My current company pays for my education, and I'm currently pursuing my master's. However, some parts of my job (which are non-negotiable required functions) require me to travel which has taken a toll on my grades, and is getting worse as time goes on. That being said, I'm looking for a new job.

Part of the deal with my employer paying for tuition is that if I leave within a year of when they've paid money for school, I have to pay them back. Unfortunately right now that's about $12K, money I don't just have readily available.

One of my requirements for a new company is that they also offer tuition assistance. That being said, I'm not sure how to bring up that I need financial assistance in order to leave my current job and join a new company, and especially because it's related to tuition (which the new company will reimburse).

  • 4
    Good luck. I think that's going to be a hard sale to make.
    – keshlam
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 17:07
  • 1
    Have you considered taking a lighter load for a year so you can bring up your grades and also have smaller $. Pick classes that are less impacted by absences.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 17:37

3 Answers 3


The calculus when looking for a new job includes salary, benefits, commuting time and costs, and the transition costs.

These transition costs for include insurance deductibles, sick and vacation balances, moving expenses,and tuition repayment.

You need to decide what salary, benefits, and bonus levels you need to cover your requirements. When they ask about salary you need to address all aspects. If you have a limited number of weeks to payback 12,000 then you need to let them know. Because if they can't come up with enough bonus you may have to wait a year for the waiting period to expire.

  • Excellent point you've made here, and not something I had considered. There's really no reason for me to want them to reimburse my tuition if they pay me enough to cover that cost any way. So really, I should consider my salary at my current employer to be base salary +$12k (price of education) Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 23:22

One of my requirements for a new company is that they also offer tuition assistance. That being said, I'm not sure how to bring up that I need financial assistance in order to leave my current job and join a new company

So apparently you actually have two related "requirements for a new company" here:

  • Reimburse tuition on new courses
  • Help you pay back prior tuition reimbursement to your current company

When discussing salary and benefits you can either bring up the second requirement specifically, or make sure your new salary and benefits covers you without the need for a special allocation for paying your current company back.

It's possible that your next company will give you the money you indicate you need to "break free" of your current company if they want you badly enough. In my experience this would be rather unusual (at least these days in my part of the world).

Be prepared for the case where they say "No" to your special request. Decide ahead of time if this is a deal breaker for you or not.


I was once in a similar situation. I worked for a large company that had a no-strings-attached tuition assistance policy. That changed right before the last semester of my Master's program (they used the whole 2008 financial crisis as an excuse) to a requirement to repay if you leave the company within 2 years. So I ended up being on the hook for one semester's tuition.

Not long after this, a good portion of the office received 60-day layoff warning notices (economy, etc). Some folks were able to transfer within the company and some took the layoff, got severance, etc. I shrugged and began looking for a new job assuming that the impending layoff would absolve me from my payback obligation and if I timed things right, maybe I'd get some severance too. Well, my own layoff was cancelled about the time I received an offer (a manager was trying to help me out, or something... gee thanks).

Anyway, did the company now expect me to pay back my tuition assistance? Yes, they did. Fortunately I hadn't accepted the new offer yet, but I was now less than happy with my current employer and wanted to leave. So I called up the new employer and laid out the situation: "Sorry, I got un-laid off and now I owe my current employer money", and asked for a signing bonus to cover the tuition assistance repayment. They said, "Sorry, don't have the budget for that, however, we can bump up your salary (which was already higher than my current pay) by a few thousand." So I took it. Worked out ok, I was back to even after a few months at the higher salary.

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