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Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act H.R. 795

January 2, 2019

Nothing could be better than working for a top company that helps you pay off your student loans, right? Well, a bill was introduced by legislators on 2/1/2017 that is trying to make this a reality. This bill was introduced as the Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act. In addition to the introduction of this Act, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also released a private letter ruling. What could these events mean for companies and employees who carry student loan debt?

 

Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act

First, this bill would amend the tax code by giving tax breaks to employers that provide educational assistance to employees. Educational assistance can be in the form of contributions to student loans through either a payment to the employee or lender.

Specifically, this act would allow employers to offer a tax-free student loan benefit in addition to a salary to its employees.

 

IRS Private Letter Ruling

 

Recently, there was a private letter ruling released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If you want to review the contents of the private letter ruling, it can be found here. The ruling allows employers to use 401(k) plans to help employees pay down their student loan debt. It is done by taking the employer 401(k) match to pay down student loans.

 

Any employee who is eligible for a 401(k) plan would be eligible for this plan. The ruling states that the plan is a voluntary program that employees must elect to enroll. Employees who choose to participate in this plan would be eligible for non-elective contributions made by the employer to their student loan debt. These contributions would be equal to what would have been contributed to a 401(k) plan had the employee opted out of the program.

 

What Does Student Loan Debt Assistance Mean for Employers?

When managing a business, it is imperative that you stay on top of recent news. Part of staying on top of things includes understanding what challenges your employees face. Both these aspects of operating a business and understanding the needs of your employees, however, can fall hand in hand. When it comes to student loan debt assistance, it can be a huge positive for any business. Not only does student loan debt assistance help employees achieve their financial goals, but it also brings many benefits to a firm.

 

Offering a student loan debt assistance program does not typically cost a company extra. The employer contributions to student loans are what a company would have typically made as a 401(k) contribution. Therefore the costs of providing 401(k) contributions and student loan debt assistance are equal. Another positive that comes from offering a program like this is that it helps with finding top talent, recruiting, and retaining all-stars. With older generations of employees retiring in record numbers and the workforce shifting to younger millennials, it’s important to take some time to examine the benefits of providing student loan debt assistance.

 

As many millennials have student loans and report that paying them down is a priority over saving for retirement, companies should begin thinking about reevaluating their benefits package to attract millennials. Finding ways to help this generation pay off student loans could be a big boost to a company’s recruiting strategy. Offering student loan payment assistance could put a company on the cutting edge as far as millennial professionals are concerned.

 

Click to Learn More About ELFI for Business

 

According to a benefits report by OneDigital, nearly 80 percent of employees surveyed by American Student Assistance felt that an employer-sponsored student loan repayment benefit would be a deciding factor in accepting a job. This could be a huge differentiator for an employer aiming to recruit the best employees.

 

The American Student Assistance survey also showed that 86 percent of employees would feel compelled to stay with an employer for at least five years in exchange for student loan repayment assistance. Considering how much companies spend on turnover (recruiting, training, and onboarding new employees), this could mean huge potential savings on talent management costs for employers.

 

What Does Student Loan Debt Assistance Mean for Employees?

Some companies already offer student loan assistance, but these funds are usually taxed. This type of assistance isn’t as attractive as pre-tax funds because taxes reduce the impact of payments on student loans. Tax-free repayment funds from an employer could be more effective in helping graduates pay down their student loans faster. Employees would avoid incurring taxes associated with this type of assistance.

 

Many Millennials also face the question of, “Should I save for retirement or pay down debt first?” Student loan debt assistance could be a solution that addresses both concerns. Young employees would have the ability to make substantial payments towards their student loan debt. With these large payments, they will be able to cut down their repayment time. That means young employees would have the ability to start saving for retirement earlier in their career instead of trying to pay down their debt.

 

Looking to the Future of Employment and Student Loan Debt

 

With the recent Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act and IRS Private Letter Ruling, it seems student loan debt has become a problem for employees. Since employees are having difficulties with paying down student loan debt, it is time for employers to take action. Not only will employers benefit from offering student loan debt assistance programs, but it will most likely be at little or no cost to them.

 

If this act becomes a law, experts think that companies will immediately begin to rethink their benefits package and consider student loan debt assistance as a way to attract the best employees. Though it may not be easy for millennials to land a position with one of these companies, they will certainly have another factor to decide in student loan debt assistance when choosing their employer.

 

Interested in starting a conversation regarding your student loans? Give us a call: 1-844-601-ELFI.

 

5 Benefits Millennials Look For in Employers

 

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2020-01-20
Minternship: A New Trend for Middle-Aged Adults

By Kat Tretina

Kat Tretina is a freelance writer based in Orlando, Florida. Her work has been featured in publications like The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and more. She is focused on helping people pay down their debt and boost their income.

  In decades past, you would enter an industry and then spend your entire working career in the same field, often with the same employer. However, today’s economy is quite different. According to the
Bureau of Labor Statistics, people have 12 different jobs over the length of their careers, on average. Not only that, but they also may switch fields during the course of their lives.    In a 2019 Indeed survey, 49 percent of U.S. workers reported a dramatic career change. For example, they may have switched from marketing to engineering, or from teaching to finance.    If you’re feeling burned out in your current field, switching to a new career can help reenergize you. And while switching careers can be challenging, completing a “minternship” — an internship you complete after already starting your career — can help bridge the gap.   

What is a Minternship?

In August of 2019, BBC reported on the growing trend of minternships. Many millennial workers, frustrated in their current jobs, are using internships to relaunch their careers or completely switch their professional plans.    You can complete a minternship when you’re already advanced in your career, often when you’re in your 30s, 40s, or 50s. At this age, an internship can help you gain experience and test out a new field. And, it can provide essential networking opportunities so you can land a full-time job once you’re done.    During a minternship, you get hands-on experience in your selected field. You’ll work alongside professionals and learn the ins and outs of the business, completing projects and building your portfolio. Depending on the opportunity, minternships can be part-time or full-time commitments.   

Where to Find a Minternship

If a minternship is appealing to you, there are several different ways to find an internship that matches your interests:   
  1. Consider returning to school: In some fields, you may need to return to school to complete a certificate program, get an MBA degree, or earn a master’s degree to get a job. Many schools require students to complete internships, and will even help connect you with companies that are hiring. 
  2. Search job boards: Some companies post their internships on job boards like Indeed, Monster, and Internships.com. You can search by location, company, or field to find an opportunity that suits your needs. 
  3. Connect with your network: If you’re switching careers, consider reaching out to your network on LinkedIn or via email to share your goals and ask for help. 
  4. Ask your employer: Some companies — especially large ones — will help facilitate employees’ transitions to a new department. They may provide student loan repayment assistance for employees who go back to school, or they may offer on-the-job training programs. Talk to your human resources department to discuss your options. 
 

How to Prepare for a Minternship

While a minternship can be a great way to gain necessary experience, it may require you to make some lifestyle changes. To take on a minternship and leave your full-time job, you will likely need to adjust to a pay cut. To prepare for that and minimize its impact, follow these steps: 
  1. Explore financial aid: If you’re returning to school and completing a minternship, make sure you apply for financial aid, including grants, scholarships, federal student loans, and private student loans*. You may qualify for aid and loans to cover your living expenses so you can focus on your education and budding career. 
  2. Create a budget: Make a budget detailing how much money you’ll have coming in while you’re interning and how much you’ll spend each month. Account for regular expenses like rent or mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, and transportation. 
  3. Cut expenses: Once your budget is complete, look for areas where you can cut back. Perhaps you can add a roommate while you’re an intern, or you can use public transportation. 
  4. Find additional income sources: As an intern, you may need to be creative about how you earn money. While paid internships are possible, unpaid internships are common in certain fields. If that’s the case, consider launching a side hustle or freelancing or consulting in your old field to earn income. Or, you can take on a part-time job. 
  5. Refinance student loans: To reduce your student loan payments while you’re interning, you can refinance your student loans*. If you extend your repayment term, you could dramatically lower your monthly payments. You may pay more over time in interest thanks to the longer loan term, but it can be worth it to free up more money in your budget each month. 
 

Changing Careers

If your current job no longer excites or challenges you, it may be time for a change. Completing a minternship gives you an opportunity to learn new skills so you can successfully switch fields. While it will take some sacrifices and time to do, finishing a minternship can prepare you for a successful career change.    Do you need to borrow money to pay for school, or do you want to refinance your existing debt to lower your payments?    ELFI offers private student loans and student loan refinancing loans with competitive interest rates. There are no application fees, origination fees, or prepayment penalties. And, it offers a variety of repayment options and loan terms to suit your needs. You can use ELFI’s Student Loan Refinancing Calculator* to get a rate quote without affecting your credit score.  
 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

 

Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

2019-09-28
Down to Business: 5 Perks That Today’s Employees Demand

Perks have generally been regarded as nice-to-have additions to an employee’s basic salary and benefits package. Offerings such as flexible schedules, tuition reimbursements, employee discounts, and gym memberships have been seen as the icing on the cake that may sway a prospective hire to choose one employer over another. However, younger employees are regarding some desirable offerings by employers not as perks, but rather as essentials. Here are five perks that fall into this category.

1. Flex Time

Today’s employees don’t see the world in black or white or nine to five. Studies show the following:
One way to make the workplace more appealing to today’s workers is to do away with the rigid procedure of tracking work hours and vacation days. The only metrics that should matter are the productivity of staff members, how well they accomplish tasks, and team member morale. As long as employees do their work, a company shouldn’t care when or for how long they’re in the office.
  • Flex Time for Family - Employees should be encouraged to take time off when necessary. This includes providing the opportunity for new parents to stay out of the office for four to eight months following the birth or adoption of a baby, or to care for a close family member with a serious health condition. Another good idea is to offer reimbursement of expenses related to adoption or surrogacy.

2. Telecommuting

Today’s employees are rebelling over being forced to make a long commute every day, pay tolls, or cope with overcrowded and inefficient public transportation. One survey on telecommuting preferences found that nearly 90 percent of the US workforce would like to “telework.” Telecommuting two to three days a week was regarded as the sweet spot for a balance of working alone at home and collaborative work in the office.

3. Help with Student Loan Payments

Most young people starting out on their career paths are burdened with student loan payments. With that in mind, one perk that should not be overlooked is the potential to help your employees pay down their student loans. Student loan payments can eat into a worker’s paycheck for years and years, and worrying about them may affect their job performance. However, ELFI for Business can introduce you to several ways your company can help your employees pay off their student loan debt. Call us at 1.844.601.ELFI for more information on this innovative new program.

4. More Autonomy

Today’s workers don’t want to be micromanaged. Companies should recognize that autonomy is a basic psychological need, and the more autonomous their employees feel, the more likely they are to be engaged. Many studies show that more job independence leads to a workforce that is more content, healthier, and more productive.

5. More Time Off

The notion that you have to work at a company for five years in order to earn an extra week’s vacation time is regarded as outdated by today’s workforce. Millennials care more about having some adventure in their lives and less about money. Companies should consider offering non-monetary lifestyle bonuses such as:
  • Three weeks of vacation time from day one.
  • A day off on an employee’s birthday.
  • An earned bonus vacation week around an appropriate holiday.
  • A fourth week of vacation after someone has been there for three years.
  • After five years, eligibility for Summer Fridays off.

The Perks to Companies

There are very tangible benefits to companies that offer their employees flexible work options, telecommuting, assistance with student loan debt, more time off, and greater autonomy. These include the following:
  • Longevity – A study found that 86% of workers would commit to a company for five years if that company helped pay off their student loans. Moreover, millennials are likely to stay in a job for more than five years if their employers provide some flexibility about when and where they work.
  • Job satisfaction – One survey revealed that 90 percent of participants felt that more flexible work arrangements would boost their morale and increase their job satisfaction.
  • More productivity - It’s a simple equation: Happier employees leads to more engaged and productive employees.
  • Recruit more easily and quickly - A flexible work policy will improve a company’s recruitment metrics. One survey discovered that 77 percent of job seekers put flexible work schedules at the very top of their list of perks when evaluating job opportunities.

Join the Workplace of the Future

Job satisfaction is essential to a company’s overall success, which is why it’s crucial to offer perks that top talent are looking for. To learn more about how to make your workplace attractive to today’s employees, read The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace, by Ron Friedman, an award-winning social psychologist and author. Then, contact ELFI to see how ELFI for Business can help your team attract and retain top talent!
NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
2019-08-14
New Ideas for Business Recruitment

Have you been noticing that your recruitment strategy may be somewhat behind the times? Still using traditional ways to fill your vacancies, such as newspaper ads, college recruiting, job fairs, and the same old job board? Although these recruiting channels will produce some hires, there are much more effective ways to find the best talent for your company. Here are some recruitment strategies that you might want to consider going forward.   

Improve Your Employer Brand

Your employer branding is your business’s reputation as a place to work. It’s the way your company is perceived by your employees, not your customers. This is perhaps the most important element to consider if you want to attract, hire, and retain great talent. First-class
employer branding is not easy to achieve because it requires significant investments of both time and money in your employees. However, it’s important to realize that today’s job seekers are not just looking for high salaries. They want a stimulating work environment and a great company culture.   

Make Use of Data

There is a business maxim that says you can’t manage what you don’t measure – and when it comes to recruiting, there’s a lot to measure, including: candidate response rate; application completion rate; qualified candidate rate; time to hire; cost of hire; and more. Using these metrics, you can learn what’s going well and what needs to be improved.   

Ditch CV Hiring

It takes a lot of time to read through hundreds of resumes and cover letters, and many applicants will have inflated their qualifications and experience. Instead, make it super easy for a candidate to apply online and then give them a short skills test or a series of tests. Software is available that will automatically pre-qualify candidates as they apply via the test.   

Use Niche Job Boards

You have to sink your recruiting line into the right pond to catch good fish. Niche job boards specialize in specific fields. You’ll get fewer candidates than with larger, more general websites, but the candidates may be better qualified for your niche job.   

Encourage an Employee Referral Program

Instead of searching through hundreds of applicants via job boards, you can recruit your own employees to do some searching for you. A referred employee is often a better quality hire because the person who has referred them has a good understanding of what qualities are needed to fill the vacancy. You should offer a reward if an employee brings someone great to your team. This incentive could be in the form of cash or extra days off.  
  • Host a Meetup - Another way to involve your current employees in the recruiting process is to host a meetup or get involved in a networking event that’s already been organized. Send out some representatives from your company and let them spread the good word about working for you. Include some free merchandise to give out to attendees. 
 

Don’t Overlook Passive Candidates

If you don’t hire a top candidate quickly, they will be gone from the job market fast as another company snaps them up. However, the good news is that there is no shortage of passive candidates (i.e., people who aren’t actively looking for a new job). According to research, 85% of global employees would be happy to change their position for a better opportunity. Your mission as a recruiter is to get into your target audience’s line of sight via whatever means possible.   

Reach Out to Previous Employees

Rehiring someone who has worked for you before may be a good idea. A prior employee may be the perfect candidate for a different role or a new role higher up the ladder. Look for past employees who have acquired new skills and gained work experience while working for other companies. You can benefit from the training and experience gained while they were away.  

Don’t Forget the Perks

Although perks might not be top of the list for someone considering the employer branding of your company, perks do show that you care about your employees. Here are a few suggestions.  
  • Raising salaries once or twice a year when goals are met.
  • Offering a significant number of paid vacation days.
  • Opportunities to work remotely from home.
  • Provision of a free laptop to take home. 
  • Offering retreats every year. 
  • Payment for gym or other sports club memberships.
  • Reimbursement for new glasses or contact lenses. 
  • Free e-books on any work-related subject. 
  • Bring your dog to work day.
 

ELFI for Business Program

Our innovative program can help your company recruit and retain top talent. One feature of this program is a student loan solution for your employees. A high level of student debt is a big concern for young professionals. In fact, an ASA survey found that 86% of them are prepared to commit to a company for five years in return for some assistance in paying off their student loans. Click here for more information.    Improved recruitment practices lead to better quality hires, shorter time to hire, shorter onboarding, lower turnover rates, and less recruiting expenses. Contact us to learn more on how we can help you recruit and retain employees through the ELFI for Business Program!     NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.