Policy Number: III-22
Last Reviewed: September 14, 2022
Responsible Dept.: Human Resources, Financial and Administrative Services
Office to contact for clarifications: Human Resources
A signed copy of this policy is available in the President’s Office.
The Continuous Learning Program is available for eligible employees to encourage and support educational opportunities at Virginia Western Community College when the college coursework benefits the college, enhances current job performance, and/or improves opportunities for advancement at Virginia Western.
Continuous Learning Program – Pre-approved tuition and mandatory fee waivers for credit hour courses offered and exclusively taught by Virginia Western Community College that may be job related or non-job related, or part of a degree program; and should have application to the college’s mission. Shared services courses, courses offered through the School of Career and Corporate Training, class specific fees, and books regardless of how the book cost is incurred such as through IncludeED fees, are not covered under the Continuous Learning Program and are the responsibility of the employee to pay. Class audits and non-credit courses are not covered under the Continuous Learning Program; enrollment must be as a normal, graded student. Reimbursement in this program is not permitted.
Eligible Employees – The Continuous Learning Program shall apply to all new and existing full-time faculty rank and classified employees, hourly/wage employees (except student employees, work/study students, and tutors), and actively working adjunct faculty employees.
Job Related Courses – Courses related to employees’ current positions to meet one of the following objectives: (a) to provide training in the use of new or modified methods and/or equipment; (b) to provide training in skills and knowledge required by changes in the employees’ current position.
Non-Job Related Courses – Career, personal, professional development courses or studies that may prepare an individual for advancement in another field of work within the college’s mission or at a higher level of proficiency in the current profession or may help improve work performance.
Degree Requirement – Academic courses taken at Virginia Western enabling eligible employees to complete degree programs which will enhance job performance or support the college’s mission.
Educational Assistance Request Form (form VCCS-16) – A required form that an employee completes when requesting educational assistance for college coursework.
New Employees – Probationary employees within their first year of becoming a full-time employee.
Promissory Note – A required form for participation in the Continuous Learning Program for upfront payment (i.e., tuition waiver). The employee is acknowledging their requirement to make a “C” or better in the class; otherwise, under obligation of this note, the employee must repay the college.
Taxable Benefit – In accordance with IRS regulations, the cost of tuition may be or become a taxable benefit to the employee. Employees will be notified if they are subject to paying taxes on this benefit.
The president shall approve/disapprove requests as submitted on form VCCS-16. The authority of the president shall not be inconsistent with the policies in force by the state and VCCS and pertinent delegated authority agreements.
New employees are eligible for the Continuous Learning Program; however, the new employee must be employed before the beginning of the academic semester in which they wish to participate in the program.
Employees pursuing degrees shall file a full program of study with the Human Resources Office. Any changes to the program of study shall be filed with Human Resources as changes are made.
- Each supervisor shall support the development of all employees through participation in and providing equal access to education, training and development opportunities.
- The decision to recommend continuous learning by signing the VCCS-16 is the responsibility of each supervisor based on the needs of both the college and the individual.
- Supervisors may require employees to seek training or take classes to improve their job skills or when performance issues arise. In these situations, the college shall pay for all costs associated to the supervisory requirement, including books. Books shall be the property of the college after the completion of the coursework.
- The identification of the education and training, either required or voluntary, should normally occur during the annual supervisor/employee discussion of “Personal Learning Goals” during the annual performance evaluation and planning processes. However, education and training opportunities may be identified outside of the annual process and may be considered as the needs or opportunities arise.
- The Continuous Learning Program is not available to employees receiving financial aid in the semester of which financial support through the program is sought.
Continuous Learning Program Eligibility and Provisions
The Continuous Learning Program shall apply to all actively working full-time faculty rank and classified employees, hourly/wage employees (except student employees, work/study students, and tutors), and actively working adjunct faculty employees. This is an employment benefit and, therefore, it is intended to exclude students from eligibility. Persons whose primary status with the college is as a student, or who primarily serve in positions designated as students, or are tutors are not eligible to participate in the Continuous Learning Program.
The Continuous Learning Program is for taking credit hour courses offered and exclusively taught by Virginia Western Community College that may be job related or non-job related, part of a degree program, or for professional development; and should have application to the college’s mission. Shared services courses, class specific fees, and books (regardless of how this cost is incurred such as through IncludeED fees) are not covered under the Continuous Learning Program and are the responsibility of the employee to pay. The Continuous Learning Program does not cover non-credit courses or auditing classes. The following provisions also apply:
- Employees who enroll in classes at Virginia Western are students of the college, and for the exception of the appeals process, must abide by all applicable student policies.
- The signature of the supervisor and respective vice president indicates a concurrence with the employee’s request; however, the college president’s signature indicates the request is approved.
- Courses taken may be part of a degree program, job related, non-job related or for professional growth and development.
- No more than six (6) credit hours may be taken in a given semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer – in totality 18 credits).
- Continuous learning opportunities should normally be identified through the performance planning and evaluation process each year; however, courses identified outside of this time period can be considered for continuous learning.
- Under the Continuous Learning Program, employees must always fully complete a promissory note prior to starting the course and request “up-front” (i.e. tuition waiver) payment.
- The Continuous Learning Program is not available to employees receiving financial aid in the semester of which a tuition waiver is sought.
- A VCCS-16 and promissory note is required for each semester and must contain all courses under the program for that semester. Combining semesters on one VCCS-16 and promissory note is not permitted.
- Changes to the initial VCCS-16 and promissory note request requires a revised VCCS-16 and promissory note, or the employee will be fully responsible for the cost, regardless of their final grade.
- An employee who fails to comply with program policy or the associated program procedures may become ineligible to participate in the program.
In the event an employee receives a grade other than a “C”, “B”, “A” or “P” for the course(s) pursued under the Continuous Learning Program, the college will immediately implement the repayment options pursuant to VCCS Policy and the charges will be applied to the employee’s student account.
- Employees may request an appeal consistent with mitigating reasons cited in student policies. The appeal is made to the associate vice president of Human Resources. Determinations will be made by the associate vice president of Human Resources and the vice president of Financial and Administrative Services.
- Employees who have not been granted an exception and fail to repay the college shall not be able to enroll in another class until payment has been received.
General Provisions for the Continuous Learning Program
- For classes not part of a degree program, the course must be job-related or non-job related courses that meet policy criteria, and as recommended by the supervisor.
- All documents under this program shall be filed in the Human Resources Office as required by state and federal regulations. These documents will become part of the employee’s official personnel records.
- Employees must adhere to the college’s Continuous Learning Procedure for Employees.
- When dictated by the IRS, the cost of tuition waived will be a taxable benefit.
Fair Labor Standards Act – Hours of Work
Courses taken by employees that are not supervisory required that occur during and/or outside of the normal work hours are not considered hours of work, if employee’s attendance is voluntary, and the employee performs no productive work during such attendance. Employees taking courses voluntarily during normal work hours are required to request in advance an alternate work schedule to fulfill their normal work hours per week. Additional adjustments may take the form of requiring the use of annual or compensatory leave or VSDP family/personal leave (for VSDP participants). Faculty are required to ensure that courses do not conflict with teaching and college responsibilities.
Supervisors must appropriately manage work schedules to ensure that the daily and/or workweek standards are met in accordance with college policy.
Supervisory Required Courses
- After Work Hours – Courses offered after hours and are required by the supervisor shall be considered hours worked and will be counted accordingly on the employee’s timesheet, if applicable. Consequently, overtime payment will be due to non-exempt employees for total hours worked over 40 in the workweek if the supervisor fails to manage the employee’s schedule appropriately.
- During Work Hours – Courses taken by employees that are required by the supervisor to enhance job performance shall be considered hours worked during their regularly scheduled workweek and will not be subject to work schedule adjustments or requirements to use accrued leave balances. Time spent in a job related supervisory required class during normal work hours is considered hours of work for computing any overtime liability.
Policy on Policy and Procedure
The college may modify this policy and associated procedure from time-to-time to meet college needs.
Other Sources of Financial Assistance Available for Employees
- Eligible employees may apply for financial assistance through the VWCC Educational Foundation. The Foundation has established guidelines that determine the eligibility and aid to be granted to employees.
- Eligible employees may apply for textbook assistance through the VWCC Educational Foundation. Established guidelines determine eligibility of employees qualifying for assistance based on financial need.
- Eligible employees may also apply for the Chancellor’s Fellowship programs for faculty and classified employees.
- Eligible employees may request to their department head Educational Assistance.
VCCS Policy 3.10 Educational Assistance and Continuous Learning Program Guidelines
Virginia Community College Continuous Learning Program for Employees Procedure
VWCC Student Policies
IRS Publication 15-B Employer’s Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits
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