So many employees have been stressed out over student loans that Temple University’s health care system offered a new perk this fall – a concierge service to help them qualify for a critically acclaimed federal program that can help them cut their debt massively.
The problem is that it was notoriously difficult to get help from the program known as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) project. The program, which aims to help new doctors, nurses, teachers, soldiers, firefighters and others in the public service, has so far been largely a failure.
Critics, including several attorneys general who have filed lawsuits on behalf of student debtors, say mismanagement by federal education bureaucrats and misinformation from major credit servers made admission to the program a trickle.
Under the plan, borrowers who have made all payments on their loans for a decade will have their remaining debts paid off. However, since the reduction grant program in 2017, less than 2% of an already small pool of applicants has been approved for debt reduction.
Private software developers have stepped into the breach.
In September, Temple Hospital System hired Savi, a data-driven startup founded in Washington, DC in 2017, to help the system’s credit-laden staff by making sure they are making loan payments on time or helping them refinance for lower interest rates Prices.
Savi’s help is available free of charge to temple staff including doctors, nurses, and administrators and their family members.
Karen Cunningham, the HR communications, wellbeing and engagement systems manager, said the program has proven useful not only to former students with credit, but also to their parents who work at Temple Health. Many went into debt themselves to get their children through school.
“You should plan for retirement,” said Cunningham. “It’s a great benefit for employees who have college kids and are in debt. I am one of them. “
According to her estimate, the data concierge helped her cut her annual bills by $ 1,800 as she repaid two college loans for her children.
According to Frederick Berger, Director of Benefits and Pensions at Temple Health, only about 200 employees have signed up since Savi’s introduction of the 10,000-employee system. Still, he sees it as a draw for future hires and as a magnet to keep existing employees.
“Our recruiters were very excited to discuss this with potential doctors and nurses,” said Berger. It will likely be a strong retention tool as well. “
The botched rollout of the Federal Loan Assistance Program to Community Service Workers is another element fueling an ongoing debate about the oppressive college debt burden in a country where 45 million borrowers have $ 1.7 trillion in loans. Owe dollars. Payments of such loans were suspended in the spring due to the pandemic, but are expected to resume next month.
President-elect Joe Biden has promised to revise the lending program. As part of its revision, it would provide borrowers under the program with $ 10,000 annually in debt relief for up to five years of public service.
More generally, he would take $ 10,000 out of debt every federal borrower. For borrowers making less than $ 125,000, it would wipe out all federal and private student debt with mostly minority students.
The credit program was launched under President George W. Bush in 2007, but it really got off the ground in 2017 when those who worked in the public sector and made 10 years of on-time payments were first allowed to deleverage .
But only a small part each of whom received forgiveness.
Skilled workers have been wrongly withheld from help on grounds ranging from receiving incorrect information from credit service providers to problems with consolidating credit.
Some borrowers dutifully made payments for years while working in a job promised by the U.S. Department of Education that was an eligible form of public service – only to find out that the payments weren’t qualified.
And some debtors lost their eligibility due to paperwork when they changed jobs.
“What [Savi] It helps keep people adhering to the program, ”said Elizabeth Anderson of TIAA, the major academic and nonprofit retirement plan that is involved with Savi. “Savi is helping people work towards 120 skilled monthly payments.”