National education benefits administrator Edcor adapts to pandemic, adds new staff and clients despite uncertainties in the economy and higher education
Plus: Why Edcor isn’t afraid of new competitors
Media Contact: Barbara Fornasiero, EAFocus Communications, 248.260.8466; email@example.com
Troy, MI – July 22, 2020 –Edcor, one of the nation’s largest providers of education benefits administration solutions to employers – processing nearly $250M in tuition assistance payments and supporting more than two million employees in 2019 – made a quick pivot to remote work when the pandemic hit Michigan hard. According to Sara VanWagoner, Vice President of Corporate Growth, it was not an easy transition for a company that includes a large call center.
“Edcor helps employers tailor education and certification programs for their employees; but we also have a contact center that fields thousands of questions a week from employees inquiring about their employer-sponsored tuition credits and classes,” VanWagoner said. “It’s much easier to pivot desk jobs to remote work than contact center jobs, but we did it with almost no interruption of service to our clients.”
Edcor has had no layoffs during the pandemic; on the contrary, they actually hired five key management and higher-level salaried individuals, as well as four customer service agents. While some hires were replacing existing positions, others were new. The company has seen some decline in business due to the fears of the long-term impact of COVID-19 on employers and their benefits programs, but Van Wagoner sees signs for optimism, too.
“Only one client has stopped their program all together, and there has definitely been a drop in utilization, but we fully expect that to pick back up and are starting to see some evidence of it already,” VanWagoner said.
VanWagoner points to the addition of a Michigan-based, multi-state health system, which hired Edcor not only to administer its tuition assistance program, but to bring multiple programs across the U.S. into one program for the entire organization. Another new client is Ohio-based Kettering Health Network, which brought Edcor on board for tuition assistance services and Edcor’s newer Freedom student loan repayment program. The CARES Act includes a maximum $5,250 tax credit for employers who offer student loan repayment assistance to employees through December 31, 2020. VanWagoner said it brought an initial spurt of interest among employers, but it is too soon to determine if there will be any meaningful, sustained response.
“We will see if the favorable provisions of the CARES Act, combined with employers’ decreasing spend for commuting, travel, conferences and gym reimbursements this year, will be viewed as a “new” pool of funds that can be reallocated to address student loan debt and employee upskilling,” VanWagoner said. “The focus on healthcare workers and digital technologies during the extended quarantine period really put a spotlight on the need for talent in those areas in particular, so it will be interesting to see how employers respond.”
Edcor owner and CEO Adrienne Way finds it interesting that, despite the uncertainties in higher education due to funding cuts, the shift to less resource-intensive online education, and the pandemic-induced recession, outliers continue to enter or expand in the education benefits industry with millions of dollars of capital from investors.
“Edcor has been in business nearly 40 years, and I’ve owned the company for ten years,” Way said. “When I first started out, I could not even get a small bank loan, much less venture capital funding. I ended up tapping into what few personal resources I had, plus credit cards, to buy the business from the previous owner. This is a solid business; our revenues are steady and we serve many of the nation’s Fortune 500 companies and multi-state health systems. Still, the market for education services administration is relatively mature, and there is no data to support the risks associated with this type of multi-million-dollar capital infusion.”
Way is not afraid of the competition, though. She’s seen it come and go through the years, and she welcomes it.
“Edcor is one of about three top players in our industry and it’s taken us a long time and a lot of hard work to get there and stay there,” Way said. “While facilitating tuition assistance programs sounds like a tech business because most of the transactions are done online with proprietary software, this is a relationship and problem-solving business that is strengthened, but not dictated by, technology.”
Read Edcor’s latest white paper Edcor’s white paper, Student Loan Repayment Assistance Raises Diversity and Inclusion, released earlier this year.
Edcor, a certified woman-owned business, is the benchmark in education benefits administration. For nearly 40 years, our customized service and software solutions have allowed clients to use education benefits programs, including tuition assistance and student loan assistance, for employee recruiting, retention and development. Additional information can be found at https://www.edcor.com/.
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