New Edcor white paper connects student loan repayment assistance to the potential for increased career advancement for women and minorities

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Employer diversity and inclusion efforts are increasingly considering student loan repayment options to boost advancement opportunities for women and minorities.

Cost is the primary reason students do not continue or complete their education. Education benefits that help employees complete and increase their levels of education also make it possible for businesses to develop a diverse and inclusive workforce from within their company.

Edcor, a national provider of education benefits administration solutions that processed more than $238M in tuition assistance payments and supported more than 1.7M employees in 2018, announces the publication of its new white paper, Student Loan Repayment Assistance Raises Diversity and Inclusion, focused on how student loan repayment assistance programs can boost diversity and inclusion outcomes in the workplace. The announcement was made by Edcor owner and CEO Adrienne Way, a veteran of the employee tuition assistance industry and a keen observer of education-related workplace trends.

“Employer-sponsored education benefits are driven not only by the education and training needs required to successfully conduct their core business, but also by cultural change,” Way said. “The workplace reflects society and employers see first-hand the impact of societal change, in this case when it comes to student debt. With a $1.52 trillion U.S. student debt load and ensuing stressors that college graduates are bringing to the workplace because of it, repayment assistance has become an issue employers can’t ignore.”

Among other analyses, the Edcor white paper considers student debt in the context of how it disproportionately impacts blacks and other minorities, who have lower rates of education completion. As noted in the white paper, the current levels of educational attainment for the total U.S. population are not high enough to create a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Way says the student loan repayment discussion among employers has been bubbling for several years, but the more recent release of statistics reflecting the impact on minorities and women, who are also adversely impacted by student loan debt because, like minorities, they have average lower salaries than men, is amping up the conversation.

“We first started discussing the possibility of a student loan assistance product about three years ago as the student debt numbers skyrocketed and became part of everyday conversations – and concerns – by students, parents and employers,” Way said. “The follow-up to the conversation is how student debt is adversely impacting career opportunities for women and minorities; that’s what’s steering the conversation to diversity and inclusion activities by employers.”

Way believes that education benefits, which have been offered in the workplace for nearly four decades and now encompass student loan re-payment programs like Edcor’s Freedom Student Loan Assistance Program, will increasingly be used by forward-thinking businesses to help close the education gap.

“Cost is the primary reason students do not continue or complete their education. Education benefits that help employees complete and increase their levels of education also make it possible for businesses to develop a diverse and inclusive workforce from within their company,” Way said.

Currently, just under 10 percent of employers are offering student loan assistance, often starting the programs by using monies from underutilized benefits like a 401K to provide the funding. Because employer-sponsored tuition assistance programs and student loan repayment programs are not ERISA benefits, there are few laws defining their use. Currently, student loan assistance is a taxable benefit to employees, but there is lobbying for student loan repayment dollars to be included under Section 127 of the federal tax code, allowing employers to give their employees education assistance dollars up to $5,250 per year tax-free.

To obtain a copy of Edcor’s white paper, Student Loan Repayment Assistance Raises Diversity and Inclusion, visit the Edcor website.

About Edcor
Edcor, a certified woman-owned business, is the benchmark in education benefits administration. For more than 38 years, our customized service and software solutions have allowed clients to use education benefits programs, including tuition assistance and student loan assistance, for employee recruiting, retention and development. Additional information can be found at https://www.edcor.com/.

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Barbara Fornasiero
EAFocus, Inc.
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