Trilogy Health Services began a program of repayment assistance after they had brought student loan debts to its knees by putting the burden on their own workforce. It was nearly 4 years after the beginning of the program for senior housing which was based in Louisville and for care providers, and while paying out almost $2 million dollars yearly to nearly 1,500 individual associates, they were beginning to see additional retention as well as more drastic, from their workers.
However, Trilogy has a bigger goal, with the loan repayment assistance only being a smaller part. The long-term goal is to provide its workforce with more benefits related to education for nearly 12,000 employees. Striking a partnership earlier this year with Purdue Global University, Trilogy is able to offer their associate’s fully funded online classes.
According to Todd Schmiedeler, the foundations’ Senior VP. Trilogy has also awarded around 2,500 scholarships over the past year with the intention of enhancing job positions of nearly 5,000 employees who were registered in an apprenticeship program at the time.
Due to the intenseness of the labor challenges that the senior living community was facing, the senior vice president was also pushing to get other providers that would be willing to make similar investments in their employees so that they could work towards creating a well-rounded and better-trained workforce in order to make an improvement in the turnover rate of 40 – 60%, to the health care industry.
“Investing millions of dollars for the well-being of our employees and having the knowledge that there is no one else doing it at this time,” he said. He continued to say, “It is felt that the reason is that it has not being hidden, and it is also a good enough reason that it needs to be shared with others.”
Employees Slapped with $36M debt
A conversation that took place about 4 years ago, between an associate and Randy Bufford (CEO) regarding the burden of student loans, which was ideal for a program to use as a replacement of student loans. After this, the idea was set into motion immediately.
Managed internally, trilogy cut a check quarterly for $250 for each of the individuals in the program. This same action was taken over the course of the first three years. This became too difficult to maintain by the time the last year came around. However, the program grew to be nearly 700 people, while the Trilogy leaders were recognizing that they would not be able to scale it due to the administrative burdens.
Schmiedeler had the following to say about the program, “Although a winner, the process still was not efficient enough.” After putting out proposal requests, trilogy got a contract with a company referred to as Tuition.io.
According to Schmiedeler, Trilogy only needs to cut 12 checks per year now as opposed to the 7,000 previously, which are sent monthly to Tuition.io. They are all set-up with an efficient e-payment system and deals with nearly all the major lenders of student loans.
The financial risks are mitigated by Tuition.io, including other complications as Trilogy is allowed monthly payments of $100, and should they lose an employee there will not be a chance of an overhang with the potential of owing a quarterly payment. Tuition.io expanded its capabilities for collecting program data, which by the way, Trilogy was already in the process of doing.
Due to the new partnership and the push of Trilogy, there were 700 new enrollments during the spring, making it a total of 1,200 individuals who were involved in a $36 million dollar student loan debt, according to Schmiedeler.
Judging by these numbers it is clear in showing how serious the issue is and it also demonstrates the reasons to why it is now a nationwide concern.
As Schmiedeler has pointed out, “You will notice that this is one of the top three to five issues to be discussed in a presidential debate. The pressure that employees have regarding their student loan debts.”
Over 500 more individuals have been added just recently to that total, which means Trilogy has already met their goal to double the number of enrollments to the program. So, each of the individuals has been slated for receiving $1,200 per year, making the pearly payouts come to a total of $1.8 million dollars.
While pointing to the retention numbers, Schmiedeler says that “The money is being well spent.”
Schmiedeler put a report together in July in order to compare the tenure of individuals who were participating in the student loan repayment program to a similar cohort of individuals who were not included in the program. Through it, he found that participates in the program held a tenure average of three to four years compared to 1.28 years for those who were not receiving assistance with student loans.
Schmiedeler said, “What can be seen on the board is the reason the program was started.”
“It only takes a couple of minutes to complete the application process,” he said. While nurses making up around 40% of the participants, there is also a high percentage of therapists who enroll, and others involved include administrative professionals and executive directors in such fields as marketing and/or payroll.
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