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Iowa Student Loan Offers New Employee Benefit to Help Pay College Debt

Iowa Student Loan

September 11, 2018

In a growing national trend, employers are providing college loan repayment benefits as a way to attract and retain today’s top talent. And here at Iowa Student Loan, we’re proud to be leading the way with these innovative efforts.

For nearly 40 years, our nonprofit student loan services company has helped Iowans find the resources necessary to succeed in post-secondary education. Over the past decade, we’ve worked to offer families various assistance, including free financial literacy tools, scholarships and 529 college savings account contributions.

But recently, we took our mission a step further by announcing we would provide our more than 200 employees a helping hand.

Employer contributions

Beginning in July 2018, each of our employees, all based in Greater Des Moines (DSM), began receiving a $25 monthly contribution to be directed toward either student loan repayment or a 529 college savings plan account. This benefit is called the Employer Contribution Program, and it’s one of several services in a newly launched College Finance Benefits product being offered by our subsidiary, Aspire Resources Inc.

Employers’ need for innovative benefits

In today’s labor market, with the unemployment rate hovering around historic lows, DSM employers are fiercely competing for skilled workers. They’re looking for innovative ways to set themselves apart from other employers.

Nationally, only 4 percent of employers offer company-provided student loan repayment benefits, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2018 employee benefits report. But if recent news stories are any indication, that percentage is likely to soon climb.

Workforce development experts say that when an employer helps employees save for college, it’s a win-win for the employer, their employees and the local economy.

So, when we created these innovative employee benefits, we wanted to make them available to all employers — in Iowa and across the country. As mentioned, our newly launched College Finance Benefits by Aspire Resources Inc. includes the Employer Contribution Program as well as a Reset Refinance Loan, College Family Loan and financial wellness tools.

A little help goes a long way

We understand how college debt is impacting the current generation of graduates entering the workforce. We hear firsthand the stories of college graduates having to live at home and delay adult milestones because they feel they’re too financially strapped by college debt. We also understand that our own employees are not immune from the financial stress of paying for college.

Since announcing the Employer Contribution Program, our employees have told us the extra money each month will help them pay less interest and pay off their student loan sooner. It also enables them to put more money toward something for their future, such as retirement, a first-time home or an emergency fund.

And for our employees who no longer have student loans but are now saving for a loved one’s college education, they can place the monthly $25 company contribution in any qualified 529 college savings plan account. For example, we have one employee whose youngest of three daughters is still in elementary school, and he has calculated the benefit will provide him an extra $4,000 during her time in school.

It’s clear to us that when an employer helps employees save and pay for college, the economic benefits can be transformational and impact many areas. Like us, we know there are many employers in DSM who want to help their employees. And we hope more of them join our efforts to grow this national trend of offering a student loan repayment employee benefit.

Learn about other Staffing & Hiring resources for your small business in The Partnership’s Small Business Resources Hub or sign up for the Small Business Resources newsletter and stay connected for information about upcoming events, other resources and the latest announcements in the small business community in DSM.

Steven W. McCullough

Steven W. McCullough is president and CEO of Iowa Student Loan, and he is president of Aspire Resources Inc. He joined Iowa Student Loan, a nonprofit student loan organization, in 1989 as the director of fiscal operations and became chief executive officer in 1993. Steve oversees all operations and has been the visionary behind the corporation's responsible borrowing tools, which help families plan for their higher education, figure out how to pay for it and learn how to create good outcomes.