Anthem to Offer Employees No-Cost Degrees through College for America
Posted By Abby Perkins on June 15, 2015 at 12:15 pm
At a time in which many of the country’s largest employers are cutting benefits, especially those classified as part-time, Anthem Inc. is bucking the trend. The nation’s second-largest health insurance company announced on June 2 that it would provide 55,000 employees with the chance to enroll in a fully-funded associate or bachelor’s degree program through College for America.
Generous employer tuition assistance
The qualification criteria for Anthem’s tuition reimbursement benefit is simple: work at least 20 hours per week at Anthem for at least six months. With student loan debt frequently referred to as the nation’s newest “bubble” – according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, only 37 percent of borrowers are current on their loans and are actively paying them down, and 17 percent are in default or in delinquency – Anthem’s decision is well-timed. The company’s willingness to help employees expand life and career skills, without the burden of student loan debt weighing them down, is a step in the right direction.
College for America is a newly launched subsidiary of Southern New Hampshire University, a nonprofit, 82 year-old, fully accredited University based in Manchester, NH. The college currently provides over 65 U.S. employers with the ability to offer a competency-based, fully accredited college degree via an online curriculum designed to accommodate the flexibility required by working adults. The relatively rare competency-based accreditation that Southern New Hampshire provides through College of America allows students to learn at their own pace and on their own schedules, prioritizing competencies above credit hours. The tuition is a reasonable $2,500 per year, and is often fully or partially funded by the employer. In Anthem’s case, the pilot program in New Hampshire was so successful that the school decided to extend the benefit to the entire workforce.
Impressive initial results
College for America offers Associate’s Degrees in General Studies for Business and General Studies for Nonclinical Healthcare, as well as Bachelor of Arts degrees in Communications and Healthcare Management.
The College for America program is new, with just a little more than a year of full operation under its belt. While the college states that most of the first crop of over 1,000 enrolled students are still working through the program, statistics about the first 30 students to graduate with associate’s degrees are encouraging. According to College for America.org:
- “More than half report getting a promotion or increased responsibilities at work.
- Seventy percent say they now have new career goals.
- Twenty of the 30 have gone on to enroll in a bachelor’s program.
- Nine in 10 are still with the same employer.”
College of America believes that these statistics prove that the $2,500 investment an employer makes in each employee more than pays for itself. After performing their own research to assess the top workforce challenges faced by medium and large employers, the college feels confident that their program offers encouraging solutions for the three primary areas of employer need:
- Building talent and leadership,
- Closing the gap in promotable skills, and
- Retaining high-performing or promising employees.