More than one-third of U.S. employers are improving their educational reimbursement programs as a way to attract and retain talent, says new research by global management consulting firm Hewitt Associates LLC. The survey shows employers' median annual dollar limit on reimbursements for education is $3,000 -- up from $2,000 in 1993. In addition to tuition, 77% of employers surveyed pay for expenses such as fees and books. While only 16% of employers make reimbursements on a course-by-course basis, 84% pay for at least some types of degree programs. Most reimburse for business-related bachelor's degrees (81%) and MBA degrees (82%). The majority pay for courses related to the employee's job (75%), or related to the company's business (74%). Sixty-three percent of the firms require employees to earn a C or better to qualify for reimbursement; only 2% have no minimum grade requirement. But one-third set no minimum service requirement; new hires are eligible for educational reimbursement programs right away.