Section 5 - Conditions of Employment

Policy Number: 5.11 - TUITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM POLICY FOR SPOUSES AND DEPENDENTS

SCOPE: FACULTY AND STAFF Issued: 4/8/09

Revised: 9/01/09; 10/20/10, 8/18/11, 02/20/2014


Effective January 1, 2010 and beginning with the Spring 2010 semester, the spouse and eligible dependent children of full-time Lamar University (LU) employees may qualify for and participate in the Lamar University Tuition Assistance Program (LUTAP). Eligible dependent children are defined by the Federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 26 USC 152 and must be claimed as dependents of the employee for IRS income tax purposes. Dependents enrolled in Graduate level courses are eligible to receive LUTAP funds for those courses. Beneficiaries should consult a tax advisor with regards to tax liability, which may be substantial.

TUITION BENEFITS

LUTAP is designed and is intended to provide tuition assistance of 100% of resident tuition (undergraduate and graduate) to a spouse and/or eligible dependent children of full-time Lamar University employees and who are enrolled in courses.

Transient students will need to provide a transcript from the last college attended.  (This is to verify that the student is making academic progress towards his/her degree).  Transient students will need to make an appointment with an advisor/department head to verify that the courses taken are in the students major. (Parent cannot sign as an advisor for student.)

Dependent children and the spouse of full-time LU employees may receive tuition assistance under this program for approved undergraduate and/or graduate courses.

The word “course” shall include only courses listed in LU’s official class schedule, including developmental and pre-collegiate courses and laboratories. All LUTAP qualified courses must apply and be credited toward a LU degree or certificate program.

Tuition assistance is based on resident tuition rates regardless of residency status. The dollar amount of tuition assistance provided is dependent upon other student financial aid and/or scholarships available to the student per academic semester/term. Contact the Office of Academic Services for questions regarding residency qualifications and waivers.


LUTAP does not cover University fees or other non-tuition charges. A complete description of tuition, fees, and charges can be found on Lamar University’s website at https://www.lamar.edu/admissions/tuitionandfees.html.

LUTAP assistance is provided on a semester/term basis and a new application must be completed for each semester/term that assistance is requested.

Recipients of Mirabeau Scholarships, Beck Fellowships, students receiving grants from the State of Texas (e.g. Texas Grant, TPEG, SLEAP/LEAP), transient students, and retirees who do not have a spouse that is currently employed at Lamar University on a full-time basis are not eligible for the LUTAP program.

ELIGIBILITY

The spouse and/or eligible dependent children of an employee become eligible for LUTAP if the employee: a) has an appointment of 4 ½ months or longer, b) is appointed full-time (not less than 1.0 FTE), and c) is NOT in a position requiring student status as a condition of his/her employment as of the first class day of the semester/term for which the assistance is received.

The employee’s spouse and/or eligible dependent children are required to:

1. Apply and be admitted to Lamar University under the University’s published admission requirements (application and admission test fees will not be waived or reimbursed);

2. Enroll in a specified degree or certificate program at Lamar University;

3. Be enrolled in course(s) for which academic credit is awarded toward the specified degree or certificate program upon successful completion of the course(s); (This does not include courses offered online through LU’s Academic Partnership Programs); If the student receiving LUTAP funding has a degree plan that requires a minor, LUTAP will apply to courses listed towards the minor as well;

4. Submit a new application for each semester/term that assistance is requested;

5. Maintain good academic and disciplinary standing as defined by LU;

6. Maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) as defined by LU’s Office of Student Financial Aid. SAP will be reviewed every semester for which a student is applying for LUTAP. Failure to meet SAP requirements will result in loss of LUTAP benefits.

Students may appeal by following the appeal letter guidelines issued by the Office of Student Financial Aid which can be found at https://www.lamar.edu/financial-aid/resources/academic-standards.html. The appeal form can be found at https://www.lamar.edu/_files/documents/financial-aid/SAPAppeal%20Form.pdf.

a. The letter of appeal must be forwarded to the Office of Student Financial Aid, which will submit it to the Student Financial Aid Appeals Committee whose ruling shall be final;

b. Students not maintaining SAP must submit their letter of appeal to the Office of Student Financial Aid within five (5) business days of being notified that a letter of appeal is required. The letter of appeal is required to become eligible for student financial aid and/or LUTAP.

c. Students who have been notified that their appeals have been granted have five (5) business days to finalize the required paperwork to complete their LUTAP application or they will forfeit their ability to receive LUTAP for that semester/term.

7. If a student receives a grade below a “C” in a class, the student may only take the course one additional time and still receive LUTAP funds towards that course.

APPLICATION PROCEDURES

1. To receive assistance for an eligible spouse and/or dependent children who are currently registered for classes at LU, the LU employee must deliver to the Office of Human Resources a LUTAP Application along with page one (1) of their most recent U.S. Individual Income Tax Return (with financial information and Social Security numbers removed).

2. The LUTAP Application with requested Tax Return must be received in the Office of Human Resources by 5 p.m. at least five business days prior to the semester/term’s published start date. Applications received after that date will not be processed and will be returned to the employee who will need to make other arrangements for the payment of tuition for that semester/term.

3. A student who makes a change to his/her class schedule after submitting a LUTAP Application must complete a new LUTAP Application, mark it as “Revised” and deliver it to the Office of Human Resources by 5 p.m. at least five business days prior to the semester/term’s published start date.

4. Incomplete revised applications will not be processed; the student will not be eligible for LUTAP for that semester/term if a complete and revised application is not submitted.

5. A student that makes a change in his/her class schedule after the first class day must submit a “Revised” LUTAP application and must also make arrangements with the Office of Cash Management to cover the cost of tuition and fees until his/her approved LUTAP award can be placed on his/her account. Class schedule changes made after the census date (typically the 12th class day of the Fall and Spring semester) do not require a new LUTAP Application.

6. The Office of Human Resources will certify eligibility of the LU employee before submitting the completed application to the Office of Student Financial Aid, which will determine the student’s academic eligibility and the approved amount of financial assistance to be awarded.

7. Once the Office of Student Financial Aid has determined the student’s financial eligibility, the office will place the approved amount of assistance on the student’s account. The Office of Student Financial Aid has until the census date to place the awarded LUTAP funds on a student’s account.

8. The student is responsible for checking his/her individual student account online to assure that tuition assistance has been applied, and to make arrangements with the Office of Cash Management to ensure classes are not dropped while waiting for LUTAP benefits to be applied.

An incomplete or inaccurate LUTAP application and/or Individual Income Tax form will be returned to the employee, which can result in a delay or denial of financial assistance.

A new LUTAP Application must be submitted for ANY changes to a student’s schedule prior to the “census date”.

FINANCIAL AID AND SCHOLARSHIPS

LUTAP eligible students who receive Federal or Private Loans, Federal Grants, Scholarships (University, Endowment and/or Departmental) will have those funds applied to their LU student account for that semester/term before LUTAP funds are applied.

University Scholarships may include assistance with legitimate costs of class attendance. To be considered for reimbursement legitimate costs must be presented to the Office of Student Financial Aid no later than 5 p.m. on the 12th class day.

Students whose financial aid/scholarships cover the total cost of “resident tuition” for the semester/term are not eligible for LUTAP. If after all financial aid/scholarships have been applied to a student’s account, a balance/charge remains to cover the cost of resident tuition the student is eligible to receive LUTAP to cover that remaining charge.

LUTAP benefits will not exceed the resident tuition rate for a student’s enrollment status minus any financial aid/scholarships awarded that student.

Any scholarship and/or grant received after LUTAP benefits are applied could result in a reduction of LUTAP benefits. No LUTAP student receiving a “full” scholarship shall receive LUTAP and/or a cash credit.

TAX IMPLICATIONS FOR PARTICIPANTS

Federal law allows certain employer-provided education assistance benefits to be tax-free to LUTAP participants. Included in this allowance are undergraduate courses for the employee’s spouse and eligible dependent children.

Tuition assistance for graduate level courses taken by an employee’s dependents or spouse is fully taxable. This amount will be included and reported as taxable income for the year.

LUTAP FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 

1. Q: Who is eligible for the tuition assistance benefit?

A: The spouse and all dependent children of benefits-eligible, full-time employees who have an appointment of at least four and a half months are eligible.

2. Q: When is LUTAP tuition assistance available? 

A: Tuition assistance may be used during any semester, mini-session, or summer term.

3. Q: What academic qualifications must a spouse or dependent child meet to take advantage of the LUTAP program?

A: A spouse or dependent child must apply and be admitted to Lamar University under the University’s published admission requirements. The spouse or dependent child must be meeting the required financial aid SAP. SAP is checked each semester. If a student receiving LUTAP funds is not meeting the required SAP, then he or she must complete the financial aid appeal process. The financial aid appeal process is outlined at the Lamar University Financial Aid Office website (https://www.lamar.edu/financial-aid/).

4. Q: How long must an employee have worked at Lamar University for their spouse and/or eligible dependent children to be able to participate in the LUTAP program? 

A: There is no length of service requirement. All Lamar University faculty and staff who have an appointment of 4 ½ months or longer, who are appointed full-time, and are not in a position requiring student status as a condition of employment as of the published first day of classes for the semester/term for which assistance is requested are eligible. (For classes which do not have a published start day, the published start date will be used).

5. Q: LUTAP assistance is 100% of the cost for resident tuition: what does that cost include? Is that tuition, tuition + fees, etc.? 

A: The tuition assistance benefit is 100% of the Lamar University Texas resident tuition. A complete description of tuition, fees and charges can be found on Lamar’s websitehttps://www.lamar.edu/admissions/tuitionandfees.html.

6. Q: Does the LUTAP program change the existing education and training plan offered to Lamar employees?

A: No, LUTAP is for a Lamar University employee’s spouse and/or eligible dependent children, not for a Lamar University employee.

Eligibility requirements and procedures for Lamar’s Employee Education and Training Plan are described in the Human Resources Policy and Procedure Manual. For more information see Policy 5.7: Employee Education and Training Plan.

7. Q: Are there any courses, programs or educational costs for which LUTAP is not available? 

A: Tuition assistance does not apply to any fees, library fines, student insurance, room and board charges, textbooks and supplies, courses not required for the student’s specified degree or certificate program, non-credit courses, courses offered as reduced online tuition courses, e.g. Lamar University’s Academic Partnership programs, audited classes, summer camps or other fee-based programs offered by Lamar University, or classes taken at any other college or university including Lamar State College Port Arthur, Lamar State College Orange, or Lamar Institute of Technology.

8. Q: Is there a limit on the number of credit hours per semester or session that a spouse and/or eligible dependent child can take and still receive LUTAP? 

A: Yes, Lamar University’s maximum course load policy does set limits on the number of credit hours taken in a semester or term (see the General or Graduate Catalog) in addition Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards must be followed. SAP standards are listed on the Financial Aid website, https://www.lamar.edu/financial-aid/resources/academic-standards.html.

9. Q: Is there a limit on the number of credit hours that a spouse and/or eligible dependent child can take over time and still receive LUTAP? 

A: No, but all credit hours must apply to the degree program in which they are enrolled.

10. Q: Is a new LUTAP Application required if my spouse or eligible depend children change their class schedule before the “census date” (typically the 12th class day for the Fall and Spring semesters)? 

A. Yes, a new LUTAP Application marked “Revised” must be completed and delivered to the Office of Human Resources as soon as a change in a class schedule is made and no later than the “census date”. Class schedule changes made after the “census date” do not require a new LUTAP Application.

11. Q: What is the definition of 'eligible dependent children'?

A: For this program, dependents are defined by the Internal Revenue Service Code in 26 USC §152.

12. Q: Is there a limit to the number of eligible dependent children who may participate in LUTAP? 

A: There is no limit to the number of eligible dependent children who may participate.

13. Q: Does LUTAP apply to on-line courses offered through Lamar University’s Distance Education Department? 

A: Yes online courses taken for credit are eligible for LUTAP, except for excluded courses listed in question 7 above.

14. Q: Does LUTAP apply to audited courses, summer camps or other fee-based programs offered by Lamar University, or transient students attending Lamar University? 

A: No

15. Q: Is the admissions application fee refunded for spouses and dependents that apply for admission, but are not accepted? 

A: No

16. Q: Can eligible employees request reimbursement for a spouse and/or eligible dependent children who were enrolled in a previous semester/term and had not completed a LUTAP Application? 

A: No, reimbursements are not issued for previous terms.

17. Q: Both my spouse and I work for the university. Will our eligible dependent children qualify for additional assistance from LUTAP? 

A: No, participants in LUTAP are limited to a maximum of 100% of Texas resident tuition for the total number of approved courses in which they are enrolled.

18. Q: Are there any tax consequences for participating in LUTAP?

A: LUTAP is intended to comply with the tax provisions of IRS Sections 127, 117(d) and 132 (h). Please direct personal income tax questions to your tax preparer or advisor. 

19. Q: My spouse currently works for the university and I am a retiree of Lamar University. Am I eligible for LUTAP? 

A: Yes, you are eligible for LUTAP as long as your spouse meets all the requirements in the LUTAP Policy.

20. Q: Can LUTAP be combined with other waivers that my spouse and/or eligible dependent children may be eligible for? 

A: No, LUTAP cannot be combined with other waivers. The employee must choose the type of assistance that provides the greater benefit.

21. Q: Is my spouse and/or eligible dependent children who receive a competitive scholarship from Lamar University eligible for LUTAP? 

A: Yes, but restrictions and limitations may apply. Please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid for answers.

22. Q: Is LUTAP available for eligible dependent children taking Lamar University Dual Credit Courses at their high school?

A: Yes, as long as all other requirements of the LUTAP program are met.

23. Q: If my spouse or eligible dependent children are not defined as a “Texas resident”, will they still qualify for LUTAP? 

A: Yes, but tuition assistance will be limited to the “Texas resident” amount. Please contact the Office of Academic Services to determine residency qualifications and waivers.

24. Q: Who may I contact for additional information regarding LUTAP? 

A: Lamar University’s Office of Human Resources, ext. 8375 or Lamar University’s Office of Financial Aid, ext. 7011.