Lower tuition rates keep children of Lehigh employees close to home

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Designed by Anna Simoneau

Lehigh’s tuition remission plan allows students with parents who work at Lehigh to attend school for little to no cost.

Under the plan, students whose parents have worked at the university for less than five years are given 50 percent off of their tuition cost, and students whose parents have worked at the university for more than five years receive full tuition coverage.

Regardless of how long the parent has worked at the university, a student can receive full summer tuition coverage. Currently 90 Lehigh undergraduate and 10 graduate students qualify for the tuition remission plan, said Toni Lee Febbo, the director of HR services.

When Lehigh employees reach their fifth year with the university while their child is enrolled, tuition prices change from half coverage to full coverage.

Febbo said Lehigh’s policy is rich compared to many peer institutions. Lehigh faculty members or exempt staff members hired since 1986 also qualify for up to $5,000 a year in aid at other accredited colleges or universities.

With tuition costs around $45,000, reduced and free tuition at Lehigh play a significant role in students’ decisions to attend the university where their parents work.

Matthew Buell, ‘17 said the financial benefit greatly affected his decision to study at Lehigh. His father, Stephen Buell, has worked for 39 years as a professor in the department of finance and is co-director of the integrated business and engineering program.

Matthew Buell said his father’s contract allows for full tuition coverage for undergraduate and graduate programs until he is 35 years old as long as the enrollment is continuous.

“I would never have been able to change my major if I didn’t have tuition-free school because the discount covers the fifth year,” Matthew Buell said. He changed his major from chemistry to computer science and business halfway through his junior year.

With a free tuition benefit that lasts for an extended period of time, Matthew Buell said he has been considering graduate school. He said if he isn’t happy with job offers after college, he will stay at Lehigh for a graduate degree.

Emilee Strange, ’17, said the financial incentives left Lehigh as her best option. Her father, Doug Strange, is the assistant athletic director for campus athletics and has been working at Lehigh for 22 years.

Benefits also extend to study abroad programs. Theresa Ridings, ‘18 — who is studying in Geneva, Switzerland — said in an email that the tuition factor came second to the university’s academics and opportunities when she decided on Lehigh.

Her mother, Catherine Ridings, is the director of the business information systems program.

While the financial benefits of having a parent on campus are obvious, Theresa Ridings said it affects more than her tuition payment. She said having her mother on campus has been a positive experience for her.

“I don’t see my mom around campus unless I want to go and see her, which is usually around once a week,” Theresa Ridings said.

Matthew Buell estimates his father has taught more students than any other professor at Lehigh. He said his father teaches 40 to 50 percent of every graduating class at Lehigh, so many students interact with him because of that.

“As a senior, it doesn’t bother me that so many people know him now, but it was a little annoying freshman year,” he said.

Emilee Strange said she sees her father almost every day. Whenever she goes to the gym, she stops by his office to visit. Even though she sees her father often, she maintains her independence.

“I’ve learned that you can make school as far or as close as you want,” Emilee Strange said, “so I go home as much as someone from California goes home.”

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