In support of a strategic plan priority focused on employee success, the College of Charleston is expanding a program that enables employees to take courses at the university for free. 

Formerly known as the Staff Training Program and administered by the Office of the Admissions, the newly named Employee Tuition Assistance Program (ETAP) will be administered by the Office of Human Resources. 

Under the new program, employees who qualify can take up to six credit hours per academic term, which includes fall, spring and summer semesters. Under the old program, employees were limited to four credit hours per term and could only take classes during two terms per academic year. With the expanded program, an employee could take up to 18 credit hours in an academic year. 

“We are thrilled to be able to offer these expanded professional development options to our employees,” says Becky McManus, training and development director in human resources. “Professional development is an integral part of employee success, and there’s no better place to further one’s education than right here at the College of Charleston.” 

The College is working to enhance the experience and success of employees as one of three pillars in its new 10-year strategic plan. For the past several months, a committee led by John Loonan, CFO and executive vice president for business affairs, has been meeting to propose ideas and initiatives to help foster a thriving faculty and staff community. ETAP is one of the first proposals from the committee to come to fruition. 

“The committee working on the employee experience and success pillar identified the expansion of the tuition assistance program as an important benefit that could be accomplished relatively quickly,” says Ed Pope, vice president of human resources. “We agreed, brought a proposal to President Hsu and the senior team, and they enthusiastically approved it.” 

Employees may begin applying now for tuition assistance for the fall 2021 semester. The deadline for applications for fall semester is July 1, 2021. Employees should carefully review the policy and program requirements in advance, as there are stipulations. For example, employees must apply and be accepted for enrollment through the appropriate admissions process. Employees must also have approval from their supervisors.  

More details about the ETAP can be found in the new policy. A list of frequently asked questions regarding the new program are answered on the human resources webpage. Here are some key facts regarding eligibility and the application process: 

  • Faculty and staff must be admitted to the College of Charleston through the appropriate admissions process (degree, non-degree or graduate admission) or be eligible to enroll as a continuing student. 
  • Eligibility requirements are as follows:  
    • Faculty must be employed in a permanent FTE, time-limited or temporary grant position and have successfully completed one semester of employment with the College.   
    • Staff must be employed at least 30 hours per week in a permanent FTE, time-limited or temporary grant position and have satisfactorily completed six months of employment with the College. 
  • Once approved for the ETAP program, faculty and staff may register for courses through MyCharleston. 
  • Both undergraduate and graduate courses may be taken through ETAP. 
  • Whenever possible, faculty and staff are asked to enroll in classes during hours which do not conflict with their College employment obligations; however, when an approved class cannot be scheduled during off hours, the department head or director may elect to adjust the work schedule. When an approved class cannot be scheduled during non-work hours and it is not feasible to adjust work schedules, participants who earn annual leave may be allowed to take annual leave. Authorized leave without pay may also be used to attend class. To the extent possible, supervisors and department heads are asked to be supportive and flexible in allowing employees to participate. 
  • The ETAP benefit covers basic tuition and certain fees. The regular application fee will be waived; however, ETAP does not pay for other expenses incurred or required by the course such as textbooks, field trips, laboratory fees, technology fees, etc. Special fees for admission in some graduate areas will not be waived.