Gaining Employer Support

Company support comes in many forms. Some companies pay all or part of tuition; others may provide time-off or flexible work schedules to accommodate the semester schedule and to support attendance at the summer one-week intensives in Ithaca. You will gain the most from your education if your company is assisting you.

Plan ahead
Obtaining approval may take longer than you expect, especially if they are supporting your tuition expenses. Allow plenty of time to plan with you company.

Do your homework
Research your company’s education policy and approval process. Find out when you should present your request; for many organizations, the ideal time is before annual budget are set.

Talk to others
Talk to your colleagues who earned a degree while working. Ask them how their degrees advanced their careers. Ask managers in your company for advice on developing and presenting your request.

Be prepared to answer questions from your employer
Anticipate objections and concerns such as:
How will you manage time away from the office? How will costs be paid?
How will you continue to excel on the job?
Why does Cornell’s program the best fit for you?

Write a formal proposal
Prepare a written request for support to demonstrate your motivation and desire to continue your education. Include a personal profile highlighting your accomplishments in case the final decision-maker does not know you.

Prepare to negotiate
Think through the concessions you are willing to make, and include them in your proposal or be ready to discuss them in person. Some common negotiation points include:

  • Foregoing raises or bonuses while in school.
  • Committing to staying with your company for a specific number of years in exchange for financial support. (A two-year commitment is common.)
  • Using vacation days for attending residencies.