Employee Tuition Exemption

The Tuition Exemption Benefit Program is available to eligible Columbia University staff to cover tuition costs, depending on eligibility, for courses at Columbia University and for some students at Barnard College and Teachers College. This is not a reimbursement or remission program—tuition is simply exempted up to a limit depending on eligibility.

Columbia University's Human Resources department determines employees' eligibility for these benefits. Student Financial Services is responsible for processing the tuition benefit and applying it to student accounts.

Is Everything Completely Paid For?

No. You are responsible for all applicable mandatory fees that are assessed at registration, such as student life fees, residence fees, course fees, student health fees, medical insurance, and textbooks. The exemption only applies to tuition charges. 

Required Forms: End of Change of Program Period Deadline

After you or an eligible family member has been accepted to a program, some paperwork will be required to process a tuition exemption benefit.

You must submit the following forms after the first bill of the new term but before the end of the Change of Program Period. Review the Academic Calendar to determine the last day of the Change of Program Period.

You can access the following forms in the CU Benefits Enrollment System (CUBES).

Following registration of courses, you must print, complete, and sign the Tuition Benefit Eligibility Form, then scan and email it to the following appropriate address:

 Eligible dependents receiving an exemption will need the Columbia employee to print this form for them.

This form is required for anyone utilizing the tuition exemption benefit. Failure to submit this form will result in billing of full tuition charges for a given term.

Undergraduate degrees are not subject to IRS taxation under the tuition benefit. For graduate degrees, eligible employees are entitled to take up to $5,250 worth of courses per calendar year without being taxed. If the cost of coursework is more than $5,250 in a calendar year, the tuition charges become subject to IRS taxation.

However, if your graduate coursework is deemed job-related and in support of your career at Columbia, you can waive the taxation of your graduate-level courses by submitting the Job-Related Graduate Course Certification Form, which is also available in CUBES.

Also known as the "JRGEC form," this document must be completed by the employee seeking the waiver, then certified and submitted by the employee's supervisor to [email protected]. 

Failure to submit this form by the deadline will result in payroll deductions taken from your paycheck to cover taxes for graduate-level coursework.

Taxable Deductions Via Payroll

Be advised, employees are always taxed on the value of the tuition exemption for graduate coursework when the courses are taken by eligible family members. The $5,250 cap does not apply.

All taxable deductions are taken directly from the employee's paycheck and spread out evenly over the following pay periods:

  • Fall Term: October, November, December, and January
  • Spring Term: February, March, April, and May
  • Summer Term: June, July, August, and September