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Education Benefits At Cornell

Take classes ad-hoc or enroll in a degree program while you work.

Part-Time Study

The university’s Part-Time Study benefit waives tuition for benefits-eligible employees to enroll in up to four credit hours per semester. Courses are limited to those offered for credit through the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions. Courses may be taken for credit or on an audit basis.

Quick Facts

  • Eligibility*: Upon being hired into a benefits-eligible position
  • Credit Limit: Up to 4 credits per semester
  • Class Subject: Does not have to be job-related
  • Supervisory involvement: Supervisor’s approval is required
  • Pay: Supervisors have the discretion to either grant release time from work to attend class, or to require that all or part of the time be made up if the absence interferes with the department’s operational requirements.  If your supervisor has requested that you take a course, you are not required to make up time. Release time that is granted for part time study (formerly extramural study) will be recorded as time worked. Part-time employees are generally expected to take courses outside of regular working hours.

Enrollment Process

  1. Discuss with your manager or supervisor

    Talk with your manager or supervisor about your interest -- you will need their permission as well as that of your department head, and the instructor. You will be admitted to courses on a space-available basis and may be asked to withdraw if space is required to accommodate regular Cornell students.

  2. Register

    Register for the course(s) through the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions. You must comply with all regulations and procedures published on the course website and must fulfill all registration requirements within the first day of class.

Part-Time Study Details

Eligibility*

All regular, nonacademic employees and non-professorial academic staff who do not hold voting rights at any college, university, or graduate facility, and ROTC military personnel. You must be a benefits-eligible Cornell employee on the first day of classes. Employees of the County Cooperative Extension offices are not eligible for this benefit.

Eligibility details by employment status:
4 credits per semester:
  • Full-time and part-time
  • Temporary with Benefits (appointment of six months or longer)
6 credits per semester:
  • Retiree
  • Full and Partial Disability: for duration of disability status
  • Long Term Disability: six credit hours per semester while on LTD status
  • Layoff: up to one year from layoff

Additional Information

  • Courses are limited to those offered for credit through the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions.
  • Enrollment depends on space availability, requires supervisory permission, and courses may be taken for credit or on an audit basis.
  • Be mindful of dates and deadlines.
  • You cannot earn a degree taking Part-Time classes through the School of Continuing Education. If you’re interested in earning a degree, review information on the Employee Degree Program (EDP) below.
  • If you apply and are accepted to a college degree program, Part-Time classes you’ve taken may count toward degree requirements. The college to which you are accepted will make the determination.
  • Certain language courses up to six credits, may be taken by a full- or part-time employee with prior permission from the Division of Human Resources

Tuition & Fees

  • Tuition will be waived for up to four or six credit hours per semester, based on your employment status. Certain language courses up to six credits, may be taken by a full- or part-time employee with prior permission from the Division of Human Resources.
  • You are responsible for payment of coursework in excess of the credit hours for which you are eligible.
  • You are responsible for all course fees related to your class.
  • If you terminate employment while taking a course for which tuition has been waived, you must either withdraw from the course within the time limits stated in the extramural course brochure or pay the full tuition charge. 
  • 1098T Information can be found on the Division of Financial Affairs (DFA) website.

Release Time From Work

Supervisors have the discretion to either grant release time from work to attend class, or to require that all or part of the time be made up if the absence interferes with the department’s operational requirements. If your supervisor has requested that you take a course, you are not required to make up time. Release time that is granted for part-time study (formerly extramural study) will be recorded as time worked. Part-time employees are generally expected to take courses outside of regular working hours.


Employee Degree Program

The Employee Degree Program provides benefits-eligible employees with full tuition toward both undergraduate and graduate degree programs at Cornell University after one year of full-time employment in a benefits-eligible position. To be considered for funding, you need to be accepted into a degree program at Cornell and have your supervisor's approval for each semester that you will attend.

Quick Facts:

  • Eligibility*: One year full time in a benefits-eligible position; must be eligible on or before the first day of classes of the semester you apply for.
  • Credit Limit: Up to 8 credits per semester; over eight (8) credits during two semesters while in the EDP is permitted. The EDP defers to the registration guidelines of the Graduate School.
  • Degree Major: Must be job-related or Cornell career-related
  • Supervisory Involvement: Supervisor’s approval is required
  • Pay: Each Semester, employees in the Employee Degree Program should discuss proposed courses with their supervisor to ensure the time out of the office for class will not negatively impact the effective operation of the department. Supervisors have the option to allow employees to be flexible in how they claim time out of the office to attend classes and may provide paid release time for class. There may also be semesters, due to work demands, where the supervisor is unable to provide time out of the office. In all cases, homework must be completed outside of scheduled work hours.
  • Taxes: Undergraduate tuition support is not taxable; graduate tuition support is taxable (first $5,250 in calendar year is tax-free)
  • Class Registration Requirements: You are not required to register for classes every semester while participating in most degree programs in the EDP.

  • Second or multiple bachelor’s degrees: the university does not confer a second bachelor’s degree in order to accommodate more first-time applicants.

  • Employment Commitment Clause: There is no requirement for employees to remain at Cornell upon completion of a degree.

  • Degree Completion Deadline: The EDP does not mandate a deadline for degree completion; graduation date is open-ended. (with the exception of certain MBA programs at Johnson and other Executive programs).

Enrollment Process

  1. Discuss with your manager or supervisor

    Your first step is to discuss your goals with your immediate supervisor. Then you will need the endorsement of your immediate supervisor, your supervisor’s manager, and the dean or executive officer.

  2. Acceptance by school or college

    You must apply to and be accepted by a school or college as a regular degree candidate (special student status does not apply).

  3. Submit EDP Application

    After being accepted to a college, submit the completed, signed EDP application form to HR Services & Transitions Center at least three (3) weeks prior to the beginning of the semester.

Undergraduate EDP Application

Graduate EDP Application

EDP details

Eligibility*

Cornell University employees who have completed one year of regular (benefits-eligible), full-time work (35 hours or more per week), whose employment status is one of the following:

Full-time Status: Nonacademic employees and non-professorial academic staff members who have completed one year of full-time service1 and who do not hold voting status on any college, university, or graduate faculty; ROTC military personnel.

Part-time Status: Benefits-eligible part-time employees who have previously completed one year of full-time service1.

Ineligible Employees: The following university statuses are not eligible for this benefit program: Temp with benefits; Retiree; Position leave; University leave; Termination.

Layoff Status: EDP participants who are placed on layoff status may continue participation in EDP or apply to be admitted to the university and receive funding during their one year layoff period if eligibility was established prior to the effective date of their layoff status.

Disability or Family Medical Leave Status: Employees who are approved for family medical leave, short or long term disability leave, or workers’ compensation, may continue participation in EDP or apply to be admitted to the university if eligibility was established prior to the effective date of the disability.

Employees who have completed one year of full-time service during prior employment with the university, may be responsible for providing proof of service.

Graduate School Details

Graduate EDP is taxable, and the taxable tuition value is calculated using the number of registered credits per semester for the traditional programs. See Tax information section below. Note:  The EDP defers to the registration guidelines of the Graduate School.

  • Consult the Graduate School’s application guidelines;
  • Discuss with the Graduate School the necessary paperwork that should accompany your application;
  • Discuss registration units and how they may apply to your degree;
  • Ask about requesting that the application fee be waived?

Once you have been admitted to Graduate School and your Employee Degree Program application has been approved, you will be registering for coursework during regularly scheduled college registration period for each term.

Credit Limits, Work Status and Benefits Eligibility

Work Status Changes
Participants receive a tuition waiver to enroll in up to eight (8) credits per semester. Participants also have the option to enroll in over eight (8) credits two times while in the EDP. During those two semesters, you may reduce your work status to below full-time (35 hours), but no less than part-time (20 hours). This reduction in hours is from the first day of classes to the last day of classes during that semester.

Benefits Eligibility
EDP participants may opt to reduce their work schedule to part-time status (between 20-34 hours) when enrolling for more than eight credits during a semester. When reducing your standard weekly hours to part-time status, benefits such as health/dental insurance (if applicable) will continue in full.  Salary-dependent programs e.g. basic life insurance, retirement contributions and Tax Deferred Annuities contributions are likely to be impacted. Accrued time off including vacation, health and personal leave, as well as paid holidays will be prorated based on the reduced weekly standard hours.  Employees should confirm their benefit status with the HR Services & Transitions Center.  

Employee Tax Liability**

Undergraduate
Undergraduate EDP tuition support is not taxed.

Graduate
Graduate EDP courses tuition valued over $5,250 are taxable under section 127 of the IRS. In order to calculate your tuition value for traditional programs, EDP uses the full-time semester tuition for your program and divides it by 12. This value is multiplied by the number of credits you register for during that semester. Amounts that exceed the $5,250 tuition value will be forwarded to Payroll and additional tax withholdings will apply based on your tax-withholding card (W-4 Federal; IT 2104 New York State) on file in Payroll.

While individual tax status and tax withholding situations may vary, the additional tax withholding is typically between one-third and one-half of the EDP benefit amount that exceeds $5,250 per calendar year. To estimate your tax implications, you may wish to use the website: www.paycheckcity.com. At this site, you can model various scenarios to determine how different tax withholding adjustments may impact future paychecks. Contact tax@cornell.edu with general tax withholding questions.

Note: This tax calculation does not apply to all graduate programs accepted under EDP. Executive Master of Business Administration and other Executive-level programs may be taxed differently.

Taxed programs currently include, but are not limited to, the Executive Masters in Health Administration (Online Sloan program), Executive MBA/MS Healthcare Leadership (Johnson/Weill program), Executive Masters/ILR (Online program), Masters of Science in Legal Studies as well as the EMBA programs through the Johnson School.  The taxes will be calculated based on the tuition amount and deducted from the EDP tuition award prior to being applied to the Bursar account.  Taxed amounts will be reported on the employee’s W-2 along with the taxes paid on that amount.  All decisions regarding tuition and taxes are made by the University’s Benefits and Tax offices.

Also note: Although the university applies spring tuition values to bursar bills in December of each year, the EDP credit is not applied until January.  Should you need to declare your tuition and taxes that you paid in any given calendar year, it is suggested that you use your W2 as issued by the university.

FAQs

How much of the EDP taxed? Only graduate (not undergraduate) degree tuition support is taxed. The amount which exceeds $5,250 in a calendar year is considered your taxable income.

How is the tax calculated? For traditional degree programs, the semester’s tuition is divided by 12, and multiplied by your number of credits. Once this sum has reached $5,250, the office of Benefit Services and Administration will send an email alerting you that you have taxable income, and that all future coursework in that calendar year will be taxable.

Will the tax be withheld from my paycheck? Yes. Payroll will withhold the taxes from your paychecks during the semester in which your support exceeds $5250; with the exception of the Cornell Executive MBA and other Executive pgrograms, which withhold the taxable amount from the award, rather than your paycheck.

What is a 1098T form? The 1098T is a statement of tuition billed and scholarships/grants issued. More information.

Fees, Costs, Financial Aid, Loans

Application Fees: Application fees are not covered by EDP. If the application fee will cause a financial hardship for you, you may apply for a fee waiver, by submitting an application and any required supporting documents to the appropriate program:

Additional Coursework Costs: EDP does not cover any costs associated with books, labs, supplies, etc.  

Stipends & fellowships: Graduate EDP participants are not permitted to accept internal or external stipends or fellowships.

Student Loan Impact: For information on the possible deferral of your current student loans (if applicable), additional information may be available from the Graduate School or Undergraduate Admissions.

Tuition Aid and Part-time Study Benefits: While in the Employee Degree Program, you cannot use the Tuition Aid or Part-time Study benefit.

Entrance Exams and Credit Transfer

Entrance Exams
It is up to the college or grad school to which you apply to decide whether entrance exams are required. For more information on required tests, please contact the Graduate School or Field of Study for your program. 

Credit Transfers
It is up to the college to which you apply whether prior credits from another school will transfer toward your Cornell degree. In general, undergraduate degree programs will accept a maximum of 60 credits; graduate credits are considered on an individual basis. For more information, contact your College Registrar's Office. 

College and School Exclusions

The JD Program in the Cornell Law School, Sloan Program in Human Ecology, DVM Program in the Vet School, and Two-Year Residential MBA program at Johnson do not accept EDP participants as they require that the programs are completed as full-time students. 

* If you are uncertain of your eligibility status for these benefits, please contact your HR representative to review.

** Cornell cannot act as a personal tax consultant. The contents of this page are for informational purposes ony. All U.S. citizens and foreign national visitors to the U.S. are personally responsible for knowing the tax laws and how they pertain to themselves individually.