How to Convince Your Employer to Pay Your Student Loans

Recent headlines have identified student loan repayment assistance as one of the hottest new job trends.

But in the more than five years since big companies like Aetna and Fidelity began helping their employees pay off their student debts, an estimated 8% of companies still offer the benefit, according to a Willis Towers Watson survey.

What if you work for the other 92%? As with any part of your compensation package (or life), just asking for what you want can be helpful. The result could have a bigger impact than you think.

“We have employers who tell us someone came and spoke to them,” said Romy Parzick, CEO of Vault, who manages educational support services for 1,500 customers. “And that ignited the benefits for [the whole company]. “

This is how you start a fire in your company.

Gather your receipts

If your company has a large number of four-year degrees, chances are many of your employees are grappling with debt. Seven in ten college students now borrow to pay for their degrees, and college debt spans generations: 8.7 million student loan borrowers are over 50 years old.

You can take your research a step further by looking for industry-specific borrowing statistics or even asking your employer to interview employees to measure their debt.

If your company has highlighted its diversity, equity, and inclusion goals, Parzick said you should point out data showing how student debt is disproportionately affecting black and Latino borrowers, and how women hold 60% of all student debt.

At PwC, one of the first large companies to announce its student loan payment program back in 2015, 62% of eligible black employees and 52% of eligible Latino employees participate in the benefit, more percent than white or Asian eligible employees Employee. The consulting firm, which pays up to $ 1,200 a year in student loans for eligible employees, had more than 16,000 employees signing up for the benefit in the first five years of its inception.

Sell ​​it as a profit – not just as an employee

Once you’ve proven that student loan assistance will help the staff, it’s time to argue that this is a good business decision, too.

Benefits are widely recognized as an important part of employee recruitment and retention. So focus on that, says Virginia Adams, senior HR knowledge advisor at the Society for Human Resources Management.

About a quarter of employees surveyed in a recent Betterment survey said they would leave their current job for a job offering student loan help. The proportion jumps to about half if you look at Generation Z employees alone.

In the case of Nebraska Medicine, a hospital chain with locations in the Omaha area, offering student loans for bedside nurses resulted in a 55 percent increase in employee retention and saved the company $ 5 million in cost of sales, Prudential said with the hospital to shape the benefit.

Even if you can’t find hard numbers, you can still gather information about which employers in your region or industry are already offering the benefit. (You’ll likely make a healthy list by looking at your competitors’ hiring pages, Adams says).

Finally, make sure your employer (and HR) is up to date on a helpful tax policy: Starting in 2020, student loan repayment assistance of $ 5,250 will be tax-free for both employer and employee. The tax-privileged status runs until 2025.

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Get behind your boss’s back

OK, we’re there with a wink. However, if you are not comfortable reaching out to someone who can introduce this benefit, email one of the service providers that are in the field like Tuition.io, Gradifi, Goodly, and Bright Horizons’ EdAssist.

Although Vault makes business-to-business sales, Parzick says it’s not uncommon for individuals to email their company and say, “Hey, how do I get this benefit in my workplace? Can you help?’

Upon receiving one of these emails, the Vault sales force will contact the company in question and inform the company that an (unnamed) employee has contacted them. Your team has found that some type of cold contact is much more likely to result in a callback than one without a request from an agent.

“That’s an interesting indicator of how much value employers place on what their employees are looking for,” she says.

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