The Journal Gazette
 
 
Sunday, May 24, 2020 1:00 am

Many employers help pay tuition

MedPro, Parkview see benefit as tool in recruiting staff

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

A college degree is a requirement for some jobs, but emphasis on education doesn't end there.

Employers who value learning sometimes cover tuition and other costs when employees return to the classroom. MedPro Group, Parkview Health and Purdue University Fort Wayne are among them.

Fort Wayne-based MedPro writes malpractice insurance policies for doctors, dentists and health care networks. Departments at the company, which is owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, include actuary, claims, finance, legal, underwriting and sales.

Andrew Booth, MedPro's vice president of marketing and communications, said offering tuition reimbursement makes filling positions easier.

“This benefit has proven to be valuable when speaking with candidates who are interested in finishing a degree already in progress or growing professionally – especially those who want to secure management-level positions,” he said in an email. “In addition to tuition reimbursement, we pay for professional designations.”

Parkview Health, the region's largest employer with more than 13,000 workers, is a network of nine hospitals and numerous primary-care and specialty physicians. The nonprofit is constantly in hiring mode – especially for nursing positions.

Jeff Rice, talent acquisition director, said Parkview purposely diversifies its benefits package.

“As competition for talent increases, a diverse offering of benefits to potential employees is beneficial, almost required, in this job market,” he said in a statement. “Some job seekers focus on compensation, some will focus on benefits, and others will focus on both.”

“In providing tuition assistance and reimbursement programs, we can decrease the financial burden on co-workers who either have debt or are looking to go back to school,” he added.

Applicants to Purdue Fort Wayne receive information about the university's tuition remission program in the benefits packet mailed to prospective workers.

During the 2019-20 school year, 155 of 934 Purdue Fort Wayne employees with benefits took advantage of the tuition remission program, according to information provided by spokesman Geoff Thomas. The university invested more than $1 million in the program during the fiscal year. The university employs about 2,300 full- and part-time workers.

Discounts vary from 100% for Purdue Global classes to about 35% for undergraduate and graduate staff members on up to up to seven credit hours during fall and spring semesters and up to four credit hours for summer sessions. Purdue Global classes are online courses tailored to the needs of working adults.

Staff members' dependents receive 57% off on classes toward their first undergraduate degree.

Parkview offers employees working 20 hours or more a week tuition reimbursement after six months of continuous employment. Some other conditions apply.

“They must earn a C or better to receive reimbursement,” spokeswoman Tami Brigle said in an email. “They must also commit to continue working for Parkview – one hour of work for every dollar of reimbursement, beginning when they graduate, or discontinue using the Tuition Assistance Program.”

Ivy Tech Community College allows Parkview workers to defer tuition payment until the end of the term, when it bills Parkview directly if the student received a C or higher. Also, several universities offer tuition discounts to Parkview employees.

Brigle said an even mix of tuition reimbursement participants are seeking undergraduate and graduate degrees. About 800 of Parkview's more than 13,000 workers used the benefit in 2019.

Employees can receive up to $2,000 or $4,000 per calendar year, depending on their degree program. The benefit can be used to pay for tuition, online tuition, labs and fees. Textbooks and other fees aren't covered.

MedPro's tuition benefit is even more generous.

After six months with the company, full-time employees can be reimbursed up to $10,000 a year for tuition, textbooks, labs and most other fees.

To qualify, workers must get manager and human resources approval, take the class outside normal working hours and receive a C or better for undergraduate courses and a B or better for graduate courses.

Of the company's 1,100 employees, from 5% to 10% take advantage of the benefit at any one time, Booth said.

The breakdown between undergraduate and graduate courses has been 55% to 45%.

The tuition program has helped propel numerous workers' careers, Booth said.

He cited one who completed a bachelor's degree in business management at Indiana Tech.

“This achievement enabled the individual to assume increased responsibilities and further develop their leadership skills within IT and finance,” Booth said. “Today, this individual leads a team of 30 insurance professionals.” 

sslater@jg.net

About this project

The cost of college has continued to increase, taking those who earn a degree years to pay down the debt. The topic has even been a talking point for those campaigning for U.S. president, so The Journal Gazette staff decided to take an in-depth look at the financial realities of higher education with a three-week series of stories on “Diplomas & Debt.”

Project at a glance

"Diplomas & Debt," a special project, included multiple stories today and earlier this month:

May 10-11

• Why getting a college degree has become such an expense, including the stories of some graduates with loans to repay.

May 11

• Should parents feel obligated to contribute to their children's college costs, even if it means saving less for their own retirement?

May 17

• Financing a college education and a look at one debt-forgiveness program.

May 18

• A look at proposals politicians and congressional lawmakers have offered to make higher education more economically reasonable.

Today

• The debt repayment requirements for loans taken to finance college can affect the options graduates can consider when it's time to buy a home.

• Some students who bypass college and instead opt for trades training can find fulfilling jobs with decent salaries.

• Tuition assistance programs employers offer are popular.


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