The following tuition assistance benefit enhancements take effect on July 1:

  • The service eligibility requirement will be reduced from two consecutive years of full-time employment to six months of full-time employment.
  • Eligible institutions will no longer need to have a physical presence in North Carolina. Duke will expand the accredited institutions to outside the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Only programs in the U.S. are eligible.
  • One semester of Ph.D. research will be reimbursed.
  • The requirement to submit applications prior to the first day of class is being relaxed to allow application submission any time prior to requesting tuition reimbursement. (NEW)
  • The tuition reimbursement deadline is being extended from 60 days following the last day of class to within 90 days following the last day of class(NEW)

Please note: All enhancements pertain only to courses that began on/after July 1, 2023.

As previously announced, effective Jan. 1, 2023, the Watts College of Nursing (Watts) is now included as an eligible institution for tuition reimbursement through the benefit.

The following aspects of the application process remain in place: employees will discuss their professional development plans with their supervisor for approval; courses should be career-related; employees must receive a class grade of "C" or better or "Pass" if a grade is not provided; applications and required documentation must be submitted in a timely manner; and employees must remain at Duke for two years following reimbursement.

Frequently Asked Questions (July 1, 2023 ETAP Enhancements)

Employee Eligibility

How can I determine if I am eligible for tuition assistance through ETAP?

You are able to determine if you are eligible for the Employee Tuition Assistance Program by accessing your Duke@Work online account. An active link for the program under the My Benefits tab is an indicator you have met the service eligibility requirements and will be able to submit an application.

Is my child or other family member eligible for this program?

No. ETAP is for the reimbursement of tuition expenses incurred by eligible employees only.

I began employment in January 2023. Will I be eligible for tuition reimbursement for summer 2023 courses that begin in July 2023?

No. In order to be eligible for tuition reimbursement of courses taken during the summer of 2023, an employee would need to meet the eligibility requirements in place on May 1. The new enhancement that reduces the service requirement to six months does not go into effect until July 1, 2023. This means that an employee who begins working for Duke in January 2023 will first become eligible to submit courses for the ETAP in the Fall of 2023.

With the effective date of July 1 for the eligibility changes, will I be eligible if I have six months of service on July 1st?

Yes, if you have 6 months of consecutive full-time employment on July 1, 2023, you will meet the eligibility criteria for Fall 2023 courses. Eligibility must be met by January 1 for spring courses, May 1 for summer courses and September 1 for fall courses. Please note: Since the enhancements are prospective and the May 1 eligibility for summer courses is before the July 1 enhancements are effective, the 2-year service requirement applies for summer 2023 course eligibility.

By what date must I meet my six (6) months of continuous service in order to be eligible to apply for tuition reimbursement?

Employees must meet the 6-month eligibility requirement by September 1 to be reimbursed for Fall courses, January 1 to be reimbursed for Spring courses, and by May 1 to be reimbursed for Summer 2024 courses.

Course Eligibility

What courses are eligible for reimbursement through ETAP?

All courses must be provided by an institution holding regional accreditation and must provide academic credit that can be used towards earning a degree. These courses must also be related to your current job or future career growth at Duke.

Does my supervisor need to approve my application?

Yes, your courses should be reviewed by your supervisor and documented in your professional development plan.

To be eligible for tuition reimbursement, do I have to be enrolled as a "degree seeking" student or can I just take a career-relevant class?

Eligible courses must provide academic course credit that can be used towards earning a degree and must be related to your current job or future career growth at Duke.

I am applying to a program with courses beginning in May 2023. I have gotten everything approved through my supervisor and I meet all the requirements for reimbursement with the new guidelines as of July 1st. Since the class begins in May, but I wouldn't be applying for reimbursement until after July 1, would it be possible to get reimbursed for the first course this summer?

The new enhancements are effective July 1, 2023 and are prospective, which means classes that begin in Fall 2023 will be eligible for reimbursement if all other requirements are met. Coursework that begins prior to Fall 2023 would not be eligible for reimbursement in this situation.

Why am I not eligible for tuition reimbursement for summer 2023 courses that begin after July 1st since I have met the new 6-month service requirement?

In order to be eligible for summer 2023 courses, you have to be eligible by May 1st and the 2-year service requirement was in effect at that time. Therefore, only employees with 2 years of service on May 1st will be eligible to apply for tuition reimbursement for summer 2023 courses.

I am interested in taking a course at the Center for Living. Is this course eligible for tuition reimbursement?

No. Eligible courses must provide academic course credit that can be used towards earning a degree and must be taken at a higher education institution that holds regional accreditation.

Will this benefit cover the PA program at Duke?

ETAP will cover courses that provide academic course credit that can be used towards earning a degree.

I am a Teaching Coordinator for the Math department and would like to take the graduate level courses that are offered as part of the Certificate in College Teaching. Are these courses eligible for reimbursement?

No. Certificate programs are not eligible for reimbursement through this program; however, if a course provides academic course credit that can be used towards earning a degree, that course will be eligible for reimbursement.

Is there a reimbursement option for IT certification Boot Camps/Certificates?

No. Certificate programs are not eligible for reimbursement through ETAP unless they provide academic course credit that can be used towards earning a degree.

Are course-related fees covered by ETAP?

No, fees are not a reimbursable expense through ETAP; the program only covers tuition costs. Tuition is based on the cost per credit hour of each course.

If I were to start a program in the summer of 2023, would I be reimbursed after the semester is completed?

Eligibility for summer 2023 programs must be met by May 1. Since these enhancements are not effective until July 1, 2023, classes that begin Fall 2023 would meet the eligibility requirement.

Will this benefit be retroactive to previous semesters that I completed in my current degree program since being employed with Duke?

The new enhancements are effective July 1, 2023 and are prospective which means classes that begin in Fall 2023 will be eligible for reimbursement if all other requirements are met; there are no retroactive benefits.

I began my employment at Duke immediately following the completion of my Master's program which directly aligns with my position responsibilities. I completed my Master's program immediately following my undergraduate graduation. Does the employee tuition assistance program include instances when the educational program has been completed directly before becoming a Duke Employee?

No. Coursework taken prior to becoming a regular, full-time employee with Duke and meeting the eligibility requirements for ETAP are not reimbursable. The new enhancements are effective July 1, 2023 and are prospective, which means classes that begin in Fall 2023 will be eligible for reimbursement if all other requirements are met; there are no retroactive benefits.

If classes start in May where grades are not issued until July, would this qualify for tuition reimbursement or do classes have to start in July/be paid for in July?

The new enhancements are effective July 1, 2023 and are prospective which means classes that begin in Fall 2023 will be eligible for reimbursement if all other requirements are met; there are no retroactive benefits. Eligibility for summer 2023 courses must be met by May 1, which is prior to the effective date of the enhancements.

Is the one semester of reimbursement for PhD research for dissertation or individual research?

Beginning July 1, 2023, one semester of coursework that is solely research is eligible for tuition reimbursement, provided the course is in pursuit of a Master's thesis or Doctoral dissertation. One semester of reimbursement for PhD research can be for dissertation or individual research, but not for both.

School Eligibility

What schools are eligible for tuition reimbursement through ETAP?

Educational institutions that are accredited by a regional accreditor recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) will be considered eligible institutions. USDE-recognized regional accrediting organizations are:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU);
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC);
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC);
  • Southern Association of Colleges and School Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC);
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE); and
  • New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE).

The following online tool is available to assist in determining accreditation: U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education.

With the expanded ETAP, will online programs offered by accredited universities in the U.S. also be eligible for reimbursement?

Online courses that provide academic course credit towards earning a degree will be eligible for tuition reimbursement. Educational institutions that are accredited by a regional accreditor recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) will be considered eligible institutions. USDE-recognized regional accrediting organizations are:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU);
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC);
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC);
  • Southern Association of Colleges and School Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC);
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE); and
  • New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE).

The following online tool is available to assist in determining accreditation: U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education.

How to Apply

How do I apply for tuition reimbursement?

You must submit your application through Duke@Work before requesting reimbursement. Applications must be submitted for each quarter, semester or academic term in which you will be requesting reimbursement.

Is there an application deadline?

Yes, you must submit your supervisor-approved application within 90 days of your class end date and prior to requesting reimbursement.

General

What is the Employee Tuition Assistance Program?

Effective July 1, 2023, the Employee Tuition Assistance Program will provide reimbursement of tuition for eligible classes taken at Duke or any other higher educational institution accredited by a regional accreditor recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). This program provides reimbursement of tuition for a maximum of three classes per semester or quarter (limit nine courses per calendar year) up to $5,250 per calendar year for full-time employees with at least six months of continuous service.

How and when do I apply?

You must submit your supervisor-approved application through Duke@Work prior to requesting reimbursement. Applications must be submitted for each quarter, semester or academic term in which you will be requesting reimbursement.

If you are interested in participating in the program, you should first discuss your professional development plan with your supervisor. Once you and your supervisor have agreed upon a course or courses that are related to your current job or will enable continued career growth at Duke and this is documented in your professional development plan, you should complete and submit your application through the MyBenefits section of Duke@Work. The application will automatically be routed to your supervisor along with any additional required approvers. You will receive automated emails indicating the status of your application request as it moves through the approval process.

Note about nontraditional schedules: If your courses have varied start and end dates and you wish to be reimbursed after the completion of each individual course, then submit a separate application for each course.

Requesting Reimbursement

What type of documentation is required to receive tuition reimbursement?

Reimbursement requests are submitted by the employee, through Duke@Work, within 90 days after the last day of classes, along with an itemized tuition statement that clearly illustrates tuition cost (excluding fees) and the amount of tuition paid, as well as documentation showing successful completion of the class with a grade of C or better, or "Pass" if a grade is not provided. In lieu of an itemized tuition statement, you are able to submit a completed Reimbursement Form. An application approved by your supervisor is required prior to requesting tuition reimbursement.

What courses are reimbursable?

To be eligible for reimbursement, courses must meet the following guidelines:

  • Must be related to the employee's current job or continued career growth at Duke
  • Must provide academic course credit that can be used towards earning a degree
  • Must be listed in the institution's course catalogue
  • Must be taken at Duke or any other higher educational institution that is accredited by a regional accreditor recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE).
  • Must be documented as part of an employee's professional development plan
  • Must be completed with a grade of "C" or better; or "Pass" or “Satisfactory” if a letter grade is not provided

Eligible courses include classroom, online or distance learning, and ESL (English as a Second Language). Ineligible courses include certificate programs that do not grant academic credit towards a degree. The program will reimburse one semester of coursework that is solely for research, thesis, or dissertation work.

I used tuition assistance benefits earlier this year with my prior employer. Am I eligible to receive a tuition reimbursement this year through Duke's program?

The $5,250 limit that can be received tax-free is an individual limit for the year - not an employer limit. Therefore, in order to avoid being taxed on tuition benefits received from Duke, your total annual tuition assistance benefits from all employers cannot exceed $5,250. If you received a tax-free tuition benefit in 2023 from the PDC or a prior employer, please be aware of this limitation and reach out to employeetuition@duke.edu if you have additional questions.

How do I know if a school is accredited by a regional accreditor recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE)?

USDE-recognized regional accrediting organizations are:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU);
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC);
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC);
  • Southern Association of Colleges and School Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC);
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE); and
  • New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE).

The following online tool is available to assist in determining accreditation: U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education.

Are there Duke programs for which I could use my Employee Tuition Assistance Program benefit?

Yes. Among them is Duke's Graduate Liberal Studies (GLS) Program -- an interdisciplinary master's degree that can be completed either full- or part-time and that counts many Duke employees among its alumni. Created with working adults in mind, the GLS program offers reduced tuition and the ability to self-design a course of study. It can therefore be well tailored for employees wishing to work while taking advantage of the Employee Tuition Benefit. For more information, visit the Graduate Liberal Studies at Duke website.

Can I use the Employee Tuition Assistance Program for a certificate/certification program or a research course?

No. Certification programs that do not grant academic credit towards a degree are not eligible for tuition reimbursement. Beginning July 1, 2023, one semester of coursework that is solely research is eligible for tuition reimbursement, provided the course is in pursuit of a Master’s thesis or Doctoral dissertation.

Is there financial assistance available to help me pay for the upfront tuition cost?

There are many financial aid programs available at schools. For instance, Durham Technical Community College, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and North Carolina Central University offer loans, and in some cases, grants and scholarships to part-time students. More details are available on each of these schools' web sites.

Is there a dollar maximum or course maximum that can be reimbursed?

Yes, reimbursement is available for a maximum of nine courses per calendar year with a maximum of three courses taken in any one semester/quarter (i.e. spring, fall, summer). The maximum that can be reimbursed in a calendar year is $5,250. Reimbursement is limited to incurred tuition expenses. Transportation costs, late fees, parking costs, graduation fees, examination fees, textbooks, supplies, registration fees, student fees, and other similar costs are not eligible for reimbursement.

Is there a grade requirement to receive tuition reimbursement?

Yes, the approved course must be successfully completed with a "C" or better in a course where a letter grade is provided or official documentation from the school that the course offers "Pass" or "Satisfactory" for coursework where a letter grade is not used. An "Incomplete" is not reimbursable until a final grade is issued.

Will I have to repay the money if I leave employment at Duke?

As part of the application process, you must agree to remain at Duke for two years following a total reimbursement of $2,500 or more. If you voluntarily terminate employment before completing two years of service, you must repay 50 percent of the amount reimbursed over $2,500. Repayment amounts may be deducted from your final paycheck(s). Refer to the chart below for an example of the repayment calculation.

Repayment Calculation Example:
Employee's last day worked: April 8, 2024
Two year look back period: April 8, 2022 to April 8, 2024

Date of Tuition PaymentAmount of Payment
May 15, 2021$3,500
December 15, 2021$1,500
May 16, 2022*$1,750
December 16, 2022*$2,400

 

*Total tuition payments made within two year look back period:$4,150
MINUS$2,500
Sub-total$1,650
  
***Amount to be repaid by employee (50% of $1,650):$825 ***

How and when do I request reimbursement?

Requests for reimbursement must be submitted through the Duke@Work web portal within 90 days following completion of the pre-approved course(s). Assistance with Duke@Work is available by contacting the HRIC at 919-684-5600. If you do not submit the required documentation within 90 days of the course end date/last day of class, you forfeit the reimbursement.

The Duke@Work web portal will guide you through the reimbursement process, which can be completed in three (3) easy steps:

  1. Print a Reimbursement Form to send/hand-deliver to your school for completion OR obtain an itemized bill that includes proof of payment and tuition cost (exclusive of fees);
  2. Obtain your grade records - a report card or screenshot from your school's web portal is sufficient; and
  3. (a) submit your proof of payment and (b) proof of successful course completion (grades) via the "Upload Request for Reimbursement" link at Duke@Work.

You must be in an actively at work employment status, with a work schedule of at least 30 hours per week, at the time reimbursement is made. For this program, a leave of absence with pay is considered to be actively working. Enrollment in direct deposit is required; otherwise, a reimbursement will not be processed.

If you experience any issues accessing Duke@Work, please ensure that you are using the most up-to-date version of your web browser and disable (turn-off) pop-up blockers. Duke OIT and Duke Health IT have a knowledge base article that may be helpful to review.

How will I receive my tuition reimbursement payment?

After your tuition reimbursement has been approved in Duke@Work by the Duke Benefits Department, your payment will be issued in your next available pay date (see pay dates). You will receive a confirmation email with payment details, including the amount, pay date and taxability (if applicable).

Tuition reimbursement will be paid in your regular paycheck. A descriptor on your pay statement beginning with “ETAP” will identify the type and amount of payment.

Will I have to pay taxes on the money I am reimbursed?

While the ETAP benefit is not considered taxable income for most eligible employees, any amount reimbursed which exceeds the program maximum in a calendar year ($5,250) will be taxable in accordance with IRS regulations. Taxability is determined based on the date that the reimbursed payment is issued; there may be instances where reimbursements are issued in a different tax year from which the courses were taken. Each taxable payment will be flat taxed at the supplemental tax rates effective for the calendar year that the payment is made. Consult a tax professional for more details.

Please note: The year in which the course begins is the year/semester/quarter used to determine tuition reimbursement eligibility.

How will a scholarship/grant affect my tuition reimbursement?

If a scholarship/grant is not designated towards tuition and is not greater than the cost of books and fees, then the scholarship/grant has no impact on the Employee Tuition Assistance Program reimbursement.

If a scholarship/grant is not designated towards tuition and is greater than the cost of books and fees, then the amount exceeding the cost of books and fees will be deducted from the Employee Tuition Assistance Program reimbursement.

If the scholarship/grant is designated towards tuition, then the scholarship/grant will reduce the amount of the Employee Tuition Assistance Program reimbursement on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

If more than two courses are being taken, scholarships/grants will be applied towards the cost of all of the courses in order for the employee to get the maximum tuition reimbursement for which they are eligible.

If a scholarship/grant is received, the employee is to provide a receipt for the cost of books upon submission of all completed documentation to Benefits.

How does ETAP impact the RN Tuition Assistance Program (RNTAP)?

While ETAP can be used at any regionally accredited school recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, RNTAP can only be used at the Duke School of Nursing. Nursing students would use ETAP their first semester in order to take advantage of the annual $5,250. Once the $5,250 is exhausted, ETAP funds would be deducted from the RNTAP award. Therefore, RNTAP should not have any impact on an employee’s ETAP request for funds.

Can I be reimbursed for taking classes out of state?

Yes. Educational institutions that are accredited by a regional accreditor recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) will be considered eligible institutions. USDE-recognized regional accrediting organizations are:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU);
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC);
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC);
  • Southern Association of Colleges and School Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC);
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE); and
  • New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE).

The following online tool is available to assist in determining accreditation: U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education.

If I am on a leave of absence, can I participate in the Employee Tuition Assistance Program?

If you are on a leave of absence, you are not eligible to apply or participate in the program. However, if you apply and receive approval to participate in the program prior to your leave of absence and return from your leave prior or on the start date of your class, you would be eligible for reimbursement of tuition upon successful completion of the course. Please Note: When you apply for this benefit, you must be actively working and, in a benefits-eligible status. You must also be actively working and in a benefits-eligible status on the date your reimbursement request is submitted. A leave of absence with pay is considered to be actively working. In addition, if you take an intermittent leave of absence and continue to work 30 or more hours per week, you are eligible to participate in the program during your leave of absence.

If you are a regular full-time faculty member who is on a sabbatical leave approved in writing by Duke, you will be considered to be employed as a regular full-time employee. Likewise, if you are a regular full-time faculty member or regular full-time non-faculty employee who is on a long term disability leave approved in writing by Duke, you will also be considered to be actively at work as a full-time employee or faculty member for as long as you are actually receiving benefits under the Disability Program.

Where do I go for more information?

You can find more information online, emailing hr@duke.edu, or by calling Duke Benefits at (919) 684-5600.