Article 56Tuition Assistance Plan
Section 1. Maintenance
The current terms of the NFL Player Tuition Assistance Plan (“Tuition Plan”) will be continued and maintained in full force and effect during the term of this Agreement, except as amended below, and all past and future amendments thereto as adopted in accordance with the terms of that Plan are incorporated by reference and made a part of this Agreement; provided, however, that the terms used in such Plan and the definitions of such terms are applicable only to such Plan and shall have no applicability to this Agreement unless the context of this Agreement specifically mandates the use of such terms.
Section 2. Change in Plan Year
The Tuition Plan shall be amended so that the Plan Year commences on September 1st, (effective as of September 1, 2020) and that all references to League Year shall be amended to Plan Year. Annual and aggregate benefit limits and deadlines will be transitioned as set forth below.
Section 3. Benefit
The Tuition Plan shall continue to provide up to $20,000 per Plan Year (increasing to $25,000 beginning with the 2026 Plan Year) through the last day of the 2030 League Year for reimbursement for tuition, fees, books, or other expenses as defined in the Tuition Plan for reimbursable expenses incurred (under the terms of the Tuition Plan, an expense is incurred when paid) during the Plan Year, to any eligible player for a course or courses for which he earns a grade of “C minus” or better at an eligible educational institution, including trade or vocational schools, within the meaning of Section 529(e)(5) of the Internal Revenue Code, or as otherwise defined in the plan. The Plan shall be amended to provide that a player with less than two Credited Seasons who does not use the full amount of his benefit during a Plan Year in which he is eligible, and who is not eligible for the benefit in the following Plan Year, shall be eligible to use during such following Plan Year any remaining benefit amount from the Plan Year in which he was eligible. The Plan shall be further amended so that solely for the League Year ending in 2020, an eligible player who has not used his $20,000 by the end of such League Year shall have until August 31, 2020 to use such benefit. An eligible player who has used his $20,000 for the League Year ending in 2020, and who incurs a reimbursable expense after the end of the League Year, but before the first day of the 2020 Plan Year commencing on September 1, 2020, may seek reimbursement for such expense, but any reimbursement shall apply to the $20,000 annual limit for the 2020 Plan Year. The Plan shall continue to provide that a reimbursable expense is incurred during a Plan Year if it is paid in such Plan Year, including the 2030 Plan Year. A reimbursable expense incurred on or after the beginning of the 2030 Plan Year, and on or before the end of the 2030 League Year, shall be payable after the end of the 2030 League Year if the claim for reimbursement is timely filed under the requirements of the Tuition Plan, and all other requirements of the Tuition Plan are satisfied. The Tuition Plan shall continue to be a written plan that is intended to qualify as an educational assistance program under Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code that provides benefits to a player in any calendar year up to the maximum exclusion amount of Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code, to minimize the tax burden on players. Benefits in excess of the maximum exclusion of Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code in any calendar year will be subject to taxation and wage withholdings. To be eligible for reimbursement, fees must be associated with the course or courses taken.
Section 4. Eligibility and Former Player Benefit
The Tuition Plan shall be amended to provide that:(a)
To be eligible for reimbursement, the player must have earned at least one Credited Season prior to the beginning of the Plan Year and be on the Active, Inactive, or Reserve/Injured roster for at least one game of the NFL regular season during the Plan Year in which the course or courses commence. A player who does not have a Credited Season prior to the Plan Year, but who earns a Credited Season during the Plan Year and is on the Active, Inactive, or Reserve/Injured roster for at least one game of the NFL regular season during the Plan Year shall be eligible for reimbursement for courses commencing after the Season but within that Plan Year. The requirement that a player must be under contract when he incurs the reimbursable expense shall be eliminated.(b)
A player, who (i) is not eligible for benefits under Section 4(a) above, (ii) and (ii) has at least two (2) Credited Seasons under the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan, shall be eligible to be reimbursed based on the number of his Credited Seasons up to the aggregate amounts set forth below:
Credited Seasons 2020-2025 Plan Years 2026-2030 Plan Years 2 $25,000 $30,000 3 $45,000 $55,000 4 $65,000 $80,000 5+ $85,000 $105,000(c)
The Plan shall be amended effective for the 2020 Plan Year, such that a Practice Squad player who is on a Practice Squad for three weeks in a Season shall earn $5,000 for that Season (increasing to $7,500 beginning with the 2026 Plan Year) to be used toward reimbursement under this Article 56. A Practice Squad Player must use the amount earned for tuition reimbursement during a Season before the end of the Plan Year in which the player earns the benefit. However, if a player does not use his benefit earned during the Season by the end of such Plan Year, and the Season is the last Season in which the player is on a Practice Squad roster for three weeks and he does not otherwise qualify for reimbursement under Section 3(a) or 3(b), he shall have until the end of the following Plan Year to use the benefit. A Practice Squad Player shall be deemed to have used the benefit as of the date he incurs the reimbursable expense (defined under the Plan as the date he pays the expense), and not the date he first satisfies the requirement to be reimbursed. If a Practice Squad player becomes eligible for the benefit under this Article 56 by satisfying the requirements under Section 3(a) he shall not be eligible for the Practice Squad benefit for any Plan Year in which he is otherwise eligible under Section 3(a). If the player has used some or all of his Practice Squad benefit in a Plan Year, and then becomes eligible for reimbursement under Section 3(a), the player’s aggregate benefit for such Plan Year shall not exceed $20,000 (or $25,000 beginning with the 2026 Plan Year).
Section 5. Reimbursement
An eligible player will be reimbursed no more than seventy five (75) days after the player submits a certified transcript, or similar documentation for a covered non-degree program, from the eligible educational institution for that semester, and receipts demonstrating payment for tuition, fees, books, or other expenses as defined under the Plan, but only if his completed application is received by the Plan Administrator within six (6) months of the date he completes the course as defined in the plan.
Section 6. Administration
The NFL shall continue to administer the Tuition Assistance Plan. The NFL shall not change any benefit provided under this Article 56 without the consent of the NFLPA.