PHEAA to close Chester call center in late 2020

Mark Abrams
December 15, 2019 - 4:30 am
Call center phone and headset.

Chainarong Prasertthai/Getty Images

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CHESTER, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency has extended its lease for a call center in Chester for another year, but says it will close the doors in December 2020 and transfer operations to other centers.

The Chester PHEAA call center employs 77 and has been operational since late 2012 at The Wharf at Rivertown office complex on Seaport Drive.

PHEAA spokesman Keith New says the center primarily handles federal student loan clients under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education.

Uncertainties regarding the future of that federal contract, he said, prompted the re-alignment of PHEAA call center operations and a plan to move operations out of Chester by the end of next year.

Employees are getting advance word, according to New.

"We wanted to give them as much notice as possible so they can plan accordingly," he said. "We made sure that any employee in Chester has the ability to transfer to one of our other facilities that manages those calls. And, we also feel that there'll be a certain amount of attrition at the call center. So we do feel that the human impact will be minimal."

Next December, the center's operations will be transferred to those other facilities. New said this isn't an unusual phenomenon. "In the call centers for PHEAA and for most call centers you have very, very high turnover on an annual basis," he explained. "It's not unusual for call center to experience a turnover rate of more than 100 percent. 

New says the closest call center to the Chester location is in the Harrisburg area.