101 KAR 2:221. Employee Educational Assistance Program

Link to law: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/kar/101/002/221.htm
Published: 2015

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      101 KAR 2:221. Employee Educational Assistance Program.

 

      RELATES TO: KRS 18A.110(7)(i),164.357

      STATUTORY AUTHORITY: KRS 18A.030(2) and

18A.110(7)(i)

      NECESSITY, FUNCTION, AND CONFORMITY: KRS 18A.110(7)(i)

requires the Secretary of the Personnel Cabinet to promulgate administrative

regulations which govern the development and operation of programs to improve

the work effectiveness of employees in the state service, including training, health,

welfare, counseling and employee relations. This administrative regulation

establishes the requirements for employee participation in and the agency

reporting obligations relating to the Employee Educational Assistance Program to

ensure that agencies are maintaining and reporting required usage data.

 

      Section 1. Definitions. (1) "Educational

assistance" means the financial assistance provided to an employee by the employee’s

cabinet or agency for the purpose of continuing the employee’s education or

training, based on the educational needs of the workforce, which results in an

improved workforce and assists the employee in the achievement of individual

career goals.

      (2) "Educational providers"

means accredited public or private degree-granting postsecondary education

institutions, educational television, accredited correspondence or online

schools, secondary schools, General Educational Development (GED) preparatory programs,

Kentucky Virtual Campus (KYVC), or other approved education or training providers.

      (3) "Employee Educational Assistance

Program" means the program established by this administrative regulation.

      (4) "Satisfactory Grade" means:

      (a) a grade of "C" or higher

for undergraduate or law school courses;

      (b) a grade of "B" or higher

for graduate-level or other professional studies courses; or

      (c) "Pass" for courses which

are graded on a "Pass/Fail" basis.

      (5) "Service obligation" means the

six (6) month minimum period of time that an employee is obligated to work in

state government following the receipt of educational assistance, beginning:

      (a)1. On the educational provider’s

published end date of the academic term in which the employee is receiving

educational assistance; or

      2. If no published end date exists, on

the date of the last class activity, such as the final exam, the date a final

paper is submitted, or the last scheduled class session; and

      (b) If the employee has achieved a satisfactory

grade on the current coursework.

      (6) "Special-Purpose Educational

Assistance Program" means coursework or specified training that has been

predetermined by a cabinet or agency to be mandatory or job related that is

required to meet accreditation, or certification or professional standards.

 

      Section 2. Employee Educational

Assistance Program. (1) The Governmental Services Center (GSC) shall be responsible

for issuing, administering, and monitoring the Employee Educational Assistance

Program.

      (2) A cabinet or agency may adopt an Educational

Assistance Policy to specify the terms and conditions of the agency or

cabinet’s participation in the Employee Educational Assistance Program.

      (a) A cabinet or agency’s education assistance

policy shall not conflict with the employee educational assistance program.

      (b) A cabinet or agency’s educational

assistance policy shall be subject to the approval of the Executive Director of

GSC or the Executive Director’s designated agent.

      (c) A copy of the cabinet or agency’s

current educational assistance policy shall be filed with the GSC upon approval

by the Executive Director of GSC or the Executive Director’s designated agent.

      (d) A cabinet or agency shall utilize

this administrative regulation if no other Educational assistance policy is

filed with the GSC for that cabinet or agency.

      (3) Eligibility requirements.

      (a) A permanent, full-time classified

employee shall be eligible for the Employee Educational Assistance Program if

the employee:

      1. Is in full-time active work status;

and

      2. Has satisfactorily completed the

initial probationary period.

      (b) The requirements established in

paragraph (a) of this subsection may be waived by a cabinet or agency on an

individual basis if the nature of the work justifies providing educational assistance.

      1. If a cabinet or agency waives any

requirement for an employee, the agency shall maintain justification

documentation.

      2. Documentation shall include:

      a. The employee’s application for educational

assistance;

      b. The specific education or training

requested; and

      c. The written determination by the

cabinet or agency that waiver of one or more requirements is justified based on

the nature of the employee’s work.

      3. Documentation shall be maintained in

the cabinet or agency’s Educational Assistance Policy file and made available

during periodic audits conducted by the GSC.

      4. An employee who has an outstanding

reimbursement obligation in accordance with subsection (8) of this section

shall not receive further educational assistance until the outstanding

obligation is satisfied.

      5. The cabinet’s or agency’s Education

Assistance Policy shall not apply to programs providing scholarships or other

educational assistance to individuals who are not qualifying employees of the executive

branch of Kentucky state government.

      (4) Employee Educational Assistance

Program.

      (a) Funding.

      1. Funding for educational assistance

shall come from a cabinet or agency's budget.

      2. Cabinet or agency participation in the

Employee Educational Assistance Program shall be based on the availability of cabinet

or agency funds.

      (b) Approved educational assistance funds.

      1. Educational assistance shall be granted

to pay for tuition and other related expenses, such as:

      a. Laboratory fees;

      b. Basic and normal costs charged by the

institution for course registration;

      c. Computer usage fees;

      d. Required texts and other required

course supplies;

      e. Examination fees; or

      f. Records and transcript fees required

by the institution.

      2. Educational assistance may be granted

for educational testing for credit, such as General Educational Development (GED),

College Level Examination Program (CLEP), or Defense Activity for

Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES).

      3. Educational assistance shall be

available for educational testing which is an entry requirement by an

educational provider, such as ACT, SAT, GRE, GMAT, or LSAT.

      4. A cabinet or agency may elect to cover

additional or other types of educational expenses.

      a. Additional or other types of

educational expenses by a cabinet or agency shall not require pre-approval from

the GSC.

      b. Documentation of a cabinet or agency’s

approval of expenses shall be maintained in the cabinet or agency’s Educational

Assistance Policy file and made available during periodic audits conducted by

the GSC.

      (c) Limits of funding.

      1. Educational assistance provided for

coursework at an accredited in-state private college, out-of-state college, or

out-of-state university shall be limited by the then-current costs at the four

(4) year state university located in Kentucky nearest to the employee’s county

of employment.

      a. The educational assistance provided

per semester hour of credit shall not exceed the then-current cost per semester

hour at the four (4) year state university located in Kentucky nearest the employee’s

county of employment.

      b. Educational assistance based on semester

quarter-hours of credit shall not exceed two-thirds (2/3) of the then-current

cost per semester hour at the four (4) year state university located in Kentucky

nearest the employee’s county of employment.

      2. Educational assistance provided per

semester hour of credit for an online course or program shall be limited to the

higher of:

      a. The then-current costs per semester

hour for an online course or program offered by a Kentucky public

post-secondary educational institution which is delivered directly by that

institution; or

      b. The then-current costs per semester

hour for an online course or program offered by a Kentucky public postsecondary

educational institution which is delivered through the Kentucky Virtual Campus

(KYVC).

      3. Educational assistance based on semester

quarter-hours of credit for an online course or program shall not exceed

two-thirds (2/3) of the higher of:

      a. The then-current costs per semester

hour for an online course or program offered by a Kentucky public postsecondary

educational institution which is delivered directly by that institution; or

      b. The then-current costs per semester

hour for an online course or program offered by a Kentucky public postsecondary

educational institution which is delivered through KYVC.

      4. Each cabinet or agency shall verify that

the selected university or college has:

      a. Conducted regular assessments to

accredit each academic, academic support, and nonacademic programs;

      b. Assessment results which substantiate that

the academic activities are aligned with institutional mission and goals; and

      c. Provided information specifying the

source of the accreditation information on the Employee Educational Assistance

Program Form.

      (5) Payments of funds to educational

providers.

      (a) The cabinet or agency shall pay educational

assistance funds directly to the educational provider if:

      1. The employee’s application for educational

assistance was timely filed;

      2. The application meets cabinet or agency

approval; and

      3. A GSC exception request is approved if

necessary.

      (b) Financial assistance from any other financial

aid program shall not be duplicated under this program.

      1. If eligible for tuition waiver or

student fee waiver, the employee shall apply for these programs first.

      2. If additional allowable costs remain

after the utilization of the Tuition Waiver or Student Fee Waiver, the employee

may seek additional funding from the educational assistance program to cover

those remaining costs.

      (6) Approved courses.

      (a) Each course, program, or degree for

which educational assistance is provided     shall have a clear and direct

relationship to: 1. The work of the cabinet or agency;

      2. Improving the employee’s effectiveness

in his or her present

 position;

      3. Preparing the employee for a position

to which the employee can reasonably aspire; or

      4. A requirement for a degree or program

on the cabinet or agency’s approved list of courses, programs, and degrees.

      (b) Approved Lists of courses, programs

and degrees.

      1. A cabinet or agency shall establish approved

lists of courses, programs, and degrees for which educational assistance may be

granted.

      a. A cabinet or agency’s approved list of

courses, programs and degrees shall be based on the recognized educational

needs of the workforce in the agency.

      b. A cabinet or agency may establish

different approved lists for work units or job classifications.

      c. A cabinet or agency may grant educational

assistance for courses that do not qualify an individual to meet the minimum requirements

for a job outlined on the official class specification.

      2. Each approved list shall be made

available for review by cabinet or agency employees.

      3. A copy of a cabinet or agency’s current

approved list shall be provided to the GSC.

      4. The cabinet or agency shall

periodically review the approved list and make revisions as necessary and

appropriate.

      5. A request by an employee for an

exception or addition to the approved list shall be made in writing to the

cabinet or agency’s designated agent.

      (c) Courses taken through the Employee Educational

Assistance Program shall not be applied toward an Educational Achievement Award.

      (7) Maximum courses allowed.

      (a) Educational assistance provided for undergraduate

and post-graduate studies shall not exceed the following:

      1. For undergraduate studies, a maximum

of eight (8) courses per year, with a limit of:

      a. Three (3) courses in any regular

semester session;

      b. Two (2) courses in any regular quarter

session; and

      c. One (1) course in any summer session

or inter-session; and

      2. For post-graduate studies (including

graduate level professional studies), a maximum of six (6) courses per year,

with a limit of:

      a. Two (2) courses in any regular

semester session;

      b. One (1) course in any regular quarter

session; and

      c. One (1) course in any summer session

or inter-session.

      (b) An appointing authority or designated

agent may make an exception to the maximum course load if:

      1. The exception is necessary for an

employee to complete the approved program; and

      2. The exception will not adversely

affect the cabinet or agency’s service or the employee’s performance.

      (c) Documentation of a cabinet or agency’s

exception to the maximum course load shall be maintained in the cabinet or agency’s

Educational Assistance Program file and made available during periodic audits

conducted by the GSC.

      (8) Kentucky State University Requirement pursuant

to KRS 164.357.

      (a) The following employees shall receive

educational assistance only for classroom, online or independent study courses

at Kentucky State University (KSU), unless the course, program or degree required

is not available or offered at KSU:

      1. Employees who live in Franklin County

or an adjoining county; or

      2. Employees whose work station is in

Franklin County or an adjoining county.

      (b) This KSU requirement shall apply

uniformly unless the Executive Director of the GSC or designee waives the

requirement for a particular employee or course by written approval to an exception

request.

      (9) Employee obligations.

      (a) To be eligible for educational

assistance funds or to continue to receive those funds, the employee shall:

      1. Sign the Employee Educational

Assistance Program Form;

      2. Continue to work on a full-time basis;

      3. Provide the agency, within thirty (30)

calendar days upon completion of a course, evidence of a satisfactory grade;

and

      4. Complete the minimum six (6) month

service obligation. The employee shall be required at a minimum to comply with requirements

established in this paragraph in order to qualify for and maintain educational assistance

funds:

      1. The employee shall continue to work on

a full-time basis;

      2. The employee shall sign the Employee Educational

Assistance

      3. Program Form and comply with the terms

of the form;

      4. The employee shall provide the agency

within thirty (30) calendar days upon completion of a course evidence of a Satisfactory

Grade; and

      5. The employee shall complete the minimum

six (6) month service obligation.

      (b) A cabinet or agency shall recover

from an employee the full amount of educational assistance funds expended on

that employee’s behalf if:

      1. The employee’s application form

contains any material falsification;

      2. The employee fails to provide the

agency, within thirty (30) calendar days upon completion of a course, evidence

of a satisfactory grade;

      3. The employee drops a course, regardless

of cause, without prior approval of the appointing authority or designated

agent; or

      4. The employee receives duplicate

payment for the same course from any other source, such as a scholarship,

Veteran’s Educational Payments, or an Educational Achievement Award.

      (c) A cabinet or agency shall recover

from an employee the educational assistance funds expended on that employee’s behalf

if the employee resigns, retires or is dismissed for cause prior to completion

of the six (6) month minimum service obligation.

      1. Any amount of educational assistance

funds a cabinet or agency seeks to recover pursuant to an employee’s failure to

complete the six (6) month minimum service obligation shall be prorated according

to the portion of the service obligation the employee has fulfilled.

      2. The six (6) month minimum service

obligation shall not apply to an employee who is laid-off.

      (d) If an employee for whom a cabinet or

agency has paid educational assistance transfers from one cabinet or agency to

another through the Internal Mobility Program while enrolled in the course or

prior to completion of the employee’s six (6) month minimum service obligation,

the employee shall not be required to repay educational assistance funds,

unless previously agreed to by other contract.

      (e) An approved course

should be taken on the employee's own time. If a course is only offered only

during working hours, eligible employees must request an Exception for Benefit

of the Public Interest as set forth in Section 4 of this administrative

regulation.

      (10) Records and forms.

      (a) The cabinet or agency shall maintain

complete and accurate records relating to its Employee Educational Assistance

Program and Special-Purpose Educational Assistance Program if applicable.

      (b) A cabinet or agency’s appointing

authority or designated agent shall be responsible for maintenance and accuracy

of all records relating to a cabinet or agency’s Employee Educational Assistance

Program or Special-Purpose Educational Assistance Program.

      (c) A cabinet or agency shall utilize the

Employee Educational Assistance Authorization Form as the key record for the Employee

Educational Assistance Program.

      (d) A cabinet or agency’s Educational

Assistance Policy or Special-Purpose Educational Assistance Program records shall

be made available for GSC periodic audits or upon request.

      (e) The cabinet or agency shall maintain

all records and forms associated with this program in the agency personnel file

of the employee and shall forward the

records to the receiving cabinet or agency if

the employee transfers.

      (f) Administration in the GSC shall be responsible

for retaining comprehensive statewide records, on a fiscal year basis, of Educational

Assistance Program activity.

      1. This information shall be reported

annually to the Secretary of the Personnel Cabinet or as needed upon request

and shall include the following:

      a. The number of employees participating

in the program;

      b. The amount (tuition and fees)

reimbursed;

      c. The number of employees granted educational

leave;

      d. The number of employees taking courses

at each cabinet’s or agency's request;

      e. The number of employees taking courses

for required certification; and

      f. A summary of the annual reporting data

required by Section 5(3)(a) through (h) of this administrative regulation.

      2. GSC may request additional information

from cabinets or agencies as needed to assist in the administration or monitoring

of the program.

 

      Section 3. Special-Purpose Educational

Assistance Program. (1) A cabinet or agency may create a Special-Purpose

Educational Assistance Program which provides educational assistance for an

employee to obtain a specific degree or certification that is in the interest

of the cabinet or agency.

      (2) A cabinet or agency and employee may

set different terms and obligations other than those established in the Educational

Assistance Program.

      (a) A Special-Purpose Educational

Assistance Program may grant the employee the opportunity to use paid work

hours to attend class or to complete coursework.

      (b) A cabinet or agency shall not waive

the proration requirement for recovery of educational assistance funds if the employee

fails to complete the six (6) month minimum service obligation.

      (3) Approval of a cabinet or agency’s

Special-Purpose Educational Assistance Program shall be subject to the written approval

of the Executive Director of the GSC or designee.

 

      Section 4. Exceptions for Benefit of the Public

Interest. (1) The Executive Director of the GSC or designee may grant exception

upon request by the cabinet or agency to any portion of the Educational Assistance

Program in which the power of exception is not expressly granted to the cabinet

or agency.

      (2) A request for exception from the cabinet

or agency shall, at a minimum, meet the following guidelines and include the

following information:

      (a) The request from the cabinet or agency’s

appointing authority or designated agent shall be in writing;

      (b) The request shall include the completed

Employee Educational Assistance Authorization Form from the cabinet or agency’s

appointing authority or designated agent; and

      (c) The request shall include the

specific nature of the exception, the reason for the exception, and an explanation

as to why the exception would be in the cabinet or agency’s interest or in the public's

interest.

      (3) The request for exception shall be

mailed or sent electronically by email to the Executive Director of the GSC.

      (4) A request for exception shall be received

by the GSC:

      (a) Prior to the start of the educational

course for which the exception is requested; or

      (b) Prior to the date by which the cabinet

or agency seeks to take any action subject to the exception requested.

      (5) An agency shall not be required to

file requests for exception if proposing a Special- Purpose Educational Assistance

Program for approval by the GSC.

      (a) Upon the approval of a cabinet or agency’s

Special-Purpose Educational Assistance Program, any exceptions contained within

the Special-Purpose Educational Assistance Program which establish terms and

obligations different than those terms and obligations established in the Employee

Educational Assistance Program, shall be deemed approved.

      (b) Exceptions within a cabinet or agency’s

Special-Purpose Educational Assistance Program shall be approved for the remainder

of the respective fiscal year.

 

      Section 5. Program Audits. (1) The GSC shall

conduct annual audits of cabinet or agency compliance with the Employee Educational

Assistance Program from a representative sample selected by GSC.

      (2) In the course of the audits, the GSC shall

review a cabinet or agency’s Educational Assistance Program and Special-Purpose

Educational Assistance Program documents and records.

      (3) Cabinets and agencies shall maintain

the following data and reports in the cabinet or agency's Educational Assistance

Program and Special-Purpose Educational Assistance Program file:

      (a) Total dollar expenditures for educational

assistance;

      (b) Total number of employees utilizing educational

assistance provided by the agency;

      (c) Total dollar expenditures by educational

provider by the cabinet or agency;

      (d) Approved Lists of course titles,

degrees, or programs;

      (e) A list of all course titles, degrees,

programs, certification or Special-Purpose Educational Assistance Program for

which educational assistance is provided on a fiscal year basis;

      (f) The completed Employee Educational

Assistance Authorization Form, which is required for approval provided to the GSC

if an exception to the Employee Educational Assistance Program is requested or

required;

      (g) A list of all outstanding

reimbursement obligations; and

      (h) A list of all employees that have

completed degree requirements during the current fiscal year.

 

      Section 6. Equal Opportunity. Each

participating cabinet or agency shall ensure that its Employee Educational Assistance

Policy is administered fairly, consistently, and equitably for all employees.

 

      Section 7. Incorporation by Reference. (1)

"Employee Educational Assistance Program Form", June 2008, is

incorporated by reference.

      (2) This material may be inspected,

copied, or obtained, subject to applicable copyright law, at the Personnel

Cabinet, 501 High Street, 3rd Floor, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601, Monday through

Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (34 Ky.R. 2487; Am. 35 Ky.R. 16, eff. 8-1-2008.)