The Staff Development Program (SDP) supports employee development by providing partial or full reimbursement of the cost of courses, seminars and workshops that enable employees to improve performance in current jobs, prepare for career development, or meet requirements of degree programs related to current performance or planned career development. The SDP consists of two parts: Staff Training Assistance Program (STAP) for job related or career enhancing courses and seminars and Staff Tuition Reimbursement Program (STRP) providing partial to full tuition payment for individuals enrolled in a degree program. See Educational Assistance Programs for additional information.
To be eligible for the Staff Development Program, an employee must meet all the following criteria:
Staff Training Assistance Program (STAP)
Staff Tuition Reimbursement Program (STRP)
STAP assistance may be requested for job-related training, career development, STAP approved health improvement courses through the Stanford Health Improvement Program (HIP), and academic pursuit through the Stanford Continuing Studies Program.
a. Job-Related Training
Training must be directly related to performance requirements of the employee's current assignment, and either maintain or improve job skills; be required by law; or respond to organizational or operational need as defined by employee's supervisor including training required to respond to organizational or operational need as defined by the employee's supervisor or the university. STAP does not cover training to meet minimum educational requirements of the current job, or qualify the employee for a new trade or business.
Training may be a formal course given for academic credit or certificate of completion by an accredited college, university, technical/vocational school or institute, special skills school, or adult education school; a seminar, workshop or special emphasis short-duration program presented by an approved provider; or training obtained at a conference or professional organization. Online training may be allowable if it meets the requirements outlined in Section 2.a. The employee's supervisor must approve the training in advance. Questions about whether the training or the provider is eligible for STAP should be directed to the Stanford STAP administrator prior to the start of the training course or activity.
(1) Release Time/Time Off with Pay for Required Training
An eligible staff employee's supervisor must approve in advance the course as job-related training and approve the release time, if any, to attend the training. Such time off must be compatible with the work schedule of the department and consistent with requirements of contracts and grants regarding time worked. The department funds time off with pay for training.
Requests for reimbursement of allowable expenses through STAP must be made within 20 days of satisfactory completion of the training, with the supervisor's approval. Submitted requests will be charged against the STAP funds based on the class start date. When employees are reimbursed in advance of course completion, the employee must provide evidence of satisfactory completion to the supervisor. (See Section 5 for procedure).
b. Career Development Training
Training must be related to an identified and planned training objective for career development. Such training may be a formal course given for academic credit or certificate of completion by an accredited college, university, technical/vocational school or institute, special skills school, or adult education school; or be a seminar, workshop or special emphasis short-duration program presented by an approved provider. Career development must only be for training activity that will assist the employee in qualifying for a new position or advancement within his or her current trade or business at Stanford. The employee's supervisor must approve in advance this training and any release time needed to attend.
(1) Release Time/Time Off Without Pay
An eligible staff employee may be granted a maximum of 24 hours per month of release time without pay for approved training for career development purposes if no comparable course is offered during non-work hours. Time off for eligible part-time staff should be pro-rated based on the percent time worked. Approval of time off is at the department's discretion and must be compatible with the work schedule of the department and consistent with requirements of contracts and grants regarding time worked.
Requests for reimbursement of allowable expenses through STAP must be made within 20 days of the satisfactory completion of the training with the supervisor's approval. Submitted requests will be charged against the STAP funds based on the class start date. When employees are reimbursed in advance of course completion, the employee must provide evidence of satisfactory completion to the supervisor (see Section 5 for procedure). For IT Services, HIP and Continuing Studies courses, the STAP allowance will be deducted from the fee when employees register for classes.
Eligible employees may request STRP support for courses that fulfill undergraduate or graduate degree requirements at a fully accredited college, university, technical/vocational school or institute, special skills school, or adult education school when the employee is admitted to the degree program (certificate programs excluded). Courses must be taken at, or online through, a regionally-accredited institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order to be eligible for reimbursement. The employee's supervisor must approve the request if release time/time off (with or without pay) is requested.
Covered degree programs:
Programs that are not covered:
a. Release Time/Time Off without Pay
An eligible staff employee may be granted a maximum of 24 hours per month of release time, without pay, for an approved undergraduate or graduate course, if no comparable course is offered during non-work hours. Time off for part-time regular staff should be pro-rated based on the percent time worked. Approval of time off is at the department's discretion and must be compatible with the work schedule of the department and consistent with requirements of contracts and grants regarding time worked.
b. Tuition Payment
Payment of tuition and covered fees through STRP will be made directly to the institution before attendance each quarter or semester.
An employee may not receive reimbursement under STAP and reimbursement under STRP for the same course or program. For example, you cannot use STRP for tuition and STAP for books, supplies and equipment for the same course or program.
a. STAP Expenses
b. STRP Expenses
a. Timing of STAP Reimbursement
Requests for reimbursement of allowable expenses through STAP must be made within 20 days of satisfactory completion of the training, with the approval of the supervisor. Submitted requests will be charged against the STAP funds based on the class start date. Refer to the STAP Frequently Asked Questions for details on the reimbursement process.
b. Timing of STRP Payment
Payment of tuition and covered fees will be made directly to the institution by the program administrator before attendance each quarter or semester. If the employee makes payment directly to the institution, the employee must submit the invoice to the program administrator through a Direct Bill request. The program administrator will make payment directly to the institution, and the institution will issue a credit or reimbursement to the employee.
c. Departmental Reimbursement
When covered costs exceed the current STAP/STRP limit, the excess cost may be partially or fully reimbursed by the employee's department. Departmental reimbursement is at the department's discretion and is determined based on available departmental funds for training. Reimbursement for work-related or career development training may be taxable if the total exceeds $5,250 in one tax year (see Section 7a), regardless of the source of university funds. Departmental reimbursements have the same tax consequences as STAP/STRP reimbursements.
d. Employee Obligation
When the University reimburses an employee for training costs through STAP prior to completion of the activity, the employee assumes an obligation to complete the supported training in a satisfactory manner. An employee who does not complete University-reimbursed training must repay the University the total amount of the reimbursement.
e. Evidence of Satisfactory Completion
Employees utilizing funds for training expenses through STAP must provide the supervisor with evidence of satisfactory completion as soon as possible—but no later than 60 days after the training activity is completed. For STRP, evidence of satisfactory completion must be provided to both the supervisor (if supervisor approval was required) and to EdAssist, the STRP administration vendor, within 60 days of the course end date. Such evidence may be an official grade card or transcript from the institution or provider of the course. Failure to submit evidence of course completion within 60 days will require the employee to repay the tuition/fee/expense amount to Stanford and could result in denial of all future requests for tuition assistance. Refer to the STRP Guidelines for details on the Evidence of Satisfactory Completion submission process.
Staff members who have utilized STRP are required to repay tuition and fees that were paid to STRP to an institution for coursework if:
An employee planning a training or development activity should discuss development and performance objectives with his/her supervisor before registering for the course or program. Decisions regarding applicability of training and issues regarding release time should be made at this time. The employee and the supervisor should review career development plans before registration. No application form is needed.
The supervisor should review the staff training assistance request and evidence of satisfactory completion, confirming the following:
Courses taken through the Stanford Health Improvement Program (HIP) or Stanford Continuing Studies Program (CSP) are not subject to supervisor approval unless release time is required.
Prior to April 30, 2015, employee must submit a completed/signed STRP application to the Tuition & Training Programs Office before the beginning of the designated institution's academic year. The application and instructions can be found on the STRP website (My Learning Center). A supervisor's signature is required if release time/time off with pay is requested.
On or after April 30, 2015, employee must submit an application for each term (quarter or semester) no earlier than 90 days prior to the start of classes and no later than 30 days after the start of classes. If a supervisor's signature is required for release time/time off with pay, employee must complete the Supervisor Approval Form. The Supervisor Approval Form can be found and printed from the Stanford My Learning Center website and must be sent to the Stanford STRP office with the employee and supervisor signature within five business days of application submission. Failure to submit the Supervisor Approval Form will result in a denial of the application.
Payment of Tuition and Covered Fees
The Direct Bill option should be used to request payment of tuition and fees directly to the employee's school by following the four-step application process in My Learning Center, located on the STRP website.
The Expense Reimbursement option should be used if the employee has paid for tuition and/or allowable fees and or expenses. The employee must make the request and submit documentation as proof of payment within 60 days of the course end date.
Detailed information about the application, payment and reimbursement process can be found on the STRP website.
c. Tuition & Training Programs Review
The Tuition & Training Programs office monitors and periodically audits applications for conformance with standards of eligibility, applicability and allowability as outlined in this Guide Memo. The Tuition & Training Programs office has final approval over any disputes, of application denial or denial of payment and reimbursements for approved applications. A decision by Tuition & Training Programs office concerning approval or disapproval of applications, payments or reimbursements is not subject to review under any grievance procedure. Appeal of a decision by the Tuition & Training Programs office may be made in writing to the Director of Tuition & Training Programs in University Human Resources.
a. New Applications
No applications will be accepted after employment with the university or SLAC ends.
b. Expense Reimbursement
If employment with the university or SLAC ends before a request for reimbursement of covered expenses has been submitted, an employee may submit a manual request for reimbursement if the reason for termination is for any of the following reasons:
If employment with the University or SLAC ended for any other reason, an employee will not be eligible to request or receive reimbursement for expenses after the date employment ended. However, if an application was submitted and approved, and tuition and fees were paid directly to the employee’s school prior to the date employment ended for any reason, he or she will not be required to repay that amount.
SDP is intended to provide benefits that are, to the extent possible, excluded from taxation under federal and state laws. Accordingly, this Guide Memo constitutes a separate written plan for the exclusive benefit of employees under sections 127 and 132(d) of the Internal Revenue Code and its regulations, to provide such employees with educational assistance.
a. General Rule
In general, an employee may exclude up to $5,250 received for graduate or undergraduate education under STRP and up to $800 received under STAP from his/her gross income each tax year for allowable tuition and covered fees and expenses.
b. Tax Year
Employees should note that STRP provides reimbursements of up to $5,250 for each Stanford fiscal year. Because Stanford's fiscal year runs from September 1 through August 31, an employee could be eligible to receive reimbursements in excess of $5,250 for the employee's tax year.
c. Other Situations
Amounts paid to an employee in excess of $5,250 may also be excluded if they are payments for certain job-related training, when such training maintains or improves the skills of an employee. However, if the training is necessary for the employee to meet the minimum educational requirements for employment, or if the training will qualify the employee for a new trade or business, the payments will not qualify for this additional exclusion.
d. Getting Help
Employees should consult their personal tax advisor with any questions.
SDP is administered by the University. The University has the discretionary authority to determine all matters with respect to SDP, including, without limitation, eligibility issues, benefit amounts, evidentiary matters and tax treatment. Its decisions shall be final and binding on all persons.
b. Amendment and Termination
The University reserves the right to modify SDP in any respect, or to discontinue SDP, at any time.