APTA: Statement on RC 11-16: The Student Debt Motion

This is a statement and answers to follow up questions given by the APTA to Talus Media, in response to a request for an update on RC 11. This is unedited, given in full. 

Many physical therapist (PT) and physical therapist assistant (PTA) students face a high student debt load during school and after they graduate.  As a result, the APTA House of Delegates charged the Association to identify potential effects of student loan debt upon the physical therapy profession and develop a plan with feasible options to address the identified issues.

With the passage of RC-11-16 (Student Debt), APTA began diligently seeking a “best in class” financial education provider as well as student loan refinancing provider for the physical therapy profession. After a review of the marketplace, APTA selected Enrich for financial education and Laurel Road for student loan refinancing.

In April 2017 APTA launched the Financial Solutions Center in conjunction with Financial Literacy Month. The Financial Solutions Center features an online financial education platform, a student loan refinancing provider, and a link to find a certified financial planner.

The Enrich online platform is free to members and nonmembers. It provides a holistic approach to financial education that includes student loan management and personal financial literacy. The customizable platform contains relevant articles, videos, webinars, and a direct link to federal loans, tests with scores, badges for accomplishments, a community, and live chat. It also links directly to APTA information on scholarships and awards, APTA’s Learning Center, Career Center, and membership.

Laurel Road is a bank incorporated in Connecticut. It DRB offers competitive interest rates, plus a .25% rate discount for APTA members and a .25% discount for electronic funds transfer participants.

The Find a CFP Professional® database of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards allows users to locate a Certified Financial Planner professional—one who has completed training to earn CFP® designation.

Additional APTA Initiatives Related to Financial Literacy and Student Loan Debt

  •         APTA issued an online survey to PT and PTA graduates to assess their student debt load and its effects. Related to the survey, 4 focus groups were held at CSM and NEXT 2017.
  •         Representatives from Enrich and Laurel Road spoke at NEXT 2017, gave interviews via Move Forward Radio, and spoke with attendees at the APTA Pavilion.
  •         Enrich conducted a WebEx on student loan debt for physical therapy students at George Washington University.
  •         APTA staff spoke at the New York Physical Therapy Association Student Conclave about financial literacy and student loan education.
  •         Representatives from Enrich and Laurel Road were featured in a recent APTA Student Assembly #XChangeSA chat on financial literacy.
  •         Perspectives magazine, APTA’s publication for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants in the first 5 years of their careers, featured articles on the Financial Solutions Center and various aspects of financial literacy in the May and November 2017 issues and the May 2018 issue.
  •         APTA and Enrich are collaborating on a future course module for physical therapy educators on financial literacy.

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Follow Up Questions: 

The original support statement for RC 11 indicates that there are 4 areas in which the motion makers felt a difference could be made:

 

Education: This seems to have been addressed via the Enrich program, but are there any statistics on how many students/new grads used this? Any data on how helpful they found this program, or did they default to other programs?

To date we have 1,470 registrants on the Enrich platform and 12,650 sessions have been completed. Gillian McLean, director of Communications of the APTA Student Assembly wrote a blog post about her experience with the platform when it was launched last year.

 

Loan re-financing: the partnership with Laurel Road addresses this aspect. Again, are there any statistics on this partnership and customer satisfaction?

To date, Laurel Road has helped APTA members save on their student debt by refinancing 400 student loans. Laurel Road constantly monitors feedback and has a net promoter score of 67, which is 50%+ above the financial services average.

 

Scholarship: This has yet to be addressed–are there any plans in the making to provide scholarships for students?

APTA and its Sections provide a number of scholarship awards for students. In addition APTA provides a listing of minority scholarship websites and private scholarship resources. The Foundation for Physical Therapy also awards numerous grants and scholarships.

 

Enrich also provides information on types of aid applying for Federal student loans, and a listing of grants and scholarships.

 

Advocacy: Has the Student Assembly Board of Directors or APTA BoD made any strategic partnerships with the groups mentioned (the American Medical Student Association, the National Student Nursing Association, etc.)?

Student debt is one of APTA’s legislative priorities and we have a bill in Congress to add PTs to the National Health Service Corps so they can obtain debt relief in exchange for working in medically underserved areas:

 

http://www.apta.org/FederalIssues/EducationWorkforceLegislation/

 

APTA has had an initial meeting with the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS) regarding potential collaboration on student loan advocacy issues. We will be looking to do some follow up discussions with them in the fall.

 

Relative to the strategic partnerships question, APTA uses the term “partnership” to describe formal relationships with entities: http://www.apta.org/Partnerships/ . Our strategic business partners are essentially sponsors for the organization. Our partnership program is reserved for relationships with APTA that are formalized through a Memorandum of Understanding, basically a contract of sorts outlining what each party will do in support of the other. The Student Assembly does not have any formal partnerships with other organizations, but the Student Assembly leadership has developed informal relationships with counterparts at like organizations.

 

Overall, the original intent of the motion was to explore the impact that student debt has on the profession. Has the APTA, ACAPT, or any other entities within APTA commissioned any surveys or convened any task force that might give us insight into how student debt influences job choice, home buying, etc?

 

In 2017, APTA conducted an online survey to recent PT and PTA graduates to assess their student debt load and its effects. Additionally, 4 focus groups were held at CSM and NEXT 2017.