“$1.5 triiiillion dollars…” – said in my Austin Powers voice. Yep, trillion with a “T.” According to Forbes, 44 million borrowers in the U.S. collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt.

Avoid debt – that’s one reason many working professionals choose not to pursue higher education. Although for many, raising your level of education may be the ticket to “leveling up” in your career, earning your next promotion, and making bigger bucks. Whether it be a few units in a specified area of study or the pursuit of a degree, higher education often translates to higher income. The National Center for Education Statistics states that the median income of young adults ages 25-34 with a bachelor’s degree was 57 percent higher than individuals without one. So, generally speaking, your level of income increases as your level of education does.

Maybe you’re still saying, “I don’t want to go into debt to pay for college.” Or maybe, “I’m still paying my student loans for my first degree and now you’re telling me I need to go further into debt?” No. I’m not implying that. Money Magazine tells us that 60 percent of companies offer some form of tuition assistance. Yeah, you might be able to get free money to help you make more money! It’s a win-win. So what now?

1. Make your intentions known – Talk to your supervisor or manager. Let them know you have an interest in growing within your organization and would like to know what options might be available to help you further your career, like education reimbursement.

2. Check with HR – Often times, benefits like tuition reimbursement are managed through the HR department. If your organization has a program in place, they can provide you with all of the details you need to get you on your way.

3. Just because it doesn’t exist yet, doesn’t mean it won’t – In this day and age, there is “a war for talent.” Employers know that great employees are hard to come by and they can’t afford to lose the good ones. By making your intentions known, you may encourage your employer into starting a tuition reimbursement program.

Good luck as you find ways to level up!