Northern Michigan University Educational Assistance Plan

Date Approved:1-1-2002
Last Revision:1-1-2002
Last Reviewed:1-1-2002
Approved By:President
Oversight Unit:HUMAN RESOURCES
Purpose

The purpose of this plan is to furnish educational assistance to the employees of NMU. It is the intention of NMU that the plan qualify as a plan providing qualified educational assistance under code Section 127(b)(1), and that the educational assistance under the plan be eligible for exclusion from the employees' income under Code Section 127(a).

Applicability

"Employee" means executives; senior administrators; senior management; academic department heads, Deans, and coaches; faculty represented by the American Association of university Professors or the NMU Faculty Association; administrative and professional employees represented by the UAW Local 2178; clerical and technical employees represented by the UAW Local 1950; food service, maintenance and police officers represented by AFSCME Local 1094; adjunct faculty; and retirees.

Policy

Northern Michigan University Educational Assistance Plan

 

Article I - Purpose of Plan

 

1.01    The purpose of this plan is to furnish educational assistance to the employees of NMU. It is the intention of NMU that the plan qualify as a plan providing qualified educational assistance under code Section 127(b)(1), and that the educational assistance under the plan be eligible for exclusion from the employees' income under Code Section 127(a).


Article II - Definitions

 

2.01    “Administrative Procedure” means any policy, procedure or practice of NMU with the purpose to resolve matters related to student, participant or employee academic or other benefits.

 

2.02    "appeals committee" means a committee of at least three but no more than five individuals appointed by the Board of Trustees of NMU who shall hear appeals pursuant to the procedures under Article VIII.

 

2.03    "Benefits" means the direct payment to NMU of covered costs incurred by a participant for educational courses.

 

2.04    "Code" means the Internal Revenue code of 1986, as amended.

 

2.05    "Covered Costs" means the tuition incurred by a participant in taking an educational course. Such term shall not include the costs of any fees, tools, supplies or books purchased by a participant or the cost of meals, lodging or transportation incurred by a participant incidental to taking an educational course.

 

2.06    "Educational Course" means any course taken by a participant at NMU, except for a course that instructs the participant in any sport, game or hobby.

 

2.07    "Employee" means executives; senior administrators; senior management; academic department heads, Deans, and coaches; faculty represented by the American Association of university Professors or the NMU Faculty Association; administrative and professional employees represented by the UAW Local 2178; clerical and technical employees represented by the UAW Local 1950; food service, maintenance and police officers represented by AFSCME Local 1094; adjunct faculty; and retirees.

 

2.08    "Leave of Absence" is as defined by the appropriate collective bargaining agreement or personnel policy manual.

 

2.09    “Month” means a calendar month, consisting of 28, 29, 30 or 31 days.

 

2.10    "NMU" means Northern Michigan University, a university the primary function of which is the presentation of formal instruction and that normally maintains a regular faculty and curriculum and normally has a regularly enrolled body of students in attendance at the place where its educational activities are regularly carried on.

 

2.11    "participant" means any employee who has satisfied the eligibility requirements of Section 3.01 and who participates in an educational course.

 

2.12    “Part-Time Faculty participant” means an adjunct faculty member employed to teach at least 4 credits of courses per semester.

 

2.13    "plan" means the Northern Michigan University Educational Assistance plan.

 

2.14    "plan administrator" means the person designated to administer the plan under Section 7.01.


Article III - Eligibility

 

3.01    Every employee employed on the effective date of the plan shall automatically be eligible to become a participant in the plan on that date, subject to the limitations of Article V. Each other employee shall become a participant in the plan if they are an employee on the first day of classes of the semester for which they apply for benefits, subject to the limitations of Article V.

 

3.02    A participant will cease being a participant in the plan if he or she leaves the employ of NMU.  participants shall be considered to have left the employ of NMU if they are not employed at NMU on the first day of classes of the semester for which they apply for benefits; NMU retirees and former employees who terminate under the reduction in force 2003 or 2004 continue to be participants regardless of their employment status.

 

Article IV - Benefits

 

4.01    Every participant in the plan shall be eligible to receive benefits under the plan for covered costs incurred by the participant, subject to the limitations of Article V.

 

4.02    A participant shall be entitled to benefits under this plan only for covered costs incurred after he or she becomes a participant in the plan.

 

4.03    A participant who desires to receive a benefit under the plan shall submit a completed Faculty/Staff Tuition benefit form signed by his / her supervisor to the plan administrator for such benefit no later than one month after the beginning of the educational courses for which such benefit is requested. Such form shall include:

 

(a)    the course or courses such participant wishes to take and the number of corresponding credit hours;

 

(b)    the hours during the day which the course is held;

 

(c)    whether the employee is receiving any other NMU financial assistance, fellowship or scholarship for such education.

 

The plan administrator shall ensure the participant receives the benefit the participant is entitled to receive under the plan.

 

4.04    Within ten working days of receipt of the request described in Section 4.03, the plan administrator shall notify the participant whether the participant will be entitled to a benefit under the plan for the educational course or Courses the participant wishes to take.

 

Article V - Limitations on Benefits

 

5.01    Any participant accepting financial assistance or a fellowship or scholarship from NMU for the semester for which the participant applies for a benefit under this plan shall not be entitled to a benefit under this plan for that semester.

 

5.02    No Part-Time Faculty participant shall receive a benefit under this plan for more credits of educational courses taken in any one semester than the number of credits of courses he / she teaches during that semester.

 

5.03    In no event shall a participant be entitled to receive any benefit under this plan in lieu of any other compensation he or she might otherwise be entitled to from NMU.

 

5.04    A participant may not receive more than $5,250 in benefits under the plan for the year, in accordance with code Section 127(a).

 

5.05    Highly compensated employees shall not be entitled to benefits under this plan in greater proportion to other employees so as to render the plan discriminatory, in accordance with code Section 127(b)(2).

 

Article VI - Funding

 

6.01    NMU shall contribute amounts, if any, required to provide benefits under this plan out of the general assets of NMU at the time such benefits are to be paid. benefits shall be paid for participants upon the submission and approval of a claim for benefits pursuant to the claims procedure set forth in Article VIII.

 

Article VII - Plan Administrator

 

7.01    The Human Resources Department is hereby designated as the plan administrator to serve until resignation or removal by the Board of Trustees of NMU and appointment of a successor by duly adopted resolution of the Board. The plan administrator shall have the authority to control and manage the operation and administration of the plan, including the authority to make and enforce rules or regulations for the efficient administration of the plan; to interpret the plan; and to decide all questions concerning the plan and the eligibility of any person to participate in the plan.

 

7.02    The plan administrator shall give reasonable notice of the availability and terms of the plan to eligible employees.

 

7.03    The plan administrator shall keep accurate records of all benefits paid for participants under the plan and ascertain that no benefit was paid for an employee in lieu of other compensation due a participant.

 

Article VIII - Claims Procedure

 

8.01    A participant shall make a claim for benefits by submitting a completed Faculty/Staff Tuition benefit Form in accordance with Section 4.03.

 

8.02    If a claim is wholly or partially denied, notice of the decision, in accordance with Section 8.03, shall be furnished to the claimant within a reasonable period of time, not to exceed 10 working days after receipt of the claim by the plan administrator, unless special circumstances require an extension of time for processing the claim. If such an extension of time is required, written notice of the extension shall be furnished to the claimant prior to the termination of the initial 10 working-day period.  In no event shall such extension exceed a period of 30 working days from the end of such initial period. The extension notice shall indicate the special circumstances requiring an extension of time and the date on which the plan administrator expects to render a decision.

 

8.03    The plan administrator shall provide every claimant who is denied a claim for benefits written notice setting forth, in a manner calculated to be understood by the claimant, the following:

 

(a)    a specific reason or reasons for the denial;

 

(b)    specific reference to pertinent plan provisions upon which the denial is based;

 

(c)    a description of any additional material or information necessary for the claimant to perfect the claim and an explanation of why such material or information is necessary;

 

(d)    an explanation of the plan's claims review procedure, as set forth below in Sections 8.04 and 8.05.

 

8.04    The purpose of the review procedure set forth in this Section and Section 8.05 is to provide a procedure by which a claimant, under the plan, may have reasonable opportunity to appeal a denial of a claim to the appeals committee for a full and fair review, but only after exhausting any and all remedies available under NMU administrative procedures. To accomplish that purpose, the claimant or the claimant's duly authorized representative may, after exhausting any and all NMU administrative procedures:

 

(a)       request review upon written application to the plan administrator;

 

(b)       review pertinent plan documents; and

 

(c)       submit issues and comments in writing.

 

A claimant (or a claimant's duly authorized representative) may request a review by filing a written application for review with the appeals committee at any time within two Months after exhausting any and all remedies available under NMU Administrative Procedures.

 

 

8.05   Decision on review of a denied claim shall be made in the following manner:

 

(a)       The decision on review shall be made by the appeals committee, who may, in its discretion, hold a hearing on the denied claim; the appeals committee shall make its decision promptly, and not later than 10working days after the plan administrator receives the request for review, unless special circumstances require extension of time for processing, in which case a decision shall be rendered as soon as possible, but not later than 30 working days after receipt of the request for review. If such an extension of time for review is required, written notice of the extension shall be furnished to the claimant prior to the commencement of the extension.

 

(b)       The decision on review shall be in writing and shall include specific reasons for the decision, written in a manner calculated to be understood by the claimant, and specific references to the pertinent plan provisions on which the decision is based.

 

(c)       In the event that the decision on review is not furnished within the time period set forth in Section 8.05(a), the claim shall be deemed denied on review.

 

8.06    If a dispute arises with respect to any matter under this plan, the plan administrator may refrain from taking any other or further action in connection with the matter involved in the controversy until the dispute has been resolved.

 

Article IX - Miscellaneous

 

9.01    The Board of Trustees of NMU may amend or terminate this plan at any time by duly adopted resolution.

 

9.02    Except where otherwise indicated by the context, any masculine terminology used shall also include the feminine and vice versa, and the definition of any term in the singular shall also include the plural, and vice versa.

 

9.03    This plan shall be effective as of January 1, 2002.

 

9.04    This plan shall not be deemed to constitute a contract between NMU and any participant or to be a consideration or an inducement for the employment of any participant or employee. Nothing contained in this plan shall be deemed to give any participant or employee the right to be retained in the service of NMU or to interfere with the right of NMU to discharge any participant or employee at any time regardless of the effect which such discharge shall have upon him or her as a participant of this plan.

 

9.05    This plan shall be construed and enforced according to the laws of the State of Michigan, other than its laws respecting choice of law, to the extent not preempted by any federal law.