Study Finds Investing in Employee Higher Education Results in Cost Savings for Major Financial Services Company

INDIANAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Discover Financial Services, a leading banking and payment services
company with 100 percent U.S.-based customer service, reaps $1.44 in
savings for every dollar spent on tuition assistance for employees,
according to a study released today. The study,
conducted by the global professional services company Accenture with
support from Lumina Foundation, adds to growing evidence that tuition
assistance programs help build employee skills, improve corporate bottom
lines, and increase employees’ involvement in the community.

Discover employees who participated in the tuition assistance program
received wage increases that, on average, were 40 percent higher than
those of non-participating employees. Participating employees also were
21 percent more likely to be promoted. Within Discover, they were more
mobile, more likely to show up for work, and more likely to stay with
the company.

“Discover’s exceptional results add to the growing evidence that
employers who invest in their workers benefit financially while also
helping the country meet its future talent demands,” said Lumina
Foundation President and CEO Jamie
Merisotis
. “This is a win-win for companies and our larger society.”

According to a 2015 report by the Georgetown University Center on
Education and the Workforce, U.S. employers spend about $177 billion on
formal training and talent development each year, and roughly 10 percent
of this amount goes toward tuition assistance programs such as
Discover’s. Even though these investments are significant, most
employers do not assess the value that these benefit programs generate
for their businesses. The Accenture study examined
differences in promotion, transfer, retention, and absenteeism rates
between participating and non-participating employees from 2010 through
2013. The study controlled for factors such as job function to ensure
fair comparisons across both groups.

Adriana Cavazos is among Discover employees who has benefited from the
company’s tuition reimbursement program. No one in Cavazos’ family had
pursued a college degree, but her parents consistently impressed upon
her the importance of higher education to her future success. After high
school, Cavazos landed a job at Discover as an entry-level call center
representative. However, her drive to further her education persisted.
Participating in Discover’s tuition reimbursement plan, she earned a
bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University (ASU), taking classes in
the morning and working full-time at Discover in the afternoons and
evenings. Upon graduating, Cavazos was promoted to a position that
required a college degree. Many other Discover employees have been
retained and promoted after taking advantage of this employee benefit.

The findings of this study came as little surprise to Jason Frantz,
director of Discover’s Financial Intelligence Unit and the leader of
Cavazos’ team. Through Cavazos’ experiences, Frantz has seen how pivotal
the program is at enabling career opportunities. During Cavazos’ five
years at Discover, Frantz and other team leaders recognized her growing
knowledge and skills, promoting her five times. Meanwhile, Cavazos is
working on a master’s degree at ASU, which she plans to finish this year.

“The sky is the limit for Adriana,” Frantz said. “Discover has a culture
that rewards people who work hard to be great leaders by giving them
opportunities to advance not only in title, but through meaningful
career development.”

Cavazos’ experience aligns with Lumina Foundation research
showing that postsecondary education leads to higher employment rates,
greater lifetime earnings, and improved career opportunities.
Additionally, citizens who earn degrees, certificates, and other quality
postsecondary credentials vote and volunteer at higher rates and
demonstrate higher levels of appreciation for other cultures, enhancing
the communities in which they live and work. Discover’s tuition program
helps the company foster the talent it needs to continue to deliver
industry-leading customer service, award-winning credit cards, advanced
payments solutions, and consumer banking products.

“We are focused on providing exceptional value to our customers, and we
achieve this largely by investing in growing the skills and abilities of
our employees,” said Jon Kaplan, vice president of training and
development at Discover. “This study helped prove what we already knew:
Investing in our employees helps our customers, helps the community, and
provides significant business value.”

In response to these positive results, Discover leadership dropped the
requirement that participants complete one year of full-time employment
prior to entering into the program. Starting in 2017, new employees will
be eligible to apply to the program on day-one of their employment with
Discover. The company also plans to increase internal communications
about TRP so that more employees are aware of the tuition reimbursement
program and the opportunities it provides.

The Discover study is part of a series of analyses by Accenture that
includes exploring the financial effects of tuition assistance programs
at Cigna, a global health insurance company, and Advocate Health Care, a
regional hospital system. These studies and others are available at www.luminafoundation.org/employer-engagement.

About Lumina Foundation: Lumina Foundation is an independent,
private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making
opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. We
envision a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and
meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials.
Our goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success
in a global economy. For more information, logon to www.luminafoundation.org

About Discover: Discover Financial Services (NYSE:DFS) is a
direct banking and payment services company with one of the most
recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since its inception in
1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the
United States. The company issues the Discover card, America’s cash
rewards pioneer, and offers private student loans, personal loans, home
equity loans, checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit
through its direct banking business. It operates the Discover Network,
with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the
nation’s leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a
global payments network with acceptance in more than 185 countries and
territories. For more information, visit www.discover.com/company.

About Accenture: Accenture is a leading global professional
services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in
strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining
unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40
industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s
largest delivery network – Accenture works at the intersection of
business and technology to help clients improve their performance and
create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With more than 384,000
people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives
innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.

Contacts

Media:
Lumina Foundation
Lucia Anderson Weathers,
317-951-5316
landerson@luminafoundation.org