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Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act H.R. 795

January 2, 2019

Nothing could be better than working for a top company that helps you pay off your student loans, right? Well, a bill was introduced by legislators on 2/1/2017 that is trying to make this a reality. This bill was introduced as the Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act. In addition to the introduction of this Act, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also released a private letter ruling. What could these events mean for companies and employees who carry student loan debt?

 

Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act

First, this bill would amend the tax code by giving tax breaks to employers that provide educational assistance to employees. Educational assistance can be in the form of contributions to student loans through either a payment to the employee or lender.

Specifically, this act would allow employers to offer a tax-free student loan benefit in addition to a salary to its employees.

 

IRS Private Letter Ruling

 

Recently, there was a private letter ruling released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If you want to review the contents of the private letter ruling, it can be found here. The ruling allows employers to use 401(k) plans to help employees pay down their student loan debt. It is done by taking the employer 401(k) match to pay down student loans.

 

Any employee who is eligible for a 401(k) plan would be eligible for this plan. The ruling states that the plan is a voluntary program that employees must elect to enroll. Employees who choose to participate in this plan would be eligible for non-elective contributions made by the employer to their student loan debt. These contributions would be equal to what would have been contributed to a 401(k) plan had the employee opted out of the program.

 

What Does Student Loan Debt Assistance Mean for Employers?

When managing a business, it is imperative that you stay on top of recent news. Part of staying on top of things includes understanding what challenges your employees face. Both these aspects of operating a business and understanding the needs of your employees, however, can fall hand in hand. When it comes to student loan debt assistance, it can be a huge positive for any business. Not only does student loan debt assistance help employees achieve their financial goals, but it also brings many benefits to a firm.

 

Offering a student loan debt assistance program does not typically cost a company extra. The employer contributions to student loans are what a company would have typically made as a 401(k) contribution. Therefore the costs of providing 401(k) contributions and student loan debt assistance are equal. Another positive that comes from offering a program like this is that it helps with finding top talent, recruiting, and retaining all-stars. With older generations of employees retiring in record numbers and the workforce shifting to younger millennials, it’s important to take some time to examine the benefits of providing student loan debt assistance.

 

As many millennials have student loans and report that paying them down is a priority over saving for retirement, companies should begin thinking about reevaluating their benefits package to attract millennials. Finding ways to help this generation pay off student loans could be a big boost to a company’s recruiting strategy. Offering student loan payment assistance could put a company on the cutting edge as far as millennial professionals are concerned.

 

Click to Learn More About ELFI for Business

 

According to a benefits report by OneDigital, nearly 80 percent of employees surveyed by American Student Assistance felt that an employer-sponsored student loan repayment benefit would be a deciding factor in accepting a job. This could be a huge differentiator for an employer aiming to recruit the best employees.

 

The American Student Assistance survey also showed that 86 percent of employees would feel compelled to stay with an employer for at least five years in exchange for student loan repayment assistance. Considering how much companies spend on turnover (recruiting, training, and onboarding new employees), this could mean huge potential savings on talent management costs for employers.

 

What Does Student Loan Debt Assistance Mean for Employees?

Some companies already offer student loan assistance, but these funds are usually taxed. This type of assistance isn’t as attractive as pre-tax funds because taxes reduce the impact of payments on student loans. Tax-free repayment funds from an employer could be more effective in helping graduates pay down their student loans faster. Employees would avoid incurring taxes associated with this type of assistance.

 

Many Millennials also face the question of, “Should I save for retirement or pay down debt first?” Student loan debt assistance could be a solution that addresses both concerns. Young employees would have the ability to make substantial payments towards their student loan debt. With these large payments, they will be able to cut down their repayment time. That means young employees would have the ability to start saving for retirement earlier in their career instead of trying to pay down their debt.

 

Looking to the Future of Employment and Student Loan Debt

 

With the recent Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act and IRS Private Letter Ruling, it seems student loan debt has become a problem for employees. Since employees are having difficulties with paying down student loan debt, it is time for employers to take action. Not only will employers benefit from offering student loan debt assistance programs, but it will most likely be at little or no cost to them.

 

If this act becomes a law, experts think that companies will immediately begin to rethink their benefits package and consider student loan debt assistance as a way to attract the best employees. Though it may not be easy for millennials to land a position with one of these companies, they will certainly have another factor to decide in student loan debt assistance when choosing their employer.

 

Interested in starting a conversation regarding your student loans? Give us a call: 1-844-601-ELFI.

 

5 Benefits Millennials Look For in Employers

 

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2019-03-21
What College Major is Right for You?

When going to college, one of the most asked questions is, “What’s your major?” For a college student, a major can feel like it defines your career path and your future endeavors. A major can put a lot of pressure on a college student, to pick something fast and stick with it. On the other hand, many college students come into their first year not knowing what they want to study, or where they see themselves. The good news is that is OKAY. There are many things you can do to find a major that suits you and your values. Here is a list of things you can do to help find a college major that is tailored to you:
  1. Get to know yourself

This decision requires you to learn a little about yourself. Maybe start with a personality test. The Myers-Brigg personality test will help you determine what characteristics you have, what you like and dislike, and even suggest work environments that may fit your persona. The Myers-Brigg gives examples of what other people with your personality type succeed in. Another way to learn about yourself is by evaluating yourself in a S.W.O.T. analysis. The S.W.O.T. stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. List a few things relating to yourself under each column to help you match your abilities to a major that is right for you. Examine your interest, values, and potentials for a major that fits your personality.
  1. Create Goals

After college where do you see yourself? Where do you see yourself 5 years after graduation? What about 10? These can be as detailed or as generalized as you like but setting goals and preparing for them helps when finding a major. Creating short and long term goals help to know what you would like to see in your future and what steps may be necessary to get there. Be sure when you are setting goals for yourself that they are achievable. If your goals are too unrealistic, you may feel discouraged and quit. Some people find writing their goals down on a piece of paper helps to make them more permanent.
  1. Do your Research

Look at majors offered at your college of choice and do some research. There is so much information on the internet. You can also talk with a guidance counselor too if you’re looking for further insight and assistance.  When researching a major you’ll want to take into account the type of career you’ll have with that major. Some questions you may want to ask include what jobs are out there and how sustainable are they. A four-year university can be expensive. You may find yourself borrowing student loans and receiving financial aid to afford education. Regardless of the major you choose, you need to verify the major and career path have a return on your investment. If you’re borrowing student loans when you graduate you’ll need to pay those back upon graduating. Once you receive your first career job you want to be financially responsible. You should be able to start paying down that student loan debt without having to eat Ramen® every night. Unless you really like Ramen®. When researching consider if the job has long term potential, look at the average salary, and consider location and necessities. A major can lead to many careers, but finding one that can support your future goals and lifestyle is important.
  1. Find a Mentor

Explore some of the options available for the majors you’re interested in and make a few cold calls. Your university may have a directory of alumni who graduated in your field of choice. Call them to find out about their career, day-to-day task, what to expect, and things that make them happy at their job. You can even consider shadowing or interning with alumni to find out if this career path is something you want to consider. Try paying a visit to a college advisor. Most colleges provide separate advisors depending on the major. Make an appointment where you can sit down with them and discuss course load, professors and future employers with your major of interest. College advisors can help you decide if you can tackle a major on an academic level as well as real-world experience. Before you make the investment of attending college you want to be sure that you are pursuing the right career path for yourself.
  1. Seek Advice

Utilize people within your network and ask them for advice and guidance. Ask friends what they are considering for a major. People in classes may be a good resource for you as well. See what they are planning to study in college and what their interests are. You could even talk to a parent or someone you trust about your values and ideas. The people who are close to you may have your best interest and connections that can help with your decision. Lastly, going into college not knowing what major to pursue is NORMAL. Do not rush into a major because you don’t want to be behind. Deciding a major a semester late or even changing majors does not always effect graduation dates. The goal of attending college is to gain the skills and education that could lead you to something you will succeed in. As you continue to learn more about college understand how you will handle it financially. It can seem overwhelming, but understanding what your finances are and what you’ll need to be making upon graduation will be helpful.  

10 Facts About Student Loans That Will Save You Money

  NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
2019-03-13
The Best Ways To Engage Millennials At Work

Just ask!

As of 2019, millennials are roughly between the ages of 23 and 37. Many millennial employees are nearing their late 30s and likely have good work experience and instincts. Even younger millennials are pretty business-savvy as they’re used to reading about their field and Googling questions to make sure they’re informed. With these traits in their favor,
millennials can be a good second set of eyes to give you another point of view on a decision or project brief. Get their opinions or help with decision-making to broaden your perspective and to help raise buy-in.  

Give regular feedback.

In the era of ghosting and impersonal communication, many professional millennials yearn for up-to-date information on where they stand. Whether this a one-on-one, review or just feedback in general, they want to know their status at work. The approval of supervisors can mean a lot to this demographic. Millennials tend to work hard to meet and even exceed their professional goals. Your job in this process is to let them know when they are on track, ahead, or behind. No hand-holding needed: just don’t let them be in the dark about progress and they will be happy for the engagement.  

Stick to a predictable review process.

Along with being available for regular feedback and check-ins, millennial employees count on a predictable review process for a few reasons. Millennials want the opportunity to shine, and that’s not possible if they don’t have face time with leadership, especially supervisors who may not be involved in their regular projects. If their job doesn’t require even semi-frequent check-ins, regular feedback likely won’t be enough to let them know how they’re performing. Plus, following a set schedule and using a standardized system for assessment takes away any chance of ambiguity or uncertainty.  

Connect with their values.

Millennials want to feel like they’re doing something to improve their community. This drive to “save the world” even in small ways is because they grew up learning to take care of the environment and people around us. Companies can drive engagement by giving millennials a way to get involved with company initiatives that fit their values. That could be coordinating off-site events and team-building for a purpose. Get millennials engaged in internal campaigns like adopting a comprehensive recycling strategy, or finding vendors who are local or minority-owned. Sustainable initiatives can be a big hit among this crowd while also saving money. Think about how you can connect things like lowering shipping costs with lighter packaging or using recycled materials.  

Give them a challenging goal.

Most millennials want to feel valued and adept at their jobs. It’s important to be proud of what you do and feel like you’re making an important contribution. The best way to attain that fulfillment is to reach your goals. The nice thing about setting challenging goals to engage your millennial employees is that you also get to see them make amazing progress. You also get to watch them develop skills that are important to their role on your team. Instead of telling someone to wing it or figure it out. Management can engage employees by working together to set up the challenge. The employee will be tasked with the dirty work of getting down to business and making it happen.  

Make them the lead on a project or initiative.

You might find that you get better engagement out of younger employees by putting them in charge of something. Many millennials want the chance to show what they’re made of. What better way to do that than to take responsibility for something? You’ll never know what your people are made of if they don’t occasionally get to prove their abilities. That doesn’t mean you have to take a big risk, but let them know what their responsibility is. Why could their performance mean a lot for their reputation or respect? You will likely be surprised.  

Offer career and personal development opportunities.

With millennials poised to make up 75% of the workforce by 2020, helping prepare them to take over is critical to your company’s success. Good news, millennials want to do the kind of professional development that will make them ready! As employees start to think about a retirement plan, you don’t want to let all of that experience and prowess walk out the door. Consider offering development for millennial employees. This can help keep them engaged and strengthen the company’s transition from one generation of leaders to another. Don’t forget about personal development opportunities, too. Plenty of organizations can partner with you to offer workshops on life management or volunteer opportunities. People will find workshops and volunteer opportunities personally valuable. These opportunities will help them be better employees even if they’re not working directly on building a career skill.  

Keep open communication.

Finally, the biggest thing you can do to keep millennials engaged is, communicate. This generation might be guilty of relying on emojis at times, but they hate guessing and value honesty. Find ways to facilitate conversations both big picture planning and everyday updates and time for open feedback.  

5 Benefits Millennials Look For

  NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.  
2019-03-11
Medical Match Day Finance Tips

Congratulations you’ve worked hard been through multiple interviews and finally, your hard work has paid off! You’ve been matched and you’re getting ready for residency. It’s so exciting to jump into residency and see what having this career will really be like. You’ll have the ability to learn from experienced professionals in your field of interest. Getting yourself prepared for your residency can feel stressful, but it doesn’t need to be. Here are some financial tips to help you get settled and make good choices for your future.  

Set Up Loan Payments

Once you are done with school, you should start paying on student loans. Residency can take several years to complete. It’s likely that your residency isn’t paying you what a full-time position in your career will so all the medical school debt that’s accumulated, can be difficult to sort through. If you find yourself with a large amount of federal
student loan debt, look into income-based repayment plans. We would recommend this as a temporary solution until you’ve completed your residency program.  This will assure that you’re making student loan payments towards your medical school debt, but that those payments are not impossible to complete. You may eventually qualify for public loan forgiveness on your federal student loans. If you qualify to get on an IBR plan in residency after completing the program you may only have a few years remaining.     If you also have private student loans there is no need to worry. Most private student loan lenders will work with you to offer some type of payment plan. You may want to consider refinancing your medical student loan debt. In order to qualify for student loan refinancing, you may need to add a cosigner due to income you’ll be making in your residency. Regardless of which route you chose, in the first few months after graduation, you’ll want to have your payment plan set up. Don’t let this task fall off your radar—in-school deferment ends shortly after graduation for most kinds of medical school debt.  

How to Reduce Medical School Debt

   

Make a Budget

The average income for first-year medical residents is about $55,000, according to a recent report. That money may not go very far with your loan payments and other living expenses. It’s crucial to set your budget and stick to it. Many medical professionals suggest living with roommates, carpooling, using public transit, and setting a budget to keep other spending at a minimum.    

Look Into Your Benefits

If you’re starting off pretty frugal until you get accustomed to your new budget, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about saving for the future. When it comes to saving for retirement, the sooner the better. Employer matches and retirement programs should be on your list of things to do early in your residency. Take advantage of match money for retirement if your employer offers it. Match money from your employer is free money! Don’t miss out on that opportunity, and check out the rest of your benefits while you’re at it. There are usually several perks and programs you can look into that might help make your transition to residency more comfortable.  

Set Up Housing

Speaking of housing arrangements, there is conflicting advice on whether or not it makes sense to buy a home vs. renting while in residency. Since most residents spend long hours working and don’t have time for household maintenance or upkeep, buying a home can be a difficult choice. Plus knowing that you might not choose to live in the same place long term cause many experts to advise renting. Look at your unique situation and make sure you’re weighing all of these factors when you decide what to do for housing.   As far as finding somewhere to live, location will probably be top of your list. After working long hours and several days in a row, having a long commute is the last thing you want. If the area near your work is not cost-effective, look for ways to get connected with a good roommate or two. Research the area before you relocate and stick to your budget for housing costs so that you don’t end up being rent-poor or house-poor.  

Practice Self-Care and Routine

Residency can be engrossing. You’re so involved in your work role and in living the life of a busy resident, that it’s not uncommon to let self-care fall by the wayside. Remember, you can’t care for others if you haven’t cared for yourself. Make sure you’re doing what you can to stick to healthy habits, even if there are days you’re low on sleep or not making the best food choices. Getting rest on your time off, enjoying your hobbies even in small doses, and exercising or meal planning can help make sure you’re cared for even with a busy schedule.   Enjoy your new life adventure!  

Ways to Save on Student Loan Debt During Residency

  NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.