Fidelity program helps employees tackle student loan debt
Up to $10,000 available to help with ‘a very real financial concern’
Fidelity Investments has implemented a new benefit program to assist employees with student loans.
Under the program, Fidelity employees with more than six months of tenure are eligible to receive $2,000 payments toward their student loans per year, up to $10,000 in total. Since January, Fidelity has used a third-party vendor, Tuition.io, to make direct payments for nearly 5,000 employees who have enrolled in the program.
“Our employees and their managers told us that student loan debt was forcing them to put off major life decisions like buying a home and having a child,” said Jennifer Hanson, head of associate experience and benefits at Fidelity. “As a financial services firm, this was really concerning to us and we felt that providing a benefit like student loan repayment assistance helps us to address a very real financial concern that is impacting our employees directly.”
According to the Society of Human Resource Professionals’ 2015 Employee Benefit Survey, less than 3 percent of American employers offer a similar benefit, while 70 percent of college graduates have student loan debt averaging $35,051, according to an analysis from Mark Kantrowitz of Edvisors.com, a website that provides information to parents and students about college costs and financial aid.
College debt exceeds $1 trillion in the U.S., beating credit card debt as the second-highest household debt, behind mortgages.
Fidelity also recently expanded its maternity and parental leave program for employees. Maternity leave has been expanded from six weeks (or eight weeks with a cesarean-section) to 16 weeks, and parental leave is now six weeks, up from two weeks.
“We recognized that parental leave is a compelling benefit to attract and retain employees, so we took the necessary steps to give parents the time off they need,” said Hanson. “We take significant pride in providing our employees with a great associate experience.”