Tuition waiver offers UM faculty and staff savings

The long-awaited program has been a hit with employees and their families.
Sunday, June 13, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:08 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 8, 2008

For MU anthropology professor Lee Lyman, saving $1,000 is better than nothing.

With a son in his final semester at MU, Lyman was able to save that much by taking advantage of the UM system’s faculty and staff tuition waiver.

“I find this program excellent,” Lyman said. “The other three universities that I have been affiliated with, faculty got some sort of tuition break. It is about time they caught up with the times.”

For the first time, UM faculty and staff received a tuition waiver last year, which allows them and family members to be eligible for 50 percent off tuition as long as the staff member has been with the UM system for at least five years. The program was implemented in an effort to retain professors and to attract students who thought MU was not an option.

Blake Danuser, UM associative vice president for employee relations, said there is “anecdotal information” that the program has been beneficial for retention and recruitment purposes, but he does not have any scientific data supporting that information. Gail Lawrence, MU staff council president, said the tuition waiver has been a concern for more than 15 years. She said the advocates for the waiver received more than they asked for.

“It is a morale booster for faculty and staff,” she said. “They got what they asked for, and people started using it right away. Not to mention those who have younger children and those with children in high school, people can plan to keep them closer to home and want to invest in the university and community around them.”

Lawrence said the tuition waiver battle was just one step in increasing university employee benefits, but now the staff council is addressing retirement issues. The faculty want to add the rule of 85 and out, which means that they can think about retirement when the age and years of service equal 85. Currently, there is no such retirement option. Lawrence said the faculty has been pursuing the rule of 85 and out for nearly 15 years.

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