FORTUNE -- Dear Annie: I am an accountant at a small company that was recently acquired by a much larger firm, and it's becoming clear to me that I'll have a hard time advancing in the new organization unless I go back to school for a bachelor's degree. I currently have a two-year degree and a couple of professional designations, plus 11 years of work experience, but everyone above me here has a four-year degree, or even a graduate degree.
I'd have to study at night and on weekends, so I'm considering enrolling in a well-known national online university. But the tuition is fairly steep and I'm wondering if I can persuade my employer to foot at least part of the bill. I've heard that our new parent company used to offer tuition reimbursement as a standard benefit but cut it out, as a cost-saving measure, a few years ago. Any pointers on how to sell them on the idea of bringing it back? — Ready to Hit the Books
Dear R.H.B.: You are doubtless not the only one wondering. Consider: Just 26% of chief financial officers say their companies reimburse employees for the training required to maintain their professional certifications, according to a new survey by staffing firm Robert Half Finance & Accounting. That's a big drop from the 46% who paid for continuing education in 2006.
College tuition reimbursement has declined too, and not just in finance -- yet another casualty of tough economic conditions. "Companies are still struggling to recover from the downturn, and they're keeping a sharp eye on costs," notes Brett Good, a Robert Half senior district president in Irvine, Calif.
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