209.03 Educational Reimbursement Program

    1. To support JSA's policy of assisting and encouraging employees to obtain skills, knowledge, and attitudes that can increase their effectiveness within JLab, the JSA funds education leading to degrees of value to our mission. This is accomplished through the Education Reimbursement Program (ERP).  The ERP focuses on the entire degree program, is usually employee-initiated, and is completed during non-work time.
    2. Courses are eligible for ERP financial support under the following conditions:
      1. The employee has been approved for participation in the program by his/her supervisor and associate director or equivalent.
      1. Courses must be necessary for an approved degree or professional certificate (including electives) that the institution is accredited to confer.
      2. Courses must be taken through or accepted by an accredited degree-granting institution.
    1. Reimbursement of education-related expenses under ERP is potentially available to all regular employees (full or part-time) who receive benefits from JSA, who have demonstrated satisfactory job performance, and who have successfully completed one half of their initial probationary period. To qualify for ERP, degree programs must be directly related to the employee's regular work, or to the work associated with a Lab position for which the employee might realistically qualify. Earning the degree must also be expected to improve the employee's job performance to an extent that would justify JSA's investment.
    2. Educational activities shall not interfere with the employee's work. Therefore, class attendance and completion of study assignments shall be accomplished outside of the employee's regular working hours, though supervisors may make special accommodations to an extent consistent with the work to be done if required classes are not offered at convenient times.
    1. Financial support is dependent upon divisional funding availability. Divisions must account for projected ERP costs each fiscal year. If a division determines there will be insufficient funds to pay a projected reimbursement, the division will inform the ERP participant as soon as possible. 
    2. Financial support is limited to a cumulative maximum of $10,000 per fiscal year per student. Human Resources will review participants' expenditures at least quarterly and inform them if they are approaching the $10,000 cap.  Once the cap is reached, no more costs incurred by the student in that fiscal year will be reimbursed. The costs incurred are derived from the date of registration.  This determines the fiscal year under which a reimbursement for that class falls. In all cases, continued financial support will be contingent on satisfactory performance.
    3. Applicants agree that, if they resign from JSA within one year (12 months) after receiving their degree, they will reimburse JSA for funds disbursed to them under the ERP within the year (12 months) prior to receiving their degree on a pro-rated basis.  The date of the degree is defined as the date on which the degree was conferred by the institution.  Payback is calculated as follows:
      1. Individuals leaving 1 month after the degree is granted must repay 11/12 of the payments made to them in the year prior to getting their degree.  Individuals leaving 2 months after the degree is granted will have to pay back 10/12 of the payments made to them in the year prior to getting their degree; and so on.
      2. Individuals who leave 12 months or more after the degree is granted will not have to pay back any ERP payments.
    4. In order for ERP to pay for qualifying expenses, participants must complete and submit to Human Resources, a JSA Education Reimbursement Program Payment Request. The form must be submitted to Human Resources no more than 15 work days following release of grade(s) for the course(s) for which reimbursement is being requested.  In order to be reimbursed, grades must be at least "C" for undergraduate courses, "B" for graduate courses, and "P" for Pass/Fail courses.
    5. JSA will not pay for:
      1. Courses dropped after the drop/add period. This requirement may be waived for job-related contingencies, but only with the agreement of the Associate Director or equivalent, and the Lab's Contracting Officer.
      2. Reimbursement requests submitted to HR more than 30 days after the grade for the class is issued.
      3. Reimbursement requests submitted to HR for classes for which final grades were issued prior to formal acceptance into the ERP.
    1. Qualifying costs for part-time employees who are authorized benefits will be reimbursed according to the above guidelines, except that their funding will then be prorated based on their annual hours. For example, an employee who works 1040 hours per year (1/2 the full-time 2080 hours) will receive 1/2 the payment he or she would have received as a full-time employee.
    2. Employees who graduate from or drop out of the ERP must inform HR of their status immediately.
      1. Per IRS guidance, JSA can exclude up to $5250 per calendar year of ERP expenses from an employee's gross wages.  Reimbursements beyond that amount for courses not directly job-related are taxable and will be subject to withholding and included in the employee's wages for the year.  This is true even if the course(s) is(are) required for the degree.
      1. The Associate Director or equivalent is the final approval authority for participation in ERP. In determining whether to approve an initial application, the Associate Director or equivalent considers the following factors:
        1. The nature and purpose of the overall course of study and its relevance to the mission of the Lab.
        2. The benefits expected to be derived by JSA vs. JSA's investment--the degree program must be expected to improve the employee's job performance to an extent that would justify JSA's investment.
        3. The employee's job performance and the effect of the program's demands on that performance and on the employee's co-workers (supervisor's recommendation).
        4. Any additional factors included in the Human Resources recommendation.
    2. RENEWAL
      1. ERP participants must update their participation annually.  This is to communicate any changes in projected academic program or costs subsequent to the initial application.  HR will send all participants an email requesting this information annually and pass on reported changes to the participant’s division. The respective Associate Director, or his/her designee, will review this information and inform the participant of any issues based upon annual updates. See Administrative Manual Section 209.
    3. Procedures for applying and submitting reimbursement requests are at http://www.jlab.org/div_dept/train/APPLICATION%20AND%20PAYMENT%20PROCEDURES%20FOR%20JRT%20AND%20ERP.htm