Tracking Tuition Reimbursement Programs


How Vista HRMS can assist


Like a lot of employers, Subaru offers a Tuition Reimbursement program to our employees.  Employees can sign up for job-related courses or degrees at an accredited institution.  Before taking the class, they are required to obtain HR approval.  Once complete, they must submit supporting documentation in order to receive reimbursement.

Previously, we had a Tuition reimbursement form where the employee filled out their name, department, phone number, manager name, class name, degree type, school name, dates, amounts, signature, etc.  The forms would be submitted via fax, interoffice mail, regular mail or hand-delivered.  We would have to look at our paper files to find out all of the details.  An Excel sheet stored amounts once they were reimbursed.  Forms would be lost, we’d have issues matching the reimbursement to the initial forms received, and employees would forget if they remembered to submit their class in time which meant follow up calls, special approvals, etc.

But then.... we had an idea!  All we needed was a system where employees could enter the info, HR could approve it and then we’d all have access to the same information.  Naturally, we took a look at our HR system, Vista 3.2 at the start of it and now Vista HRMS 4.1.  There is a “Course Tracking” section which is setup to have employees select from a list of courses pre-populated in the system.  This would be great for internal training activities but we decided to make it work for our needs with tuition reimbursement tracking instead. 

Here are the changes we made:

  • Changed the Course listing from an A to Z selection to a drop down box.
  • Pre-filled the course list with:
    • Associates Degree Course
    • Bachelors Degree Course
    • Executive MBA Course
    • Masters Degree Course
    • Professional Certificate Course
    • Other Course Type
  • Changed “Employee Cost” to “Tuition Cost”.
  • Changed “Company Cost” to “Eligible Fees”. 
  • Hid the Grade Earned field.
  • Changed “Comments” to “Course Name”. 
  • Added instructional wording at the top of the list page:
  • Added instructional wording at the top of the edit page: 

  • Added legal wording to appear above the Submit button:

To make the above wording changes, we used the user custom area so that PTFs will not overwrite our changes.  The location of our files is listed below:

Here is how our Course Tracking section appears:

In order to determine if a specific class is eligible for Tuition Reimbursement, we need to verify if it is job related or part of a job related degree and that it is being taken at an accredited institution.  To collect this information, we asked the employee to update their Education Information prior to their course tracking entry. 

We made the following updates to the Personal – Education section of Self Service to do this:

  • Prefilled the school drop down list with a large list of schools found on the internet.  Added a school called “Other – Not Listed”.
  • Pre-filled the Major information with a list from the intranet and added a major called “Other – Not Listed”.
  • Changed the Status types to read “Completed”, “Not Completed” or “In Progress”.
  • Added instructional wording at the top of the Education page through the custom area located at \\pds\Vista41\Prod\Web\Applets\Personal\Education\_custom\edit.aspx 

We set the Course Tracking security to workflow with the following steps:

  • Send a notification email to the employee’s manager and the employee once a new course tracking request is submitted.
  • Send an approval request to the Employee Benefits Manager.
  • Attach a report to the Benefits Manager’s approval request that includes any Education information listed for the employee with a status of “In Progress”.  This should be the institution that they are taking the class.
  • Once the Workflow is processed, a notification email is also sent to the employee indicating the approval or rejection.

When the employee completes the class, they need to manually submit their proof of grade, proof of payment for the class or deferred payment enrollment and a Tuition Reimbursement Course Completion Form from the system (a summary of the class and Education information to be reimbursed).  We then have an Access database that links with Vista to store some additional information for the processing of the class.  The fields are below:

  • person_id (Integer) – same as PDSADMIN_EMPCLASS.PERSON_ID
  • class_id (Decimal) – same as PDSADMIN_EMPCLASS.PERSON_ID
  • grade (Text) – not used from EMPCLASS since the other information below is not available
  • reimbursement_amount (Currency) – the maximum would be the sum of the Tuition Cost + Eligible Fees.  It may be reduced dependent upon grade attainment per our policy.  An Access form allows us to display the summed amount with the correct percentage payment based on the grade selected above next to this field.
  • date_submitted_to_accounting (Date/Time) – defaulted to sys_date
  • deferred_payment (Yes/No)
  • accounting_processing_instructions (Memo)
  • hr_internal_notes (Memo)
  • reimbursement_calendar_year (Text) – reimbursements have an annual maximum calculated when the amounts are submitted to Accounting.  A class may have ended 12/30/2010 but could count as a 2011 expense.  We have used this field to create a report to show how much towards the maximum has been paid to date on each employee record.
  • entered_by_initials (Text)
  • entered_date (Date/Time) – defaulted to sys_date
  • proof_of_payment_rcvd (Yes/No) – for tracking deferred payment late submissions
  • accrual_status (Text) – we use a different account number for some end of year expenses.  This can be entered here and pulled into a payment report for Accounting.


In the future, we may decide to add a Vista custom table instead of the Access table to include these fields.  We would then need to create a new asp page or revise the current Course Tracking page to include these fields.  In the meantime, Access has been a good supplement.  We have set this new tuition reimbursement process up in 2009 and have had nothing but great feedback since!

Kelly Heins
Employee Benefits Manager
Subaru of America, Inc.


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