regular MEBA and MM&P employees, periods of time off-vessel are considered active employment.) The staff member must either be in a non-union support staff position or covered under a collective bargaining agreement with one of:

  • Local 1199/Morningside (Clerical & Cafeteria Units)
  • Local 2110 UAW
  • Local 100 (Kitchen & Dining Room Employees)
  • MEBA, MM&P, SSA (Medical Center)
  • TWU Local 241 (Maintenance & Custodial Employees, Security Officers, and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO))

Those in a position covered by a collective bargaining agreement should also consult that agreement for details about the program to ensure that they understand their specific eligibility requirements.

In addition to being eligible for the Tuition Exemption benefit, support staff and family members must also be accepted into the school they wish to attend. Click on the “Prospective Students” link at www.columbia.edu for more information.

When Eligibility Starts

Support Staff and Spouse or Same-Sex Domestic Partner: Timing and Waiting Periods

In some cases, the support staff member and his or her spouse/same-sex domestic partner can apply for and receive the Tuition Exemption Benefit as of the staff member’s hire date. For hire dates which fall after a term’s first day of classes, the staff member, or spouse or same-sex domestic partner, receive a pro-rated portion of the normal tuition benefit. Use the tables titled “Pro-rated Tuition Exemption Benefit for Support Staff” below to calculate the available benefit.

For some collective bargaining units, waiting periods apply:

  • Waiting Period, Local 1199 SEIU/Morningside (Clerical & Cafeteria Units): Full-time and part-time employees hired after June 1, 2015 must meet a two (2) semester waiting period before being eligible to receive Tuition Exemption Benefits for the following semester. This applies to the employee, as well as the spouse or same-sex domestic partner. The two-semester waiting period is administered as 7 months.
     
  • Waiting Period, Local 100: Full-time and part-time employees hired after March 1, 2015 must meet a two (2) semester waiting period before being eligible to receive Tuition Exemption benefits for the following semester. This applies to the employee, as well as the spouse or same-sex domestic partner. The two-semester waiting period is administered as 7 months.
     
  • Waiting Period, Local 2110: Full-time and part-time employees hired after 12/31/2012 must meet a two (2) semester waiting period before being eligible to receive Tuition Exemption benefits for the following semester. The two-semester waiting period is administered as 7 months.
     
  • Waiting Period, TWU Local 241: For TWU Local 241, including members from the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) - new employees hired after 4/1/2013 must meet a two (2) semester waiting period before being eligible to receive Tuition Exemption benefits for the following semester. The two-semester waiting period is administered as 7 months.
     
  • Waiting Period, Non-Union Support Staff: For Non-Union Support Staff, full-time and part-time employees hired after 7/1/2013 must meet a two (2) semester waiting period before being eligible to receive Tuition Exemption benefits for the following semester. The two-semester waiting period is administered as 7 months.
     
  • Waiting Period, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East SSA Area (Medical Center): For SSA, new employees hired on or after January 1, 2014 will be eligible for Tuition Exemption for courses at Columbia following a two (2) semester waiting period. This applies to the employee, as well as the spouse or same-sex domestic partner. The two-semester waiting period is administered as 7 months.
     
  • Full-time members must be enrolled in a Bachelor's degree program, a Master's degree program, a Pre-Medical Certificate program or the American Language Program to be eligible for Tuition Exemption. Eligible dependents must be enrolled in a Bachelor's or Master's degree program - no non-degree programs are eligible. Part-time members are not eligible for Tuition Exemption benefits.

 

Pro-rated Benefit Available Per Term Based on Hire Date

Hire DateFull-Time Support Staff: MEBA, MM&P
On or before the first day of class7
Weeks 1 & 26
Weeks 3 & 45
Weeks 5 & 64
Weeks 7 & 83
Weeks 9 & 102
Weeks 11 & 121
After week 120

*If less than one year of employment. Reimbursable points for these unions change after the first year of employment.

 

Dependent Waiting Periods

The following waiting periods apply before dependent children are eligible for the Tuition Exemption Benefit:

  • Non-union support staff, Local 2110, Local 1199, MEBA, MM&P, or SSA: Dependents are eligible after the support staff member has worked 2 years
  • Local 100 or TWU (except LDEO): Dependents are eligible after the support staff member has worked 4 years.
  • TWU (LDEO): Dependents are eligible after the support staff member has worked 2 years.

Changes in Employment Status That May Affect Eligibility

Layoff

If a support staff member is laid off during a term and he or she is either non-union or represented by Local 2110 or SSA, the Tuition Exemption Benefit granted for that term will not be revoked. However, the staff member will not receive Tuition Exemption Benefit for any subsequent term. Other union members should consult their collective bargaining agreements.

Termination

If a staff member’s employment terminates for any reason during a term in which he or she has been granted the Tuition Exemption Benefit, the staff member must refund the University for the remainder of the term. The accompanying “Pro-rated Benefit Available Per Term Based on Termination or Job Status Change” table shows how many exemption points are available if the staff member changes employment status during a given week of a term.

Leaves of Absence

Tuition benefits are not available for support staff who are on a leave of absence. If a staff member begins a leave during a term in which the Tuition Exemption Benefit has already been granted, he or she needs to refer to the “Pro-rated Benefit Available Per Term Based on Termination or Job Status Change” table below to see how many exemption points are available.

Switch from Full-time to Part-time

Staff members whose status changes from full-time to part-time during a term need to consult the “Full Time” column in the “Pro-rated Benefit Available Per Term Based on Termination or Job Status Change” table below to determine how many exemption points they are eligible to receive.

 

Pro-rated Benefit Available Per Term Based on Termination or Job Status Change

 

Number of points available for exemption:
Termination/Status Change Date Full-time Part-time
On or before the first day of class

 

0

 

0

 

Weeks 1 and 2

 

1

 

1

 

Weeks 3 and 4

 

2

 

1

 

Weeks 5 and 6

 

3

 

2

 

Weeks 7 and 8

 

4

 

2

 

Weeks 9 and 10

 

5

 

3

 

Weeks 11 and 12

 

6

 

3

 

After week 12

 

7*

 

3

 

* Full-time members of Local 100 or TWU receive only 6 points per term during the first year of employment.