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Economic Impact

Worried about college debt? Miami University Regionals has the answer

Graduating debt-free may seem like a dream available only to a lucky few. But Miami University Regionals offers the chance to make this dream a reality for nearly any student willing to work part-time through its innovative Work+ program.

Sydney Glynn working in her YMCA pre-K classroom
Sydney Glynn working in her YMCA pre-K classroom.
Economic Impact

Worried about college debt? Miami University Regionals has the answer

#Sydney Glynn working in her YMCA pre-K classroom.()

Graduating debt-free may seem like a dream available only to a lucky few. But Miami University Regionals offers the chance to make this dream a reality for nearly any student willing to work part-time through its innovative Work+ program.

The idea for Work+ was first initiated by former state Sen.Bill Coley, R-West Chester. It aims to bring together businesses and students to address their most pressing problems at the same time. For businesses, this means filling essential jobs. For students, it means paying for school.

Students commit to at least one year of part-time work with a local employer and receive paid tuition in addition to an hourly wage. In turn, local companies are able to fill vital entry-level jobs with dedicated, motivated workers. The program has been so successful, that it has added numerous regional businesses to its ranks —and it is even being considered a model for universities throughout the state to help students pay for college while enabling local businesses to attract quality workers.

Sophomore Primary Education major Sydney Glynn said Work+ has given her the ideal opportunity to check off several top priorities in her education goals while earning extra money.

“When I found Work+, it seemed almost too good to be true. I saw they had a preschool opportunity, which was perfect,” Glynn said. She worked part-time at the Great Miami Valley YMCA teaching in its pre-K program, which helped her earn needed teaching experience for her degree.

The paid tuition she receives through the YMCA has allowed her to save scholarship money she had earned to use toward her future college expenses when she transfers to the Oxford campus next fall to complete her degree. Not only that, but the YMCA paid her way to earn a Child Development Associate credential, which will enable her to earn top wages while working in a pre-K program when she is still in school.

Boyce Swift, director of Human Resources and Talent Management at the YMCA, said students such as Glynn have made a big difference in the YMCA’s ability to offer quality services.

“Even before COVID, we had a hard time recruiting and retaining great childcare staff,” Swift said. “Turnover is definitely an issue we deal with. The Work+ employees are highly motivated, ambitious, and looking to improve their skills, so they bring new energy to the job. It’s allowed us to reduce attrition costs, and these are all future leaders who make a difference beyond their tenure in the program.”

Work+ now offers job opportunities with at least a dozen employers, with five new businesses signing on over the past academic year. Jobs range from manufacturing and equipment operation to education, customer service, and more, but they are not typically connected to any specific degree or major. 

Many participants elect to continue working with their chosen company beyond one year, Regional Director for Work+ Ekaterina Gay said.

Work+ has shown how successful the partnership between the university and the business community can be. Gay said students in Work+ have maintained a high GPA and an 87 percent completion rate, while businesses report reduced turnover and hiring challenges.

“It’s really a win-win for everyone,” she said. “Students get their tuition covered while working, and businesses have a great way to attract and retain employees.” For more information about Work+ and details about how to apply, go to Work+.