Human Resources Policies

HR36 Educational Privileges for Faculty, Staff, and Retirees

Policy Status: 

Under Review

Policy Steward: 

Vice President for Human Resources



NOTE: The implementation of SIMBA requires the review of many University Human Resource Policies and Guidelines. After consultation with key constituencies, work has been underway to update, consolidate, and improve our policies and guidelines to better serve the Penn State community. However, please be aware that due to the volume of the impacted policies and guidelines, not all policies are currently updated to reflect changes which have been communicated; however, the policies will be updated soon and have appropriate and applicable effective dates listed. We appreciate your patience as we work through this review process. Any questions can be directed to HR Services at 814-865-1473 or submit an inquiry via WorkLion.

  • Purpose
  • Employee Eligibility
  • Service Requirement
  • Where Courses are Offered
  • Limitations
  • Required Approval
  • Credit Limits - 12-Month Employees
  • Credit Limits - Two-Semester Employees
  • Graduate Degree Limitation
  • County Agents, Home Economics Extension Personnel, Certain Continuing Education Personnel
  • Amount of Fee Reduction
  • Other Limitations
  • Cross References

    To provide faculty, staff, and retirees the opportunity to advance their education by taking University courses at reduced fees.


    The following categories are eligible for educational privileges:

    a. A regular employee during active periods of employment and certain inactive periods of employment. See HR16, HR19, HR34, HR88, and HRG11 for eligibility of regular employees during inactive periods of employment.

    b. A faculty or exempt staff member appointed on a full-time Fixed-Term II, or full-time, faculty Visiting Appointment for at least one semester or summer session, during any time covered by that appointment which encompasses both the beginning and end of a semester or summer session.

    c. A member of the armed services who is on the staff of the Department of

    1. Military Science
    2. Air Force Aerospace Studies
    3. Naval Science

    d. A retired employee, provided the retiree meets the requirements for the continuation of benefits after retirement.


    Educational privileges are available for any semester or summer session in which classes begin on or after the faculty or staff member's date of full-time, regular employment.

    Employees are not eligible for educational privileges for any semester or summer session in which classes begin after the employee's final day of full time, regular employment status. These limits do not apply to an eligible retiree as indicated in "d" in the section above.


    Eligibility for University educational privileges for an employee applies at all University locations.


    The educational privileges apply to all resident instruction and continuing education credit courses except the professional curriculum such as those offered at the College of Medicine at The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, the Smeal College of Business Administration Executive MBA Program, Dickinson Law and Penn State Law. Educational privileges do not apply at summer camps or workshops operated by the University unless University credit is given and regular tuition is charged.


    Permission for a regular employee to schedule courses is a special arrangement and privilege, and should not be considered as a right. It is granted only when the supervisor believes that the scheduling of courses will not interfere with the efficient operation of the employee's regular University duties.


    Scheduling of classes by a regular employee on a twelve-month-service basis (including an academic employee), either for credit or to audit, is limited to sixteen (16) credits per academic year beginning with the summer session.

    An employee (other than academic) can schedule up to a full schedule of credits during a semester or summer session that the employee is not working, provided that the employee is on vacation or layoff during the entire period of that academic session.


    Scheduling of classes by a regular employee on a two-semester-service basis (including an academic employee), either for credit or to audit, is limited to twelve (12) credits during the two semesters in which the employee has worked within the academic year.

    A two-semester-service basis employee can schedule up to a full schedule of credits during the summer session the employee is not working, provided the employee continues to receive payments on the salary payroll.


    No academic employee above the rank of Instructor, Research Assistant, or equivalent may receive from the University the Master's Degree or the Doctor's Degree in any graduate program where the faculty member has membership, teaches courses, serves on Master's or Doctoral Committees, or has other supervisory responsibilities which might give rise to conflicts of interest. The faculty member should inform his/her department head of his/her intention to pursue an advanced degree.


    A County Agricultural Agent or Home Economics Extension Representative (including those at the Assistant and Associate ranks), and certain Continuing Education personnel with the job titles of Assistant Director for Continuing Education, Area Director, or Area Representative, including Coordinators and Specialists in various subject matters or program areas, can schedule up to a full schedule of credits during a semester or summer session that the employee is not working, provided that the employee is on vacation, layoff, or leave of absence during the entire period of that academic session.


    The educational privileges include a reduction of 75% of the tuition payable per credit.


    The educational privilege is a generous benefit provided to employees and additional Penn State funds should not be used to supplement the educational privilege benefit. Therefore, those receiving educational privileges are not eligible for University scholarships and also may not receive funding from other University sources(general, restricted or unrestricted miscellaneous funds), with the exception of endowed funds specifically established for the benefit of employees.

    Note that HR38 - University Courses for Training Faculty and Staff covers situations where the department wants an employee to take a course as professional development. General funds may be used in these situations, but the department must pay 100% of the cost and the educational privilege(employee grant-in-aid) does not apply. Departments are not permitted to ask employees to enroll using the educational privilege, and then to reimburse the employee for the 25% of tuition not covered.

    If additional support is provided through an endowed fund specifically established for the benefit of employees, the award to the employee must be posted in the LionPATH system for all credit courses - no direct reimbursement to the employee is permitted. In addition, the application of these funds may only be used to cover remaining tuition - no refunds to employees may result from the application of these funds. All awards to employees must meet the eligibility requirement of the endowment and those receiving the funding must be approved by the budget executive for the unit as well as for the budget executive for the employee's home budget, if not the same as the budget executive for the endowment.


    HR16 - Leave of Absence without Salary (Other than for Extended Active Military Service)

    AC18 - Graduate Study Leave of Absence

    HR19 - Leave of Absence for Active Military Service or Training

    HR34 - Employment Conditions for Staff Employees

    HR37 - Grant-in-Aid for Dependents of Faculty, Staff and Retires

    HR54 - Continuation of Group Insurance After Age 60, Age 65, and After Retirement or Death

    HR88 - Alternatives to Regular Twelve Month Staff Employment

    HRG11 - Family and Medical Leave

    HRG13 - Definition of Formal Study as Outlined in HR16


    October 16, 2020

    Minor language revisions to clarify Limitations/update terminology; pronouns replaced with terminology reflective of, and in promotion of, an inclusive environment.

    April 21, 2020

    Updated Service Requirement section.

    July 17, 2008

    OTHER LIMITATIONS section added.

    August 1, 2007

    Clarification added to Limitations paragraph.

    July 1, 2002

    Limitations section - revised to include the Smeal College of Business Administration Executive MBA Program

    Date Approved: 

    April 21, 2020

    Date Published: 

    April 21, 2020

    Effective Date: 

    April 21, 2020