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FAQ: Dependent Tuition Program

1. When do I become eligible to use the dependent tuition assistance?
Educational benefits are available for the employee's dependent children when the employee is at least twenty-one (21) years old and he/she has been employed full-time for the past five continuous years in a regular or term position at VUMC (or any other accredited college or university, with no break-in-service greater than three (3) continuous months duration). The benefit begins the semester following five years of continuous service.

2. What happens in the event of disability or death of an employee?
The children of an employee whose service has ended due to permanent disability or death may be eligible to receive the tuition benefit. The employee must have met the full-time five-year service requirement, and the dependents must enter an accredited institution within five years of the disability or death.

3. How does bridging affect this benefit?
Tuition assistance is an exception to the general requirements of bridging. When an employee has a break-in-service longer than three months, he/ she must build five continuous years of employment again before becoming eligible for dependent tuition assistance. A change from full-time status to part-time status or termination of employment constitutes a break-in-service.

4. What are the eligibility requirements for my child?
Your dependent must meet the IRS definition of a qualifying child. In general, to be a taxpayer's qualifying child, a person must satisfy four tests:

  1. Relationship - must be the taxpayer's child (whether by blood or adoption) or stepchild.
  2. Residence – has the same principal residence as the taxpayer for more than half the tax year. Exceptions apply, in certain cases, for children of divorced or separated parents. Refer to IRS Publication 501 for additional information.
  3. Age – must be under the age of 19 at the end of the tax year, or under the age of 24 if a full-time student for at least five months of the year, or be permanently and totally disabled at any time during the year.1 Dependent child has not attained the age of 24 on December 31 of the year in which the tuition benefit will be utilized.
  4. Support - did not provide more than one-half of his/her own support for the year.

While the four qualifying child tests generally apply, a qualifying child also needs to meet these tests:

  • Nationality - be a U.S. citizen or national, or a resident of the U.S., Canada or Mexico. There is an exception for certain adopted children.
  • Marital Status - if married, did not file a joint return for that year, unless the return is filed only as a claim for refund and no tax liability would exist for either spouse if they had filed separate returns.

5. How do I request the tuition benefit for my child?
Complete a Tuition Benefit for My Child Form for each term you wish to receive the benefit. You must submit the form two months in advance of the beginning of classes in order for VUMC to properly process payments.

6. How do I know if the college or university my child is attending is approved for the tuition benefit?
If the college or university your child is attending is accredited and offers academic courses providing college credit that can be applied toward an undergraduate degree, it is most likely eligible. Policy does require the school to be listed in the Higher Education Directory. If you have a concern about the eligibility of the school your child is attending, please send an email to Otherwise, when you submit your request for the benefit, a review will be made and you will be contacted if the school does not meet the necessary requirements.

7. What classes are eligible for the benefit?
Any classwork leading to your child's first bachelor/baccalaureate degree is eligible.

8. Are overseas programs eligible for the benefit?
Only overseas programs sponsored by an accredited college or university within the United States are eligible. The payment is based on U.S. currency.

9. What happens after my form has been received and approved by the Payroll/Processing Office?

  1. VUMC will send your child's school a tuition benefit letter that outlines the benefit's payment tiers.
  2. Plan for those employed prior to 9/1/2012 - Your benefit will be the greater of the following, but not to exceed 70% of what Vanderbilt would charge for similar level coursework:
    • 100% of up to $2,000 of the total tuition per semester, or
    • 70% of your child's tuition; the benefit amount will not exceed 70% of Vanderbilt's current tuition
  3. Plan for those employed on or after 9/1/2012 - Your benefit will be the greater of the following, but not to exceed 55% of what Vanderbilt would charge for similar level coursework:
    • 100% of up to $2,000 of the total tuition per semester, or
    • 55% of your child's tuition; the benefit amount will not exceed 55% of Vanderbilt's current tuition
  4. Your child's school will complete its section of the benefit letter and return the letter to VUMC. Important note: most schools do not return the letters until their drop/add date has passed. The drop/add date is the last day that a student can add or drop classes without additional charges to their student account.
  5. VUMC will send the payment to your child's school. If you have already paid your child's tuition, please check with your student's school about refunds.
    • All state schools and schools where we sponsor multiple students (i.e., MTSU, UTK, Belmont, Lipscomb) are paid as a group with one payment and not on an individual student basis.
  6. You can check the status of your benefit form by contacting the Employee Service Center at 615.343.7000 or You can also contact your child's school.

10. Will the VUMC benefit pay for costs or fees other than tuition?
No, the benefit contributes only to tuition. Mandatory fees, registration fees, books, room and board, and any other expenses are not eligible.

11. Does VUMC pay for overloads?
No, overload charges are not covered. An overload is defined as the credit hour amount above a school's full-time enrollment. For example, if a school charges a flat tuition rate for 12-18 credit hours, and your student is enrolled for 19 credit hours, the amount of overload would be one hour. The benefit amount is based on the individual school's base tuition charge and each school may vary in what they consider to be full-time enrollment. The amount of any overload charges is the responsibility of the student and/or parent.

12. How will other scholarships affect the amount the VUMC benefit pays?
The sum of all scholarships (including VUMC payment) should not exceed the dependent tuition charge. Any scholarships reported towards tuition may reduce the amount of tuition benefit that VUMC pays on behalf of the dependent. For more questions please contact

General Information

13. Is there a limit to the number of school semesters or quarters that my child can receive the benefit?
Yes, there is a limit. Each individual dependent child can receive the benefit for up to 8 semesters or 12 quarters.

  • If you have more than one child, you can use the benefit for up to 24 semesters or 36 quarters for all your dependent children.
  • If both you and your spouse are VUMC employees, you can use the benefit for up to 48 semesters or 72 quarters. Note that this does not increase the number of eligible semesters per child.

14. What should I do if I have submitted a dependent tuition benefit form and my child will not be attending the school?
Please email and let us know that you want to cancel the benefit. Include your student's name, the school's name, and term affected.

15. What should I do if I submitted a tuition form and my child changes schools?
We must receive your cancellation before we can process a request for a different school. Please email and let us know that you want to cancel the benefit. Include your student's name, the school's name, and term affected. You will then need to submit a new Tuition Benefit for My Child Form along with a new Authorization and Release form.

1To further explain, the IRS defines a "qualifying child" as a dependent who has not attained the age of 24 as of the close of the calendar year for which the benefit is requested. The calendar year in which the dependent turns 23 is the last year of eligibility for the benefit.

Revised Dec. 14, 2016