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INSIGHTS & INTUITION: Should companies begin offering student-loan help to employees?

Editor's note: Prairie Business asked several HR representatives in our region this question: "Your organization offers student-loan assistance to employees. What would you say to an organization that asks, 'Should we begin offering those benefits?'"

Here are their answers.

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Yes! Student loan debt is one of the most difficult financial issues facing new grads. Rising costs of tuition/education can make it hard for new grads to get a start in life – whether it be buying their first home, purchasing a new vehicle or affording other key items or investments.

Many of those spending decisions have to wait until the debt is paid down. So, helping employees with this debt is not only an excellent benefit, it’s an excellent recruitment tool.

When an employee can see this benefit in terms of a per-hour breakdown, it makes their standard hourly rate look that much more attractive.

And when employees know that their employer is helping them get ahead in life, it makes those employees appreciate their employer that much more.

Adam Broers

Senior Executive of Human Resources/Safety

Bethany Retirement Living

Fargo, ND

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Loan forgiveness can be an effective tool to help alleviate the high cost of continuing education.

At Sanford Health, we’ve found that a comprehensive approach to our investment in education-related benefits works best.  For this reason, loan forgiveness is used in conjunction with other programs, including competitive scholarship opportunities, educational assistance, sponsorship agreements and more. This lets us customize our investment to meet the unique needs of our current and future employees, who are working to advance their careers.

William Gould

Senior executive director of total rewards

Sanford Health

Sioux Falls, S.D.

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At Eventide Senior Living Communities, student loan assistance is a great tool for us to recruit and retain talented team members. Even more important, it makes employees feel valued and helps them grow their career at Eventide with less stress as many students carry debt upon graduation.

In addition to student loan assistance, we also offer nursing scholarships as another way to invest in our employees.

Jess Stowman

Director of Human Resources

Eventide Senior Living Communities

Moorhead, Minn.

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Yes!  The Fareway Fast Forward student loan pay down program has been well received by our full-time employees, and provides additional benefit to help alleviate financial stress associated with repayment of student loans.

In addition, it encourages full-time employees to consider higher education, especially those employees who may not have done so previously because of costs.

With low unemployment and a highly competitive job market, additional employee benefits such as Fareway Fast Forward make an overall compensation package more attractive to existing employees and potential new hires.

Reynolds Cramer

President and Chief Executive Officer

Fareway Stores, Inc.

Boone, Iowa

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