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Fee Waiver and Fee Discount Programs Frequently Asked Questions
- Who is eligible to participate?
- Fee Waiver: Any full-time employee of the executive, judicial or legislative branch of State government. The benefit is not available to public school teachers. Full-time employee is defined as employee of one of the three branches of government in a position classified as “full-time” and who is:
- expected to work 1,950 hours per year; or
- expected to work 1,600 hours per year, regardless of classification and who receives employment benefits provided to all full-time employees.
- Fee Discount: Any child of a full-time employee of the executive, judicial or legislative branch of State government under the age of 24 and living in a parent-child relationship. Full-time employee is as defined in the Fee Waiver response to this question. The fee discount is also available to:
- The child of a state employee retired after 25 years as a State employee (public school teachers are not considered state employees) even if the retired employee has died since retirement but before his/her child begins receiving the benefit of the fee discount;
- The child of a former State employee who died while employed by the State, whether or not the death was job related or in the line of duty may also receive the discount;
- The child of a teacher licensed by the Department of Education or by a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces to teach Reserve Officer Training Corps, and technology coordinators currently employed in a public school system; and
- The child of a public school teacher/technology coordinator, whose parent/school teacher dies while he/she is receiving the discount, may continue to receive it as long as the student is otherwise eligible. (This provision does not apply to the child of a former public school teacher who dies prior to their child becoming eligible for the discount).
- For the purpose of eligibility, the child’s age is determined as of the day classes begin. Additionally, for the purpose of eligibility of public school teachers, the person must be licensed to teach by the Tennessee Department of Education or certified by a branch of the U. S. Armed Services to teach ROTC, but could hold an administrative position.
- What benefits are available through these programs?
- Fee Waiver: Any State employee as defined above may take one course per semester, undergraduate or graduate, at any State supported college or university or one course per calendar quarter at a Tennessee Technology Center or Tennessee Foreign Language Institute. Generally all fees are waived except for parking fees, lab fees and fees over and above tuition charged for courses within a particular discipline. Additionally, special fees for on-line courses are not waived except for on-line courses taken through the Regents Online Degree Program.
- Fee Discount: The child of a State employee/public school teacher as defined above will receive a 25 percent discount on enrollment fee for undergraduate courses which is calculated by the number of hours taken and generally referred to as tuition. No other fees are included in the discount.
- Is there a waiting period between becoming a State employee and taking advantage of the benefit?
- Fee Waiver: You must have been employed by the State at least six months prior to the beginning of the class.
- Fee Discount: No.
- Are only the natural children of the employee eligible?
- Fee Waiver: Not applicable.
- Fee Discount: The discount is available to any legally adopted or stepchild living in a parent-child relationship. This would also include grandchildren being raised by a grandparent who is an eligible State employee/public school teacher. The key to this issue is whether the State employee/public school teacher has legal custody of the child and whether the child is considered a dependent of the employee/teacher.
- What about married children or children who leave home?
- Fee Waiver : Not applicable.
- Fee Discount: If the child, whether the natural child, step child or adopted child of the State employee/public school teacher, ever lived with the employee in a parent-child relationship, then the child would not lose this benefit by virtue of marrying or leaving home.
- What about employees of agencies that contract with the State or local board of education to perform certain responsibilities or statutorily created regional agencies that are not a part of State government or local boards of education?
- Fee Waiver and Fee Discount: Employees of these agencies are not entitled to the benefits of either program. While they may be “regarded” as a State agency for a particular purpose, they would not be considered a State agency for the purpose of these programs unless the agency is a part of the executive, legislative or judicial branch of State government. Similarly, agencies that contract to perform a responsibility that would otherwise be the duty of the State agency or local board of education would not be eligible under the law. Other factors to consider that will help make this determination is whether the employees/teachers accrue sick or annual leave pursuant to the statute authorizing such leave for State employees, or in the case of public school teachers, pursuant to that board's policy.
- How many courses can be taken in one semester?
- Fee Waiver: An employee may receive the waiver for only one course per semester or mini-semester, not to exceed a maximum of four (4) courses per academic year. (A mini-semester is an abbreviated semester scheduled between the end of Fall and beginning of Spring semesters or between the end of Spring and beginning of Summer semesters.) The one possible exception to this rule relates to the number of classes that may be taken during two terms that make up the Summer semester. A state employee can take one class in each of the two terms of the Summer semester under two conditions.
- First, the two Summer semester courses can not overlap.
- Second, one or both of the Summer semester courses will not result in the employee utilizing the fee waiver to more than four (4) courses for each academic year. This presumes the employee has not used the fee waiver during one of the institution’s special mini-semesters.
- Fee Discount: The discount will be applied to any number of courses up to and including full-time study.
- Who must sign the form verifying eligibility of the employee?
- Fee Waiver: The fee waiver form must be signed by the employee and by the employee's supervisor or other person in the employee's department/agency who by virtue of their position has knowledge of and can verify that the employee meets the eligibility requirements.
- Fee Discount: The fee discount form must be signed by the employee and by the employee's supervisor or other person in the employee's department/agency who by virtue of their position has knowledge of and can verify that the employee meets the eligibility requirements.
In the case of a retired state employee, the retirement verification must be made by the Division of Retirement. The otherwise completed form should be mailed or faxed to the attention of the Retired Payroll Section for verification as follows:
TCRS, 10th Floor Andrew Jackson Building, 502 Deaderick Street, Nashville, TN 37243 or fax 615-401-6818.
If faxing the form you must include a mailing address to which the form can be returned to you as most institutions will require an original signature verifying eligibility.
The employee or their dependent is responsible for submitting the fee waiver form to the institution in a timely fashion. Each institution's procedures vary and the employee or their dependent is encouraged to contact the Bursar's office of the institution to determine when the form must be submitted.
- Where is the fully executed form to be filed?
- Fee Waiver: The employee is responsible for submitting the fee waiver form to the institution, which is generally due when enrolling in classes. However, each institution's procedures vary and the employee is encouraged to contact the Bursar's office of the institution to determine when the form must be submitted.
- Fee Discount: The employee or their dependent is responsible for submitting the fee discount form to the institution in a timely fashion. Each institution's procedures vary and the employee of their dependent is encouraged to contact the Bursar's office of the institution to determine when the form must be submitted.
- When may I register for class when using the fee waiver or fee discount?
- Fee Waiver: Enrolling in a course using the fee waiver is on a space available basis. Some institutions limit when a person utilizing a fee waiver may register for courses. Each institution's procedures vary and the employee is encouraged to contact the admissions office of the institution to determine when they may register.
- Fee Discount: Use of the fee discount will not effect when you are able to register for courses.
If more information is needed or if additional questions arise, contact the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, (615) 741-3605.