How to Help Employees with Student Loan Debts: Provide Refinancing and Repayment Assistance
September 9, 2019 | 5 min read
Employees are financially stressed. They worry about stretching their paycheck to cover all their monthly costs. Many have just enough to make student loan debt payments and cover basic living expenses. If they have unexpected expenses, they don’t have the money to pay the bills. Some end up defaulting on their student loans. Employers can help employees with student loan debts by offering refinancing and repayment and assistance.
Anxiety about student loan debtA growing number of employees are entering the workforce with student loan debt. The Federal Reserve reports that over 44 million American adults owe $1.5 trillion in student loans. Another $1.27 trillion in new student loans will be added by 2028. For American adults with student loans, the monthly debt payment is their biggest expense. Depending on the loan amount, the monthly payment can be more than a mortgage or car loan. Employees are anxious about their debts. They spend hours during the workday, wondering how to meet financial commitments. Over 40% of people who earned bachelor’s degrees report having high or very high emotional and financial stress. Read this blog to learn more about the unexpected stress of student loans. Workers with student loans say that getting help with refinancing or repaying their loans would ease their stress so they can focus on their job. They appreciate that the business cares about their financial well-being. Employees also become more engaged and involved in the success of the business.
Educate employees about U-fi refinancingIf you don’t have the budget flexibility to add a student loan repayment benefit for your employees, there are other options. You can provide a method for workers to refinance their loans. It will help ease some of their financial burdens at no expense to your company budget. Research shows that many people who take out student loans have a high interest rate. Instead of continuing to pay this rate for the lifetime of the loan, employers can help employees with student loans look at private refinancing options. Some employees may wonder whether refinancing is worth their time and effort. But on average, many borrowers take 20 years to pay off their student loan debts. Employers should encourage workers to ask U-fi about the amount of money they’ll save with student loan refinancing. Even saving a small amount each month can lower the total cost they will pay over the life of the loan.
Provide repayment assistanceIf you do have some room in your benefits budget, another way to help employees with student loan debt is to provide repayment assistance, such as through Employee Choice. Employee Choice is a simple benefit that employers can offer by using 401(k) match funds. Each year employees leave $24 billion in 401(k) matching funds from their employers on the table. Employees can direct these funds toward their monthly loan payment. They also can split the amount: Designate half toward their student loan and the other half for retirement. Employers offering repayment assistance say the benefit is a competitive advantage. Research shows that 52% of employees were attracted to a job if the employer offered to assist them in repaying their student loans. Prospective workers said this benefit was more important than many other traditional benefits and perks. Learn how student loan repayment assistance also can attract top talent and boost employee diversity. Another study found that 86% of employees with student loan debts would commit to a company for five years if their employer-provided repayment assistance. Many employees will stay even longer because paying off student loans can take at least 20 years.
Encourage employees to avoid loan defaultNationally, the default rate on student loans is increasing. Last year alone, student loan delinquencies were over $166 billion. Missed payments can affect people’s credit scores for years. It can also affect employment opportunities. Some employers now are checking employees’ credit scores before offering a position. If employees receive advice on refinancing their student loans or receive repayment assistance from employers, they’ll be more likely to make their monthly payment. That means they won’t have to deal with the traumatic impact of a poor credit score caused by unpaid debts. And they’ll be happier, healthier and more grateful employees.
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