Obtaining a degree or certification that allows you to work with patients in a medical facility requires months to years of education — and usually thousands upon thousands of bucks.
The cost of nursing school, PA school or even an associate or bachelor’s degree is an inhibiting factor for many people interested in pursuing a career in healthcare. That’s why one New York-based hospital system is offering to help its employees pay back their student loans.
In an announcement earlier this month, Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall (MSLC) — which has campuses in Newburgh and Cornwall in New York State’s Hudson Valley — revealed it will allow employees to convert unused paid time-off (PTO) into an employer contribution to student loan payments.
The program, administered by Tuition.io, includes federal and Parent PLUS loans. Non-union, full- and part-time employees can convert anywhere between 30 and 75 hours of unused sick, vacation and personal days into a maximum annual payment of $5,000 by MSLC. Parents can also put the money toward loans they’ve taken out for their children’s education.
Fierce Healthcare reports that MSLC is one of the first hospital systems to establish this kind of program. Outside the healthcare space, Tuition.io has worked with Live Nation, Staples and Estée Lauder Companies, as well as start-ups.
“Medical graduates are often faced with what can seem like an insurmountable amount of debt as they transition from student to medical professional,” said Dan Bengyak, Vice President of Administrative Services at MSLC, in a statement. “We believe financial health is a cornerstone for success and this unique debt relief program gives our employees the tools to tackle it head on.”
He added to Fierce Healthcare that the program has been “a real home run” and that MSLC will likely contribute around $200,000 to student loan payments over the course of 2019. Bengyak clarified that the cost ultimately doesn’t affect the hospital’s bottom line because it’s money already set aside for PTO.
Student loan debt in the U.S. surpasses credit card and auto loan debt. It increased five times over the past decade, reaching $1.2 trillion in 2019. Roughly three-quarters of medical and physician-assistant students finish school in debt, usually around $100,000 or more. A 2016 report of nursing students at the graduate level found 69 percent took out loans, usually between $40,000 and $55,000.
Would a program like this convince you to work for a potential, new employer? Share your thoughts in the comments below!