ALEXANDRIA, VA-Members of the clinical team at Goodwin Living received a welcome surprise to begin the new year. The nonprofit organization, specializing in senior living and healthcare, has created a new grant program to help employees pay off student loans.
Goodwin Living discovered that the average student loan debt for therapists, nurses, dietitians, and social workers is $109,000. According to the release announcing the program, many have to find additional jobs, which when added to debt, “creates added stress.”
The hope is that this program, the first of its kind in the area, will give young people the incentive to choose senior living and healthcare as a career. In this country 10,000 people turn 65 daily. As Melinda Gren, Vice President of Performance and Operations for Home and Community Based Services, points out, there is a need for workers in the field.
“The demand for clinical services to support these older adults is dramatically outpacing the supply of talent, which is why Goodwin Living and the Goodwin Living Foundation are launching this student loan repayment program,” Gren said.
Clinical team employees with two years of tenure minimum are eligible to receive $5,250 annually toward student loan repayments. Those with six months to two years are eligible for $2,625. There are no lifetime caps for the awards.
Ameera Bhanji, a social worker, recalled her first reaction to the news of the program was disbelief. She had never heard of an employer helping their employees this way.
“Once it sunk in,” she said, “I felt relief in knowing that the financial burden I carry for my education was going to get a lot lighter, and I believe this will inspire more students to pursue these clinical fields.”
Current positions eligible for loan repayment grants include:
• Physical Therapists | Physical Therapy Assistants
• Occupational Therapists | Occupational Therapy Assistants
• Speech Therapists
• Registered Nurses | Licensed Practical Nurses | Nurse Practitioners
• Licensed Therapeutic Recreational Team Members
• Licensed Social Workers (MSW, LCSW, BSW, LMSW)
• Licensed Music Therapists
• Licensed Art Therapists
• Medical Technicians
• Certified Nursing Assistants
• Registered Dietitians
While this initial phase of the program is only open to Goodwin Living’s clinical team, the organization plans to expand it in the future.