Today U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (TX-03) along with Congressman Richard Neal (D-MA) reintroduced legislation, the Employee Educational Assistance Act of 2012, to empower workers with employer-provided education benefits
"Given today's global competitiveness, it is vital for employers to invest in their employees with tuition assistance. They want to attract the best and brightest workforce," said Johnson. "It's great to know companies want to offer these benefits -- it's a win-win situation."
Currently workers may access up to $5,250 in tax-free educational assistance from their employers for various expenses, like tuition, fees, and books. Employers do not have to provide this benefit. If they do, then they must make it available to all workers. Created in 1978, this tax benefit expires at the end of the year. Johnson's bill would permanently extend the benefit.
According to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), almost one in five individuals using this education expense benefit is pursuing a degree in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the so called "STEM" degrees. Approximately 913,100 students received employer-provided benefits, compared to 431,500 in 1992 -- showing a promising 112% increase. Thirty-six percent of these recipients are pursuing a master's degree, as compared to 21% in 1992.
The military provides the largest amount ($2,547) of average assistance to undergraduates. Colleges and universities offer the largest average assistance ($3,277) to graduate students. During the 2007 -- 2008 school year, those earning $42,711 represent the average person accepting the employer-provided assistance.
The average employer-provided education benefits received was $4,563. A 2011 Society for Human Resources Management poll reveals that 58% of companies offered undergraduate educational assistance, and 54% offered graduate educational assistance.
Johnson represents portions of Dallas and Collin Counties.