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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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2019-09-22
5 Common Questions About Student Loan Refinancing

Deciding to refinance your student loans is a big step in your financial journey. As with any big step, there are often questions that arise. We’re sharing some of the most common questions our Personal Loan Advisors hear from borrowers looking to refinance their student loans. 

1. Will my refinanced student loan have a variable or fixed interest rate?

Either! Education Loan Finance offers both fixed and variable interest rates, giving you the freedom to choose.  Fixed interest rates will not change from year to year, but variable interest rates will fluctuate based on the
LIBOR index and may increase or decrease over the life of the loan. Read our blog about variable and fixed interest rates to learn more.  

2. How long will the application process take?

You’ll be done before you know it! The application process is quick and easy. After providing some information about yourself and your student loans, you’ll upload documents and submit the application. If you refinance your student loans with ELFI, you’ll receive a Personal Loan Advisor who will be your point of contact throughout the process – one person who’ll be with you step-by-step.

3. Can I consolidate both federal and private student loans?

Yes! ELFI allows you to consolidate federal student loans as well as private student loans from multiple lenders. As long as they are student loans, ELFI can consolidate them. However, only student loan debt can be consolidated – no other consumer debt, such as credit card, auto, or mortgage can be included, even if it was used to pay education expenses. 

4. Can I consolidate my student loans with my spouse’s student loans?

While spouses are eligible to serve as a cosigner on an application, we cannot consolidate student loan debt among multiple borrowers – even if they are hitched! 

5. Will the application process affect my credit score?

We’ll run a “soft credit inquiry” during the pre-qualification phase of refinancing in order to provide you with preliminary rates that you may qualify for. A Soft credit inquiry won’t affect your credit score. However, once you choose your loan product and submit your application, we’ll need to view your full credit report – this will show up as a hard credit inquiry. These inquiries are common among student loan refinancing lenders.   Hopefully this short Q&A gave you some helpful insight about what to expect when refinancing your student loans. If you have questions about the student loan refinancing process, you can check out our full list of frequently asked questions or contact ELFI at 1-844-601-3534 to speak with a Personal Loan Advisor. 

Learn More About Student Loan Refinancing

  Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. 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.
Girl standing on college campus
2019-09-21
Facing Student Loan Debt? How The Right Job in School Can Land You the Right Job After School

When it comes to landing your first job after graduation and getting a strong foothold on paying back student loan debt, nothing is more important than standing out in the workforce. This doesn’t mean you should equip yourself with a gimmicky resume or a flashy outfit for going on interviews. The way to impress a prospective employer is with experience and skills suited for the position -- not only will this put you on track to paying back your student loan debt, but it will also set you up for long term financial success. When it comes to hunting for a job, college graduates can be put into three categories: ● Those who have waited until after graduation to look for a job. ● Those who have waited for a couple of months (while enjoying their last summer of freedom) before searching for a job. ● Those who have been planning their job search since well before their final exams. The latter understand that in order to give themselves an edge in the job market, they needed to start early.

Gain Work Experience While in College

There is often a catch-22 that applies to looking for a job after college: many entry-level positions require some experience, but you can’t gain experience unless you have already worked in that field. Although there are exceptions, one of the hard facts is that most employers prefer to hire a college graduate who has some work experience to put on the table. So, your best bet is to find part-time work in your chosen field while you are still in school. It might not be easy, as trying to keep up with a full course load and working at the same time can be a challenge. But the reward may be your dream job after graduation. ● Best-case scenario: You find a part-time job related to your field and then use your experience to segue into a full-time position once you have your degree. ● Worst-case scenario: You can’t find a part-time job directly related to your field, but you have demonstrated your ability to hold a job and you have some work experience to put on your resume.

Five Ways to Find the Right Part-Time Work

1. The Federal Work Study Program All federally accredited universities and colleges offer the
Work Study Program. This program matches students with job opportunities which are located both on and off campus. Counselors do their best to pick positions closest to your field of study. These jobs are paid at the minimum wage rate or a little higher and are assigned at a maximum of thirty hours per week. 2. Freelancing If you have certain skills, such as writing or graphic design, you can make some extra cash using freelance sites such as upwork.com and contentrunner.com. The beauty of this kind of work is that you can choose your own hours. There are many internet platforms that are searching for part-time talent – just be sure to research them carefully to avoid scams. Even if you find work that isn’t in the field you are aiming for after college, you will be demonstrating initiative to any prospective employer. 3. Volunteering Volunteering usually means that you won’t get paid, which while admirable, won't make a big dent in your student loan debt. But getting involved with community organizations, charities, animal shelters, etc. shows initiative, a sense of responsibility, and your ability to work with others. It is often easier to find an unpaid position in the field that you want to work in after college through volunteering or an internship. Simply, if you can afford to volunteer you'll likely refine the personal and professional skills that will last a lifetime. 4. Internships Finding internships in your chosen field is one of the best ways to land your dream job after college. Companies love internships because it’s an easy way for them to find talent with hardly any risk or expense on their part. Internships represent the lifeblood of college work experience because nothing beats a hands-on education. The best internship is one that will help you launch your entry-level career.

5. Career Services Department

Most colleges and universities have a Career Services Department whose main goal is to help students fine-tune their professional skills in hopes of landing a great job. From resume tips to mock interviews, they're a wealth of knowledge. Every day they're working with students just like you who have varying amounts of student loan debt and actively want to help you get rid of it! ● Why the Big Companies Aren’t Always the Best Choice: Many academic advisors recommend choosing internships in smaller businesses where they really need hands-on help so you won’t be stuck just making printer copies and coffee runs. Research a few local small to medium-sized companies in your field, and then contact their HR departments to ask whether they have programs for interns. Don’t forget to talk to your professors - they are probably aware of a few good companies that you can contact. As an added perk to employees, many companies are also adding competitive benefits, like tuition reimbursement, helping pay of student loan debt, or providing generous time off. ● When to Start Looking for an Internship - After your freshman year, begin to contact companies that interest you. A good resource is your college’s career-planning office. You may be fortunate enough to be enrolled in a college that offers grants to enable students to accept unpaid (or poorly paid) internships. Or you can consider combining a part-time unpaid internship in the field you want with other work that pays. Fortunately, some high-paying fields also pay their interns quite well, especially if those students are close to graduating.

The Bottom Line

Carefully planning your part-time jobs or internships while you are working toward your degree will give you the best chance of achieving your career goals. And the sooner you begin to earn money out of college, the sooner you can start to pay off your student loan debt. Talk to ELFI about our private student loan offerings by giving us a call today! Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. 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.
Happy couple working on budget
2019-09-20
How to Know When It’s Time to Refinance Your Student Loans

There are plenty of milestones in life that give us reason to celebrate– high school graduation, marriage, the birth of child, paying off student loans. Yes, seeing your debt decrease and your savings increase for many people are a time worth remembering. And truth be told, being further out of debt can make those other milestones much more enjoyable. This blog is designed to help you reach that debt-free milestone quicker by refinancing your student loans. After all, getting them under control and adjusting the repayment terms to something more favorable could help make a dent. Here’s how to know it’s time to refinance your student loans:

You Earn Good Money

No one wants to see their hard-earning income fly out the window. If we’re talking about milestones, we would argue that the 15th and 30th of the month are recurring ones that give us plenty of joy, albeit short-lived. When we see money deposited we want to hold on to it and protect it. However, your debt doesn’t go away. Even though you’re earning good money you will have to face the music and pay off the education that helped get you to the position you’re in. Refinancing your student loans often means a better interest rate and the option to choose a better term.

You’re Credit-Worthy

Many people simply aren’t aware that federal interest rates are not dependent on your financial circumstances. There are a few factors involved, but the credit history of the borrower isn’t one of them. If you’ve been on-time with your credit card, mortgage, car loan, or any other debt, and maintained a good balance between the money you earn versus what you owe in debt, you’ve likely got a high credit score. When you refinance your student loans with a private lender that credit score helps determine your interest rate, and that in return can help save some money.

You Love One Payment

One of the added benefits of refinancing your student loans often means consolidating your loans. While it’s true you can still refinance partial loans, lumping them all together with a nice bow on top not only helps you feel empowered to pay them off, but also reduces the likelihood you’ll miss a payment due to the sheer number of them floating around out there.

You’re incentivized at Work

A growing number of companies are taking a long, hard look at the benefits they offer their employees. Gone are the days of sticking with one job from graduation to retirement. Today, it’s all about working for an employer that offers great benefits, compensation and work/life balance. And because of that, repayment part of an employee’s student loan obligations are becoming the norm. If you’re in this category, it may be wise to refinance your student loans, consolidate them, and watch your employer help pay down your debt. If you can check these boxes chances are you’re ready to refinance your student loans and are one step closer to that all-important milestone of getting out of debt. Speak with one of our Personal Loan Advisors to help walk you through the process.   Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.   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 web sites 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.