According to a 2018 article by CNBC, over 44 million Americans collectively hold nearly $1.5 trillion in student debt, with the average borrower owing more than $37,000. Even with a well-paying job, this makes it difficult for many graduates to save money, which has had a ripple effect on many aspects of their lives. A study from NerdWallet even predicted that students who graduated from college in 2015 will have to delay retirement until the age of 75, in part because of the increasing burden of student debt. Today, the average retirement age in the U.S. is 63.
NRG Systems is always looking for new and creative ways to bolster its robust benefits package. As of this year, we offer a student loan pay-down benefit that will help offset this financial load for our employees. The benefit is administered through Gradifi and can be utilized by graduates who are in the process of paying down their student loans or a parent paying down a Parent Plus student loan they acquired to help their child through college.
Anna Grady, NRG’s Vice President, Human Resources, shares some more information about the new benefit below.
How did the idea to offer the student loan benefit to NRG employees come about?
Anna Grady: NRG’s HR team had been reviewing options for assisting employees with their student debt and were approached a few times by Gradifi. Gradifi has been one of the first to market with an online program that essentially serves as a third party administrator for all student loan payments. NRG contributes money and it goes directly to the student loan provider. The process is smooth and user friendly. Gradifi’s website is very educational as well, providing resources for parents and students to learn more about how to finance their higher education.
What are your goals for this program?
Grady: Our aim is to provide a benefit to employees that responds to their current needs. Shouldering the burden of college loans is unsustainable for many new graduates and their families. Right now, the burden can be shared with employers and used as a recruitment and retention tool.
How many people are participating this year?
Grady: We currently have about 20 employees participating – almost a quarter of our company!
How has the rollout of this benefit been received at NRG?
Grady: Positively! Kelli Crapo, our Senior HR Generalist, has had numerous conversations with employees and they have been excited and are grateful NRG has committed to assisting them in this capacity.
What advantages does this new benefit have for employees, both current and future?
Grady: We believe this will be an attractive benefit, especially for our millennial employees, but also for parents who are similarly burdened with paying for student loans for their children. It is still a new idea for many employers. For NRG, we strive to be a front runner when it comes to providing innovative, new benefit ideas. We want to respond to the needs of employees and, given the current college debt crisis, we feel this will truly help support our employees who have to carry this debt along with all the other aspects of living.
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