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SHRM, Other Organizations Join Education Department's Student Debt Outreach Campaign

A graduation cap on top of a pile of money.

​The U.S. Department of Education has launched a campaign to educate people about the Biden administration's new student loan program, as well as other student loan resources—a campaign supported by dozens of organizations, including SHRM.

The campaign, called "SAVE on Student Debt," was officially announced this week and includes a "week of action," which will see organizations ramp up education efforts for their members about student loan debt resources.

The event is aimed at supporting borrowers resuming their student loan payments—which begin again in October, after a long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic—by providing information about available resources from the education department, including the Biden administration's new student loan program announced last month.

The administration's new plan, called Saving on A Valuable Education, or SAVE, is a revamped income-driven repayment (IDR) program that calculates payment amounts based on income and family size. It also allows borrowers who consistently make their monthly payments to see their debt forgiven after a certain number of years. SAVE replaces the Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE), an IDR plan, and borrowers who are currently enrolled in REPAYE will be transferred to SAVE. Their monthly payments will be adjusted before student loan payments restart in October.

The SAVE program, which the administration projects will help more than 20 million U.S. borrowers, was announced shortly after the Supreme Court ruled earlier this summer to strike down the White House's previous student loan forgiveness plan.

About 100 organizations, including SHRM, the National Urban League, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the Student Debt Crisis Center, the American Council on Education, NAACP and United Way, are part of the administration's campaign.

Together, participating organizations reach more than 18 million Americans, the department said.

SHRM is sharing resources with its members, detailing how employers and HR professionals can support employees in accessing SAVE and other relevant student loan programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Those resources include:

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a news release that the support of SHRM and other organizations "will amplify Federal Student Aid's outreach and communications to borrowers by working in communities across the country to encourage enrollment in the SAVE plan, which not only offers lower monthly student loan payments, but also protects borrowers from runaway interest and ever-growing balances."

Student loan debt is a wide-reaching issue, and many experts say HR plays a vital role in providing support to employees.

The new SAVE program is a good opportunity for HR leaders to talk with employees about student loan debt and explain how eligible workers can be set up for success, Dan Macklin, president of Summer, a New York City-based financial services firm, told SHRM Online.

"Employers should absolutely share this news with their employees," he said. "Providing this information is a great way to help employees with student debt achieve financial goals. Previous income-driven repayment programs from the government with lower thresholds and higher minimum payments had very low enrollment rates, partially due to poor knowledge circulation about what programs were available to which student loan holders."

In general, there has been growing momentum on student debt initiatives in the workplace. In addition to education efforts, a growing number of organizations—including Adidas and PwC—offer student debt repayment benefits to their employees, although it's still a relatively rare offering. About 8 percent of U.S. employers provide student loan repayments to eligible employees, according to SHRM's 2023 Employee Benefits Survey.


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