How HCA Healthcare is helping to pay off student loans

Man and woman sitting at desk at home, looking at a laptop

Across the country, workers are saddled with student loan debt. And, staff in the healthcare industry is no exception. Recognizing the vital need to meet the mental and financial wellness of our colleagues, HCA Healthcare rolled out $300 million in workforce development initiatives. Those programs include student loan assistance and tuition reimbursement for most full-and part-time colleagues. Learn more below about how these efforts continue to unlock possibilities within our organization…

In 2019, student loan debt in the United States is at an all-time high. Collectively 45 million borrowers owe $1.5 trillion in outstanding debt. Student loans are the second-largest category of consumer debt, following home loans. In today’s labor environment, new graduates and candidates aren’t merely looking for jobs with a paycheck—they’re seeking ways to eliminate debt they’ve accrued, or may eventually accrue, in pursuit of their career.

With an eye toward the wellbeing and professional development of its colleagues, HCA Healthcare sought to effectively target key stress points in their lives, such as student loan debt. The organization joined just 8% of other U.S. employers in proactively investing in employee education.

Since its launch in 2019, this effort has proven valuable for many across HCA Healthcare’s 184 hospitals and more than 2,000 sites of care.

Student Loan Assistance Program:

  • HCA Healthcare partners with Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions to offer a monthly benefit toward qualifying education loans for eligible, active full-time and part-time colleagues who have completed 90 days of service.
  • The program provides a monthly benefit of $100 for eligible full-time colleagues and $50 for part-time colleagues. Lifetime maximums apply.
  • Financial wellness coaching is also available through the HCA Healthcare Student Loan Assistance Program. Colleagues can receive free and unlimited one-on-one sessions with a financial wellness coach to develop action plans relating to student loan debt, evaluate repayment and refinancing options, avoid or rehabilitate a default and make the most of the HCA Healthcare benefits.
  • Eligible U.S.-based education loans may include federal Perkins loans, private student loans, grad PLUS loans, subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans, health professionals’ loans, student refinance loans and consolidated student loans.
  • HCA Healthcare continued paying toward participating colleagues’ eligible federal student loans, even if in a forbearance status due to the federal relief measures following the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • From January through June 2021, more than 13,000 participants received a total of more than $8 million in student loan assistance payments from HCA Healthcare.

Tuition Reimbursement:

  • Eligible colleagues can receive up to $5,250 in tax-free reimbursement each year for eligible higher education tuition – plus education discounts from more than 220 accredited schools.
  • From January through June 2021, approximately 7,000 applicants received tuition reimbursement benefits, totaling more than $18 million. 
Meet a few colleagues who are improving more lives in more ways as a result of these benefits below.

Caregivers use workplace perk to pay down student debt and advance careers 

Two healthcare professionals: Sandro Vangini standing next to Sara Coon sitting
Sandro Vagnini (left) and Sara Coon (right) work at affiliate The Medical Center of Aurora’s Behavioral Health & Wellness Center

Sandro Vagnini, currently the director of nursing for affiliate The Medical Center of Aurora’s Behavioral Health & Wellness Center, joined HCA Healthcare in August 2017 as a clinical nurse coordinator.

“It means a great deal to me to work for HCA Healthcare because they are constantly investing in their employees, and loan repayment assistance is a perfect example of that, “says Sandro.

Sara Coon joined HCA Healthcare shortly after Sandro as a clinical nurse coordinator, too. She knew she was in good hands to advance her career with HCA Healthcare’s tuition reimbursement benefits. Sara is now a women’s behavioral health nurse manager for affiliate HealthONE in Aurora, Colorado.

Sara takes advantage of this benefit “to make advancements and continued improvements within the behavioral health campus, while allowing myself to take on more responsibility within a leadership role.”

Advice to colleagues: “I encourage others to utilize this resource to strive towards their own higher education goals to grow both personally and professionally,” says Sara.

Furthering education helps lab colleague obtain leadership role

Headshot of Chrishell Hubbart
Chrishell Hubbart holds a laboratory director position over two affiliate hospitals in Utah.

For Chrishell Hubbart, who has been with HCA Healthcare for 10 years, going back to school checked a life goal off her list. With the support of HCA Healthcare’s tuition reimbursement benefits, Chrishell earned a Masters in Health Administration. She advanced her career to a laboratory director position over two affiliate hospitals in Utah: Brigham City Community Hospital and Cache Valley Hospital.

Chrishell recalls, “Shortly after graduating I was asked to be the director over facilities laboratories. I know that had I not had the additional education I would not have been prepared to say yes to the offer.”

Advice to colleagues: “Participating in the tuition reimbursement program is not hard and if money is the only reason you are holding back than you should reconsider,” encourages Chrishell.

Student loan assistance benefits inspire intern to pursue nursing role

In 2017, Danielle Gustafson began her career with HCA Healthcare at MountainView Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada as an intern. Following internships in accounting/finance, Danielle was hired to work for the hospital’s supply chain and now is proving to be a successful asset for the facility’s new provider based emergency room as a community outreach coordinator.

Headshot of Danielle Gustafson
Colleague Danielle Gustafson is going to school to become a nurse.

HCA Healthcare is now helping Danielle to fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse.

Danielle was accepted into nursing school in her first application, and begins her studies January 2020, planning to use HCA Healthcare’s tuition reimbursement benefits.

“There are several medical professionals in the family who have been a great deal of inspiration to me,” says Danielle. “I always told my mom I wanted to help people when I grew up. Being a nurse allows me to do just that.”

Advice to colleagues: “I am grateful for the opportunity to work in an organization that invests in its employees,” Danielle said. “I appreciate having the option of tuition reimbursement; it helps you hit educational goals you might not be able to achieve otherwise.”
Did you know that HCA Healthcare offers dependent scholarships?  The HCA Healthcare Scholars Program, established and funded by our philanthropic arm, The HCA Healthcare Foundation, awards scholarships of up to $5,000 for higher education expenses to dependent children of eligible HCA Healthcare colleagues. Awards are merit-based, with the amount of the award determined by financial need. Learn more about our dependent scholarship program here!

Note: Program eligibility for all of the programs detailed above can vary by location.

HCA Healthcare continues to invest up to $300 million in workforce development over the course of three years in the areas of expanded paid family leave benefits, education and training, education assistance and scholarship programs for colleagues’ children. Visit here for opportunities to work at HCA Healthcare.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 182 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

Recent articles