Fidelity Investments has joined a small but growing group of employers that help workers pay down their student loan debt.
The financial services company formally announced this new employee benefit on Tuesday, along with its newly expanded maternity and parental leave program.
Fidelity’s Step Ahead Student Loan Assistance program, as it’s officially called, puts $2,000 toward eligible employees’ student loans each year, up to a total of $10,000. According to Tuesday’s announcement, the benefit is paid out via a third-party vendor, Tuition.io, in monthly payments sent to employees’ student loan providers.
The assistance program also provides employees access to online tools to help them better manage their student loan debt, Fidelity’s “Work/Life Programs” page states.
Jennifer Hanson, head of associate experience and benefits at Fidelity, notes in a press release that America’s student loan debt now totals well over $1 trillion. She goes on to explain:
“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. 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.”
The program is open to employees who’ve been on the job for at least six months and is not tied to retention. That means employees don’t have to pay the money back to Fidelity if they leave the company.
It launched in January, and nearly 5,000 employees started receiving the benefit in the first few weeks of the program.
CNN Money reports that other employers that offer student loan assistance to workers include financial services firm Natixis Global Asset Management and startup lenders CommonBond and LendEDU.
Fidelity also announced expansion of two other benefits:
- Paid maternity leave has been boosted from six weeks to 16 weeks.
- Parental leave has been expanded from two weeks to six weeks.
What do you make of this news? Do you think employee benefits like Fidelity’s student loan assistance program can put a dent in the national student debt load? Sound off on our Facebook page.