# 2017-150 Pay and Benefits, Education allowance

Education allowance

Case Summary

F&R Date: 2018-05-04

The grievor requested reimbursement of Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) preparatory course fees for his dependent child. He argued that Canadian students completing their secondary education in the United States are disadvantaged when applying to a Canadian university. He contended that, unlike other Canadian students, they are required to write the SAT; however, they do not benefit from the preparation that American students receive over a number of school years. Hence, he argued a need to bridge the gap by enrolling Canadian students in a SAT preparatory course, which he contended falls within the definition of tutoring of the Foreign Service Directive (FSD) 34.  Finally, the grievor asserted that his administrative superior issued clear direction regarding reimbursement of the SAT preparatory course and that a precedent was established with the reimbursement of these fees to a colleague.

The Director General Compensation and Benefits, acting as the Initial Authority, found that a SAT preparatory course does not meet the criteria established for reimbursement of tutoring or tuition fees under current regulations and that he does not have the latitude to authorize benefits that are not provided for in the regulations.

The Committee concluded that there is no entitlement to reimbursement of the SAT preparatory course fees under the tutoring provision of FSD 34, which refer to “subjects” where the dependant's educational level is low compared with the “class, form or grade attended”; which was not the case. The Committee noted that attendance at a SAT preparatory course is not mandatory, but at the discretion of every student. The Committee further noted that the FSD specifically refers to the SAT exam fee, but not the SAT preparatory course fee, which provides compelling indications of the policy intent. Finally, the Committee found that the grievor was familiar with FSD 34, such that it was not reasonable for him to rely on information contrary to the policy, even if provided by his administrative superior, and that the grievor had not demonstrated that his chosen course of action was determined by his reliance on those assurances. The Committee recommended that the grievance be denied.

FA Decision Summary

The Final Authority (FA) agreed with the Committee's findings and recommendation that the grievance be denied. 

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