Billionaire Robert F. Smith made headlines earlier this year as he announced his intent to pay off the debt of all 2019 Morehouse graduates…
Billionaire Robert F. Smith made headlines earlier this year as he announced his intent to pay off the debt of all 2019 Morehouse graduates.
While highly commendable, actions like Smith’s do not hit at the systemic problems that have allowed the student loan bubble to swell to a formidable $1.5 trillion. Lasting changes that will positively benefit individuals, as well as the American economy, can only be the result of policy decisions. Congress needs to be pushed out of its partisan induced stupor to act on this issue.
Fortunately, there are individuals, groups and companies actively pushing for these changes. Advocacy groups are seeking solutions like student loan forgiveness, free or capped tuition, improved transparency, and incentives for student loan debt repayment benefits.
These three movers and shakers are improving the student loan industry today.
Three People Making a Difference Today:
As Executive Director, Natalia heads the non-profit Student Debt Crisis, an organization that seeks to directly educate borrowers as well as monitor current policy pertaining to student loans. This two-pronged approach teaches borrowers about their financial health and options to alleviate stress, while also advocating for long-term policy protections for students.
Abrams’ status as an advocate of students predates her current initiatives. She began Occupy Colleges in 2011 to protest ever-inflating tuition and the lack of adequate financial aid by organizing one of the largest college protests in the past four decades.
Natalia actively advocates for student loan debt reform and regularly brings the struggles of borrowers to light in the national media.
Betsy Mayonette is the founder and president of The Institute of Student Loan Advisors (TISLA), a non-profit organization with the mission to offer free student loan advice and guidance.
Due to high-interest rates, penalties, and lack of deference options, private loans are significantly more expensive and offer less protection to borrowers. According to The Institute of College Access And Success (TICAS), over half of undergraduates took out private loans without exhausting their federal loan options. Offering accessible advice and guidance is one way to offset harmful borrowing decisions.
Betsy has the perfect background to offer expert assistance. Prior to founding TISLA, Betsy spent 18 years at the American Student Assistance® in Boston, which also focused on helping students make better decisions about their student loan debt and repayment plans. She has been a primary negotiator for federal Title IV negotiated rule-making sessions on the topics of student loans at foreign schools, loan rehabilitation, and borrower defense to repayment.
US Congressman Scott Peters of California is using his position to sponsor the Employer Participation Repayment Act. This would encourage employers to annually contribute up to $5,250 per employee towards their employees’ student loan debt. This act would allow employers to gain a tax advantage if they pay on their employees’ student loan debt.
While this is not a long-term solution, it does encourage the private sector to play a larger role. This plan also appeals to both employees and employers, making it much easier to support than loan forgiveness and potentially having quite an impact on the future job market in the United States.
Companies Pitching In Against Student Debt
While the government fails to find a solution for this issue, many companies and organizations in the private sector are joining the fight against debt by enhancing their benefits offerings.
Prepare to see this trend grow as companies gain more than just the joy of altruism and tax breaks. Student loan benefits are an excellent employee retention tool, saving companies both time and money otherwise lost when an employee quits.
At the same time, their employee benefits through student loan debt support.
Below are just a handful of major players who are investing in their employees by paying off their student loan debt:
- American Psychological Association
- Kipp: Texas Public Schools
- Legg Mason
- New York Life
- Citizens Bank
- American Family Insurance
- Ralph Lauren
- Concordia Plan Services
The fight against student loan debt
Though daunting, the stress and financial burdens of student loan debt can be alleviated. The actions these leaders are taking are just the beginning of the fight for loan reform and benefits.
From the public to the private sector, there are various recommendations and answers to the problem. The most important thing to remember is that we can all be part of the solution.
Want to know how you can join the fight against student loans and improve the lives of your employees? Contact us today.