Developments in Peanut Butter’s efforts for federal legislation to make employer contributions to student loans tax advantaged

Federal legislators are working with Peanut Butter to develop and advance legislation that provides incentives to employers that assist workers with student debt.

When Representative Robert Dold introduced his legislation at a press conference at Peanut Butter’s headquarters last Spring, he noted, “millions of young workers are delaying saving for the future because the need to pay off student loan debt is more immediate.”   


Dold.jpg Congressman Bob Dold & 1871 CEO Howard Tullman


Our CEO, David Aronson, has been an advocate for student debt solutions at the federal and local levels, having acted as expert witness in 2016 testifying with the Chicago City Council on the student debt crisis.


Since early 2016, we have been supporting Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis and his staff on this issue.  David joined Representatives Davis, Scott Peters and Jared Polis in Washington in late February this year to introduce the Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act.   


video.jpg copy11.jpg <—Click to watch David Aronson speak at the U.S. Capitol Press Conference


This bill expands the current tax advantages offered for employer tuition assistance to include student loan assistance.  If enacted, an employer will be able to contribute up to $5,250 pre-tax benefits towards an employee’s student loan debt obligations.   San Diego Democrat Scott Peters and New York Republican Elise Stefanik, who each introduced their own bills in previous years, joined with Davis to introduce the bill during the first month the 115th Congress.  


Peanut Butter is providing data and insights to Congressional leaders whose states and districts have high populations of college educated workers. To date, more than 80 Members of Congress have co-sponsored Rep. Davis’ bill, and parallel legislation was introduced in the Senate by Mark Warner of Virginia and John Thune of South Dakota.   


Peanut Butter is also developing champions for this issue within the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax-related issues.  Ways and Means Committee members Patrick Meehan, a Republican from Pennsylvania, and Washington Democrat Suzan DelBene introduced legislation in March.  The HELP for Students and Parents Act (H.R. 1656) offers tax advantages for employer contributions to employee’s college saving 529 plans on top of incentives for student debt assistance participation.   


The timing for this discussion on this topic could not be better, as Congress begins debating comprehensive tax reform. Developing an increasingly large and powerful coalition supporting employer student debt assistance positions us well for seeing inclusion as part of a larger tax reform effort.


Young workers and businesses can be powerful partners in advocating for legislation that will help solve America’s student debt crisis.  If you would like to join the effort, please complete this short survey so we can make it as easy as possible for you to help.