Business & Economics
Master of Arts (MA)
Two years ago, when Scott Thompson took over tech startup Tuition.io as chief executive officer in 2016, he felt as though he had to educate his clients about his product — a new benefit, managed by his software company that allows employers to help their employees repay their student loans.
Today, he doesn’t feel that need. When he recently walked into a Fortune 20 company with a stack of documents, his prospective clients said they understood his pitch and hardly required the introductory material. “I don’t evangelize anymore. We very rarely educate any longer,” Thompson said.
When Tuition.io was founded back in 2011, it was among the first of its ilk to tap into an hitherto unforeseen business opportunity in employee benefits. It surveyed the landscape, at the gaping chasms of American student loan debt, — now at a staggering $1.5 trillion and second only to mortgage debt for households in the United States, — and offered a novel solution. Tuition.io would be an online management system for student loans and, what’s more, it would target employers to set up a student loan repayment plan.
When employees make payments towards their student loan debt, their payments can be matched by the employer, perhaps $50 or $100 per month, for maximum lifetime contributions of several thousands of dollars per employee towards their principle.
Often touted as the new 401(k) of the millennial era, student loan debt repayment is likely to become the hottest new benefit in future workplaces, as companies figure out innovative ways to recruit and retain talent in a low unemployment economy. With so many young workers mired in student debt, the ramifications have rippled through the economy as debt holders fail to save for retirement, buy homes, get married and otherwise held off on financial milestones to pay down student loans.
“Paying off student debt is something all of America is going to decide to get aggressive on and go after. It’s a huge number. We can only hope to contain it and hope to get it down,” said Aaron Pottichen, president of retirement services at Texas-based CLS Partners.
However, the ramp up of the benefit may be a while in coming. Only 4 percent of companies in America offered the benefit in 2018, according to the Society of Human Resources Management, and it will likely not be adopted until demand increases and it becomes a tax advantaged incentive for more companies.
Min, Sarah, "Behind the student loan debt crisis, new benefits solutions" (2018). CUNY Academic Works.