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Educational Assistance



Click Here To Fill Out An Educational Assistance Application


PURPOSE:
The purpose of providing educational assistance is to assist students in furthering their education goals. The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines for granting and administering educational assistance provided by the Hospital.

POLICY:

  1. Pinckneyville Community Hospital (PCH) will provide educational assistance towards healthcare related fields for employees and prospective employees.

  2. The Hospital has appointed an Educational Assistance Committee, who review and approve submitted applications for Educational Assistance.

  3. Educational assistance awards will be approved based on the availability of budgeted funds.

  4. Any educational assistance awards for high demand positions that would exceed the Hospital's budgeted funds for the fiscal year shall require approval by the Board of Directors.

  5. Application deadlines shall be May 1st and October 1st.

  6. Approval of applications submitted by the applicable deadline will be approved based on the available budgeted funds within that following 6-month period. For example, applications submitted by the May 1st deadline will be awarded based on budgeted funds available from May 1st through Sept. 30th.

  7. PCH has established the following funding levels for educational assistance awards:
    A. Full funding for tuition, books, associated lab fees and exam fees for Associate Nursing degrees.
    B. 50% of eligible program costs for Bachelor degrees in nursing or other health-care related fields.
    C. Educational Assistance applications for Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) will only be accepted from current employed staff.
    D. Educational Assistance Funding Cap: Educational assistance funding approved for each candidate will be capped at the current cost of the Rend Lake College (RLC) RN Nursing Program, including tuition, books, associated lab fees and exam fees, rounded up to the nearest $1,000. For example, the cost of the RLC RN Program for 2017 was estimated to be $11,400. The educational assistance award cap for approved applications in that year would therefore be $12,000.
    E. Potential full funding for other high demand, difficult to fill positions as approved by the Board of Directors.


  8. Educational Assistance award payments for expenses will be offset by MAP grants and other similar awards for which unapplied balances are not paid to the student. However, payments will not be reduced by Pell Grant funds or similar grants for which unapplied balances will be paid directly to the student.
    A. For education programs not fully funded through the Hospital's Educational Assistance policy, offsets for educational assistance such as MAP grants and scholarships will first be applied to the portion paid by the student and the hospital's funding will apply towards remaining unpaid portions of the educational program.


  9. Educational Assistance awards do not cover uniforms, graduation fees or other incidental expenses.

  10. Minimum employment commitment of one-year for each year of educational assistance will apply. Based on program cost compared to that of standard nursing program, the hospital reserves the right to adjust the employment commitment period accordingly.

PROCEDURE:

Requests for educational assistance are approved based upon consideration of staffing needs and available Hospital funds.

  1. Qualification requirements are as follows: A. Education Assistance Application will be accepted from employees and non-employees. If non-employees apply and are awarded the educational assistance, there is an understanding that they will work at the Hospital while obtaining their education if a position is available.
    B. Applications must be fully completed and submitted to the CEO/Administrator of the PCH at least thirty (30) days in advance of the start of the semester for which support is being requested.
    C. Each application must be signed by the applicant.
    D. Additional items to be submitted with the completed application include:
    a. Proof of enrollment in a fully accredited program.
    NOTE: If not yet received at the application date, proof of enrollment must be provided before any installments are paid to the recipient. If proof of enrollment is not provided within one month of beginning the education program, the education assistance award will be forfeited.
    b. Copy of Pell Grant, ISSC, MAP Grant application, and other financial aid or scholarship applications/awards, if applicable.
    c. Copy of estimated expenses from the college stating tuition, books and fees applicable to obtaining the education.
    d. At least three letters of recommendation.
    e. A letter to the Educational Assistance Committee expressing educational interest, how the education applies to the employee's service at PCH, short-term and long-term employment goals and financial need for the educational assistance.
    f. Signed authorization to release information provided by the applicant.

    E. A personal interview may be scheduled with the Educational Assistance Committee.


  2. Applications will be reviewed by the Educational Assistance Committee and awarded based upon the following criteria:
    A. Commitment to work at PCH for at least one (1) year for each year of educational support provided, with a minimum of one (1) year, after completion of the education program for which the application was submitted. The commencement date of the commitment begins when the employee completes any state license requirements and the Hospital's orientation period for that position.
    B. Length of service at PCH including review of annual evaluations.
    C. Education pursuit relates to employment at PCH and is a position which is in high demand.
    D. Scholastic achievement.
    E. Aptitude and potential for program.
    F. Interview and Educational Assistance Applicant Scorecard results.


  3. Educational assistance awards will not be reduced by Pell Grant funds or similar grants for which unapplied balances will be paid directly to the student. However, payments for expenses will be offset by MAP grants and other similar awards for which unapplied balances are not paid to the student. The recipient is responsible for applying for all available grant awards and for providing proof of this enrollment to the PCH Educational Assistance Committee. Any billing statements paid or reimbursed by PCH shall be after MAP and similar grants have been applied. The CFO or Accountant processing payment under the educational assistance program will call the college to verify grant awards prior to remitting payment.

  4. The educational assistance will be awarded to the recipient by a Hospital representative for whom a photo may be published in the local paper(s).

  5. The educational assistance recipient will be obligated to sign an agreement outlining the terms of the arrangement. However, Hospital policy will govern over the contractual arrangement when administering the program. Changes to Hospital policy will be communicated to existing recipients and will amend existing contractual arrangements if so notified.

  6. By default, the educational assistance program will not cover the extra cost for out-of-district tuition. If the student must attend an out-of- district college or university because the educational program is not offered by their in-district college or university, the student must contact the colleges in order to receive a waiver on the out-of-district tuition. If the student does not make these arrangements, out-of-district tuition will not be covered. If the waiver is denied, a written request prior to enrollment in the program must be submitted to the Educational Assistance Committee and CEO/Administrator in order to have the out-of-district tuition considered for approval under the educational assistance program.

  7. The educational assistance program is designed to cover eligible tuition, fees and textbook expenses incurred by the student in his/her educational pursuits. If applicable, the program will cover certification exam fees upon presentation of the completed examination registration form. Only the initial certification exam fees are covered under this program. If applicable, the student will be responsible for paying any fees associated with subsequent attempts to pass the state certification exam. The program will not cover supplies, uniforms, association dues, insurance or other miscellaneous expenses. The program will only cover actual expenses and will not serve as an income supplement unless otherwise provided for and specifically stated in the signed educational assistance contract.

  8. The installments will be paid based upon submission of a billing statement from the college or university. Recipients will be required to sign a written acknowledgment for each paid installment. Payments will be made directly to the college or university. If the installment is an advancement made for tuition, textbooks or other expenses based upon quoted prices or billing statements, the recipient will be obligated to submit a receipt back to PCH to document payment towards eligible expenses. If required receipts are not submitted on advancements, future payments will only be made on a reimbursement basis. If the recipient pays for educational expenses, he/she must submit a billing statement along with a paid receipt from the college or canceled check made payable to the college to document expenses eligible for reimbursement under the educational assistance program. The CFO or Accountant processing payment under the educational assistance program will call the college to verify tuition and textbook quotes and whether textbook rental is available.

  9. If the college or university has a textbook rental program, the student will be expected to rent textbooks as an alternative to purchasing them. PCH will cover the cost of the textbook rental (excluding the deposit fee) under the approved eligible expenses. If the student wishes to purchase textbooks, the student understands that he/she will be responsible for the difference in cost between the purchase price and the rental fee. PCH will only cover the cost of rental if that option is available. The CFO or Accountant processing payment under the educational assistance program will call the college to verify textbook quotes and whether textbook rental is available.

  10. Payment requests should be submitted two (2) weeks in advance in order to provide time for verification of expenses and to fit within the Hospital's normal check processing schedule.

  11. Repayment of the educational assistance will be waived if the recipient works at PCH for the amount of time stated in his/her individually signed Educational Assistance Agreement. Repayment through worked hours will require that the employee work a minimum number of hours per year in order to meet the employment commitment period within a reasonable time frame. Said minimum worked hours per year shall be 832 hours (equivalent to working 32 hours per biweekly pay period).

  12. Commitment period: A one year commitment is defined as uninterrupted employment and 1,872 worked hours (equivalent to a full-time employee working the minimum 72 hours per pay period for full-time status). Total commitment hours shall be determined by multiplying the 1,872 worked hours by the number of years agreed upon in the signed contract for the commitment period. The commitment period begins after the employee's graduation date and the completion of any applicable orientation period. The commitment period ends at such time when 1,872 worked hours times the number of years agreed upon for the commitment period (total commitment hours) have been achieved. If employment is terminated prior to meeting the commitment period for any reason other than layoff, the percentage portion of the hours worked towards the total commitment hours shall be used to determine the pro-rated repayment portion. Hours worked are defined as regular and overtime hours for 1st, 2nd and 3rd shift, callbacks and paid education time. Paid benefit and call time hours are not counted as worked hours.

  13. Educational Assistance Award does not guarantee employment. If a position relating to the completed education program is unavailable at PCH, the recipient will be obligated to repay the full amount of the educational assistance award.

  14. If the recipient does not continue employment for the required time stated in the Educational Assistance Agreement (includes employment separation for any cause), he/she will be obligated to repay the prorated portion of the sums advanced. Proration will be based on the actual hours worked compared to the amount required in the Educational Assistance Agreement.

  15. If the recipient continues employment but at PRN status whereby hours worked are irregular, or whereby worked hours drop below 24 hours per pay period, he/she will be obligated to repay the prorated portion of the sums advanced. Proration will be based on the actual hours worked compared to the amount required in the Educational Assistance Agreement.

  16. Buyout for employment at another facility: If an employee decides to terminate employment at the Hospital prior to meeting his/her employment obligation under the terms of their individual Educational Assistance Agreement due to obtaining employment at another facility and unrelated to a primary residence relocation out of the area, the employee or new employer will be obligated to pay a buyout amount of no less than Five Thousand Dollars ($5000.00) plus the amount paid for the employee's education in order to cover the investment made by the Hospital in that employee's education. The exact buyout figure will be that stated in the agreement signed by the employee.

  17. It is required that the recipient submit a copy of his/her grade report to the Chief Financial Officer at the end of each semester or term. Failure to submit semester grades will result in delay of any future educational assistance advances. If a C grade average is not maintained and/or the recipient discontinues education, he/she shall repay all sums advanced.

  18. The recipient of educational assistance from the hospital will be expected to stay actively enrolled in the program and complete the program by the anticipated graduation date as identified in the signed educational assistance agreement. If the recipient fails to stay actively enrolled or does not anticipate being able to complete program graduation by the original anticipated date, the recipient must submit a notification letter to the Hospital Educational Assistance Committee explaining the circumstances, future plans, new anticipated graduation date and request for extension (if applicable). The Educational Assistance Committee will review the submitted letter, circumstances and request in order to provide a determination for extension or repayment.

  19. Total repayment shall be concluded within three (3) years at non-interest bearing installments. If the recipient feels the monthly repayment amounts are too large for them to make, they can submit a written request for an extension to be approved by the CEO/Administrator. If a payment schedule is not established within one (1) month of the repayment notice drafted by the Chief Financial Officer or other Hospital representative, or the established payment schedule is not maintained, the balance due will be submitted to the Hospital's collection agency or legal counsel and recipient will be responsible for paying any associated collection fees including attorney fees if applicable. Any bad checks submitted towards payment shall be subject to return bad check fees as outlined in the Hospital's policy regarding bad checks for insufficient funds that apply to any/all payments made to the Hospital. The return bad check fee will be added to any balance repayment due from the recipient.

  20. At the time this policy was drafted, educational assistance awards are taxable to the recipient/employee if the award exceeds $5,250 in a calendar year. However, each year tax laws should be reviewed to determine if changes to this threshold have been made. Payments made on behalf of non-employees are considered loans in exchange for a future employment commitment and therefore do no result in any tax consequences.

  21. All educational assistance documentation, including applications, award agreements and copies of installment payments will be maintained in a file by the Chief Financial Officer. Copies of applications and award agreements will also be placed in the employee's personnel file.

  22. If the recipient fails to comply with the terms of this policy and the individually signed agreement, PCH reserves the right to discontinue further educational assistance payments upon notification to the recipient. The recipient will be granted 15 days to comply with outstanding requests prior to suspension of payments. Upon submission of the requested documents, any pending payments will then be processed. Obligations to continue the educational program, achieve certification and meet the required employment obligations will continue in full force and effect despite suspension of payments due to noncompliance with Hospital policy. If the recipient fails to meet his/her obligations, repayment of funds advanced prior to the suspension will be due as provided for in this policy and the signed agreement.

  23. Student Loan Repayment Program: PCH may offer Student Loan Repayment agreements for positions in which it is difficult to find qualified candidates. The student must be able to document that loan proceeds were used for qualifying tuition, books and fees. Student loan repayments will commence once the student begins employment at the Hospital. Payments would be made to the employee via his/her regular paycheck on the first check date of each month, subject to all applicable taxes and withholding's. The employment commitment period will be based on at least the term of the student loan with additional years being required and agreed to in advance depending on the amount repaid. Unless otherwise specified in the signed agreement, the aforementioned terms of the policy shall govern.

  24. Educational Stipend: PCH may offer to provide stipends to new or future potential employees who leave or delay employment in order to attend an advanced program of educational study in a position that is in high demand and difficult to fill (e.g. nuclear medicine, ultrasound). Stipends would be made in addition to educational assistance for qualifying tuition, books and fees in order to assist the student with living expenses. Payments would be made via a regular paycheck on the first check date of each month, subject to all applicable taxes and withholding's. Unless otherwise specified in the signed agreement, the aforementioned terms of the policy shall govern.

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