Go back to school with the Training Fund
We know juggling a full-time job and family responsibilities can make it challenging to return to school. Your Tuition Assistance benefit helps relieve your school-related costs so you can focus on your studies. It pays for tuition, books, and other fees for approved programs.
While going back to school with the Training Fund, you also receive a variety of educational support services to help you succeed, such as tutoring and career counseling. We can help you achieve your goals!
Get started today
Your first step in returning to school with the Training Fund is getting connected to a Career and Education Navigator. Your case manager will guide you through accessing your tuition assistance benefit and help provide support through your time in school. Complete the Training Fund application to get connected.
Tuition Assistance Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Tuition Assistance Can I Receive?
Q. What are the member benefit levels?
A. The Training Fund Board of Trustees annually reviews and sets the maximum individual member Tuition Assistance benefit amount. The current maximum has been set at $5,250. The Tuition Assistance benefit is based on your FTE.
-If your FTE is .75 and above you are eligible to receive $5,250 (100%).
-If your FTE is .5-.74 you are eligible to receive $3,937.5 (75%).
-If your FTE is .49 and below you are eligible to receive $2,625 (50%).
Q: Does dropping my work FTE mean my TA benefit will drop? My advisor suggested I do this because I may have a hard time working full-time and succeeding in my program.
A: If you drop your FTE directly as a result of your college program’s recommendation to reduce your work hours, you may request a review of your specific situation with your case manager. Your case manager may recommend submitting an appeal to the Executive Director who may approve to continue your TA benefit amount at its previous rate.
For example, you were working 1 FTE before you dropped down to .6 to attend nursing school. Your case manager can recommend an appeal to the Executive Director for you to continue being funded at a 1.0 rate. Provided you can document that the work time reduction was a recommendation of your academic program, you may continue to be funded at the 1.0 rate.
Which Programs Qualify?
Please refer to our Approved Academic Programs when considering an educational pathway.
Using your Tuition Assistance Benefit
Q: What college programs are covered by the Tuition Assistance (TA) Program?
A: Tuition Assistance covers college programs that are healthcare related, in demand, and have been approved by the Training Fund’s Board of Trustees.
The Training Fund Trustees, half of whom are from employers and half of whom are from the union, set up the Training Fund specifically to train members for in-demand healthcare career positions available with participating employers. Because healthcare delivery is changing so quickly, and the goal is to have people secure a job after completion of training, the list is updated by the Board regularly. You should discuss your situation with your Career and Education Navigator if a program you want to pursue is not on the approved academic programs list.
Q: What expenses are covered by the Tuition Assistance (TA) Program?
A: Tuition Assistance covers costs for all required courses in approved programs and their pre-requisite classes. This includes tuition and most required fees, and required and/or recommended books, software, and supplies.
Q: What is not covered by the Tuition Assistance (TA) program?
A: Immunizations, criminal background checks, uniforms, computer equipment, parking fees, student id fees, and late registration fees are not covered by the Tuition Assistance program. Check with your Career and Education Navigator if you have questions about specific expenses that are not on the list above.
When can I start accessing the Tuition Assistance (TA) program?
A: Eligible Training Fund members may access the Tuition Assistance program after one year from their date of hire.
Q: How do I get started?
A: If you have not done so already, you need to complete the Tuition Assistance program application. After submitting your application, you will be emailed educational assessment/history forms to complete. You will be assigned a case manager after completing and returning your educational assessment forms. Your Career and Education Navigator will then contact you to schedule an initial appointment after which you will be fully enrolled in the program.
Tuition Assistance Eligibility
Q: How much Tuition Assistance (TA) am I eligible for?
A: The Training Fund Board of Trustees reviews and sets the maximum individual TA benefit amount each year. For 2017, the maximum has been set at $5,250. The TA benefit is based on your current FTE.
- Ifyour FTE is .75 and above you are eligible for the max benefit amount of $5250 (100%).
- If your FTE is .5-.74 you are eligible to receive $3937.5 (75%).
- If your FTE is .49 and below you are eligible to receive $2625 (50%).
Q: Is there a minimum FTE in order to get Tuition Assistance (TA)?
A: As long as you have an FTE you are eligible for TA. For example, if you were working 0.25 FTE, you would be eligible for $2625 TA benefit amount.
Q: Am I eligible for Tuition Assistance if I am a union member and work per diem?
A: Per diem employees are not eligible for Tuition Assistance nor any other Training Fund benefit. Employers make contributions to the Fund based on each eligible employee’s FTE status. Accordingly, eligibility for the benefits, including tuition assistance, is also based on employee FTE status. Because per diem employees don’t have an FTE employers don’t make contributions on their behalf and they are therefore ineligible for benefits.
Q: When am I eligible if I go from a position that is per diem to a position that is FTE?
A: You will be eligible as soon as you become an FTE employee and reach your one year employment anniversary date.
For example, you started working per diem on January 1, 2012 and worked for 11 months before becoming an FTE employee; you would become eligible for Tuition Assistance on January 1, 2013 – one year from your hire date.
Q: Can I get Tuition Assistance (TA) for more than one degree program?
A: Yes, members may pursue more than one program depending on their career advancement goals.
For example, a member may want to complete Surgical Tech certificate and then go on to an associate degree for nursing. Another member may want to complete a Medical Assistant associates and then then decide to go into Respiratory Care. So long as they are on the approved list, a member may enroll in as many programs as they need to meet their career goals provided they are working through their case manager and following their educational plan.
Q. Does Tuition Assistance (TA) cover adult basic education and college prep courses?
A: Yes, members who have identified these courses as part of their educational plan with their case manager may request TA for Adult Basic Education (ABE), English as a Second Language (ESL), college readiness and college prep courses (such as basic math, reading, writing, English and college success courses, to name a few). The Training Fund also offers its own classes to help students get ready for college-level courses. Training Fund workshops are posted here.
Registering and Paying for School with Tuition Assistance
Q: Do I have to take all my pre-requisite classes at one college?
A: No, pre-requisite courses are generally transferable between schools and can usually be taken at multiple places if that is more convenient for you. However, always check with your desired degree program’s academic advisor to make sure. Your case manager may be able to advise you as well.
Q. How do I know the best school to go to for my pre-requisite classes?
A: If you are taking pre-requisites, the state’s community colleges or public universities offer well-priced, high quality classes whose credits are generally transferable between schools. Due to their higher cost, we generally do not fund enrollment in pre-requisite classes at private institutions. Again, always check with your intended program’s academic advisor about class transferability and discuss your plan with your Training Fund Career and Education Navigator.
Q. How do I know the best school to go to for my program?
A: Finding the best school for your particular program will take some research. Your Career and Education Navigator can help you with this. Factors you should consider when you look at schools are:
- Is the program you are interested in accredited by a bona fide accrediting institution?
- Is your program approved by authorized state agencies (i.e. Washington State Nursing Commission)
- What is the average completion time and rate for students in this school’s program?
- Are the credits taken at this school transferable to other schools?
Note that the Training Fund WILL NOT fund all schools. There are a growing number of online and for profit schools of questionable quality and from which our employer partners will not hire. Your case manager will provide guidance on choosing a school.
Q: How do I pay for my tuition and books?
A: At most schools, tuition is due within five to seven business days from the date you register for classes. However, if you register on or after the first day of the quarter, tuition is usually due immediately. You may elect to have the Fund pay your tuition “upfront” once you have registered for classes or you may pay your tuition yourself and seek reimbursement from the Fund. Both options are discussed below:
To have the Fund pay your tuition upfront: As soon as you are registered you should submit a Funding Request to the Training Fund to allow enough time for processing before the payment due date. Your Career and Education Navigator will walk you through this process during your initial enrollment meeting. Funding instructions are also available on our Forms page.
To be reimbursed: If you have already paid for the class, provided you have already been enrolled in the Tuition Assistance program and are working with a case manager, you may submit a Funding Request to the Training Fund. Directions for completing the reimbursement form are available on our also on our Forms page.
If you have questions about vouchers or reimbursement processes, contact your Career and Education Navigator.
Q. This is my first time in the Tuition Assistance Program. Is there a deadline to submit my Funding Request?
A: If this is your first time requesting Tuition Assistance benefits, you must complete your enrollment in the Tuition Assistance program before submitting a funding request. Once you submit your funding request you will receive your voucher by email within 5 business days provided your request is complete with all required documentation. REMEMBER! Students are responsible for their own tuition payment, which includes submitting their prepared voucher to their school. Always check with student services at your school to inquire about payment due dates. Know your school’s deadlines!
Q: What if my books are not posted on the college bookstore website when I register?
A: If you registered early and books are not posted online, submit your Funding Request for tuition only. Then when the books are posted on the bookstore website, submit a second Voucher Request for your books. Remember you must submit documentation showing that your books are required, recommended or optional in order to be paid for through the Tuition Assistance Program.
Q: What if I am on a waitlist for my class(es)?
A: You may submit a voucher request for waitlisted class tuition and fee costs but not for books. Once you are actually admitted to the class, you can submit another voucher or reimbursement request for books along with your updated school schedule. If you have questions, contact your Career and Education Navigator.
Q: Would applying for Financial Aid or other grants through my school affect my Tuition Assistance benefits?
A: It depends on the type of aid. The Tuition Assistance program can only be used to pay actual costs for tuition, fees and books. If those costs have already been paid by another source, then you cannot also access your Tuition Assistance benefit. However, financial aid and other grants often cover costs outside of tuition, fees and books. If you have an award that covers additional items (like living expenses, for example), we will work with your educational institution to have your Tuition Assistance benefit cover tuition, books and fees allowing your other award to be used for expenses not covered by the Training Fund.
For example, you received a scholarship for $1000 and the scholarship does not restrict its use (can be used for anything like rent or gas) but your school’s financial aid office automatically applied it to your tuition costs. If you provide the Training Fund with an award letter, we will create a special memo (which will require your signature) that will allow us to voucher you for your tuition, books and supplies and the grant amount may be returned to you in the form of a reimbursement from the school (depends on the school/scholarship policy/benefit level, etc.).
Q: What if I paid for my classes and books already? Can I get reimbursed?
A: All members must have completed their enrollment in the Tuition Assistance program (including meeting with a case manager) before submitting a Funding Request. If you are enrolled in the Tuition Assistance program and submit a reimbursement request for eligible expenses, you will be mailed a check within 30 days from the submission of all required paperwork.
Q: Is there a deadline for submitting reimbursement requests?
A: The Training Fund recommends that you submit your reimbursement requests on a quarterly basis; however, the annual deadline for reimbursements is January 15th for any costs incurred during the previous year. Remember! Only members who are already enrolled in the Tuition Assistance program can submit costs for reimbursement. Consult with yourCareer and Education Navigator if you have questions.
For example, you are enrolled in the Tuition Assistance program and paid for your summer quarter course on July 2, 2016. You have until January 15, 2017 to submit your reimbursement.
Succeeding in My Classes and Remaining Eligible for Tuition Assistance
Q: What should I do if I’m having trouble in my class(es)?
A: If you are experiencing difficulties in any of your classes, at any time, contact your case manager immediately. Most commonly, members experience academic challenges that are related to balancing school, work and family. Your case manager can help brainstorm some problem solving options including tutoring services at your school or through the Training Fund. Our goal is to help you be successful!
Q: What tutoring subjects are available through the Fund?
A: Healthcare-specific content tutoring (for nursing classes, MA courses, etc.) is generally available at your college. However, one-on-one tutoring, free of charge, is also available through the Training Fund for the most common healthcare pre-requisite classes. We also offer free on-line tutoring with Tutor.com which can be accessed 24/7 from any internet-enabled computer or mobile device. To request a tutor, please go to our website.
Q: Is there a minimum GPA I have to meet while working on my pre-reqs?
A: The minimum GPA for all pre-req classes is 1.9 unless otherwise noted by your specific class/program. It is important to remember that most healthcare programs are competitive and applicants are selected based on their grades. Such programs include but are not limited to nursing, radiology, respiratory therapy, and more. The Training Fund strongly recommends that you strive for the highest GPA possible in order to increase your chances of being admitted to the program of your choice.
Q: Is there a minimum GPA once I’ve been accepted into my academic program?
A: The minimum GPA is established by your college program. Check with your college program advisor. Contact your case manager if you are experiencing difficulties.
Q: Do I owe money if I fail my class(es)?
Yes, if you fail a class, you are obligated to reimburse the Training Fund for the cost of the failed class. If you are unable to reimburse the Fund, then you will not be able to access Training Fund benefits for a period of two years. If you have received a hardship withdrawal from your college, inform your case manager as you may be able eligible to receive a repayment waiver.
Q: What if I need to drop a class?
A: It is extremely important for you to maintain contact with your case manager if you are experiencing difficulties with any of your class(es). Your case manager can get you connected with tutoring or other resources if you are experiencing challenges while in school.
Timing is everything when it comes to adding and dropping courses if you and your case manager decide that dropping is the best option. The date you drop a class will affect the size of your refund from the college —and even your grades—so know the deadlines.
Q: Do I owe money if I drop my class(es)?
A: Depending on when you drop a class and the college’s refund policy, you may or may not be obligated to reimburse the Training Fund. Withdrawal deadlines are generally found in the academic calendar on your college’s website. If you drop a class after the full refund period, you will owe the Training Fund any amount we are obligated to pay the college for your partial enrollment, this includes any costs for tuition, books and fees.
If you are unable to reimburse the Fund, then you will not be able to access Training Fund benefits for a period of two years. If you have received a hardship withdrawal from your college, inform your case manager as you may be able to receive a repayment waiver.
Q: Why can’t I take a class that’s not part of my program if I think I need it?
A: Classes other than those listed as pre-requisites or courses required by your program are not covered by the Tuition Assistance benefit. If you would like to discuss your individual situation, contact your case manager.
Q: Can I retake a class?
A: The Training Fund will NOT pay for taking a class twice. If you feel you need to retake a class you will have to pay for the class yourself.
For example: You enroll in a statistics class as part of your nursing school pre-requisites and get a 2.8 for your final grade. Because nursing school is so competitive, you want your grades to be as high as possible. You can retake your statistics class but the Training Fund will not cover the costs for that second enrollment.
Read about the Training Fund Service Agreement
When first enrolling in a formal degree or certificate program you are asked to sign a Service Agreement. By signing this agreement you commit to work for your employer in exchange for receiving Tuition Assistance benefits.
Read the Service Agreement here.
Dalisay Bayna, RN, BSN
CHI Franciscan Health, Highline Medical Center
RN, UW Medicine Northwest Hospital
MA, Kaiser Permanente Washington