ADVICE

Here’s how to convince your boss to fund your education

SOURCE: Eugene Gologursky / Getty Images for Liberty Science Center / AFP
Asking your boss to let you go back to school can be daunting, but with the right preparation – you might be able to get them to fund it.


By Shekinah 

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According to reports, a growing number of adults are choosing to go back to school to enhance their competitiveness in the job market and develop new skills to prepare them for new careers or to help them get a promotion. 

While motivations to get an advanced degree might vary from one individual to the next, it’s natural for many to feel nervous about going back to school, especially if it’s been a while since they last attended university. 

Coupled with the cost of higher education, taking a pause from work, or pursuing it part-time, can seem daunting. With the right approach, however, you might be able to take some of that worry off your shoulders by getting your employer to fully or partially fund your studies.

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There are companies that may offer to pay for your education — a perk every aspiring lifelong learner should take advantage of. An article by the Harvard Business Review confirmed this. 

An analysis of over 1,200 young achievers (30-something managers) revealed that employers generally satisfied their need for increased responsibility and promotion opportunities.

So, if you’re hoping to get your boss pay for your degree, here’s how you could go about it:

Choose the right programme

Some workplaces do offer to partially or fully pay for their staff to attend graduate school, assuming the new skills and knowledge you gain will benefit the company.

So, before approaching your employer for funding, you’ll first want to ensure that you’ve chosen the right programme that will complement your job and employer.

You will need to be heavily aware of your current role and how you see it progressing in the future. You will also need to identify which skills you’re currently lacking in and which programme will help you fill the gaps. 

The more specific and detailed you are, the easier it will be for your boss to see your passion for professional progression. 

Do your research

It is important to know your company culture and the policies that are in place before requesting to go back to school and asking for funding. Speak to HR for details, such as: 

  • Has anyone else in the company done anything similar? 
  • What does the company consider as part-time learning? 
  • Are there flexible arrangements for staff who are part-time learners? 
  • Could you work fewer days per week, and 10-hour days? 
  • Could you job-share? 
  • Does your job allow you to work from home or be on call nights and weekends?
  • What kind of contract or bond will you be locked into?
  • Will there be a grade that you’ll need to maintain to receive funding?

These are some of the questions you’ll want answers to before making a pitch to your boss or the decision-maker.

Also, researching relevant statistics can help you greatly for making a case for yourself. For example, if you want to work three 10-hour days in a week, you may want to mention research that shows employees who work longer hours but fewer days per week are more productive. Or, if you propose job-sharing, you’ll want to be prepared with statistics and case studies that show how this can benefit the employer.

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Highlight the benefits

It is important to emphasise the interests of the company, showing it’s not just about you, but the progression of the organisation as a whole. 

  • Performance – Mention how training will allow you to strengthen the skills you need to improve while benefitting your team who will be able to leverage on your skills and knowledge
  • Confidence – With many sectors going through transformations spurred by advancing technology, you could bring up how training will keep you on the cutting edge of industry developments and help you get up-to-date on the latest trends and industry techniques
  • Retention – Present to your boss evidence of how talent is an increasingly precious resource in modern and competitive markets. Mentions how useful training serves as a key retention tool

Prove your loyalty

Remember, no employer will want to fund your studies if there is any indication you might not stick around. Who would want to provide training to a possible competitor?

That said, prioritise proving your loyalty to the organisation during your pitch. If the opportunity arises to sign a contract to keep their worries at ease, odds are you should if you’re comfortable with their terms and conditions. 

Map out expenditure and cost

Before discussing with the company decision-maker, you’ll want to have all the numbers ready as to how much your education will cost. For instance, will your employer pay other things outside tuition, such as books? You might want to have these figures ready, just in case.