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Will Near
September 05, 2018

The Case for Creativity in the Student Loan Crisis

On July 10th, a brand-new game show called “Paid Off” debuted on TruTV.  While it operates much like a conventional three-contestant trivia challenge, there’s one important twist: each contestant must be a recipient of student loan financing. Depending on the number of questions they answer correctly, the show will pay off up to 100% of their student loan debt. One of the key mantras of the show is “an absurd show to match an absurd crisis.”


Indeed, the student loan market has grown exponentially in the last 20 years alone. Today, the average graduate leaves school $37,000 in debt. Worse still, the average student debt for 35-49-year olds has increased to $39,802.  This is not simply a Millennial or recent-graduate problem—it affects every cross section of society. With the default rate at 11% and climbing, it’s obvious people need real relief from this financial burden.


While one game show certainly isn’t going to tip the scales to make more college affordable and loan payments more manageable, there is something to be said for thinking outside the box when it comes to this growing financial crisis. Another creative alternative to dealing with student debt is through workplace benefits that seamlessly turn a portion of one’s paycheck into a monthly loan repayment.


According to a CNBC report published in May, hundreds of competitive companies are helping employees pay off student loans as a means to incentivize company loyalty and attract top talent.


In correlation with the article, an employee benefits survey found that, if given an extra $200 per month to allocate toward benefits, 45% of employees preferred help paying off their student debt. In comparison, only 29% prioritized retirement savings. This means that 70% of your employees are more focused on paying off their past financial commitments than those of the future.


While experts maintain a need to reduce the cost of education in this country to fully address the student loan crisis, the average cost of tuition continues to grow. Instead of waiting for education costs to go down, it’s important to be part of the solution, offering your employees a real chance at paying down their loans in a timely manner — so they can start saving for the future.


At LEAF, we offer a simple platform that allows participants to seamlessly pay down their student loans through payroll deduction and optional company matching.


Statistically, more than half of your employees are making monthly payments on student loans. Be creative by giving them options to pay down those loans faster.  In return you’ll attract and retain top talent who aren’t worried about the past or the future, but are focused on working hard in the present.


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