Northern Rivers Family of Services, an Albany-based nonprofit focused on providing social services in upstate New York, is the latest organization to join the rapidly growing number of nonprofit employers offering student loan repayment as an employee benefit.
The student loan benefit program provides eligible employees, with a minimum of six months of service at Northern Rivers, with an employer contribution of $35 per month. The employer contributions are paid directly to the student loan debt of participating employees with an annual cap of $420 per employee.
According to The Student Debt and the Class of 2018 report by the Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), New York came in 15th in the Institute’s ranking of states with the highest student loan debt. The report also found that just under 60% of New York college students graduated with student loan debt in 2018, with the average graduate holding of $31,127 in student debt.
With the majority of staff members at Northern Rivers holding a bachelor's or advanced degree, adding a student loan repayment program as an employee benefit was a top priority for Linda Daley, the chief human resource officer for Northern Rivers.“Student loans are a growing concern for today’s workforce,” said Daley. “Sixty-five percent of our staff holds a bachelor’s degree or higher, and they’re saddled with the burden of student loan debt.”
As unemployment remains at record lows in New York and across the country, Northern Rivers turned to student loan benefits as a way to distinguish the organization from other employers. “Attracting and retaining quality talent in the nonprofit space is challenging,” Daley says. “This benefit gives our employees the security that their student loan payments are more manageable.”