What if student debt repayments could be part of every company’s employee benefit plan? Karen Shannon, Vice President Business Consulting of Ollis/Akers/Arney, believes this idea is not far-fetched, and her company has the expertise to advise its clients on designing and implementing employee benefit plans that include debt repayment options. The purpose of these programs is to help employees repay their student loans and can vary widely in their structure.
CoxHealth focuses on paying tuition for current employees attending school. For surgical technicians and medical assistants, tuition is paid in full to eliminate the need for loans, and the individuals remain employed with CoxHealth. The contract stipulates workers stay with the company for a certain amount of time, depending on their position and the status of the current market.
This model is similar to programs Ollis/Akers/Arney presents to its clients. Shannon says all companies could potentially help their employees pay off student debt if that’s what they choose to prioritize within their employee benefit budgets. These programs could be structured a number of ways based on a company’s preferences. She says determining eligibility, repayment provisions, grade requirements and tenure should be determined before executing a plan.
Currently, most companies in 417-land focus on helping employees with future debt, but others have the resources to support staff who have previously incurred student loans. For example, CoxHealth has a loan forgiveness program for certain positions, which helps employees pay student loans they incurred before becoming employed. That loan forgiveness depends on what’s owed.
While CoxHealth is leading the way in 417-land by helping its employees pay off previous student debts, any business model could potentially take advantage of these programs.
For instance, companies with full-time and part-time employees could benefit from offering student debt repayment options. Both types of employees would receive money, called educational assistance, they would use to pay tuition and loans. This system puts emphasis on personal growth and talent retention while reducing the high costs of turnover.