How to ask your employer about student loan benefits

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In response to the student loan debt crisis, many employers are offering a form of student loan assistance as part of their workplace benefits package. If you’re one of the many Americans dealing with student loan debt, that idea might be pretty exciting. However, if you don’t have student loan assistance benefits at your current job, how can you introduce the topic to your employer? Here’s one way to approach the conversation.

Come armed with stats

If you’re trying to pitch student loan assistance either for yourself or as a company-wide benefit, come prepared with stats that can back you up. While it may be common knowledge that student loan debt is a large problem in the US, particularly for young adults, having numbers is often a convincing edge.

You may also want to bring up if competitors are offering this benefit, and how appealing the benefit has proven to be to job seekers. While most financial services benefits are retirement oriented, student loan assistance is a benefit that could have an immediate positive impact on a job seeker’s finances today. If your company has been struggling with retention or hiring, this can be a great point to stress.

Highlight partnerships and turn-key services

There are a variety of services that offer different forms of student loan benefits, as well as lenders and banks who are open to building partnerships and offering unique perks programs with employers. For example, a benefits partner could allow employees to refinance student loans with better interest rates, without a large direct cost to your employer.

Doing some research on these options and presenting one or two that could be appealing — ideally being both easy to manage and a great return on investment — can make this an easier sell. Showing that there are multiple players in this market offering turn-key services can help demonstrate to your employer that student loan assistance is a growing element of a robust benefits package.

Bring it up during a negotiation

Just like a raise, the best time to make a case for student loan assistance benefits is when it’s time for a review and you’re feeling very strong about what you bring to the table. If student loan assistance is more important to you than other common perks, don’t be afraid to bring that up directly and make its value clear.

Don’t wait for open enrollment

On a similar note, definitely don’t wait to start the conversation right before (or during!) open enrollment. At that point, it’s quite possibly too late for your company to roll out a new program, even if they have the interest. Starting the conversation well before open enrollment can give your company  ample time to do research, test options and have an ongoing conversation — making it much more likely that some form of student loan assistance could be on the table.

Get on the same page with coworkers

If your coworkers are in a similar situation when it comes to priorities, encourage them to speak up as well, or offer to leadership that you could set up an anonymized poll to gauge interest. Being able to demonstrate that this isn’t just an individual need but a widely desired benefit across the staff may be valuable insight for leadership.

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