Cody Cleverly from JetBlue Airlines shared at the CAEL conference in Chicago his views of Tuition Reimbursement. He discussed leveraging alternative pathways to assist JetBlue employees in earning a college degree and paying upfront instead of reimbursing their employees, focusing on Tuition Assistance, not Reimbursement. The average learner at JetBlue is 38 years old. They don’t want to disrupt their work and home life to sit in a campus for years to complete a degree.
Cody (far left) shared that the $5,250 amount for reimbursement is a relic from the past that does not help an employee complete their degree. In fact, it often hinders them from degree completion. They have to pay for a course up front and then be reimbursed months later. So employees often take student loans and then get caught in a debt trap. Or they just take two or three courses a year to stay under the reimbursement amount, which puts them on a path that usually does not end with degree completion.
Alternative credit works yet most tuition reimbursement programs don’t support alternative credit. At Jet Blue, they are able to help employees work toward their degree at half the cost and often twice the pace of a traditional college experience.
Jet Blue has six full-time success coaches that help their employees unbundle college. They provide a model, and way of thinking, that every organization should explore.