How to Ask Your Employer to Help Pay Student DebtAugust 5, 2020
These days, employers offer all kinds of benefits to keep employees, from kombucha on tap and innovative new office spaces to ping pong tables and video game rooms. The list of benefits seems to grow all the time.
When you think about it, though, how much do you really need that kombucha on tap? Instead, what many graduates need is help with their ever-mounting student loans. In combination with other methods of dealing with student loan debt, employers can play a valuable role in ensuring their employees’ financial stability.
Additionally, a recent amendment to the CARES Act allows employers to contribute up to $5,250 to their employees’ student loans, entirely tax-free, through the end of this year. If you’re an employee considering asking for loan assistance or an employer thinking about adding this type of benefit to your portfolio, this is the perfect time to make the leap.
While not all loans qualify, as a rule of thumb, most loans that are eligible for federal deferment under the CARES Act are also eligible for tax-free employer contributions. This is a huge benefit for employees, as an employer contribution not only lowers the principal amount owed, but also the lifetime interest they will be required to repay.
If you’re an employer, take a look at our ELFI for Business platform to learn about the benefits of offering student loan assistance to your employees. If you’re an employee seeking this type of assistance, then read on, because in this blog we’ll cover several ways your employer may be willing to help you tackle your student loan debt.
Employers have begun to understand that their own financial success is tied to the financial success of their employees. As a result, some employers have begun to offer financial education opportunities.
These opportunities come in many forms, including workshops, webinars and even counseling. While many employees already have a firm grasp on financial concepts, these programs can still be incredibly beneficial to those weighed down by student debt as they often cover lesser-known tactics and reinforce familiar strategies.
Student Loan Repayment Signing Bonuses
Another method of helping employees with student debt is the signing bonus. For example, some companies offer $1,000 towards student loans for new hires. This $1000 can drastically reduce the amount graduates pay in interest over the life of their student loans and is an effective way for companies to hire and keep dedicated, hardworking employees.
The most exciting benefit employers are beginning to adopt is direct assistance with student loans. Now, in addition to savvy fiscal advice, some companies are backing up their support with dollars and cents.
A few companies now offer yearly bonuses to help pay back student loans. One of the most generous of these companies is Nvidia. Employees earn $6,000 a year towards their student loans up to a $30,000 maximum. Several companies offer comparable or lower amounts. Regardless of the repayment amounts, this innovative strategy provides a new way to fight back against student debt.
A variation of this policy is occasionally used, as well. In this variation, employees who don’t take their PTO can trade their PTO days for student loan assistance. With many in the United States not taking their PTO days anyway, this is a compelling option for student loan borrowers.
Contributions to 401(k) Plans
It may seem strange for 401(k) contributions to go hand-in-hand with paying off student debt. You might even expect to have to choose between them.
If you’re employed by Abbott Laboratories, though, you don’t have to choose. Employees who contribute at least 2% of their pay toward student loans are eligible for the full 5% employer matching in their 401(k), even if they do not otherwise contribute to their 401(k). Abbott Laboratories is the first company to offer this incentive to help employees to pay off student debt, and hopefully many companies will follow in their footsteps.
Sadly, these types of programs are not as commonly offered as they should be, but that isn’t necessarily bad news for you.
If student loan assistance programs are something that you would like to see at your company, then make an appointment to speak with either your boss or to human resources. In this day and age, the competition for the best employees is fierce, and employers are always looking for ways to keep employees happy. In some cases, it may even be cheaper than a raise.
It’s also worth mentioning your interest in such programs while negotiating your salary and benefits package for a new job. They may include it as an additional benefit.
If your employer already provides these benefits, that’s fantastic! You’re already one step closer to being unburdened by student debt. If you’re curious about how to finish the job and free yourself from student debt completely, one great way to do that is Student Loan Refinancing. You can learn more here.
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