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The Millennial Mindset
Increasing retirement program participation through student loan debt relief
By Tim Harnett

The amount of student loan debt shows no sign of abating. The numbers are sobering: 1 in 4 Americans carries an average of more than $37,000 in student loan debt, adding up to 44.7 million people and $1.53 trillion in debt.1 With student loan payments averaging nearly $400 a month, workers may often defer putting money into retirement accounts, using the money to pay down their immediate debts.

When it comes to well-being, many organizations consider employees’ physical and mental health, offering health insurance and other benefit programs. Financial well-being is less often considered, but it can make a big impact for both employees and employers.

More than any other kind of debt, student loan debt causes workers to have less favorable views of their own financial well-being, according to William Elliot, director of the School of Social Welfare for the University of Kansas. 2 How can organizations improve their employees’ financial well-being? Student loan repayment plans that integrate into an existing 401(k) program offer one solution. Retirement packages like a 401(k) can be an attractive benefit option that many employers offer to their workforce.

Yet with the student loan debt crisis strongly affecting the American economy, employers need to do more for their employees’ financial well-being. This is where a student loan repayment program — such as one offered by BenefitEd — can help. By pairing with a current match program, Employee Choice by BenefitEd offers seamless integration, places choice in the hands of employees and positions the employer in a great light for offering an in-demand and much-needed benefit.

Integrate student loan repayment into your existing match program
With nearly half of all organizations offering some sort of retirement benefit, 3 chances are your company already has a 401(k) match program of some kind. More importantly, organizations are stepping up and increasing their 401(k) match dollars. According to a recent Vanguard report the average match value is 4.2 percent. 4 Matches are attractive to employees, as they’re often seen as “free money.” Implementing a student loan repayment program can be as simple as integrating it into an existing 401(k) match. Employers don’t need to change their current plan to accommodate student loan repayment, and the program can be implemented with or without HR integration.
Give employees the choice
With Employee Choice, employees are given the choice to decide where their match dollars go. Employees can allocate their match dollars entirely to student loan repayment, a retirement plan or split funds between the two. Thanks to Employee Choice, employers don’t have to go through a new budget cycle when taking advantage of this program, because employees choose between a retirement plan match, student loan repayment match or both. Employers don’t have to come up with additional match dollars to contribute.
Let your partners do the heavy lifting
Communication is one of the biggest challenges associated with introducing a new benefit. Many employees don’t use their benefits simply because they don’t know about them. Communication is sometimes an afterthought — left to the initial enrollment period or not at all. Vendors can be powerful assistants here, taking care of communicating the benefit details so employers don’t have to.
Millennials signing up for BenefitEd - a student loan repayment program.
For its student loan repayment program, BenefitEd takes the reins on educating and communicating the availability of student loan repayment benefits to employees. Employee Choice gives employees confirmation of their student loan repayments or deductions, reinforcing the value of the program.

Employee Choice also provides enrollment reports to employers, giving metrics that HR leaders can use to prove the business case for the student loan repayment program. Awareness drives adoption and usage, ultimately leading to increased employee well-being.

Learn more about options for implementing a student loan repayment program at YouBenefitEd.com/Millennials, calling 844-358-5707, or emailing support@youbenefited.com.

1 Comet Financial Assistance (2019). Student loan debt: a current picture of student loan borrowing and repayment in the United States.
2 Gorman, R. (2015). “How student-loan debt is dragging down the economy.” Business Insider.
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018). Employee Benefits Survey.
4 Vanguard. How America Saves 2018.
BenefitEd offers customized employer-assisted student loan repayment programs and college savings programs to employers looking to build highly competitive, differentiated benefits packages. We offer these programs direct to employers, through benefit brokers, and white label solutions.

In 2017, BenefitEd became a joint partnership between Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. and Nelnet, Inc. This partnership leverages Ameritas’ expertise in the distribution and management of employee benefits and Nelnet’s relationships with student loan lenders and decades of experience in payment processing. Through significant scale and experience, BenefitEd can meet the needs of companies both large and small.