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Getting your boss to pay

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Get your boss to pay: Many companies looking to boost their collective skill set without bringing on a new hire are willing to sponsor all or part of an employee's graduate schooling through tuition reimbursement. Last year, 54 percent of the 600 employers responding to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management offered at least some form of financial assistance for grad school.

Most employers require that the coursework have some connection to the employee's job role-tax courses for an accountant, say, or computer science training for someone working in IT. And some companies require that the employee work at the firm for a certain period after school or pay back part of the tuition. Up to $5,250 of such tuition assistance qualifies as a tax-free benefit.

Even when a company doesn't have a formal tuition remission program, workers can often earn assistance if they demonstrate to the boss how a course of study could add value.  And many universities offer reimbursement programs for their own qualifying workers.