In its first year, the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) has provided 200 tuition waivers to help Texas Woman’s employees and their dependents pursue their academic goals through the university. As it begins its second year, officials hope more TWU employees will take advantage of the program.
To help get the word out, a TAP information session is scheduled for noon, Wednesday, May 26, via Zoom. Registration is required. The application deadline for fall 2021 is Aug. 9.
TAP, launched in fall 2020 as a pilot program, allows full-time employees to lower the cost of pursuing a degree for themselves or their dependents by waiving certain tuition and fees for their classes at TWU. Such a program benefits the university as well as the employees, said Jason Tomlinson, vice president for finance and administration.
“First, it is a financial and employee development benefit to those who work at TWU — one that extends to their dependents, increasing the financial benefit,” he said. “For TWU, it is a recruiting tool to help attract those who need to finish a degree or pursue a degree, or who will be helping pay for their dependents’ higher education pursuits. It is a retention tool as well.”
TAP is not the university’s first effort to provide tuition assistance to employees and their dependents. A previous program, the Pioneer Assistance Scholarships, awarded up to $500 per semester based on the number of semester credit hours in which the recipient enrolled. These scholarships were awarded to as many as 40 individuals annually.
The majority of TAP waivers awarded over the past year have gone to staff members who are continuing to pursue their degree. (See chart below.) Others, like admissions counselor Tymerra Coleman, started their classes after finding out about TAP.
Coleman received her bachelor’s degree in comparative race and ethnic studies from Texas Christian University in May 2020, and began working at TWU in August of that year.
“TAP was definitely a huge factor in deciding to apply to TWU,” she said. “I knew I wanted to study multicultural women’s and gender studies, but didn’t plan on going to graduate school so soon after receiving my bachelor’s degree. When I started working at TWU and found out about the TAP program, everything seemed to align. So, I applied and started my classes the following semester.”
Coleman is pursuing a master of arts degree in multicultural women’s and gender studies (MWGS).
“I’ve always cared about the experiences of marginalized groups, but took a particular interest in studying race and gender,” she said. “MWGS provides me with necessary tools in order to navigate the world in equitable ways, no matter the career path I choose.”
Coleman has already applied and been approved for TAP for the summer semester. She expects to graduate in spring 2023.
“I am so grateful to be able to pay my way through school without having to take out more loans than what I already accumulated in undergrad,” she said. “It relieves a lot of financial pressure and allows me to focus on what I love, which is learning. If I wasn’t a part of the TAP program, I would not have been able to return to school so soon.
“My position at TWU is my first post-grad job, and with adulthood, I’ve gained more financial responsibilities that would have been prioritized over paying for school,” she added. “I am a first-generation college graduate, so navigating graduate school has not been easy. TAP gave me the financial support I needed to pursue a degree in a field that I care so deeply about.”
Amy Hall, executive director of human resources and a TAP administrator, said she loves hearing feedback from employees and their dependents who say the program has been life changing.
“I’m very pleased with how the program has performed over its first year and with the participation rate,” she said. “I hope that more employees and their eligible dependents will take advantage of this benefit. I know I’ll be taking advantage of it next year for both of my daughters. One will be a first-year student, and the other plans on pursuing her master’s degree at TWU.”
TWU Tuition Assistance Program FY21
Chart courtesy of Amy Hall, Office of Human Resources