UT regent donates $25M to School of Social Work to alleviate students’ debt because 'they’re heroes'

UT regent donates $25M to School of Social Work to alleviate students’ debt because 'they’re heroes'

As a Social worker this absolutely warms my heart.

Hey, paramedic here who works full time in an ER.

Thank you. Seriously. Social work takes more empathy, patience and understanding than any job I can think of off the top of my head. I think you guys are the real unsung heroes of healthcare. Thanks for doing what you do.

I wish state schools and governments would play a bigger role in keeping social work school programs more affordable to begin with. They provide a great benefit to society but have to personally take on a tremendous amount of financial costs. Uplifting news regardless.

Isn't that the truth, as an ER tech I second this motion. You know you have a tough job when ER people are like... "Yeah, we're gonna need you to take over from here."

I love hearing about social workers. My mom was one during the 80-90s. She did parent child counseling for abuse to the little ones. It takes some Godly empathy to speak with kids who have been abused in a way that gets them to come out of their shell. Some just amazing mind reading. My mom always knew when something was troubling me.

These days she has Alzheimer's. Early onset, so it's been about 15 years since it started. One might think she lost it, but no, there is this really strange part of the disease that somehow skipped her empathy. She can speak a sentence, or even a word these days, but holy shit she knows when someone has pent up emotions. She communicates through hugs and excitement and expressive gestures. It's weirdly distilled by the disease and makes me think the practice she had in her career lead her to this.

Keep that in mind as a social worker. Your empathy is a skill that can be honed and if done right might last through the worst times.

Yeah social workers definitely do their job out of concern for people and not money because usually they don't get paid squat. Especially when you consider all the depressing BS they have to deal with they are way underpaid. It surprises me there aren't more scholarships for people going into social work.

Social worker here. Your comment made me laugh because I've heard variances of that quite a bit lol.

highjacking the top comment to ensure this is seen. Not quite the same thing, but social workers were specifically mentioned when Congress implemented Public Service Loan Forgiveness. These borrowers pay based on income for ten years then have the rest forgiven tax free. It's for federal loans only and anyone working for a state, local, federal or tribal government, 501(c)3 and some other non-profits that focus on certain areas of public service can qualify.

EDIT: For those who want more information, contact your loan holder (if you don't know who that is www.nslds.ed.gov can tell you). There is also a page here that has all the forms and explains the eligibility criteria and includes an employer toolkit so eligible employers can educate their employees. www.asa.org/pslf It's free, no registration, info sharing or log-in required. Also /sub/studentloans talks about PSLF a lot

As a normal person who appreciates humans caring about other humans. This warms my heart. Student debt is stressful especially when you accumulate it to serve others.

And to further hijack for visibility, the PSLF program is on the chopping block in the potential federal budget. No decision yet, but it's in the cross-hairs.

Same with paramedics/EMS. Work their asses off saving lives, putting themselves at risk of serious injury and emotional trauma, only to get paid pittance for it./Hourly_Rate)

This made me tear up. Bless your mother and thank you so much for sharing. Our world is truly blessed to have her.

Read that as "UT regrets"

I want to say as a social worker that I don't think we work harder or less hard than any other part of the whole social service system. It's nice that this is acknowledged for us but it's really a collective effort. At least for my program, we work so much with doctors and nurses and pharmacists and lab techs and hospitals and judges and policemen and animal control and whatever else. It's truly a team effort.

I used to work geriatrics part time and always loved running into very old social workers. They might not remember a lot but they always seem to be super aware of laws and policies and advocated for themselves like bosses. They also rarely wanted to hear about my therapy bs and would just want to hear about my job and how things are going. You'd realize, halfway through the session, they'd flipped it around on ya. This one lady was like, "I googled this place ms salary range and they don't pay you enough." Lmao no mam, no they do not.

Dude. I have a social work degree and had to leave the field because I had to choose between my diabetes medication and my student loans. I now have a career in retail (I spent too long as a social worker to get any job outside of social work so I had to start somewhere, eh?). Well, I'm in entry level management now and make more here than I did as the most senior person in my agency as a social worker. Fml.

It's crazy that certain social work positions require master's degrees, but no way to effectively pay them off.

The sob story isn't that they're making less than everyone. It's that their skills and performance are extremely undervalued. Social workers provide therapy for extremely low to no costs. They go to 5-6 years of school and must be trained as both a counselor and a policy expert. They basically manage all of the human negative externalities of the economy and allow markets to function the way they do (by producing wealth for some and perpetuating poverty for others) while maintaining "first class" status for our country. They also help mobilize people economically and are absolutely necessary in conducting research and implementing programs that decrease poverty and increase overall GDP. However they are working against a top down system that has been increasing the amount of people needing social work intervention without getting pay increases. Beyond that, the work is extremely difficult and skilled (see: 5-6 years of schooling plus continued licensing tests) and constantly in demand. They experience some of the highest amounts of burnout because the work is not only emotionally draining but literally dangerous. There are so many ridiculous government workers with arguably useless jobs that get $80K a year and they will be assured a pension and even raises because their jobs are actually public. Most social work agencies have been privatized and because they are subjected to the economic theory of the private market, which only functions correctly for profit making firms, but are actually funded by the revenue of tax dollars, they lose out as agencies capitalize on making big money for the people up top and poorly compensate the actual practicing social workers.

Let's be clear - IF they do that - which is a big if - it will be for loans taken out on or after the date of legislation. I have been in the student loan compliance and advocacy business for 20 years and i have never seen congress retroactively remove a benefit from existing loans. Ever.

Do I think they will change PSLF for future borrowers - yes I do. I think lowering the forgiveness amount and narrowing the definition of eligible employer is much more likely than full stop on the program. But those changes, if they happen, will be for future loans only. Even the current administrations proposal to kill pslf specifically made it effective for loans made on or after such and such a date in 2018. (congress ignored that proposal)

But to repeat - I think the chances of retroactive cancellation of PSLF are almost non-existent. Frankly, I don't even think they can - it's in the promissory note.

God, ain't that the truth. Unfortunately, low paramedic pay (at least in the industrialized nations) seems to be a very American problem. My colleagues in Canada get paid a much more livable wage, and Australia actually pays paramedics a decent wage. Most paramedics flee to nursing when they realize that nursing pays almost double EMS, and workplace injuries are far less common and deadly as a nurse. Shit sucks.

Of the funds, $10 million will establish a permanent endowment for student scholarships, $5 million will be used to match funds as an encouragement for potential donors and the remaining $10 million will enhance research and teaching in the field of addictions, as well as skills in fundraising and philanthropy.

What school did you go to? Because I would like to make a large contribution so that they can improve their literacy program.

Sociology and Human Services are different fields than Social Work.

It's easy to spot the social worker. But really, having worked closely with SWs (as one of those other team members mentioned), no one does more good with less (and it seems, always dwindling) resources out of straight up desire for clients to do well. This is uplifting news of the highest sort, thanks for doing what you do.

Used to be a social worker in an ER. We generally get involved for complex discharges. These are situations where somenone doesn't need hospital for their medical issues but have a significant barrier to leaving. This could be homelessness (and being unable to go to shelter); frequent visits to the ER; need for specialized home care; or something like Alzheimer's/dementia. These are some of the reasons we might be involved. In a lot of hospitals social workers also do a lot of mental health assessment and crisis intervention. For example I worked in the psychiatric program in our ER so I completed a lot of assessment and discharge planning which meant being creative; negotiating; advocating and sometimes having g to argue with administrators from other agencies. I was lucky in that I completed my masters at a school with a lot of scholarship money so my loans were manageable. As students we also often do concurrent unpaid work acements which make it harder (not impossible) to work while in school.

Once a social worker helped my family when my mom was being released from the hospital way before she would be able to go back to living on her own after an unexpected health problem.

The SW arranged for her to go to a rehab and handled a bunch of the insurance and administrative crap for us during a very stressful time. She also gave us tips on what to prepare for down the road and she gave us some contact info.

I know I was cranky and tired at the time and I didn't thank her properly. I hope you know how much your work is appreciated.

Cost of living in the Bay Area is high, therefore 60-70k is still not a lot.

That's nice of him but why not also lower tuition?

Yeah, but they're jobs that require a MA and pay almost nothing.

Yeah, jobs that require an MSW, start at $35,000 a year, and have one of the highest rates of professional burnout.

I'm in the engineering school at UT. It is a very good bang for the buck. Tuition this year is about $5400 per semester, which is very reasonable for a "public ivy" level of education. On top of that it's pretty easy to get at least some Federal/state funding if you are making under $100k per year, plus every UT college has their own scholarship program yada yada. I think they do a pretty good job.

Some are actually heroes. But some just wound up with a sociology/human services degree after much frustration trying other things. Some love their jobs. Most are meh. And a few absolutely hate their lives in case management. Proof: Am a manager in a large public agency doing case management.

As an ex-scribe in the ER, I third this. I can't count how many times I left a room and thought "good luck to the SW working tonight..."

social worker here too :) I am happy to see this. maybe a rich alum from my alma mater will do the same? :P

It's funny because every time a client wants to attack me they do so by saying I am in it for the money. I almost always have to take a mental break after that starts.

Unfortunately we're not. You can get a paramedic certification in as little as 7 months in quite a few places in the US. The lack of education creates a low barrier of entry into the profession which drives salaries down. The lack of standards throughout the US, and lack of data backing the existing standards allows a lot of places to elect for the cheapest possible options, including labor. This coupled with the fact that it's a relatively new profession, without a centralized union or board divides the bargaining power of medics in the US. Being part of the NHTS doesn't help things either.

Thats kind of how capitalism works. Instead of spending money on sports jerseys and what not why not donate the money to a worthy cause? People just prefer to pay for entertainment.

Just always escalate and embrace the ramble, even if you're kind of repeating yourself. Then let them talk for a second and cut them off, finish their sentence, or repeat what they said, and then continue to ramble. It's important they feel understood but also that you're just out of it and still ready to argue against what you understand.

Make sure they know they are letting you down and are saying no to something, something about putting them into that position helps because later you can get them into a position that is agreeing with you easier.

Slowly accelerate your talking until you're going so fast you're barely breathing. Then suddenly be calm ,if they concede even the littlest point, only to blow up again a few seconds later. They'll feel like they've made headway and then their heart will sink. You can also sprinkle in completely random complaints that have nothing to do with the issue, like the student loan bubble and the Ventra card system. People can't stand that back and forth and will try to get back to agreeing with you.

I reserve it for when people are being unhelpful and condescending, I can't stand condescension. I guess I took all this from years of working with acutely psychotic people and more severe borderline personalities. Or the manic people with bipolar disorder who can talk circles around you. I worked in call centers in college and later had years of working with people at their complete worst, so I learned to be comfortable in that turmoil that makes people's stomach's turn. Also why I'm good at negotiating with insurance companies lol.

This all makes me sound like a giant ass and I regret it. I feel like I should say that.

Hahaha, after working in a psych hospital for years I've taken some behaviors from patients when dealing with things like Comcast. It's funny how much a bit of insanity can motivate people.

I always joke with co workers that I will make a terrible nursing home patient because not only will I know all the rules but also because of all the things I've seen patients do over the years that I can now also do!

Daughter just started attending UT Austin... If a student has at least a calculated $10,000 of need ($15,000 EFC on ~$27k annual cost of attendance), they've got a good shot at getting the need-based UT grant that covers their entire tuition. It scales down for higher EFCs. They're on their own for room and board.

Without any grants or scholarships, tuition is about $10,000.

So what you're saying is I should get next years loans now.


No, not really. Paramedics are really amazing people. But to compare their skills with doctors is just asinine.

I'm glad someone appreciates our profession. Social workers and teachers don't get enough from anybody.

Not a very good wage when you have masters.

I'm an MSW in a psych hospital and let me tell you it's STRESSFUL. We are expected to do so many jobs and wear so many hats. We are expected to be incredibly timely and thorough and we have extremely limited resources (especially mental health). We are often the "catch all people" for jobs. On too of all that we are expected to do therapy and that doesn't count the hours of documentation. And the best part? We are hardly ever thanked. Ever. Patients yell at us if we take too long to make a phone call, call us names when we aren't able to magically pull funding out of our ass for housing for them. We get pulled ever direction and then get told things like "oh they're JUST social workers" and "I thought you were going to be able to help me". Our case loads are HUGE and we don't get the paychecks to show it. We have so many people with so much need that we genuinely care for from the bottoms of our hearts. And so little resources to help them with. Our hearts break when we aren't able to fulfil all of our patients needs. And this all goes highly unrecognized

As a longhorn, it's cool to see UT on Reddit. I actually was walking on campus last night and saw the clock tower lit up burnt orange because of this.


sarcasm im sorry

My hat goes off to you. I'm one of those homeless. If it wasn't for people like you, I wouldn't have had a place to rest and recuperate after my operation.

I went to college for social work but ended up switching at the last second because of all the warnings I got from current social workers about how much debt they were in versus how much they made (among other complaints.... I took it as a bad sign when literally every social worker I ever talked to told me NOT to do it). On call 24/7 but only making 30k/year? Sorry, I would like to be able to afford a family of my own :( I wish it wasn't such a martyr position in my town/state/apparently country.

I can't justify going for my MSW for that reason. I can't take on anymore debt than I already have from my undergrad or I won't be able to survive.

Thank you so much. I don't think that the patience needed to do your job well can be learned.

The demeanor needed to be a good social worker is a skill that cannot be taught and should truly be compensated much better than they are.

As a military member I often get thanked for my service and feel guilty for it. I do volunteer and help my community when I can but I don't think my job or my measly volunteer hours will ever compare to the work that you do. I simply don't have the will, patience, or mental fortitude to deal with the constant stress you must endure. Especially when it comes to children.

Social workers and first responders will always have my respect. Those two professions I simply could not perform and stay sane.

I couldn't wait 10 years choosing between meds and student loans unfortunately.

Earning 43k for a 5-6 year is ridiculous. Educate yourself before you comment.

Same here. For a moment, I was sitting here wondering how this was uplifting news.

Social workers and case managers aren't the same job. Social work is a licensed profession and usually requires a masters degree. Getting a BA in sociology and being a caseworker isn't the same thing as getting a masters and passing licensing exams.

Sad thing is I work as a security officer at a hospital and they make very little more than I do. Honestly have it a lot easier because I don't have to deal with the emotional side of things like they do. I simply get involved when someone is getting aggressive.

You can't just become a social worker. It's a protected title. If you want to legally call yourself a social worker you best have a bachelor's or Masters degree from a CSWE accredited social work program.

Some work places conflate the title with a job position and that's where we get the confusion you just demonstrated.

Hey! That's my Uncle! Never have I been more proud of someone from my family. 60% of these donations go directly to Student Scholarships, which is amazing.

He made this generous donation to Social Workers as his Mother, my Grandmother, passed in the care of a Social Worker as she had Alzheimer's disease. As well, he fought addiction from Alcohol for years and Social Workers were the one's to save him from that downward spiral. As he said, they do "God's Work".

Thank you guys for bringing this to light. So proud of him and he is a giant role model and inspiration for myself. God bless.

My grandpa was a bricklayer, a highway road maker, a lawyer and a social worker. There was only one that he said was hard. Social work doesn't take a lot out of your body, it takes a lot out of your mind, but the real kicker is how hard you have to work with your soul. The things that you might see, especially dealing with children, well it definitely takes it's toll, it takes something out of you when you have more love for an unrelated baby that you just met than his own parents, the people who are supposed to love that child don't, and you know this, and that makes you love him more, and that means you are connected, and take a chip of what all these babies are going through and it becomes yours as you try to lift it off them.

After working for child protective services he went to law school to better fight for the children. I am sure my grandpa took the thoughts of every last child that he had to protect to his grave with him.

I just want to say that in this economy social workers are one of the few to be able to actually find jobs.

What do they do exactly? What's the situation you're in in that scenario?

Bad bot

Thanks for your service to our country and your community. I couldnt have the heart to deal with what some of yall have to deal with.

wow... Alzheimer's can't beat empathy & compassion. great story bro. hugs & high five to your amazing mom!!

On top of what /u/thealderfork said (complex discharges and crisis mental health), we will often support patients, families, and staff in crisis or trauma situations.

For example, if someone dies in our emerge, I will often be asked to speak with the family and be their main point-of-contact and help with next steps (help process grief, determine any religious customs need to be followed, explain what happens next, give them information for grief counselling if that's something they want down the road). Or if someone is dealing with trauma (car accident, assault, miscarriage, terminal diagnosis, etc), I will usually be looped in and help support.

Overall I tend to describe my job as "talking to people who are having very bad days".

Tell me your secrets

It's a martyr position everywhere. Our society is in such a sorry state because we ignore our poor and (especially) our kids. Force all public institutions to pay teachers and social workers the median non-teacher/social worker national wage as the minimum salary, and we'd have a well-educated, cared-for populace.

Thank you. In my current gig I get a lot of appreciation from the people I work with because we have long term therapy relationships. My favourite story of thanks from the psych ER was the person who brought us a cake two weeks after we had helped him sort out some important things in his life. Those of us who haven't burnt out and have self-awareness realize that the people we work with will likely be stressed out, cranky and not their selves. And I've made plenty of mistakes over the years and been rightly called out by people for it. One of my BSW professors said "Being a social worker is like getting paid to be a human being" I do love my work.

Being a social worker is great. But so many seem like they just hate their jobs. Not that I blame them..

There are multiple perspectives. Like I don't qualify for subsidized housing or free healthcare or food stamps. But that doesn't matter. I know why I am in the industry and I know that if someone is calling me a leach on the system and that I am just in the job for money that it is not the case. Sometimes they say things about the car I drive which made me laugh my ass off. A guy had followed the psychiatrist into the lot and the doc drives a Porche. So dude gets all charged up about the car I drive. We went outside and I showed him my 2005 Accord with 220k miles on it. Then we both a had a good laugh about my car being a POS

LOL - if only that was an option. If it helps, usually with changes like this the trigger is "loans first disbursed on or after."

Keep in mind, to someone who is dirt poor, the 35k you're pulling in might seem like a fortune to them. Just put it in perspective.

This is why I didn't go into the job. There's just no flexibility in the degree. If I could move out of the field when it got to be too much--which I know it would for me, at some point after I had a family and such--then I'd gladly spend several years in the work. Instead I'm going into research. It gives me a ton of flexibility, comparatively, and pays literally four times better.

Oncologist here. Each and every one of you is amazing for what you do. Thanks for all you've done and will do!

yeah i agree, what really needs to be fixed is how fucking expensive living in austin is :(

I've considered going into social work, but...well, the cost, the lack of career flexibility, and the stress make me not want to do it. With my degree I can do research, go corporate, go into law or medical, even do conservation. Social work? I am qualified for a handful of jobs, and none of them pay enough to counter college and living costs. Either lower the bar for entry--make it occupational like a particularly strenuous cop course--with a shit ton of background and psych checks, or have student loans cancelled for anyone working as a social worker, private or public.

What a beautiful thought to come in such a sad time. Thank you for sharing, made my heart hurt in a good way.

/sub/cfb is leaking

Having retired nurses with dementia on the medical floors can be hilarious. We had one who kept answering the phones. The funniest thing is that she took great messages. She also retained a few other nursing skills (taking blood pressure, etc). We always joked about putting her to work.

Out of state...there's your problem.

60-70k in the Bay Area is pretty low though, isn't it?

Someone once tried to argue with me that Mexico doesn't have a lot of poverty because they saw some Escalades there when they visited on vacation.

Government jobs can be well-paid and stable, but there's still a wide range. Not all those who study social work become direct government employees, either.

He isn't alleviating anyone's debt. He's creating a handful of future scholarships. So yeah, the students are getting nothing, but the department is getting the power to pick and choose who they want to reward in the future.

edit: At a 5% payout rate and $20k a year between UT tuition and housing costs, the endowment is 25 scholarships a year.

My nurse partner tells me all the time that he couldn't do his job without the social workers at the hospital. Bravo, and thank you.

One of my BSW professors said "Being a social worker is like getting paid to be a human being"

I love it. I definitely rely on my people skills more than any social work skills I have.

We have one patient who I see around town quite frequently just due to random circumstances. She always makes a point to stop and chat and tell me how she's doing/keep me updated on her life. From what I can tell she's doing a lot better and really loving life. Last I heard she was rushing to finish her grocery shopping cause she was going to have her friends over for a dinner party. Seeing her always brightens my day.


Working in financial aid it seems that most the MSW student's plan is to completely max out their loans, pay through income based repayments and then get their loans forgiven with PLSF. Not saying it's an actual solution to the problem, but it is what I see.

Am social worker and veteran. I reject the hero label that people throw around. I feel that it's too strong a descriptor for an entire occupation. It devalues heroic acts when they actually happen. I certainly don't feel like a hero, but I have known colleagues who were in danger, and some battle buddies died, and to me, those are the heroes. Not me, I'm just punching the clock.

The owners aren't tax exempt, just the governing body.

All income goes to the league and then after paying the bills they divide it out to the owners of the league.

You do realize how hard it would be to coordinate all of the different taxes in counties, cities, states, etc, all through one sole entity?

Having a single entity pass through and making the owners responsible for taxes is hardly a cartel

Also a social worker. I wish this happened in my state/university. Up to my eye balls in debt for a low paying, but rewarding profession.

Am a social worker with a Master's degree. Work in outskirts of Chicago and make almost $10k less than that. If you would like to contribute to my student loan debt, however, feel free.

In Vancouver, Canada, the money they make is garbage compared to comparable roles.

You're wrong. Case management is not defined and technically any degree can be considered for it. But to be licensed in the states as a social worker you must a 4 year bachelor's or master's degree from an accredited institution and pass a licensing exam. Unfortunately social work has not yet fully benefited from title protection like other professions. People either call themselves social workers or are considered social workers when they are not accredited.

Not thinking like you does not mean they don't think. In fact, the heroic part of it all is precisely the fact that they do not think like you do.

50,000 across all disciplines not 50,000 studying social work.

You should write an article.

Usually the higher salary SW gigs require a Master's, and at the going rate of those these days, you're almost never likely to break even on the pay/education bump.

As a human this warms my heart. Good job Mr. Hicks, social workers are seriously underpaid and underappreciated.