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IU tuition benefit: ‘It’s very simple’

A lot has changed at Indiana University Kokomo since Terri Butler started in the secretarial pool in 1980.

“The people have changed, the programs have changed, technology has changed,” Butler said. “A lot of people will say, ‘Oh you’ve done the same thing.’ Not really, because times have changed!”

Butler is now an administrative assistant with the School of Business at IU Kokomo. As the university and her role evolved, one thing that did not change was Butler’s desire to earn an undergraduate degree. She wanted to go to college right after high school, but her life took a different path.

“My parents didn’t know a lot about getting us into college and so it didn’t seem possible,” Butler said. “Then I married, I had children and grandkids.”

Terri Butler, left, and fellow IU employee Susan Wilson, at their graduation ceremony in 2019. She took two classes in the ’80s, but family and other responsibilities ultimately took precedence over college. Time marched on, and Butler made plans to retire early at age 55. But again, her life took a different turn. She decided to remain an IU Kokomo employee and began to pursue an undergraduate degree as an IU Kokomo student in 2010.

“I finally came to the point where I said, ‘If I’m going to do this, I’ve got to do it,’ and just started chipping away.”

Like many returning adult students, Butler juggled classes and a full-time job. While that was a challenge, her job with IU made another aspect of college life easier: the financial aspect.

Butler used the university’s employee tuition benefit to help pay for classes. She said her journey toward earning a degree would have been much more difficult without the benefit.

“When my husband and I talked about it, we decided ‘no loans,’” she said. “So the tuition benefit did help me a great deal.”

When it comes to applying for the benefit, Butler said the process is easy. “It was pretty much just click boxes and submit it. Then you get notification that you have been accepted.”

It’s the same easy process for IU employees who are accepted to graduate programs.

Teresa Francis, communications manager in the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement. Teresa Francis, communications manager in the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement.Teresa Francis is a communications manager with IUPUI’s Office of Community Engagement. She already had a master’s degree in applied communication when she started as a part-time university employee in 2014. Before becoming eligible for the tuition benefit, Francis had to turn down an opportunity to pursue another master’s because of the cost.

“I always wanted to go back to school for a second master’s degree focusing on media and film production,” she said. “I was accepted to a program in Bloomington, but I wasn’t a full-time employee and I couldn’t afford to add on more student loans.”

The tuition benefit made all the difference. Francis became eligible after a full-time promotion in 2015. Shortly after that, she applied and was accepted to a program with the IU School of Informatics and Computing. Francis graduated in 2021 with a master’s degree in media arts and science.

Like Butler, Francis said she did not encounter any barriers when applying for the tuition benefit.

“It’s very simple,” she said. “You just go to the human resources page, fill out a couple of simple things, tell them when you plan to take a class, click the button, and that’s pretty much it.”

Both said their degrees are helping them professionally in many ways.

“I went from a communications specialist to a communications manager; I got a raise,” Francis said. “I’m able to add those skills to what I do daily, and I’m still growing.”

Butler completed her Bachelor of General Studies in 2019 with highest distinction. The experience gave her new perspective.

“As an employee, you don’t see the full student side,” she said. “As a student, you don’t see the full employee side. I feel like I got a look at both sides, and I learned a lot.”

The IU tuition benefit is available to eligible employees, former employees with IU retiree status, former employees receiving long-term disability benefits, and spouses and dependent children of eligible employees and retirees.

More details about eligibility, rates, deadlines and how to apply are available on IU Human Resources’ tuition benefit page. For questions contact


Tia Broz is a Communications Consultant for IU Studios.