Many of the world’s leading healthcare employers are rethinking how they address the continuing shortage within the industry’s workforce. Between the baby boomer generation aging out of the workforce and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating the rising demand, there are thousands of open jobs. Those who are graduating now and those looking to return to school for skill development are uniquely positioned to obtain tuition assistance and/or reimbursement to pursue these openings.
But what types of financial aid, tuition assistance and tuition reimbursement are available? What do they mean for your ability to get the education and career advancement you’ve been looking for?
Here are some resources you should bookmark as you prepare to either begin your educational journey or graduate and fully enter the workforce.
General Resources for Tuition Aid
Information about opportunities available to eligible students attending Herzing University for funding their education can be found on the University’s financial aid pages:
The U.S. Department of Education also hosts a variety of websites available to students that provide information regarding Federal Student Aid, including information about regulations, eligibility requirements, and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Types of Employer-Backed Tuition Aid Programs
According to a 2020 survey of businesses by the Society for Human Resource Management, 56% of companies offered tuition assistance programs in 2019. These types of programs can vary from business to business, but many are either reimbursement programs or front-end assistance programs.
The traditional process for tuition reimbursement (TR) involves someone initially paying for their education program and being reimbursed for all — or some — of the cost by their current employer or as part of an agreement upon being hired. Reimbursement programs may include a capped funding amount or specific program requirements.
The main challenges to TR programs are that they require an up-front payment from employees, which can make higher education cost-prohibitive, and the programs and course offerings that were taken may not fully align with the specific needs of the employer.
Tuition assistance (TA) programs, also called direct tuition payment, refer to instances where an employer’s contribution is paid upfront and significantly reduces an employee’s out-of-pocket expenses. Like TR, employers can attach conditions to tuition assistance programs, including the school
, attended, programs completed, or specific workforce skills being trained. It also increases the capability of workers to obtain professional development and career advancement opportunities while ensuring the skills they gain align with both strategic long- and short-term organizational goals.
Organizations are beginning to maximize the federal benefits cap by offering employees the full $5,250 taxable allowed cap per year in tuition assistance benefits. Additionally, educational partners are creating fully funded employer-sponsored programs aimed at limiting the cost of select degree programs to the $5,250 federal taxable tuition benefit cap, after applicable grants are applied.
Many employers and community organizations wanting access to deep pools of talent in their region have created internal “tuition loan buy-down programs” aimed at assisting their current and prospective employees with paying down student loans and incentivizing participation in continuing education efforts to develop new skills and provide pathways to job advancement. Through these benefit options, employers provide their workers with access to an outstanding array of both in-person and online learning resources — all of which can be flexibly adapted to their unique career needs while addressing work-life balance and location concerns.
As you look for your first job post-graduation, these types of benefit alternatives should be viewed as an attractive incentive and help you to identify employers of choice in your field.
Next Steps for Tuition Solutions
The healthcare industry is facing a time of fierce competition for talent, coupled with the need to address skill gaps and critical workforce shortages. Whether you are going to college directly out of high school, working for a few years before continuing your education, or making a complete career change, eventually, you’ll ask the same question: how do I afford the cost of tuition?
Scholarships, grants, loans, and other financial aid are valuable resources you can access. But don’t ignore the opportunities being offered by your current employer or those you may interview with. Whether it is a reimbursement agreement or front-end tuition assistance, employers understand the value you bring to their team. More and more are willing to help you gain new skills and advance in your career.
If you are still concerned about what funding your education could look like, don’t worry. In addition to providing access to an admissions advisor, Herzing University’s Alumni Support Center provides all students with a financial aid advisor who will work with them one-on-one throughout their education.