Professional Development and                                              UPPS No. 04.04.35

Educational Opportunities                                                       Issue No. 2

Effective Date: 06/20/2014

Review: October 1 E3Y

 

 

01.          POLICY STATEMENTS

 

01.01    This document establishes the policies and procedures for three Texas State University sponsored opportunity programs for faculty and staff education and training as: 1) Staff Educational Development Program; 2) Academic Professional Development Activities; and 3) Non-academic Professional Development Activities.

 

01.02    Texas State is committed to supporting and providing professional development opportunities under these programs to update the skills and knowledge of its faculty and staff to better prepare them to meet the teaching and workplace challenges of the future.

 

02.          STAFF EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

 

02.01   The purpose of the Staff Educational Development Program is to:

 

a.   carry out the university's commitment to increase the skills of the university workforce;

 

b.   provide additional academic opportunities for employees that will foster their professional and personal growth;

 

c.   develop a pool of skilled applicants for potential promotion;

 

d.   retain the current workforce; and

 

e.   serve as a recruiting incentive to prospective staff employees.

 

02.02   The program allows staff selected as undergraduate participants to earn from nine credit hours up to a maximum of 12 credit hours per fall or spring semester and from six up to a maximum of nine credit hours for graduates with tuition and fees paid by the university. 

 

In addition, the staff member’s workload will be adjusted accordingly, but to no less than 20 hours per week.

 

02.03   Definition 

 

Staff employee – A university employee in a non-faculty position and not a student as a condition of employment.

 

02.04   Eligibility Criteria for the Staff Educational Development Program

 

Regular non-grant full-time staff employees who are U.S. citizens or resident aliens and who have been employed at the university at least one year are eligible to participate in this program.

 

02.05   Program Requirements

 

a.   Each undergraduate participant is expected to enroll for a minimum of nine credit hours with a maximum of 12 credit hours per fall or spring semester. Graduate student participants are expected to enroll for a minimum of six credit hours with a maximum of nine credit hours per fall or spring semester.

 

b.   Participants who drop below the approved minimum required semester credit hours prior to the end of the semester will be reviewed by the assistant vice president for Human Resources (AVPHR) for continuation in the program including adjustment of workload and reimbursement of tuition and fees.

 

c.   If an employee takes nine undergraduate credit hours or six graduate credit hours, his or her workload will be reduced by ten hours per week. If enrollment is for ten to eleven undergraduate credit hours or seven to eight graduate credit hours, his or her workload will be reduced by fifteen hours per week. If enrollment is for 12 undergraduate credit hours or nine graduate credit hours, his or her workload is reduced by twenty hours per week.

 

d.   Participants are expected to maintain a minimum 2.25 undergraduate grade point average (GPA) or 3.0 graduate GPA each semester that they participate in the program. The appropriate Cabinet member has the option to discontinue any participant who fails to maintain the required GPA.

 

e.   The AVPHR will verify semester credit hours enrolled and GPA attained by participants each semester and report to the respective Cabinet member.

 

f.    All courses are subject to approval by the Cabinet member. Changes in courses requested on the original application should be submitted through channels to the appropriate Cabinet member.

 

g.   Participants seeking course offerings not provided by Texas State will have those requests reviewed on a case-by-case basis by their respective Cabinet member who will make the final determination.

 

h.   Participants must sign the Application for Staff Educational Development Leave prior to beginning classes. By signing this form the participant enters into a contractual agreement to remain at Texas State for 12 months after completing the last approved staff development leave.

 

Participants terminating employment prior to completing 12 months will be required to reimburse salary, tuition and fees according to a reasonable reimbursement schedule. If the account should go to an agency for collection, any associated agency fees, which may be up to an additional 30 percent, will be charged to the terminating employee as well. Exceptions due to unusual circumstances will be considered by the appropriate Cabinet member.

 

i.    As part of the separation checkout process, Human Resources will determine whether the terminating employee has participated in this program and has satisfied the subsequent employment requirement. If not, Human Resources will notify the Student Business Services Collections Office to contact the employee so that repayment arrangements can be made.

 

j.    The university will assume the full cost of tuition and fees for up to 12 credit hours for undergraduate participants and up to nine credit hours for graduate participants per selected semester.

     

Participants may enroll in additional courses at their own expense. Participants pursuing a post-master's degree at another institution will arrange their schedules with their respective supervisor. The university will reimburse the cost of tuition and fees equal to the cost of enrolling in a graduate program at Texas State.

 

k.   Texas State must comply with IRS Guidelines for Educational Assistance Benefits, defined in IRS Publication 970, page 61. If Texas State pays more than $5250 in educational assistance benefits during a calendar year, participants must pay tax on the amount over $5250. This amount will be included in the employee wages (Form W-2, box1).

 

l.    Participants will be compensated at their full-time pay rate during their enrollment in the program. Participants will arrange their work schedules with their respective supervisor.

 

m.  No more than seven participants per semester will be chosen within the university, one from each Cabinet member’s division. If a Cabinet member makes no selection for a particular semester, that appointment may be filled by a Cabinet member with more than one applicant.

 

n.   Participants may be selected for one semester or two consecutive semesters, with a maximum of four semesters during their employment with Texas State.

 

o.   Selected applicants who are unable to participate in the semester for which they are approved may seek re-admittance to the program for another semester without penalty. An alternate may be selected by the Cabinet member for a semester when a selected applicant from his or her division is unable to participate.

 

02.06   Procedures for Selection

 

a.   Applicants may seek staff educational development leave to satisfy the requirements for a graduate or undergraduate degree.

 

b.   Individuals will be selected from a pool of applicants within their respective division.

 

c.   Each Cabinet member will solicit applications from their respective division in September for participation during the following spring semester and in February for the following fall semester.

 

d.   Each prospective participant will complete an Application for Staff Educational Development Leave and forward it to the appropriate department head.

 

e.   The department head will provide comments and forward through administrative channels to the appropriate Cabinet member by March 1 for the fall semester and October 1 for the spring semester.

 

f.    The Cabinet member will review the applications and determine if any of the applicants are to be selected. Consideration will be given to the applicant's current academic standing, previous academic achievements, length of service to Texas State, past and current job performance, and potential to succeed in the courses requested. The Cabinet member will submit the name of the division's participant to the AVPHR by March 30 for the fall semester and October 15 for spring semester.

 

g.   The Cabinet member will notify the selected applicant of their selection as well as their department head no later than six weeks prior to registration for the upcoming semester.

 

h.   Appropriate paperwork will be sent by the AVPHR to the treasurer, routed through the vice president for Finance and Support Services for account signature, and sent to Student Business Services for processing.

 

i.      Books and any costs other than tuition and fees are not covered under this program.

 

02.07   Support Services

 

a.    Career Services will provide assessment of career planning needs at the request of interested participants.

 

b.    The AVPHR will provide additional information about the program expectations and requirements to program participants and their supervisors.

 

c.    The AVPHR will review the academic standing of each participant to determine eligibility and the need for additional academic resources or support services.

 

03.       ACADEMIC PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES

 

03.01   The provisions of this section meet the requirements of the State Employees Training Act of 1969, as amended.

 

a.    Academic professional development activity is the enrollment and participation in college or university credit courses. Department funds may be used to pay tuition and fees (but not travel costs) for college or university credit courses at Texas State or other accredited institutions of higher education if:

 

1)   the course relates directly to the employee’s current or prospective job duties in the department; and

2)   the employee’s department head or other appropriate approval authority approves both the enrollment and the payment.

 

b.   Fees for Texas State University Credit Courses

 

Texas State will pay certain, but not all, fees for any of its employees enrolled in a Texas State credit course provided the employee has received permission to take the course and is a full-time regular employee at the university. Texas State automatically pays the fees for each employee enrolled, including individuals in the Teacher Fellows Program. These fees include:

 

1)   Student Service Fee

2)   Designated Tuition

3)   Computer Service Fee

4)   Student Publication Fee

5)   Student Center Fee

6)   Bus Fee

7)   Recreational Sports Fee

8)   Library Fee

9)   Medical Service Fee

10) International Education Fee

11) Off-Campus Course Fee

12) Advising Fee

13) ID Card Fee

14) Environmental Service Fee

15) Athletics Fee

16) Electronic Course Fee

 

c.   Staff Enrollment in College or University Credit Courses

 

1)    The university may release full-time regular staff to take one course during regular work hours if the staff member’s department head determines that the release will not materially affect department operations. When he or she denies a request, the department head will provide the staff member with written reasons for the denial.

2)    Under this provision, the department may release the full-time staff for up to three hours per week during each long semester and six hours per week during only one summer session.

3)    The three and six hour release time limits apply to courses taken a) on the Texas State campus; b) at a location off campus; c) at another institution; and d) online or through distance learning. The employee must make up any time taken in excess of the allotted release time limits, including travel time to and from the classroom, by working additional hours in the same week or taking leave from an appropriate leave category.

4)    Staff members may take additional courses outside regular working hours, provided that attendance does not create a conflict of commitment to render full-time service to the university.

5)    The university considers time away from work during regular working hours to attend academic professional development activities as training time if the activities are a) directly related to the employee’s current or prospective job duties in the department; or b) part of a formal degree program for a bachelor’s or graduate degree. The employee should record this time as “class release time” on the employee’s timesheet and not as personal leave.

 

d.   Faculty Enrollment in College or University Credit Courses

 

1)    Faculty members may attend academic classes at Texas State or elsewhere provided that such enrollment does not interfere with the completion of assigned duties. If a faculty member requests a fee payment for Texas State courses, the full-time faculty member must initiate the request on the Enrollment in Academic Courses and Tuition/Fee Payment Request form and forward it to his or her department head. The department head will complete the approval portion of the form and forward it to Human Resources before the faculty member attends any course under this provision.

2)    If enrollment is related to current or prospective assignments, absence from campus is not considered a leave of absence, but rather a part of the faculty member’s regular university activities. Faculty members may also enroll in courses at Texas State or elsewhere for personal development provided that attendance does not interfere with the completion of assigned duties. In either case, the faculty member should notify the department chair in writing before enrolling in classes so that the chair can determine if any conflict exists.

 

03.02   In some instances, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may consider the payment of tuition and fees by the university for an employee as taxable income.

 

a.   All employer-paid education expenses that the IRS would consider tax deductible if the employee paid for it are not considered taxable wages and not added to the employee’s income. According to IRS rules, tax deductible education expenses:

 

1)    are required to keep the employee’s present salary, status or job;

2)   maintain or improve skills needed in the employee’s present job;

3)   include tuition, books, supplies, lab fees, and similar items;

4)   include certain travel and transportation and other education expenses;

5)   do not include travel as education (e.g., Study Abroad travel expenses); and

6)   do not include meals.

 

b.   The IRS may consider employer-paid education expenses that qualify the employee for a different line of work as taxable wages. However, the IRS considers all teaching and related duties as the same general line of work. Consequently, the university’s tax specialist may have to review these cases.

 

c.   The IRS may tax employees on education expenses needed to meet the minimum educational requirements as required by the university or by law. If a certain position requires a minimum of education, an employee hired into the position on an interim basis would have to pay taxes for education expenses because he or she would need to meet the minimum requirements to keep the position. If the university changes the educational requirements after hiring the employee, the employee is considered to have met the minimum requirements and is exempt from taxes on the educational expenses. The university’s tax specialist will review these cases individually.

 

03.03   Procedures for Participation

 

All faculty and staff taking academic courses at Texas State or other accredited institution of higher education and seeking release time or university payment of applicable tuition and fees, must submit an Enrollment in Academic Courses and Tuition/Fee Payment Request to their department head. The department head will complete the approval portion of the form and forward it to Human Resources for employment eligibility verification.

 

Human Resources will forward the form to the tax specialist to verify that the education benefits provided to the employee are exempt from federal income tax. The tax specialist will then forward the form to Student Business Services where it will:

 

a.   prompt an adjustment to waive only approved Texas State tuition and fees;

 

b.   serve as the confirmation document for tuition and fees payments at Texas State or other accredited institutions of higher education; and

 

c.   address any IRS requirements regarding employee tuition and fees payment.

 

Employees attending an institution other than Texas State must attach an itemized bill of tuition and fees to be reimbursed through Accounts Payable at Texas State.

 

03.04   If the university pays an employee’s tuition or fees for academic professional development and the employee terminates employment with the university prior to the end of the semester for which the tuition and fees were paid, the employee must reimburse the university for all tuition and fees paid by the university. For purposes of this policy, the semester ends on the last day of all scheduled finals.

 

Terminating employees must contact Student Business Services to make arrangements for repayment of amounts owed. Failure to make payment in full will have consequences such as warrant holds against the individual being placed with the State Comptroller, filings made with credit reporting entities, financial holds placed on student records, and judicial prosecution.

 

04.       NON-ACADEMIC PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES

 

04.01   Non-academic professional development activities are the enrollment and participation in professional development activities that are not college or university credit courses. Department funds may be used to pay registration and other similar fees, as well as appropriate travel costs, if the activity relates to the employee’s current or prospective job duties in the department and the employee’s department head approves both the enrollment in the activity and the payment.

 

a.    The university considers time away from work during regular working hours to attend non-academic professional development activities that are directly related to employee’s current or prospective job duties as training time. Supervisors are encouraged to allow staff employees the opportunity to enroll in non-academic development activities that are related to the employee’s current or prospective job duties. For such activities, time away from the office should be recorded as regular work time.

 

b.    The university supports the enrollment of staff and faculty employees in the non-academic training and development opportunities offered on
campus by Professional Development, Instructional Technology, Technology Resources, and Academic Development and Assessment, as well as other campus resource areas. The supervisor has final authority to grant time for employees to attend such workshops and courses dependent on adequate
office coverage.

 

c.    Faculty members may also enroll in non-academic courses at Texas State or elsewhere for personal development provided that attendance does
not interfere with the completion of assigned duties.

 

d.    Supervisors are reminded that planning for annual training and development opportunities should be incorporated into an employee’s annual job performance appraisal.

 

05.       REVIEWERS OF THIS UPPS

 

05.01   Reviewers of this UPPS include the following:

 

Position                                                           Date

           

            Assistant Vice President for Human               Oct 1 E3Y

            Resources

 

            Treasurer                                                        Oct 1 E3Y

 

            Chief Diversity Officer and Director,              Oct 1 E3Y

            Office of Equity and Access

 

            Chair, Staff Council                                        Oct 1 E3Y

 

Chair, Faculty Senate                                     Oct 1 E3Y

 

06.       CERTIFICATION STATEMENT

 

This UPPS has been approved by the following individuals in their official capacities and represents Texas State policy and procedure from the date of this document until superseded.

 

Assistant Vice President for Human Resources; senior reviewer of this UPPS

 

Vice President for Finance and Support Services

 

President