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What is the Tuition Discount Benefit?


To encourage retention and recruitment of faculty and staff, Seattle Pacific University (SPU) provides tuition discount benefits to assist Eligible Employees in earning an undergraduate, masters and/or doctoral degree(s); their eligible spouses in earning their first undergraduate, masters and/or doctoral degree(s); and eligible children in earning their first undergraduate degree. The definition of a first degree is included in the Eligible Degrees section below.

Subject to limitations, the benefit may also be used by the Eligible Employee and/or spouse for classes taken for personal interest, or by the Eligible Employee for approved professional development.

The tuition discount benefit is intended to be a qualifying IRC Section 117 scholarship provided to employees of higher education institutions, unless otherwise covered specifically by a different IRC section, e.g., graduate students.

While the University encourages Eligible Employees to use the tuition benefit, work responsibilities take priority over classes. Courses taken during the Eligible Employee’s normal working hours must be approved by their supervisor prior to enrolling in such classes or courses.


This policy is subject to change.

Table of Contents


Eligibility


Eligible Employees

  • Regular full-time employees, with full-time employment defined as a minimum of 0.80 full-time equivalency (FTE) for staff and 0.75 FTE for faculty.

Eligible Family Members

  • Spouse: Legal spouse of an Eligible Employee pursuing an Eligible Degree (as defined in this policy).
  • Dependent child: A child, by birth or adoption, or a stepchild through marriage of an Eligible Employee, who has not attained the age of 24 at the close of the then current calendar year and is claimed as a dependent on the Eligible Employee’s tax return, or is a dependent as defined by IRC Section 152(e), and is a full-time student pursuing an Eligible Degree (as defined below).
  • Non-dependent Child: A child, by birth or adoption, who has not attained the age of 24 at the close of the then current calendar year and is not claimed as a dependent on the Eligible Employee’s tax return, and is a full-time student pursuing an Eligible Degree (as defined below). Under current IRS regulations, tuition benefits for non-dependent children are considered taxable income and will be shown on the Eligible Employee's payroll information as such for federal tax purposes. The tuition discount benefit for non-dependent children is available only to children, as described above, of Eligible Employees. It is not available under any of the Tuition Waiver Exchange Programs referenced below.

Eligible Degrees

  • Employee: Any undergraduate or graduate degree.
  • Spouse: Any first undergraduate or first graduate degree. Any prior earned degree, regardless of where it was earned, counts as a first degree.
  • Dependent Child: Any first undergraduate degree. Any prior earned undergraduate degree, regardless of where it was earned, counts as a first undergraduate degree.
  • Non-dependent Child: Any first undergraduate degree. Any prior earned undergraduate degree, regardless of where it was earned, counts as a first undergraduate degree.

Schedule of Benefits


Eligible Employees and Eligible Family Members enrolling in classes applicable to their pursuit of an Eligible Degree may apply for tuition benefits based on the Eligible Employee’s years of service for benefits as follows:


Less than 1 Year of Service

Greater than 1, but Less Than 2 Years of Service

Greater than 2 Years of Service 

Eligible Employee




   Undergraduate

5 free credits/quarter

5 free credits/quarter and 90% discount on credits/quarter greater than 5

5 free credits/quarter and 90% discount on credits/quarter greater than 5

   Graduate

3 free credits/quarter

3 free credits/quarter and 80%* discount on credits/quarter greater than 3

3 free credits/quarter and 80%* discount on credits/quarter greater than 3

Eligible Employee Spouse




    UndergraduateWaiting period - no benefit50% discount90% discount
    GraduateWaiting period - no benefit50% discount80% discount
Eligible Employee Children


   Dependent - Undergraduate

Waiting period - no benefit

50% discount

90% discount

   Non-dependent - Undergraduate

Waiting period - no benefit

50% discount

80% discount

*Eligible Employees who began full-time employment before July 1, 2005 receive a 90% tuition discount on employee-enrolled graduate credits.

  • Years of Service is determined at each anniversary date of continuous full-time employment and the corresponding discount applies for the first academic quarter beginning after such anniversary date.
  • Per IRC Section 127, tuition discount benefits for an Eligible Employee's graduate course work in excess of $5,250 is considered a taxable benefit and will be shown on the employee’s payroll information as taxable income for federal tax purposes. It is also subject to employee and employer payroll taxes.
  • Per IRS regulations, tuition discount benefits provided for an Eligible Employee’s spouse's graduate classes and non-dependent children’s undergraduate classes are considered taxable benefits and will be shown on the employee's payroll information as taxable income for federal tax purposes. These amounts are also subject to employee and employer payroll taxes.

Application Process and Forms


Initial Application: Prior to an Eligible Employee’s or Eligible Family Member’s initial use of the tuition discount benefit, the Eligible Employee must complete and submit to the Office of Human Resources (HR) an Employee Tuition Discount Benefit Application before the applicable enrollment application deadlines for the academic quarter in which the discount is being requested for themselves or any Eligible Family Members. HR must approve the application prior to any discount being provided.

  • Apply Now:

Tuition Discount Benefit - Initial Application

Annual Renewal: In order to continue a previously approved tuition discount benefit, Eligible Employees must complete an Employee Tuition Discount Benefit Renewal Form for each year they or Eligible Family Members continue to access the tuition discount benefit. A Tuition Discount Renewal Form is also required when there is a change in the tax dependency status of a tuition discount benefit recipient. 

  • Renew Now:

Tuition Discount Benefit - Renewal Form

Determining Years of Service and Credit for Prior Service at SPU or Another Accredited Institution


For purposes of determining years of employment, an employee’s anniversary date of continuous full-time employment with SPU is based on total years worked through the anniversary date prior to the academic quarter the discount is to be applied. For determining continuous full-time employment, all years of part-time service (years of service where the employee is less than full-time for over 50% of the year preceding the employee’s anniversary date) will be excluded in the count of years of service for the tuition discount benefit. The term “continuous,” in the context of this policy, is the sum of all years of regular full-time service at the University from the most recent hire date, except that Eligible Employees returning to employment with the University after a break in service will be given credit for prior years of service with SPU, providing the length of the break in service does not exceed the original years of service as a regular employee.

In some instances, credit may be available for years of service with another accredited institution. To determine whether service at another institution will qualify toward SPU’s tuition discount, please submit a written memo from the Human Resources department of your previous employer (accredited institution) to SPU’s Office of Human Resources that includes the following: your name, name of the institution you worked for previously, your beginning and ending date of employment with the other institution, your position there, and whether your status was full or part-time.

Limitations & Exclusions


  1. The tuition benefit is applied to tuition costs only. No discount is applied to fees (mandatory or other fees), materials costs, books, or room and board.
  2. The tuition discount may be used for regular instruction taken in pursuit of an SPU degree, provided such degree is an Eligible Degree. The discount may be given to Eligible Employees or spouses for personal interest classes based on space available, at the discretion of the University. It does not apply to certain graduate level courses nor to certifications earned apart from the pursuit of a degree.
  3. Matriculated spouses and children of Eligible Employees utilizing the tuition discount must complete their pursuit of a degree within five years of first receiving the tuition discount. Courses taken beyond that five-year period will not be eligible for the discount. The five-year limitation may be extended if the spouse or dependent experiences a break in enrollment due to their own serious health condition or similar reason. Requests for extension should be submitted to the Office of Human Resources for approval. Extensions such as this may trigger a tax liability for discounts provided depending upon specific circumstances.
  4. Should the Eligible Employee, spouse, dependent, or non-dependent child be awarded any other SPU gift aid, the tuition discount benefit shall be reduced, if necessary, so that the combined tuition discount benefit and these other awards will not exceed the cost of tuition for any one quarter.
    1. Distinguished Scholar Award (formerly SPU Scholar Award) recipients, athletic scholarship recipients, and peer advisor scholarship recipients are covered under separate policy.
    2. For those students who are financial aid applicants, the tuition discount benefit is considered a resource when computing a student's eligibility for other sources of financial assistance. Tuition costs paid out-of-pocket are subject to the standard tuition refund policy. Please contact Student Financial Services if you have specific questions about the integration of the tuition discount benefit with other SPU gift aid.
  5. Tuition discount percentages will not be changed during the middle of a quarter.
  6. The tuition discount is allowed for qualified SPU Study Abroad Programs with certain restrictions. In relation to the tuition discount benefit, qualified SPU Study Abroad Programs are those programs for which regular SPU tuition rates apply. For qualified Study Abroad Programs, the program must apply directly towards an Eligible Degree; is only available to SPU matriculated, degree-seeking students; and is limited to one study abroad discount per eligible student. In these circumstances, the tuition discount applies only toward SPU tuition charges and is calculated in accordance with the above outlined rate schedule. Tuition discount benefits do not apply to Best Semester Study Abroad Programs offered through CCCU or Visit/Transfer Programs.
  7. Graduate classes are registered and administered with the particular graduate school. Some graduate course work may be excluded under this benefit at the University's sole discretion. For specific information, contact the Office of Human Resources.
  8. Spouses and eligible children of Eligible Employees whose capacity to serve the University is terminated by death or disability will remain eligible for the tuition discount benefit. The University reserves the right to deny benefits depending on individual circumstances such as the remarriage of the spouse. The tuition discount, if allowed, will be based on the tuition discount schedule in place at the time of attendance and will be based on the Eligible Employee’s years-of-service at the time of death or disability.
  9. If an Eligible Employee loses benefit eligibility (such as through a reduction in FTE or a separation of employment) effective after the 10th day of classes during a quarter in which the Eligible Employee or Eligible Family Members are using the tuition discount benefit, the tuition discount for the Eligible Employee or Eligible Family Members will continue through the remainder of the then-current quarter. The tuition discount will not be available for the Eligible Employee or Eligible Family Members for additional quarters after the change in eligibility.

Tuition Exchange Programs with Institutions in the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and the Christian College Consortium (CCC)


Seattle Pacific University (SPU) is a member of both the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and the Christian College Consortium. Through the Tuition Waiver Exchange Programs (TWEP) offered by these groups, there are opportunities for dependents of SPU employees to attend certain other institutions and receive a tuition discount benefit. TWEP awards are available on a limited basis, at the discretion of the receiving institution, at discount rates set by the receiving institution. Recipients of the TWEP award from SPU are not eligible for the discount for summer quarter courses. This program is coordinated through the Office of the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration.

As a general rule, the dependent child should apply for admission to the desired institution at the same time as submitting a TWEP application. Once the dependent child applies for admission to the desired institution, the employee must provide written notice to the Senior Vice President's office, which includes the name of the institution, the academic year the child intends to begin attendance at the institution, the name of the child, home address, email address, the last four digits of the child's social security number, and the number of benefit-eligible years held at SPU for parent(s)/employees. The Senior Vice President's Office will then send the TWEP application to the receiving institution and the employee will be notified upon acceptance or rejection by the desired institution.